First off, let’s all put our hands together and applaud the iPad, iPhone and in flight entertainment system. But there was a time when we all travelled without these items and our parents managed to keep us entertained with old school items like ‘our imagination’, ‘a book’ and ‘Travel Connect 4’.
Despite the wonders of technology, you cannot be reliant on them e.g. electronic items can’t be switched on until you’re at cruising altitude, your battery may have died on your ipad, or even worse – your seatback TV is broken! Therefore it’s always good to come armed with an arsenal of fun activities for the kids. Also, I can’t be the only parent out there that despite all the wonderful educational apps out there, gains more satisfaction out of seeing my kids drawing and playing with sticker books than nose firmly implanted on an ipad.
- Reusable sticker books. There are so many on the market – don’t buy ones where your kids can’t unpeel the stickers themselves or you’ll end up having to do it for them.
- Window stickers – the ones that have a ‘plastic’ feel that you can easily peel off things. The air stewards won’t thank you for it but your kids will have lots of fun sticking them on the windows, tray table etc.
- Notepads. Go to a stationery shop and buy some cheap notepads which are great for drawing, games of naughts & crosses even making paper aeroplanes
- Crayons – the triangular ones are especially good as they don’t roll on the floor
- A new discovery for my daughter are ‘rainbow looms’ bracelet making kits. This will keep her occupied for hours!
- My daughters also love sticky mosaics – basically a colourful design where they stick on colour coded foam mosaic pieces. You can buy mosaic kits like these from craft shops, toy stores or order online.
- Usborne do great activity cards. My daughter absolutely loves the ‘Travel Doodles’ which are wipe-clean cards that come with a pen and ’50 Things To Spot At The Airport’ is a winner with kids and husbands alike.
- I’ve found these nifty reversible chalkboard/whiteboards that come with chalks, erasers, pens and magnets. These are also useful for evenings out in restaurants.
- Kids do tend to spill everything on the floor. One way around this is with a magnetic toy/book. Amazon have quite a few brands on offer and my daughters love their ones from Tiger Tribe
- Books. Mini books especially are lots of fun and easy/lightweight to pack
- Post it notes
- Sick bag hand puppets
- The inflight magazine game! This involves taking one inflight magazine and tearing pictures out of it. Then give the pictures to your kid, along with another inflight magazine and ask them to find the same picture. Snap!
- Stacking cups (either bring your own or use the cups you get with a meal). If you don’t mind the mess then a cup of ice can also be minutes of fun for little kids.
Don’t buy anything too expensive as they will end up losing the pieces or leaving it on the plane.
Stock up at your local charity shop or pound store. You can even wrap little toys if you want to give ‘surprises’ for good behaviour.
For babies, check out my top 10 toys for babies on a plane
Consider how you/they will carry their inflight activities. I recommend backpacks for smaller kids and wheelie luggage for older ones. But the likelihood is you will end up carrying it all at some point!