Your suitcases are packed and you’re ready for that much-needed family vacation. But you stress about traveling by plane with your children, especially if you have a toddler. Gone are the days of spending quiet time with a book in hand. Instead, you’re trying to figure out how to keep your child entertained and in their seat for the duration of the flight.
Luckily, traveling doesn’t have to be as daunting as you think. With the right airplane activities, your child can be engaged, entertained, and even occupied for the duration of the flight.
I have traveled with two children on many flights and have learned that having a travel backpack full of activities helps make the travel experience smoother. Here are our top 15 on-plane activities to keep your child busy on your next flight.
$199.99 $139.99 on Amazon
If you don’t want to carry around an iPad, the Amazon Fire Kids tablet is a great item for kids of all ages. The kid’s tablet includes one year of Amazon Kids+, parental controls, a case and a two-year warranty. With the Amazon Kids+ subscription, your children will have access to a plethora of books, videos, apps and games, all created for children. Parents can also personalize the tablet by setting screen time limits, setting educational goals, and managing web browsing.
“While we normally limit time spent on technology at home, we relax the rules when we travel,” says Lee Huffman, family travel expert at BaldThoughts.com. “We want to keep our kids happy and make sure they don’t disturb other travellers.”
A tablet — especially one where you can pre-download shows from Netflix and Disney+, among others — is a great way to speed up the plane ride.
$58 at Rafi Nova
Don’t know where to start or don’t have time to collect all the toys and activities to take on the plane? If you fall into this bucket – and we don’t blame you – we have the perfect solution. The Mo-On-The-Go is a kid-friendly travel backpack that contains nine different reusable activities. From open silicone cupcake containers and modeling clay to coloring mat and stickers, your child will never be bored on their next flight.
The backpack also provides enough space to include extra items for your child, such as snacks, a water bottle, and any other personal items they may need throughout the flight. With more than 20 flights under her belt with her two sets of young twins, Rafi Nova founder Marissa Goldstein knows a thing or two about traveling with toddlers and young children. Although she believes in the motto “less is more”, she knows the importance of being prepared with engaging activities.
$6.99 on Amazon
Want your kids to pass the time with a little coloring, but also want to avoid the mess? Water Wow! Melissa & Doug’s coloring books are some of our favorite aerial activities, especially for toddlers because the books can be used over and over again. No need to bring a big bag full of crayons, markers and paper.
To use these magic pages, simply fill the included pen with water before boarding the plane. After brushing the pen on the page, the color appears. Once the page dries in a few minutes, you can start coloring again. With seven different coloring book themes ranging from dinosaurs, jungles, animals and more, there’s bound to be a Water Wow! which will entertain your child during the flight.
$6.99 on Amazon
Activity books are great for keeping kids of all ages busy. This Tape activity book, ideal for ages 4-7, includes four rolls of colored tape and 20 reusable pages to complete your own creations. As with all Melissa & Doug products, the activity book is high quality and will remain intact for many flights to come.
$6.49 on Amazon
Pencils are a classic hobby, but they can easily break. And, when you’re traveling through the air with no replacement nearby, that’s the last thing you want to happen. Instead, these twisted crayons ensure your coloring accessories stay in one piece for your entire trip, as they come in a plastic barrel that protects the crayon’s core. The pack includes 24 different colors to create the perfect masterpiece.
$11.37 on Amazon
I found that as my kids got older, markers were preferred over colored pencils. But, due to their circular shape, the markers still rolled on the plane’s seat back trays. Welcome to the world of triangle markers. These triangle-shaped Magic Stix markers stay put on the board and eliminate the need to fish around the seat for falling markers.
But if your kids still prefer crayons, don’t worry. You can also get the same triangular shaped pencils without a roller for easier flights ahead.
$15.95 on Amazon
Make sure you grab a good coloring book for your kids before heading to the airport. This spiral-bound notebook from Silly Bear has over 15,000 five-star reviews on Amazon — and for good reason. Inside you will find 50 individual designs with unicorns, stars and rainbows. This book is sure to brighten up any flight. If you’d rather save a little, go for the paperback version for $4.99.
$4.99 on Amazon
Classic card games are a great way to not only pass the time quickly while traveling, but they also allow you to engage with your child. Put the tray down and you and your child can spend hours playing classic games, such as Go Fish and Old Maid. We’re a fan of this 6-in-1 Fun Pack from Hoyle because it lets your child spin through multiple decks of cards during a long flight.
$24 at Rafi Nova
Fidgets are all the rage these days. Even though parents may not understand the appeal, they can keep your otherwise bored child busy for hours. Plus, if your child — or even you, the parent — is afraid of flying, the fuss is a big distraction. From popping to pulling, this Rafi Nova Fidget Pouch includes seven different fidgets, all of which are conveniently packed in a mini pouch that’s easy to take in your carry-on.
$6.99 on Amazon
When I was traveling with my toddler on a plane, the reusable sticker pads were one of the best distractions. These sticker pads from Melissa & Doug offer many different scenes to inspire your child’s creativity. Stickers can easily be moved from page to page for ongoing engagement. And, if your child gets bored of the cushion, they can even stick – then peel off – the stickers on the airplane window to create their own creative story. Over 12,000 five-star reviews on Amazon agree that this sticker pad is a great activity to keep kids entertained.
$27.97 $24.97 on Amazon
There’s no candy: It’s extremely easy to lose items on an airplane, especially when they’re in the hands of a small child. This is where magnetic travel games come in handy, as they will greatly reduce the risk of game pieces falling all over the place.
“Small games like tic-tac-toe that use magnets are some of my kids’ favorite airplane activities when they need a break from screen time,” says mother-of-two Leslie Harvey. children and founder of the popular family travel site Trips With Tykes. . “The magnets help protect the pieces from turbulence and clumsiness from children, and many of these games and playsets are inexpensive and compact to pack.”
$14.99 on Amazon
Magnetic activities can save you and your seat neighbors a lot of hassle on an airplane. If your kids aren’t ready for games yet, this magnetic puzzle is a great option. The puzzle comes with 14 magnetic blocks which can be combined to create shapes, figures and animals of all kinds. This puzzle lets your kids – and you – use your imagination in flight.
$11.39 on Amazon
If you’re looking for a way to incorporate fine motor skills on the plane, lacing boards are the perfect activity to keep youngsters busy for an extended period of time. With lacing, there are very few parts you need to worry about and this set takes up minimal space in your carry-on. This has always been one of my favorite items, and nearly 5,000 five-star reviews on Amazon agree that kids love this set.
$8.72 on Amazon
Wikki Stix lets your little one’s creativity flow while avoiding the mess of an art project on the plane. Simply open the tray and your child will be on their way to creating an endless number of creatures and figures. They’re sticky, so your child can match them up or stick them on pages of paper – or even on the airplane window. Just be sure to clean up when you get to your destination.
$4.16 $2.99 on Amazon
You don’t have to break the bank to entertain your kids. Simple items like sticky notes in your desk drawer can also do the trick. They can be used to craft on the set table, airplane window, and even the seat in front of you (as long as you don’t disturb other passengers).
“My husband regularly carries Post-it flags in his bag for work, and we found that our son loved sticking the colorful flags on his tray table to create ‘pictures’ that could be peeled off in seconds and created on the go. new,” says Harvey.
Remember that kids don’t necessarily need something new and flashy, they just need something that works. And even the simplest items such as Post-its allow children of all ages to be creative.
Looking for a travel credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best travel credit cards of 2022.