In January, my whole family took a trip to San Diego to stay at Legoland. If you have never been, I highly recommend the hotel, it was fantastic.
However, we live in Iowa, which meant a nice flight to get there. We opted to drive almost four hours to Minneapolis to have a non-stop flight, which was still a four hour flight.
After driving for so long, I was worried how the flight might go.
I can do activities on road trips. Those we’ve managed in the past. But a flight… We haven’t taken the kids on a flight for four years, when George wasn’t even a year old (and Louis obviously wasn’t born yet).
I asked the best people I know, The Huddlers, what to have my kids do on the airplane, and packed my bags accordingly.
Turns out, my kids did really awesome on the flight (and the entire vacation for that matter, which I can’t say to prior vacations). I only had a few moments that I didn’t know what to do with my youngest who’s three, mostly because I didn’t have access to the ‘goody’ bag. Our family got split between two rows and it was hard to pass back and forth.
Next flight, I’ll be even better prepared now that I know what to expect. And yes, I can proudly say that I will actually be willing to take them on another flight again now (we can handle it!).
Here’s some super simple things for your young kids to do on an airplane:
Some of these ideas are from The Huddlers and some are ones that I tried on our flight. I think they’re all winners.
Quick tips for traveling with a young child on an airplane:
- I found that using quart or gallon-size baggies worked great to hold each separate activity.
- Only take items that you wouldn’t mind losing. Expect your kids to drop it and expect it to roll out of reach.
- I read somewhere to keep in mind that you’ll need one activity for every 15 minutes you’re on the plane. But the first 30 minutes and the last 30 minutes can easily be entertained by taking off and landing.
A maybe obvious idea for your child to do is to nap! I wasn’t for sure how this would go for us since we woke up early and drove for four hours first. I expected him to nap on the drive and not the flight, so I prepared for no nap. However, he didn’t and the lull of the plane taking off put him to sleep almost instantly and the hum kept him asleep for nearly two hours.
Once he awoke, he wanted snacks immediately. Snacks are fantastic to keep them occupied. I brought our sponsor’s new peanut butter snack, SKIPPY® P.B. Bites, Made with real SKIPPY® peanut butter!
SKIPPY® P.B. Bites were perfect, in their own little container with a lid that could be closed up. They were nice bite-size snacks to grab and pop in his mouth (please make sure to use adult supervision for kids 6 and under). Make sure to stock up on snacks for the flight and bring resealable containers for them!
(Note: These suggestions include affiliate links for your convenience and to help support Hands On As We Grow.)
As you can see, he’s also wearing headphones. We bought these just for the trip, along with headphone jack splitters so they could share an iPad together (we only have one, and borrowed my parents’). The iPad alone was entertaining enough on the flight out there, but on the flight back, they needed more. (Read about why I think technology is important if you have any concerns. In addition, its vacation and rules go out the window on vacation for this household!)
Package play dough in small containers (so you don’t end up with a ton of it out and all over the place). Bring a plastic knife to roll and slice it into pieces. You could also do this with silly putty.
Have an assortment of stickers and just plain paper to stick them onto. You can then take it further by drawing a picture to go with the stickers. Or you could do a sticker match-up!
Take along a couple of books. However, these get super heavy in your carry-on (if you have a backpack like we did) so don’t pack too many. Look and find books are great to keep young kids occupied (here’s a list of interactive books). Or use this time to bond and read together.
One idea many others had was to wrap up dollar store toys and hand them one every 30 minutes (or just grab ones from the toy box a while before the trip so they’re new again).
Painter’s tape! I was so excited when someone suggested this idea, as painter’s tape is a favorite supply of mine. Do the peeling tape activity, easy enough!
Bring along a travel-size Magnetic Doodler or dry erase board and markers.
I’ve heard window clings are perfect! Look for them in the sales aisles after the holiday, cheap entertainment!
This last idea I wish I saw before leaving on our trip because I think its genius for both keeping young kids busy, but also learning. Take along a few coins and a coin sorter! Just make sure not to take too many coins along as they might all end up rolling (I don’t want to see you losing tens of dollars in coins!).
Keep it simple and low-stress!
So many of these are excellent ideas, and we tried some of them and I’m so excited to try some of them the next time. But I can’t stress enough how easy snacks and the iPad are. Especially if you limit screen and snacks normally, this is a special occasion, they’ll be super excited!
The SKIPPY® P.B. Bites were perfect, they were easy to eat and weren’t sticky or messy that needed to be cleaned up. They’re found in the peanut butter aisle right next to the regular peanut butter jars. They taste great (and kind of addicting), we tried the Double Peanut Butter flavor, but there’s also a Pretzel flavor if you’re into pretzels.