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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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.

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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.

see if you can sit at the very back of the plane then bring an un opened small bottle of bubbles you can blowthe bubbles down to the kids feet. target and ac more have small bubbles the wand is small so bubblesare tiny.

My family lives in Indiana, so we have traveled by airplane several times with my soon-to-be 2-year-old son. Definitely hit up the dollar stores for little toys and books. We also found a little Magna-Doodle type of toy there that my son really liked. I didn't show the new toys to my son until we were on the airplane, so they seemed new and exciting, even if it's just for a couple of minutes! I also wrapped the items in tissue paper so that he had to unwrap them, which makes them seem more like a gift (and takes up even more time!) I also brought stickers, which were a big hit with him. We stuck them on paper and we let him stick them all over himself and us :) I also put together a little pretend wallet for him and filled it with old gift cards, wallet-sized pictures, and business cards, which he loved. Snacks and drinks are also a great thing to pack, even if it's something like lollipops, which we never usually give to my son, but which he loved having as a special treat. Hopefully they will sleep for part of the plane ride, too! I always get anxious about the plane rides, but they have turned out fine for us each time!

We just came back from a trip with our 2 year old. I was nervous, but it went mroe smoothly than I expected. I think it helped that we talked to him for a couple of weeks about what to expect (noise of jet roars like lion; bumpy at times like car or bus, get to go have fun with family, etc.). The DVD took up most of the time on the plane. Little snacks helped. Then those thin Scholastic books were light and easy to carry. I brought a couple of cars that were small (a friend advised not too bring too many small things because you can spend too much time crawling around to find them). A MagnaDoodle was good for drawing. And a few markers and paper. We also brought one of those harnesses (I know many people hate them). It was great for letting him run around the airport during layover and while waiting to board. He got a lot of energy out and then slep on the next leg of the plane ride. The harness was indispensable when we had a three hour delay. I looked around at the airport this time and realized the children I saw were doing fine. I don't feel like I will be anxious next time around. Hope you have fun!

Hi L. - We traveled with our son around 11 months and we brought a lot of different things like... Playing cards I didn't care if he lost them or damaged them they were just cheap entertainment. Also you can bring little baggies and have them put toys into one bag into another. We also brought a sorter with different shapes and we put the shapes in the bag and then in the box so that keep him busy. And people around you will (okay some of them) will love to watch your kids. and play peek a boo. We did bring a dvd player and it saved me at the very end. But another thing that was great was I had a ton of snacks and we also asked the flight attendent for a cup of ice chips. We also had to change flights - we brought a little soft ball with us and when we were in the airport we threw the ball and everyone around us played with our son as well. It is amazing what people will do for a little kids. So it really isn't that bad and things will be okay. The post it note was an excellent idea. also we took a ton of pens/crayons with us as well. Don't forget to pack an extra set of clothes for you little one and also maybe a t-shirt for you. On one of our adventures our little guy threw up all over my husband and we wished that we had packed a t-shirt that fit both of us. Also this just happened to my friend a couple of weeks ago. Good luck with the flight I'm sure it will be great. Have a great vacation.


Hi L.,
During Feb. vacation we took our girls to KY and went by airplane. They are 6 and 2. We were prepared for the worst but they literally were the best! We brought a DVD player as well, coloring books, pipe cleaners, lots of stickers/arts and crafts, you name it, we had it, including books. Now your 11 month old may just crash, I know the airplane ride made my 2 year old sleepy and she wouldn't fall asleep on the way there, but on the way home she has no issues with crashing. I think the toughest part for us was the airport itself, our airline and I am not sure if this goes for all, but ours was not "kid" friendly at all when it came to the airport. We literally had to sit around and wait with 2 young kids and a bunch of luggage for the airline help to figure things out that shouldn't have taken so long. I do wish the best of luck, prepare yourself for the worse and if you get the best, at least you will be pleasantly surprised. :)

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.

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