If you’re scheduled to fly with your kids you may be wondering how to keep them occupied during the flight. One key to keeping kids happy while flying is to vary activities. Make each activity last as long as possible, but introduce a new activity as soon as you sense boredom. Here are some possible diversions.
1. The view. Avoid using any of your entertainment tactics until the flight gets underway. Spend the waiting time looking out the window for other planes, practicing seat belt buckling, watching for your suitcases to be loaded etc. Later, point out any interesting features you’re flying over or challenge kids to guess where you are.
2. The carry-on bag. Stock it with different types of activities: reading, activity books, small toys, snacks, games, and a few surprises. See the links below for more ideas. The carry-on bag is your most important weapon against in-flight boredom.
3. In-flight magazines. These are a treasure trove of activities. Use them to play “I spy”, ask your kids to find all the letters of the alphabet, ask them to choose imaginary gifts from the airline catalog, or take turns placing “orders” from the catalog and “delivering” the item. Most airlines intend for you to take these magazines so don’t worry if they get worn out.
4. The drink cart. Your airline may not provide meals, but you can still take advantage of the drink cart. As soon as you’re airborne, tell kids to find the drink menu and choose a beverage. Many kids can drag this decision out for an eternity. Ask the flight attendant for a coffee stirrer; kids can use it as a straw to make the drink last longer. Also get some ice in their cup; young children will suck on ice cubes for quite awhile!
5. A new hobby. Play tic-tac-toe or hangman, count to 20 (or higher), teach them how to knit, how to play 20 questions, or anything else you think they’d like to learn.
6. Earphones. When you need a break, your child can watch TV or listen to music. Save this strategy for the end of the flight when everyone’s nerves are wearing thin.
7. Decorating. Let kids use up their energy by plastering themselves (or you) with stickers. Make a puppet from the airline sickness bag (encourage them to take a really long time decorating it) and have a puppet show. Draw pictures and ask your child to guess what you’re drawing.
8. The travel blanket. Not only is it great for naps, it can be used to play peek-a-boo or form a tiny tent for a stuffed animal.
9. The facilities. Even if they say they don’t have to go, take kids to the restroom at least once. We had a fiasco with a child who drank way too much soda and decided they needed to go as the plane was landing. Not pretty.
10. Something really great. Keep a few never-fail tricks up your sleeve for the last part of the flight: favorite candy, a video game, or a new toy. If your child is having a great time, you can save your tricks for the return flight.