Wednesday, December 20, 2017

15 genius little ways to entertain children on a plane or road trip

As much as I'd like to take Ben's entire train set with us when we're traveling during the holidays (he's obsessed), it's obviously not happening. I was getting anxious about entertaining him, because I do not want him to spend hours stuck to a screen, but then I asked around and a bunch of moms shared their secret weapons er playthings for the best playthings for plane rides and road trips. (I've refrained from recommending knocking your tot out with Benadryl, one mom's reco, as tempting as it may be).

So, here you go, suggestions for kids of all ages and all abilities. Some parents like to wrap stuff up, enhancing the surprise. None of these will take up much room in your carry-on, but they're all worth their weight in gold. They're also inexpensive, although peace of mind when you're on a plane is priceless.

Painter's tape or washi tape
Tear off pieces and your child can stick them anywhere. Get a pack of ones like the above (Allydrew, $12.05) and you'll have 12 different playthings in fun colors and patterns.

One word: STICKERS
The more, the better—especially if they're reusable, like the ones in these Vehicles and Habitats pads are (Melissa & Doug, $8.99 for two pads). FYI, these are not totally small—they're 11 x14—but they're skinny and would fit in a tote or in a backup. Also available in 'Tis The Season, My Town, a set of Fairy, Dress-Up and Mermaid pads and Play House!

There's always Post-it notes
Seeing a theme here? That would be: sticky! Just bring a pad of Post-its, or try fun shapes like these people cut-outs (Lifetime Inc, $10)

Wait for it: Window gel clings!
Pick them up at the dollar store or online and your child can put them on and off the plane window seat or pull-down tray, like these Under the Sea Ocean ones (Incredible Clings, $9.95). Also check out the Farm Animal Gel ClingsWild Animal Gel Clings, Dinosaur Gel ClingsSolar System Gel Clings, Winter Gel Clings, Insects & Bugs Gel ClingsChristmas Gel Clings, Cars & Trucks Gel ClingsABC's and 123'S Gel Clings and First Words Gel Cling.

A Slinky
Particularly handy if you have a child who likes to stim. (Slinky, $6.31)

Stackable cups
I like this set of eight because they have large numbers embossed on the bottoms of the cups, to sneak in learning. (First Years, $3.99)

Rory's Story Cube
This one's great for older kids. Each one of the nine jumbo one-inch cubes has six images or icons. Roll them for a random grouping of images, then use them to create a story that starts with "Once upon a time...." Hopefully, they'll give your plane ride a happy ending. (Gamewright, $8.74)

Finger puppets
Ten opps to keep your child amused! These animal cuties are made of soft velvet. (Super Z. Outlet, $6.99)

Color Wonder Mess-Free Coloring Mini Stow & Go Pad
Super-portable. No-mess—the invisible marker only shows up on the special paper, not on hands. Fun. Win win win! (Crayola, $7.78). There's also the Disney Frozen pad, Paw Patrol pad, Sofia the 1st, Disney Planes and Despicable Me.

Water Wow! On The Go Water-Reveal Pads
More no-mess coloring: These involve filling a little wand with a bit of water. (Melissa & Doug, $4.99). There are a whole lot of kinds including Pet Mazes, Shapes, Numbers, ColorsVeggieTales, and even Bible Stories.

It's snacks! It's a rattle! It's both!
Stash mini pretzels, Cheerios, Goldfish or anything crunchy in a container. Says one mom, "It's a fun rattle until they get hangry, then it's a snack!" I like the ZoLi Sumo Snack Dispenser—three 8-ounce stackable countainers that are BPA and phtalate free. (ZoLi, $18)

Buckle toy 
It's already a go-to for us—our little guy will literally not leave home without it. (Buckle Toy, $20)

A koosh ball
This one's a larger four-inch size, so it's especially easy to grasp. (Basic Fun, $12.95)

Twisty thingies
Think pipe cleaners or Wikki Stix ($6.24 for a package).

A mini doodling/drawing board
Check out one that comes with a pen like this mini MagnaDoodle, the compact DoodlePro (Fisher-Price, $8.26) or portable Etch A Sketch.


  1. thank you for these - i just ordered the stacking cups for my son! he will LOVE them.

  2. I hope your trips are fantastic.

    Sticky and twisty things are wonderful for holidays.

    And the educational stacking cups.

    The buckle toy is so cool - it has all kinds of buckles and it seems to be a pillow too?

    And washi tape can be a family affair. Everyone co-operates and/or competes to have the best window.


Thanks for sharing!

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