As a travel writer, I’m always hoping on a plane. I have been traveling with my kids since my first child was 6 months. Our first trip with her was cross country to San Diego! It was quite an adventure as we learned that to bring and not bring to entertain kids on a plane. As my daughter grew older, we had our second and become even more active. We love flying with little ones! (I know when you have more babies you’re supposed to slow down. I don’t know who made that unwritten rule but we disagree!)
A lot of my friends would questions how I “did it” with young kids on a long plane ride. It really wasn’t much different from trying to sit through a church service or concert. They need to be entertained if you want any ounce of peace in your journey. They want to have a good time too! When they are happy and satisfied, you as the parent feel more happy and satisfied.
This is true of most relationships! In this article I will share with you all my ways that I entertain my kids on a plane ride. My strategies have evolved as my kids have grown, but these tips will hold true for kids 1yr-10yrs!
iPAD or Screen Device
This isn’t my first go to, to entertain kids on a plane, but it IS effective in flight. I usually download a new episode of thier fav show as a surprise. ( I’ll play it on my phone or ipad) You won’t have internet most times at 30,000 feet so plan accordingly.
A great new addition to your netflix account is that you can temporarily download episodes onto your device and watch it even when your not connected to WIFI. And its free with your Netflix subscription!
Sticky window letters or shapes
I usually find these at the dollar store or target dollar bins! Around any holiday they will always have them on sale. This is so much more fun than you anticipate. My kids went nuts over these and played with them for the longest time. The only catch is that you need a window seat!
This one can be a thumbs down if you are a persistently light packer. But I will sacrifice bringing that extra pair of shoes to make room for books so that my kids are pleasant on the plane! I’ve noticed that pop up or “touch & feel” books are the most fun to read over and over. As soon as you get to that last page, the kids are begging, “Again! Again!”
Food is always a great way to entertain kids on a plane. Keep in mind the more sugary the snacks, the harder it might be for the kiddos to stay seated and listen. So bring some treats that won’t crash their blood sugar. Food in small doses is fun. Pack them in tiny ziplocks. Snacks used as surprises and bribes will bring ease to your travel experience. (I like to pack nuts & veggies. My kids love their pistachios and raw green pepper slices.)
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. This is a typo. Nope! Tape is a super fun way to entertain kids on a plane! I brought a small roll of painters tape on my last flight and it was the star of the show! The possibilities are endless with painters tape. It doesn’t damage any surface, it comes off easily, it’s colorful, and the kids have creative freedom. Daisy make a road and a hospital (go figure – both her parents work in Healthcare.).
Walter make a parking spot for his tractor. I think. Either way, he seemed to enjoy driving on the tape with his toy cars, pulling it out, and placing it on the tray table. Daisy did eventually make a square plate and put her snacks inside the borders of the tape. She also started drawing on it. I am never going to fly without painters tape again!
These little counters are an educational way to entertain kids on a plane. Kids at all levels can play and learn from this device. I found this one in a $5 bin at Target. The younger ones can practice their motor skills. The toddlers can practice their colors, counting, addition, and subtraction. It’s also interactive, so you can do it with them.
Alright, not that kind of weave and threading. I’m not talking about beauty products here. I’m talking about one of the best ways I’ve found to entertain kids on a plane. These “sewing” kits occupy my 4 year daughters hands and mind at the same time for at least 30 mins! You can find all sorts of shoelace weaving kits and many levels. Surrounding the edges are holes, and through these holes, you lace a colorful shoelace.
It was a mix or threading a needle and sewing – teaching my little toddler some serious fine motor skills. She got really into it and sat patiently while she carefully threaded each hole. It was a good 18-25 mins (i’m not kidding)
Coloring & Stickers
This has always been my go-to, anywhere entertain kids on a plane. It’s the old school activity that always wins. My local target dollar bins had these small coloring kits with a coloring book, stickers, and 4 crayons all together in a kit. It was perfect!
When you are not on the plane – let them loose! Let those short little legs be free! Get their wiggles out before and after they have to be confined. This makes a big difference for my kids who are very active and need running-spinning-jumping-tumbling-flipping time allotted everyday.
Once you are up in the air at a comfortable altitude, break out a new toy/ book/ snack/ movie every 15-30mins depending on your kids age and attention span. Changing it up constantly keeps the kids stimulated and the time will fly by!
Perspective for the Parents: Don’t let the kids “hold you back” from traveling and getting out there.
Remember, they are portable.