Thanksgiving is the most traveled day of the year. Are you planning on flying with kids to visit family? You have enough to worry about with packing, let us help with engaging activities for the flight. Below you will find the perfect toys and food to pack in your carry-on, along with games to keep the kids entertained on the flight.
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What to Pack for Plane Toys
Think of open ended toys that can be used many different ways for repeat play. Also take a minute to think of recent favorite toys and books.
- Reusable sticker books
- Sticker activity book
- Crayons and paper
- Squigz suction toy
- Window Gel Clings: letters to spell and/or build a tree
- Books: try to only take one board book as those are heavier and thicker
- Water Wow reusable color book
- Play-Doh (be prepared to throw out the playdough if it gets dropped on the floor)
Games to Play
Unfortunately, flying with kids isn’t relaxing for adults. You will need to engage with them unless you are allowing screen time. Try some of these games and when the seatbelt sign is off take a walk down the aisle to stretch those little, energetic legs.
- Hangman, for older kids who are learning to spell
- Word Search for school age kids
- UNO or Playing Cards
- Become an Author: Help children write and illustrate a book about their trip
- DIY Magnetic Altoid Tin Game: Tic Tac Toe or even Fishing
- Magnetic Easel and Chalk Board
Pack favorite snacks and something that seems like a special treat. As soon as you get through security, purchase milk and if it’s close to a meal time something with protein. Good options are yogurt, bagel with cream cheese, or chicken tenders if a quick restaurant is open. If your child drinks dairy free milk, check at Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, they often have oat, soy, and almond milk. We’ll discuss chewy food options to help pop their ears further on in this article.
- Trailmix without peanuts
- Granola bars
- Pouches for little ones
- Cheerios or puffs
- Dried strawberries and/or snap peas
Screen Time when Flying with Kids
Ahead of time, decide if you are going to let your child watch the plane’s television or use a tablet. Set boundaries such as two 30 minute shows spread out or one movie. Be sure to pack child safe headphones; you can also purchase them once you are through security. If your child has never worn headphones before you can try them out at home during pretend play so they get used to them. If you don’t want them watching tv, but are okay with interactive games, download some ahead on your tablet. Here are some great educational choices:
- Speech Blubs Language App
- ABC Mouse learning app
- Khan Academy Kids educational app
- PBS Kids Games App
- DragonBox math games for many different ages
- Hopscotch Coding App for older kids
Getting Ears to Pop
This is probably the most important topic when flying with kids. Adults know when their ears feel clogged and need to be popped due to altitude. Children may have never experienced this and certainly don’t know how to fix it. At take-off and landing, have drinks and chewy snacks ready; for babies a pacifier or breastfeeding will do the trick.
It’s key to not offer the snacks too soon. For take-off, literally wait until wheels have left the ground. As for landing wait until you start to feel even the tiniest change in pressure. You want to get ahead of it with kids, not wait until they’re screaming.
I have flown 5 round trip flights with my 2 year old son. Just on our last flight, at 24 months old, was he able to communicate that his ears hurt. This was the first time that teaching him to open his mouth really wide or yawning helped pop his ears. You can ask your child to make a silent dinosaur roar to encourage them to open wide. Here are our favorite ear popping snacks:
- Teensy Soft’ fruit snacks by Plum organics, mini fruit leathers that are safe for 1 year olds to chew
- Raisins, once he was 2 years old and able to safely chew them
- Organic fruit gummies, once he was 2 years old and able to safely chew them
- Pouches, when he was 1 year old
- Milk via breast or bottle and then a straw as the child gets older
Now it’s time for take-off, buckle up, and have fun. Flying with kids is a special experience, so make it fun and know that you can be lenient for one day with usual food or screen time rules. To learn about traveling with a nanny, read here!
About The Author
Kelsey Dickson has over 15 years of experience working with children as a nanny, preschool teacher, and now a mother. She has her degree in Early Childhood Education and works for Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny as the eLearning Manager. Check out our online childcare classes, such as Baby Sign Language and Sleep Coaching 101! In her free time she enjoys gardening with her son, going for walks with her husband and dog, and discovering local wineries in New England.