Ideas for Entertaining Kids On The Plane

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Photo - DisneyFor some, the thought of flying on a plane with kids is simple and carefree.

For me, not so much.

Don’t get me wrong – I have an amazingly easy child who travels very well. Still, I would be lying if I didn’t admit prior to flying with her, I become a Nervous Nelly.

For those of you who can relate to my anxieties, here is a list of ideas and items for entertaining your child on a flight to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or anywhere else. Although who are we kidding, why go anywhere else when you could go to some of the happiest places on earth? 😉

Note: These ideas don’t just apply to the age-range listed. Pick and choose what your child would like best!

Infants

  • Picture books to read
  • Play peek-a-boo/how big is baby/pat-a-cake
  • Sing songs
  • Bring rattles or other toys that make sound: Your neighbors may not be happy, but baby will hopefully be!
  • Show them photos on your phone: My daughter loved and still loves doing this.
  • Let them rip up paper: For older infants. Disclaimer – This will make a mess, but it’s the lesser of two evils. 
  • Wear a big chunky necklace: This is baby entertainment at its finest and baby will love looking at and playing with it. If you’re worried about baby choking on a bead, you can buy necklaces made specifically for teething babies on Amazon here.

Toddlers and Preschool-Age

  • Coloring: Consider using crayons only as you’d have to keep track of marker caps.
  • Recite Nursery Rhymes
  • The iPad: Download educational games and their favorite movies. Hey, it’s vacation!
  • Bring a sticker book: You may walk out covered in stickers but if they’re Disney stickers, you’ll just look like you’re showing off your Disney Side.
  • Color, number and letter flash cards: May be more suitable for the preschoolers.
  • Finger Puppets
  • Educational Workbooks: Your preschooler can practice tracing numbers, shapes and letters.
  • Sensory Toys: Put food coloring inside a water bottle and add glitter and beads. They’ll love it.
  • Play-doh or gak: Let me know if you’d like homemade recipes for both!

Kids

  • Chapter Books: Let them pick out one they haven’t read to save for the flight.
  • Read and listen to books on tape: Don’t forget headphones!
  • Play card games: Go Fish, Old Maid, etc.
  • Let them decorate a photo album or scrap book to put vacation photos in
  • Play verbal games: I Spy, 20 Questions.
  • Teach them about airplanes: Bring a book or show them photos.
  • Magnetic Travel Boardgames: We brought these on car trips growing up and they kept us busy.
  • Action figures or Disney figures: Try limiting to 2-3 so you don’t have to worry about losing one.

Tips

  • Pack new toys for the trip. The novelty will hopefully entertain them longer.
  • Bring cuddle items for nap time: Dolly, blanket, stuffed animal, etc.
  • Dress them in comfortable layers for any temperature changes on the plane.
  • Give them something to chew or suck on when the plane departs to prevent ears from popping.
  • If possible, keep everything easily accessible by your feet so you don’t have to keep reaching for the overhead bin.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of snack time. A simple snack could easily last 15 minutes.
  • Take this as a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with your child. Vacation is an exciting and relaxing time. Enjoy it!

What ideas do you have for me? Have you tried any of these? Let me know in the comments!

Angela Dahlgren

As the host of TouringPlansTV, Angela produces weekly videos on our TouringPlans YouTube channel. When she's not talking about the happiest place on earth, she spends her time entertaining her own little Minnie and Mickey Mouse. You can find her on twitter @AngelaDahlgren or via email - angela@touringplans.com

20 thoughts on “Ideas for Entertaining Kids On The Plane

  • May 20, 2015 at 7:20 am
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    Thank you for this article, it gave me a ton of new ideas!!

    • May 21, 2015 at 5:45 pm
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      Rebecca,

      Glad it helped you, and thanks for reading! 🙂

      Angela

  • May 20, 2015 at 10:25 am
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    When our kids were little, mini Magna Doodles were perfect for traveling. On planes, we brought paint with water books and some brushes. The flight attendants were happy to bring us a small cup of water for the kids to use!

    • May 21, 2015 at 5:47 pm
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      Helen B,

      How easy would Magna Doodles be? I didn’t even think of that!

      Water colors would be nice for when my daughter is older, but I would be so worried about her tipping over the glass…*sigh*…toddlers…

      Thanks for the comment!

      Angela

  • May 20, 2015 at 12:23 pm
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    “Sing songs”; “Bring rattles or other toys that make sound” … cringing, reading this. How about free alcoholic beverage coupons for your seat neighbors?

    I love kids, and I understand that no matter how you try sometimes they will just decide to have a meltdown on the plane. But please do your best to keep your volume down- afterall, it’s a confined space with lots of others.

    • May 21, 2015 at 5:49 pm
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      Sarah,

      I guess I think of it as the lesser of two evils: a crying baby or a toy that makes noise. Both can be inconvenient for fellow passengers, but at least you can muffle the volume of the toy.

      Thanks for reading!

      Angela

    • June 1, 2015 at 12:03 pm
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      Amen to the no toys with sounds! I would rather listen to a crying baby than artificial noise throughout the flight. And that goes for adults and teens that use tablets without headphones.

  • May 20, 2015 at 12:58 pm
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    Colorforms or other reusable stickers are great for decorating the windows. Bubble wrap. Band aids. Wrapping paper and tape. Wrap everything and let toddler unwrap it!

    • May 21, 2015 at 5:51 pm
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      Jean,

      I had to google colorforms to remember what they were. These are AMAZING! I had a few when I was younger and it would keep me entertained for hours. Such a great idea!

      I appreciate the comment. 🙂

      Angela

  • May 20, 2015 at 1:18 pm
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    Number 1 on the list – Benadryl. Unless your child is one of those who gets hyper after taking it, you can then forget all the other stuff.

    • May 21, 2015 at 5:51 pm
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      Bryan,

      Hmm…now that would ensure the child would sleep on the plane. Good thinking. 😉

      Angela

      • May 21, 2015 at 6:13 pm
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        Angela,

        If you REALLY want them to sleep, you can take it one step further – Jameson and Benadryl – “Irish Cold Medicine”. 😉

        Regards,

        Bryan

  • May 20, 2015 at 1:27 pm
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    I was recently reading an article about this, and they suggested hitting up the dollar store a few days before and wrapping up a few small toys (matchbox cars, sticker packets, etc). Then, each time the kids get antsy (every 20 mins, hour, etc), break out one of the toys and let them play with it. Like a mini Christmas day! It’s a bit like bribing for good behavior, but seems like a pretty nice way to keep kids busy and entertained for longer flights.

    • May 21, 2015 at 5:52 pm
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      Sara,

      I read that same one! I thought it was such a great idea. A little prep work, but well worth it.

      Great comment!

      Angela

  • May 20, 2015 at 2:53 pm
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    Great ideas! Even the best kids can have a tough time traveling, so it helps when parents are prepared. I always bring a new toy that makes an appearance at takeoff: mini etch-a-sketch, where’s waldo book, or a maze book for example Doctor kits are always fun. And those triangular-shaped crayons are great for plane travel because they don’t roll away.

    • May 21, 2015 at 5:55 pm
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      Angela,

      I am definitely going to pick up those triangle crayons. Perfect plane idea!

      Thanks for the comment. 🙂

      Angela

  • May 20, 2015 at 5:18 pm
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    Sticker puzzles – numbers 1-50 are mixed up, they put them in order on another sheet to make a picture of lightening McQueen . They are also perfect when standing in the long line at Toy Story Mania or at a restaurant. 5 by 7 size fit easily in a bag. Made by Lee Publications

    • May 21, 2015 at 5:56 pm
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      Angela from Ohio,

      I’ve seen those sticker puzzles before, and those are great. The little one has something to concentrate on and gets to create a fun picture.

      Love these ideas coming in!

      Thanks for reading. 🙂

      Angela

  • May 21, 2015 at 10:07 am
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    When my DD was a toddler I purchased a new small dolly and a box of band-aids. She played happily for over an hour opening the band-aids and covering the baby with them.

    • May 21, 2015 at 5:58 pm
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      Catherine,

      Isn’t it funny how kids are with band-aids? It’s like the forbidden fruit. They get SO excited when they’re allowed to play with them.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Angela

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