You’re buckled up on a 10-hour flight, your toddler is fidgeting, the infant is restless, and you realize it’s going to be a long journey. Here’s the good news, though: with some clever planning, you can turn this into a great adventure for your little ones.
It won’t just make this flight easier. Finding some tried-and-true tactics for keeping your kids entertained on a long journey will make every part of traveling and living with a child, in general, easier in the future. That’s because you know how to entertain your kids — and you’re teaching them how to entertain themselves. So let’s talk about some of the best ways to keep your kids entertained on a long-haul flight!
1. The Magic Of Technology
There’s a whole school of parenting that discourages setting up your kids in front of a screen … but sometimes, technology is the best option. Tablets are compact and easy to handle, and with the right selection of games and educational apps, they can provide hours of entertainment.
With kid-friendly options and educational platforms, your tablet can turn into a versatile play-and-learn hub. Plus, playing games that involve words and language — like using a random word generator — can keep their minds sharp during the trip. Just remember to download all the content before you fly, and don’t forget the headphones!
2. Old-School Games
Now, maybe you’re thinking, “What about screen time limits?” Don’t fret. There’s plenty of non-tech fun to be had too. Good old-fashioned games like I-Spy or Tic-Tac-Toe can provide endless amusement for little ones. You could even create your own in-flight bingo, with squares for things your child might see during the flight.
This not only keeps them occupied but also makes them keen observers of their surroundings. One game that never fails is 20 Questions, where you think of an object and your little one gets 20 chances to figure out what it is. There’s an added bonus to these games: adults get bored on long flights, too! Playing a game with your little one can make the flight go faster for both of you.
3. Coloring Books & Drawing Paper
For the budding artists, coloring books can be a godsend. They’re simple, fun, artistic, and don’t require a whole setup to enjoy, so they’re perfected for the limited space of an economy flight. Just make sure to pack washable, non-toxic markers — we don’t want the airplane walls turning into an unexpected canvas!
If your little one is more of a medium one, bringing a sketchbook and some colored pencils (ideal for flights due to being fun, colorful, and almost impossible to stain anything with!) for your artist-in-training to express themselves during the flight is a great way to keep them busy. You can even get them a designated travel sketchbook for them to try to fill up with the things they see on your journey!
4. A Reliable Classic: Books
Don’t underestimate the power of a good book. Whether it’s a colorful picture book for your younger tot or a captivating chapter book for your older one, reading can be an excellent way to pass the time. Interactive books like ‘lift the flap’ or ‘touch and feel’ options can be particularly engaging.
Also, don’t forget a few comfort reads — the familiar can be soothing when everything else is new. Tuck their favorite bedtime story into your carry-on. It may just be the perfect antidote to mid-flight crankiness.
5. Snack Attack
Nothing distracts a grumpy traveler — big or small — like a delicious snack. But let’s face it; airplane food is not known for being gourmet or kid-friendly. Pack a selection of their favorite healthy snacks. Think bite-sized fruits, cheese cubes, mini sandwiches, or granola bars.
It’s not just about filling their tummy; it’s also about keeping them entertained. A variety of different colored and shaped foods can become an impromptu pretend picnic. Hydration is key as well, so don’t forget to fill up a child-safe water bottle after security. Pack an empty one and fill it up once you’re past the security checks — and if your little one prefers flavored drinks, bringing some powder packets to transform your kid’s water bottle into lemonade or fruit punch can be a game changer.
Long-haul flights with kids might seem daunting, but with a bit of prep work, they can turn into enjoyable memory-making journeys. So, load up on entertaining games, engaging books, colorful art supplies, and a smorgasbord of snacks.
And remember: Every challenging moment is also an opportunity — an opportunity for laughter, for learning, and for building lasting memories. So, buckle up, take a deep breath, and enjoy the journey. After all, as the saying goes, the greatest adventure is what lies ahead.