What’s scarier than boarding a plane and realizing there’s a small child seated nearby? Being the parent of a small child on a plane!
Anyone who has ever flown with a child knows how stressful it can be. Long airport lines, plane delays, and sitting still for the duration of a flight can test the patience of many adults, not to mention kids with short attention spans. But with a little preparation, flying can be a breeze!
Before you depart for your next family vacation, make sure to pack some of these fun activities in your carry on bag. Your kids – and your seatmates – will thank you!
Mess-free coloring: Coloring is a great portable activity, but broken crayons and inky markers can be messy. Choose mess-free options for your little artists, such as Magna Doodle, Etch-a-Sketch, or Crayola Color Wonder markers, which only color on special paper and won’t stain skin or fabrics.
Stickers: Reusable stickers and sticker books with glossy pages are a great way to keep kids busy. Kids can also use inexpensive colorful window clings to decorate the plane windows, too.
Surprise toys: Many parents pick up a few inexpensive, small dollar store toys and wrap them separately before the flight, then let kids unwrap and play with a new toy at regular intervals during the trip. The novelty of a new toy (even something as simple as a plastic animal or airplane) will hold a child’s attention for several minutes.
Magazines and books: Bring along old favorites or pick out some new books for the flight. Magazines for children, such as these National Geographic options, contain puzzles and games to keep little ones occupied, plus tons of colorful photos.
Easy, portable crafts: A package of pipe cleaners can be twisted into any combination of animals, structures, or vehicles – no glue required! Origami is a great choice for older kids.
Do-it-yourself activity book: Fill a binder with clear plastic sleeves, insert a sheet of white paper in each sleeve, and pack some dry-erase markers for a portable and reusable activity book. You can draw tic-tac-toe grids, set up a hangman game, or even print out free Plane Trip Bingo cards on the pages inside the sleeves to create an inexpensive and customizable games binder.
Movies and apps: A little screen time can make a long travel day easier for everyone. Load up your iPad with kids’ favorite movies or programs, or download some interactive children’s apps such as these recommendations from Parents Magazine. Make sure to pack kid-friendly headphones, such as these Amazon options, which are volume-limited and sized for children.
Make a scrapbook: During your trip, collect mementos such as ticket stubs, brochures, maps, and receipts. On the return flight home, kids can create a scrapbook of their adventures by filling a photo album with these items.