We’ve done our fair share of airplane travel with our kids and our most recent flight was by far our most enjoyable yet. Our kids are 2 and 4 which means they are both old enough to sit in their own seats and stay occupied with a few activities so I thought I’d share some favorites we’ve used and others that caught my eye. I don’t like to travel with a lot of extra stuff since you are already so loaded down with luggage and gear you have to bring…so everything i’m sharing is pretty small/doesn’t have a lot of pieces.
iPad or Tablet
In my opinion, the best thing you can utilize on the plane is an iPad. We only use iPad’s when we travel so the kids are ECSTATIC to play with them while on the plane. The iPad’s stay tucked away until we get in our seats on the plane so we try to just let the kids run around in the terminal until its our time to board. This ensures they will want to play on it as long as possible while in flight. We mainly use them for tv shows or movies we download onto it but also have a few apps they enjoy. Sutton loves the virtual doll house “My Play Home” app that is super interactive and fun. You can also use the ABC Mouse app if you have that membership for some educational purposes if that makes you feel better about giving your kid an iPad ;) I linked a travel case that not only protects the screen but comes with a stand so they can sit it upright on the tray table.
Kid headphones are crucial if you are bringing an iPad for them so your neighbors don’t hate you for having to listen to Frozen the entire flight! Bluetooth headphones are nice if you are worried about your little one messing with the cord and it also allows more than one child be able to watch the same thing with multiple headphones.
Snacks are my second most suggested item to keep your kids occupied. If you aren’t flying Southwest or don’t have perks to get complimentary food and beverage, make sure you purchase a few of their favorite snack items to have with you on the flight. And just got ahead and buy the big bag…you’ll be glad you did. A good water bottle is also a good idea to carry along in their backpack.
Boogie Board Magic Sketch
If you aren’t a fan of an iPad, maybe try a Boogie Board. Sutton recently was given this for her birthday and I think it is SUCH a cool toy. You can slide in photos to trace and color or practice your letters so its not only fun but educational. The screen easily clears by pressing the button at the bottom and its not battery powered so no need to remember to charge it the night before you leave. I also linked the travel bag you can purchase to store all the different pens and sheets it comes with to keep things organized.
The Melissa and Doug On-The-Go Magic Color pads were the only other item we took on our last flight and it kept both the kids occupied during boarding and during a portion of the trip. I love them because they are mess free and only come with 4 markers so you aren’t having to carry a big pack with you. I also love their Water Wow pads which are also mess free and I thought their tape activity and Scratch Art pads both looked like great options too.
Stickers/ Window Clings
We’ve purchased some of these sticker books in the airport as a last minute grab before getting on the plane and they are great. Sutton loves the Usborne activity books that allow you to dress the dolls and we’ve also tried the Melissa and Doug Puffy Sticker activity book, which is a nice option because it allows you to peel up and reuse the stickers multiple times without them tearing, unlike the other option. I have never used window clings but thought that could be a fun activity if you have a window seat.
If your little one has busy hands, a miniature tub of play-doh or some wikki sticks could help keep them busy. Neither are messy and would work well on the tray table. Just be sure to wipe it down with a sanitizing wipe before they rub their hands all over it! I also think a small set of magformers would be fun to bring along too!
Travel Gear We Like
I think a carseat travel backpack is a must have if you do a lot of airline travel. This is the one we have and it has held up well for 4 years and probably 30+ flights. We only have one so we use this bag to cover our second car seat. .
I love these backpacks for the kids to store all of their activities, tablets, headphones, snacks and a light jacket for them to access on the plane. Plus you can monogram them with their names which always makes anything cute :)
I do want to lastly mention that if you have a lap child, particularly one that is between the ages of 6 months-2 years, I find that to be the most challenging age to fly with. They really aren’t interested in any sort of activity at that age and even the iPad doesn’t really hold their attention for very long. Plus you are fighting to keep them from kicking the seat in front of you or the innocent passenger next to you the entire time. My best advice is to get up and walk with them when you can, keep feeding them snacks, utilize any sort of entertainment that will hold their attention and just roll with the punches. I remember one flight with Quint, he had two major blow outs and we ended up with him just in his diaper by the end of the flight because we didn’t have any other clean clothes. You just have to survive until you make it to your destination and pray that you are seated next to someone who is kind and patient. :)