14 answers

Ideas to Keep Kids Busy on an Airplane

We'll be going on vacation in a few weeks and I'm getting nervous because I have no idea how my daughters are going to be. I'm so afraid that they are going to get bored quickly!I have a 2.5 year old and an 11 month old. I'm planning on bringing a DVD player but does anyone have any other ideas or suggestions to keep them busy? Thank You!!

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Featured Answers

Play-doh, stickers, crayons, snacks! I hit the dollar section at Target and pick up lots of little things that will be new to my daughter, then bring things out one at a time until she gets bored with it.

More Answers

In addition to all the great advice here, I'd add that I found some great triangular crayons at Target that were neat because they didn't roll all over the place.

We also took books and DVD player, etc., and mostly flew Jet Blue because of the tv screens in the head rests. (And they were cheaper!)

The experience of being on a plane will keep them busy for a little while as they look around at the people etc., so don't put the DVD on right away...wait until you've run out of things to do and look at. Have some really fun picture books to look at (touchy-feel/pop-up are best to keep little hands busy). Barrel of Monkeys is fun to play with as well as other little travel games for young children. Make sure you have a notebook and some crayons available as well having some little finger food snacks to much on. Stay away from noisy games/toys and make sure you have enough for both to have (so the little one isn't grabbing your toddler's toys or vice-versa causing a ruckus). Once you've used up all your available resources, THEN take out the DVD...it will be your saving grace. LOL!! If you can bring a DVD or 2 that have multiple short stories or TV programs on it, that would be best...the age of your girls is young enough that they'll lose interest in a long movie. Compilation DVD's are great for young kids as it keeps their attention better. Good luck!

books, books, and more books. At such a young age it is hard to entertain them, but if you take out one at a time and spread it out it should help. The younger one will likely fall asleep.

i know you posted a few days ago - i actually just got back from a trip with my 2.5 and 8 month old... so i'm catching up on email... anyways, my 8 month old was the easy one, of course, because she's still happy with the easy peasy things (cheerios, jingly toys, etc)... so I planned more for my toddler to have things. Here's what we did, and it worked pretty well:
- she has her own backpack (very small!) that i put her favorite "lovey" stuffed animal in, some washable crayons and a new "wipable" coloring book (i got 3/$1.00 at the dollar store), a little magnadoodle pad, a couple of fisher price little people and car, and a box of raisins. I also found a Toy Story Buzz Lightyear at the dollar store and stuck that in there - that was a big hit with her! the backpack idea worked well because she was in charge of some of her own toys plus had a couple of new surprises in there. having a snack she could get at helped too. i put a new snack in there everyday.
- i took a backpack as my carryon, and kept some toys in there for both kids. a big gallon sized ziplock full of stuff for the baby, and then some good travel toys for the toddler.
The travel toys that worked the best for us:
- a magnetic play set
- a mini playdough set (target brand, $5)
- a clipboard with some sandpaper and yarn (the yarn sticks to the sandpaper) (by far the cheapest and easiest thing we brought, and my toddler LOVED it
- and yes, a portable DVD player with a few of her favourtite dvds and 2 new ones, though we never even opened the second new one!

seriously, check out the dollar store and check out websites like familyfun.com for ideas... and if your kids are into any shows (mine likes yo gabba gabba) check out their sites for free printable games and coloring pages.

good luck!

My kids are MUCH older now but when we went on road trips I used to get a bag and purchase small (they got more expensive as they got older, unfortunately!!)surprises to put into the bag and offered them a surprise each time I felt they were getting bored, or antsy. For example: a new tape with a story or music to listen to, sugarless gum, candy, juice box, coloring book and new box of colors, small toy, etc. Anything that they enjoy. But the point is they are surprises. I could use it as a bargaining tool and say we will be stopping in 5 minutes. If you can play nice with your brother for the next 5 minutes I will give you a surprise after we stop. I would have to know how many things I had and not use them up too quickly. It worked well for us and my 20, 18 and 12 year old still talk about remember when you used to give us all those surprises. They even remember which trip they got what. Of course, the surprises got a little more elaborate as they got older because a pack of gum didn't really excite them at 10 and 11 years old. Hope this helps!!! It worked great for us and we loved road trips.

Just an FYI- PlayDoh will be confiscated by TSA at security so if you want to bring some along for your kids to enjoy on your vacation, put it in your checked luggage. My kids were so disappointed when their new PlayDoh was taken at the security checkpoint.

Someone suggested post it notes to me before a flight with our then 18 mo. old. They worked like a charm! I went to Target and bought different shapes and we played all sorts of games with them! We made little post it note collages on the tray table, we scribbled on them, we put stickers on them (I also bought several different packs of stickers before we left- they also kept my daughter occupied), we even put them on the wall next to our seat- they're great because they come right off! We even used them as "flaps" in some of her books, and I had her guess what was under them-

The DVD player worked well, but I like the other advice to save it until you need it. I also bought some new books, and plenty of snacks! Those little mini magna doodles are fun too.

To be honest, the flight went so much better than I had imagined it would- I hope yours does too!

We flew to England with our son when he was 13 or 14 months old. He traveled like a charm, sleeping part of the way. We brought his favorite teddy bear to snuggle with. Teddy was a playmate when things got dull and a comfort when comfort was needed. We also brought some small books, stuff to color with, and snacks (grapes, goldfish, raisins...you can usually get pretzels on the plane). (Magnadoodles would be great, too!) And bring one special thing or two they've never seen before. A pleasant surprise can be just the ticket sometimes. But keep it all small. You don't want to have a ton more stuff to drag around.

As for traveling, these are a few tricks we employed.
1) We used a kid backpack so our hands were free (two backpacks in your case...borrow one or two from friends?)
--our son also had a higher vantage point which was fun for him
--there was less fear of losing our child
--it was easier for us to find each other if my husband and I were separated for any reason)
2) We checked the backpack at the door of the plane (I think it's called "gate check")
--we had use of it right to the door of the plane
--we didn't have to hassle with it on the plane
--they provided it again as we got off the plane
3) Our son traveled in his car seat
--it was familiar to him which was a comfort
--it tilted him back which helped with the sleepiness factor
--it brought him up higher so he could see better
--less bending over for us
--plus, we had a car seat at our destination
4) Consider getting the seat right at the front with the wall at your feet
--depending on the airline and plane design, you may have a little more legroom
--fewer people to bump or bother entering and leaving the plane
--if your child can't sleep in the seat, you can set up a little snuggly "bed" on the floor
--plan for periodic bathroom breaks to get a little exercise (before it's an accident waiting to happen!)
5) Bring a bottle for the takeoffs and landings
--the change in air pressure can be hard for little ones
--sucking on something can help equalize the pressure. (Our son had double ear tubes at the time so that wasn't an issue.)

The main thing is to relax yourselves. If you think of it as an adventure to be enjoyed, rather than endured, your demeanor will rub off on your kids. Most kids don't need constant entertainment. In fact, it's good to let them have some down time exploring their toys. And something about planes tends to put some kids to sleep.

With your older child, you can play "I spy". ("I spy a _______" and they look around trying to find what you're looking at. No equipment is needed and it can be a fun diversion for a while.)

Enjoy your flight and vacation.

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