Keeping Little Ones Occupied on an Airplane

Little boy traveling in an airplane

Since it’s the middle of summer vacation season, I thought it’d be a great time to repost these tips! Hope you’re having happy travels!

I’ve done a 4-hour flight with a two month old, a 6-hour flight with a 2-year-old, and even traveled with a 6-year-old from Phoenix to DC to Dakar, Senegal to Johannesburg, South Africa to Lusaka, Zambia (over 36 hours of travel). Not only did we survive our travels, we actually had relatively peaceful trips. While every child is different, I wanted to share a few things we did to make our travels easier.

Bring something new. My son always loves to get new things. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive. A new coloring book or a new Hot Wheels car would often be enough to keep him occupied. As he got older, I found that a new game for his tablet or downloading a movie he hasn’t seen also works well.

Bring old favorites. For a while, my son loved the television show Fairly OddParents so I made sure we had an entire season downloaded to his tablet. We’ve also had trips where we couldn’t leave home without Uno cards, a Rubik’s cube, or Power Rangers action figures.

Bring something comforting. Even at 10-years-old, my son still sleeps easily on a plane if he has some comforts from home. A travel pillow, his favorite blanket, and his favorite small stuffed animal usually do the trick.

Bring a variety of snacks. We all know hungry children are unhappy children and maybe your child isn’t as picky as mine, but it always seemed like my son wanted something other than the first or second or sometimes even the third snack I pulled out of the bag. I also learned that Easy Mac in its own container can be made using hot water from a flight attendant if one needs a quick, kid-friendly meal.

Packed well, all of this can easily fit in a backpack that will fit under the seat in front of you so that you can reach it throughout the flight. While I brought a variety of snacks, I always made sure they were packed in small baggies. My son’s blanket is child-sized and we bring a travel pillow and small toys. A tablet is also small and has a variety of uses from games to books to movies.

Do you have any tried-and-true tricks for traveling with your kids?

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