Effective Ways To Keep Kids Entertained on a Plane

Effective Ways To Keep Kids Entertained on a Plane

Flying with kids can be a fun experience, but it can also be overwhelming. There’s the excitement of travel and the need to keep little ones entertained during the sometimes stressful and always enclosed hours of a flight. Fortunately, there are effective ways to keep kids entertained on a plane that will turn your next in-flight marathon into a joyride for kids and adults alike.

After traveling with our kids on dozens of flights, I’ve figured out a system for planning a smooth day by giving them the right amount of responsibility so that they are entertained but still enthusiastic about travel days. By planning ahead I can set our kids up for success on a flight, which makes everyone’s life easier.

Pack the Essentials

Before bounding onto the plane with your brood, pack an entertainment kit that rivals any treasure trove. Snacks are key to stave off hunger and provide comfort for nervous flyers. Opt for a mix of healthy and favorite treats, and don’t underestimate the power of chewing gum during takeoff and landing to soothe sensitive ears. I try to pack two savory snacks for every one sweet snack. I also try to reserve the snacks for things we don’t usually get. My go-to special sweets are typically fruit snacks and m&ms. My go-to savory snacks include granola bars, veggie chips, energy balls, crackers, and dried fruit.

Quiet games, coloring books, stickers, magnets, and tablets with headphones to enjoy in-flight entertainment quietly are absolute essentials. I like to even include a headphone splitter if two people want to watch the same show. A surprise toy or two tucked into a backpack pocket can work wonders when attention spans wane. Sometimes I will wrap some toys up in wrapping paper to keep an element of surprise on the flight. Remember, preparation is your passport to tranquility at 30,000 feet.

two kids sitting in an airplane playing with a teddy bear

Plan Interactive Games

Harness the unique proximity and uninterrupted time of a flight for some good, old-fashioned bonding. You can easily play interactive games such as I Spy and tic-tac-toe on the tray table. Card games are a big hit with our kids: go fish, skipbo junior, and pete the cat big lunch card game are popular in our household. I will even take the airplane manual and play the alphabet game, where we look for each letter of the alphabet starting with a. I usually recommend this game during take off and landing when we can’t have activities out on our trays.

Whether you’re encouraging your young ones to verbalize their imagination or enjoying an age-appropriate book together, storytelling passes the time while nurturing young minds. There are also several benefits of activity books for kids, such as keeping tiny hands busy and creative juices flowing. 

Leverage Technology 

In the digital age, technology offers children a virtual trove of entertainment. Load up on educational apps or games that sneak in learning as they have fun. Movies can turn in-flight screen time into a family event, offering a shared experience and a welcome distraction. I recommend downloading a few shows or movies to your tablet in case the internet or inflight entertainment is unavailable. Netflix and Amazon Prime are easy ways to dowload with a variety of age-appropriate options for kids.

You can also engage with your child’s burgeoning interests by downloading relevant podcasts the family can listen to, sparking discussions and curiosity. Just be sure to bring power packs for any devices to avoid the dreaded “low battery” announcement.

two kids eating food on an airplane

Use the Environment

Sometimes, the best entertainment is seeing nothing more than fluffy, white clouds. Encouraging kids to look out the window and find shapes or spot landmarks can make the flight more interesting. We try to guess what shapes the clouds are making, which turns into a fun imagination game for the whole family. 

If you’re heading toward a tropical paradise, teach them to recognize different landforms or coastlines. The flight itself becomes part of the adventure instead of a means to an end. When we have flown over major landmarks like the Grand Canyon, St. Louis arch, or the Golden Gate Bridge, I made sure to point them out to the kids. Something about seeing these things from up in the air makes them a bit more magical.

Additional Tips

Lastly, a few good practices for parents can set the mood for the trip. Set expectations with your children about the flight experience and brainstorm together about what activities to enjoy onboard. Use the restroom before getting on the flight, but be prepared for curious bathroom trips during the flight. Bring an extra change of clothes just in case water spills or there is a potty accident.

Stay calm and flexible, juggling kids and carry-ons with a sense of adventure. The key is to view travel as a learning opportunity not just for your kids, but for yourself, too. 

In the end, the goal isn’t merely to survive the flight but to usher in an enjoyable and memorable shared experience. With these helpful tips for entertaining your child on a flight, you’re bound to have a smooth takeoff for your family travel adventures.

Effective Ways To Keep Kids Entertained on a Plane text with picture of two kids looking out window at a plane at airport


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