We’re no stranger to flying with kids. We moved across the country when our first child was 2 weeks old and I flew at least 5 times a year with her when she could fly for free. Most of our trips were back and forth to visit family but we snuck in a few vacations here and there as well, like Kauai (post coming soon!) and Corsica (post coming soon!). To be honest, in general, we let our kids (now 3 and 6) watch as much tv as they want in flight, as my number one goal is to keep everyone happy and tear free for their sake, mine and the rest of the passengers. But sometimes kids need an electronic detox, or you get stuck on a plane with no entertainment system and then you need a plan.
Here are a few things to bring to keep them entertained :
SNACKS or if it’s lunch or dinner time, let them eat on the plane to pass time. I learned from my Mom, who loves kids and always had others kids around, that feeding them keeps them happy. I have a big family and come from a long line of women who are feeders. I do the same. Snack containers that require some work to get the treats out are brilliant, especially for small kids.
SMALL TOYS – or 1 or 2 of their favourite toys – don’t bring more than 5 or anything too tiny. Everything is guaranteed to hit the floor more than once. We have lost enough small toys to have learned our lesson.
BOOKS – I would always bring the favourites. Be prepared to read them several times. It always shocked me how little time it took on an 8 hour flight to get through one book. Also bring seek and find books. Kids love scouring pages to find items and it eats up time
COLOURING books, Water Wow books, Mess free colouring books, sticker books – also doubled as entertainment for myself. I love colouring. Let smaller kids who have trouble sitting, stand and use the seat to place their books on
FLASHCARDS – to help them learn numbers, letters, animals, etc.
GAMES – the travel size ones – potentially hours of fun. Card games, mini board games, trivia, etc. Even if you forgot to bring games, there is always Tick Tack Toe and Hangman. I can’t wait until my kids are old enough to play Scrabble with me
MUSIC or Stories using a phone, iPod, Walkman etc.
Activity books we love: Sticker Dolly Dressing, Water Wow, Mess Free Colouring, Jumbo Colouring & Activity Pages
Things already on the plane found in book Parent Hacks:
CUPS + STIR STICKS – no word of lie, plastic cups were the toy of choice. Putting small toys in them, and taking them out. Favourite past time of a 2 year old. Make letters, numbers, shapes and patterns out of stir sticks
SAFETY FEATURE CARDS – my daughter was drawn to the cartoon images and they’re made of thick paper so toddler friendly
INFLIGHT MAGAZINES or newspapers – look for animals, shapes, flowers etc. When you’re done, draw moustaches, hats, eyebrows on the faces in the magazine for a laugh
Teach kids about geography (geographers, like myself, love to teach people about the world) using the route map at the back of the magazine. Ask older kids trivia questions like, “what country do you think pasta comes from?”, “which country do they wear wooden shoes?”
AIR SICK BAGS – make hand puppets and put on a puppet show
There you have it! I hope these ideas will help you keep your kids entertained on flights without electronics