Before I had kids I was a horrible flyer. When turbulence would hit I'd practically sit on the lap of the person seated next to me. (Awkward!) But after having kids, those fears were replaced by an even scarier one... fear of the whining/crying child!! I want our vacation fun to start as soon as we get on the plane so I had to develop some tricks to keep them from getting restless. Now that my girls are ages seven and nine they can entertain themselves, but they've come to love our plane traditions and look forward to them. Here are my Top 15 Ways to Entertain a Kid on a Plane:
1. WRAP SOME GIFTS: A few months before the trip I start collecting inexpensive toys and I wrap them individually. I number each gift and the girls open one gift each hour on the plane. They know they can open the first one as soon as we're in the air so they are distracted during take-off by feeling the gift and trying to figure out what is underneath the wrapping paper. I try to buy toys the girls can use at restaurants while on our trips. Some of their favorites have been purses you can color (later used to carry their stuff), craft books, and small toys. I sometimes give an extra gift if there is a long layover. Remember to pack gifts for the return trip.
2. CRAFTS: You don't want any crafts that have too many pieces or that's too messy. Remember to bring any supplies needed for the craft. I've forgotten glue and scissors before...fail!
3. NEW GAMES AND APPS: The night before the trip I download new games and apps onto their electronic devise. I choose free ones so I can add on a ton. They are not allowed to look at them until they get to the airport so they are a surprise for the flight.
4. NEW MAGAZINES: I buy interactive magazines, like Highlights, that are filled with games and puzzles. They also have subscriptions to magazines so I save the last two issues for the trip. American Girl is a new favorite in our house. They bring the magazines with them to the beach or pool.
5. DOWNLOAD SOME NEW MOVIES: Movies can kill a lot of time on a plane. I try to download ones that they haven't seen. I put 2-3 different movies on each of their electronics so they have 4-6 to choose from. If they choose to watch the same one, they use a splitter for their headphones.
6. COLORING BOOKS: We always bring colored pencils as well as markers. My girls have what they call, "plane markers." They are markers that are attached to a keychain. These are the best because they are connected so they do not roll off their seat trays.
7. CHAPTER BOOKS: Now that my girls are reading on their own they each carry a chapter book. These can also be used at the beach or pool.
8. CANDY/SNACKS: I include candy that takes them a while to eat it like Pop Rocks, lollipops, and gum. I also keep protein snacks, like granola bars, for when they are actually hungry. I try to bring along snacks we don't have in our house, like Fruit Rollups and Gushers, for an extra treat.
9. CARD GAMES: A deck of cards can quickly cure boredom. Go Fish is always a good choice and War is our new favorite.
10. TOYS: Part of their gifts are always small toys. I buy toys they can play with at the hotel or on the beach. I try not to have ones that have too many little pieces that can fall off their seat tray. (I learned this the hard way!) My girls love Squinkies, Littlest Pet Shops, and small Lego sets. I always have them pack something to carry them in like a pencil case. Magnetic toys are great too because they stick to the base.
11. SIMPLE GAMES: Tic-Tac-Toe is always great as well as our new favorite...MASH. All you need is a pencil and a piece of paper. Mad Libs is always great too.
12. JOURNALS: My older daughter now loves to carry her Smash Book (the journal of her generation). She writes in it on the way there about how excited she is and then on the way home she organizes her maps, ticket stubs, and pamphlets. Remember to bring supplies like glue spots.
13. PLAY-DOH: This was a favorite when my girls were younger.
14. NEW MUSIC: My youngest daughter loves music so I link her electronics with mine so she can listen to my music.
15. TOYS FROM HOME: I let the girls pack some small toys of their choice to bring from home. They have to carry it in their backpacks so they can't be too heavy.
With just a little planning, the whole family will have an enjoyable flight. Sit back, enjoy a cocktail, and read a magazine from cover to cover. It's vacation time!