Easy travel games, products and ideas that will help get you and your kids through a long flight
Samuel L. Jackson was terrified of snakes on a plane. But the tough guy never dealt with an energetic toddler on a five-hour flight to Grandma’s house. Now that’s scary.
But you don’t need to worry. All you need to do is print and save this list. You’ll find 50 fabulous ways to pass the time, without annoying fellow passengers or running into TSA restrictions (play-dough, glue sticks and ninja throwing stars are all in the “forbidden” category, no matter how much your toddler may enjoy them at home).
Pick your favorite lightweight, no-fuss options from the following list. Go ahead, have a good time on the plane. They aren’t charging you for that—yet.
Have an electronic fanatic under your care? Check out the Best iPhone and iPad Games for Little Kids!
- Play a gentle game of catch with a mini Koosh Ball.
2. Create a sticky situation with small, inexpensive Dover Little Activity Books; choose from stickers, paper dolls and dot-to-dot.
3. Play a fun game without worry that you’ll lose the pieces with this magnetic game set.
4. Surprise your child on the plane with coloring pages of a favorite character, like these Sesame Street printables.
5. Use beeswax crayons, rectangular crayons or glitter crayons (look for ones that won’t roll away) on a variety of papers stapled together: colored, tracing and textured.
6. Spin string through different farm animals with lacing boards.
7. Retell a fairy-tale story with finger puppets, like the Three Little Pigs.
8. Can’t find any rainbows out the airplane window? Make your own with a kaleidoscope.
9. Surprise your child with new lift-the-flap board books, like this fun book set.
11. Mix up a silly cake (don’t forget the imaginary twigs and dirt) using a kiddie spoon, fork and measuring spoons from home. Bonus: It’ll taste better than anything the airline serves.
12. Keep little fingers busy with some Moon Sand.
13. Play dress-up on the plane with a small bag of old necklaces, bracelets, scarves and sunglasses.
14. Encourage dress-yourself skills with a zipper, snaps, and Velcro sewn onto denim, or bring along an educational toy like the Melissa & Doug Teddy Wear.
15. Go fishing with a stick, string and dowel. Create “fish” out of Post-it notes.
16. Wrap (and unwrap) toys with squares of tin foil—no tape required!
17. Pop a favorite (or even better, new) DVD into your portable DVD player.
21. Color (mess free!) with the a Color Wonder art set.
22. Create scenes with stamps, a stamp pad and paper, such as with these Melissa & Doug pet stamps.
24. Load a new app on the iPhone.
25. Arm yourself with lots of options with My Busy Kit, a mom-made tote stuffed with activities, including markers, tape, quiet toys and lacing puzzles.
26. Drive toy trucks on a travel activity tray.
27. Make faces with Mr. Potato Head.
28. Play card games like Uno or make your own trading cards.
29. Cause a giggle fit with a wind-up seal or dancing robot from California Creations.
30. Create a colorful collage with magazines; just snip out letters, animals and faces and connect with tape.
31. Create dot art using Do-A-Dot Art Dot Mark
32. Listen to favorite audiobooks or storyteller’s yarns, like those offered by audible.com.
34. Transform your angel into a (temporary) rock star with rub-on tattoos. Count slowly as you wait for the tat to transfer.
35. Make mazes and spell names with a Travel Magna Doodle.
36. Perform magic with Invisible Ink coloring books, like this Marvel Heroes one.
38. Cook up a play campsite for a favorite doll with what’s on hand or what you can score from the airline attendant—napkin tent, coffee stirrer firepit etc.
39. Toy with portable activity kits, like this no-sew stuffed animal kit.
40. Co-author a book: Write down your child’s dictated story on a pre-stapled stack of paper, and ask him to supply the illustrations.
41. Set up a safari scene with miniature plastic animals, like those from Schleich.
42. Fold origami paper into cranes and caterpillars. Print pages from the site Origami Club for simple-to-follow directions.
44. Assemble a small travel puzzle, but keep track of dropped pieces.
45. Create 3-D sculptures with Wikki Stix or pipe cleaners.
48. Make a bouncing ball out of three bags of rubber bands.
49. Bring the Nintendo Switch so you can have five minutes of quiet with a magazine.
50. Bungee toys off of the tray table or arm rest with elastic tape.
51. Perfect for fidgety fingers, this Fisher-Price My First Fidget Cube is great for keeping busy babes entertained.
52. A good page turner always makes time fly by. Check out a few good reads on this Kindle for Kids.
53. No paper? No problem! Kids can write, draw and trace shapes and letters on a light up drawing tablet like this one from KAKIBLIN.
54. Put your kiddo’s mind to the test with a fun memory game like this Disney Princess Matching Game.
55. This Melissa & Doug Wiggling Worm Grasping Toy is perfect for when squirmy babes start getting a little restless. Baby can twist and turn it to form a different shape.
56. Have a little fun changing the view from your window seat with colorful window clings.
57. Dream up wild adventures with a magnetic travel playset like this Pidoko Fire Station. Comes with a convenient carrying case for easy travel.
58. Little artists can brush up on their painting skills with mess-free (and paint-free) Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Aquadoodle Mini Mats.
59. Have a Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet handy for plenty of in-flight entertainment guaranteed to beat boredom.
60. Make pretty pictures on a fun drawing pad like this Melissa & Doug Metallic Marker Trace & Color Pad.