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Airplane Survival Packing List: Entertaining Young Kids by Alison

by Alison, posted to Parenting

Toys & tactics that have saved our sanity while flying the friendly skies.

See all Top 10 lists from Parenting

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Small Wrapped Gifts

The kid's law of presents: A wrapped toy is way more exciting than an unwrapped toy. The act of unwrapping is also entertaining! Pick up a few treats before your trip and wrap them, then dole them out over the course of the journey.

Eden Godsoe: This is the BEST list on this topic that I have ever seen. Seriously - such good ideas. I wish I had had this list a couple of years back when I traveled solo with my kids. Now that they are 4 & 7 it's much easier. Awesome job!

Alison: Thank you! Mine are now 5 & 8, and it is MUCH easier, but we had to travel a lot when they were little and I kept adding to this list whenever we found something that saved us on a plane!

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Wikki Stix

Wikki Stix, I love you. One of the best travel toys on the planet: mess-free, completely compact, and very entertaining. Make pretend jewelry, snails, alphabet letters... no limits here.

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Plastic Tray with Raised Edges

It may seem cumbersome to carry a plastic tray in your carry-on, but if you bring a small tray with raised edges, your kids can play with tiny cars, beads, or anything else that ordinarily would roll under the seat. Kids can have this on their laps while still using their seat back trays for snacks and drinks.

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Sticker Books with Vinyl Cling Stickers

If you can find a sticker book with vinyl stickers, and you have access to a window on the plane, instant fun: kids can decorate the window with clingy stickers. (Caution: Don't try this with real stickers!)

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Babybug, Ladybug, or Cricket Magazine

There was a time when I did not leave the house without a pile of Babybug magazines. Cricket, Spider and Ladybug are literature magazines for older children published by the same company and continue to be a big hit. Babybug is especially fabulous for travel with babies because each issue is durable and much more packable than a board book!

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Paperback Childrens' Books

The I Can Read series is particularly portable. Our strategy: Pack extra "fresh" books in your checked luggage, swap them into your carry-on for the return flight.

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Tube of Plastic Animals

Takes up very little packing space. Instant zoo on your tray table.

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Pockets of Learning Soft Play Sets

This company makes soft play sets that zip up to enclose their contents. This particular set is full of zoo animal toys with their own individual pockets. Great for the very youngest travelers.

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Assorted Art Essentials

We keep a set of travel art supplies: paper, colored pencils, small skinny markers, stencils, self-inking rubber stamps. This alphabet stencil is really compact and kids love using these to write notes.

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Triangular Crayons

Triangular crayons: saving you from searching your seat at least 300 times on your flight.

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Scotch Tape and Post-It Notes

In case of sheer boredom, hand your child a full roll of Scotch Tape or an entire pad of Post-It notes. Trust me. (I've also heard that a roll of painter's tape can serve this purpose, but haven't tried it yet...)

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Crayola Color Wonder Books and Markers

A kid travel classic.

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Doodle Pro

Sure, you can doodle on an iPad now, but iPad apps can't quite replace the satisfaction of clearing the screen with that big sliding eraser tab on a Doodle Pro.

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My girls love this toy, which uses real fabric scraps to dress a cute wooden cutout figure. Playing with fabric is the highlight, and a bag of fabric scraps may be just as fun!

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Magnetic Play Sets

Magnetic dress-up or activity sets have given us a lot of mileage.

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Squiggle Drawing Game

You can play a version of this game with just a pencil and paper, but the spinner on the back adds an extra element of fun to Squiggle.

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Namit Question Game

This tiny laminated set of cards has conversation starting games for very little kids. Great for waiting in lines, can fit easily into a pocket or purse.

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Pre-Made Travel Activity Kits

If you have no time to pack, you can buy pre-assembled travel toy kits at

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iPod. or iPad.

We didn't have iPods or iPads when we started flying with our kids. We also walked to school 10 miles each way in the snow. I bet you have one of these already. Don't leave home without it.

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comments (1)


Eden Godsoe:

 I wish I had seen this list when my kids were younger - seriously good recommendations!