Airplane travel with kids can be easy and fun for the whole family. Not long ago, in the days before electronic devices were allowed to be used during takeoff and seat backs featured televisions with built-in video games, you had to pack a huge busy bag to keep kids of any age from being bored, acting up, and driving each other — and you — crazy.
Now, traveling for some families is as easy as making sure you have enough devices, chargers, games, pre-loaded movies, and comfy headphones to last the duration of the flight.
That said, if you don't want your kids to turn into electronic device-addicted zombies, you may want to bring a few distractions to minimize screen-time. Try these three tips and tricks to help make a long plane ride with your children just a little easier.
Fun and Games
Check your local dollar store or the dollar bins at Target, Michael's Crafts, JoAnn's, or Daiso markets for small, inexpensive activities that will keep your kids busy, either alone or together. Stuck on a plane, kids will do activities they would rarely consider when faced with infinite options on the ground! Try adding these activities to your travel bag:
- deck of cards
- coloring book and self-sharpening crayons
- origami paper and origami how-to book (you can find these at some dollar stores)
- dollar store surprises like puzzles, a sudoku book, word search, or mini craft kits
- friendship bracelet strings and instruction booklet
- travel chess, checkers, battleship, or other magnetic travel games
- games magazine
- graphic novels
Preparing for airplane travel with kids is one thing, but planning ahead for lost luggage, delays, and medical emergencies calls for a whole other level of being prepared. Carry on anything you can't replace or do without on the first few days of your trip in case of lost luggage. That includes enough diapers, wipes, and a change of clothing for all of you for the first day, prescription medications, and contact lens solution and eyeglasses. Remember to also pack:
- wet wipes for sticky fingers
- gum to chew during pressure changes at take-off and landing for older children or lollipops for preschoolers
- comfy sweatshirt that can double as a blanket
- allergy medicine, headache medicine, band-aids, ear drops, and all prescription medications
- change of clothes for you and your child if they're preschool-aged or younger
- more diapers and wipes than you think you'll need in case of delays or lost luggage
- sippy cup or straw cup
- paper towels
Some kids are fine with eating airplane or airport food, while others may need you to bring their favorite make-ahead or prepackaged foods. Make sure to have some of these easy-to-pack snacks on hand:
- individual servings of cookies, crackers, chips, dried fruit, fruit slices, and other snacks
- special treats to dole out sporadically
- drink mixes like Carnation Instant Breakfast drink to mix into milk in case plane food is "icky"
- extra formula in case of a flight delay
What extra preparations do you take to prepare for a long flight with your kids?