Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Airplane Traveling with Toddlers

We have flown a lot in the past 2 years with my little son. We probably fly somewhere at least every month, if not more often. The farthest we have flown is from Boston to SF, so that's not too far, but we feel we have learned a lot about keeping a toddler occupied on a plane... mostly from bad experiences.

I am usually over prepared for the flight, but I outdid myself this past week and managed to not only have a successful flight alone with my son (no crying, tantrums, running around, etc), but also a really fun one that I enjoyed and wasn't completely filled with DVD watching.

Below are some of our favorite activities from today's flight. If you have fun airplane ideas for toddlers or young kids, please share them! I love traveling and want to keep making it fun for our whole family!


- Coloring with our Cars Crayola Color Wonder Coloring Book. I love these books and markers and am a bit addicted to coloring in them by myself. I also love that they are not messy. I do like regular markers better though because you get immediate feedback regarding where you colored and what areas you missed.

- Magazine Letter Hunt- We used the SKY Magazine and a marker and hunted for letters. I had my son tell me what letter we were looking for and then whenever we found that letter (we focused only on the big print), we colored over the letter. My son noticed a lot of other letters while we did this activity and loved talking about each one that he found.

- Lots and lots of books! We brought books and had reading time (independent and read aloud by mom). I prolonged the activity by asking a lot of questions and having my son point out and talk about different things happening on each page.

- Presents!!! Who doesn't like to open presents? Especially on an airplane! We saved this activity til we were really bored. My little guy loved just getting to rip the paper and savored every moment.

His Thomas Easter train kept him occupied for quite awhile. We used the arm rest as a train track and a tunnel and Thomas also crashed off the bridge (arm rest) onto the seat many times. I stuck my elbow in the space between the seats so that Thomas didn't fall behind us into our neighbor's space. Fortunately we had three seats to ourselves, so we didn't bother too many people.

- Barf Bag puppets!!! We took out some markers and I drew faces on the bags and my little guy colored their bodies and backs.

Then we did a little puppet show. This girl liked chatting with Thomas and soaring through the air during the turbulent times on the plane.

- More coloring! I brought tons of random coloring pages that he had never seen before. I also brought markers. He will color with markers FOREVER. Crayons are much cleaner, but I sacrificed a few stains on his shirt (that will come off) for a happy kid who colored for a long time.

- Pez dispensers- These are great for little fingers because they are tricky to use and help hone some fine motor skills. Thomas the Pez Dispenser also had fun playing with Thomas the train (above) for awhile. The pez candy is another added bonus, but it is super sugary, so I try to only keep one of the three candy packages visible.

- DVD time. After a particularly turbulent patch on the plane, we needed a little break so we (mostly me) wouldn't get sick. I was happy to say though that my little guy only wanted to watch about 15 minutes of TV this time because he was having so much fun doing projects and being creative.

- Bunny Mallow sorting- this was awesome and simple. See previous post for more details.

- Playdough- We used every random tool they gave us on the flight to dig in the playdough- plastic cups, straws, pretzels, plastic lids, etc.

- We also made a playdough nest for our little chick.

- The last 25 minutes of the flight was spent playing with this great Target find- spring colored playdough with little molds. I have never brought playdough on an airplane before but will definitely do that again! We loved making frogs, ducks, bunnies, bears, and dogs out of playdough... in addition to just rolling balls and making snowmen (my son is obsessed with them for some reason).

What other fun items do you put in your child's airplane bag?

What are your favorite tips that you can share with travelers who have young kids?

How do you juggle more than one young child on a plane when you fly alone?

Please share!


  1. these are seriously fantastic ideas - we've also traveled quite a bit with M and every time it gets more stressful. We're heading to Boston in a couple weeks and we'll be using some of these ideas for sure. Thanks!

  2. Great ideas Kristina! One item we can't do without is an Aquadoodle book - pages turn color with special water pen or paintbrush and will always dry back to clear so you can use it over and over again!

  3. What great ideas! Will be using some of these for our upcoming trip!!

  4. We love the little backpack leashes both my kids fight over them we leave in 7 days for our yearly trip and I told my mother in law the kids fight over the leash so she got a sec one for my son who is terning 2 they are only $10 but if she's willing I'm OK with that... I'm a big beleiver in the DVD but this yr we bought sticker books for both my kids 600+ stickers and coloring pages.. you have some great ideas like the puppets and lots of books...thank you

  5. Thank you for these great ideas. We are leaving for a 15 hr flight to Australia in 6 weeks and I've been combing the internet for ideas.

  6. I am so relieved to know you can take the playdoh. I just got some for a trip this week and was a little nervous it wouldn't pass security.


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