There’s no greater joy than being a parent, and you’re lucky enough to be able to show your children the world. Despite the excitement you feel about your upcoming trip, though, you worry about how your little ones will handle an extra-long flight — there are only so many distractions you can pack in your carry-on, after all.
Fortunately, you don’t need to lug every single toy that has ever caught your child’s eye. Instead, a few strategic items and a bit of creativity on your end is all you need to keep your children happy, no matter how long your flight. And, even better, once you have a plan in mind, you can look forward to your trip without any flight-related trepidation.
Here are our top tips:
Have Them Pack Their Own Bags
You don’t want your little ones responsible for packing clothes, shoes and winter coats, of course. But you can give each of your kids a backpack or small suitcase to fill with the toys, books and electronic devices he or she wants to bring on-board. That way, your kids will feel a bit of excitement about what they’ve brought and ownership over it, too. In other words, they’ll want to distract themselves with the fun stuff they got to pack all on their own.
… But Bring a Surprise or Two in Your Own Bag, Just in Case
Even with the right to pack their own bags and the excitement that comes with that, your kids might still somehow get bored of what they have. You should be prepared for this with a last-ditch book or toy hidden in your own carry-on, too. The element of surprise will make your toy choice even more of a hit and will hopefully keep them entertained ‘til you’re wheels down in your destination.
Brush Up on Classic Road Trip Games
You remember them from your own childhood, and you may have even played with your kids before, too. Road trip games have stood the test of time because, well, they’re fun. All you need to do is choose a game — there are plenty of road trip games that will work on board a plane with or without rule alteration — and go with it. Whether you’re playing I Spy, 20 Questions, Plane Ride Bingo or Hangman, you’ll find the time flying by — no pun intended.
These days, airlines are stingy with the snacks. Your kids probably won’t stand for this type of treatment, but you’ll have to be the one that provides them with extra edibles in-air. The good thing about packing your kids’ airplane snacks is that you can be in control of what they eat: healthy airplane snacks for kids like string cheeses, Goldfish crackers and fruit are easy to pack, carry and are better for your kids than sugar-laden cookies that some airlines pass out.
Stretch Their Legs
A long-haul flight will have even the oldest of adults feeling restless, so imagine how your kids feel being cooped up in a chair for hours on end. To make things easier, get your children up for a walk up and down the aisle. If they’re balanced enough, you can even help them through a few stretches that will loosen up their muscles and make them more comfortable for the rest of the flight.
Fill in a Travel Journal
For older kids, a travel journal might just be the perfect way to stay busy — and a great low-tech option for in-flight fun that will keep them occupied during your flight. In it, your kids will write about what they hope to see and do; on the way home, they can draw pictures of what they saw or file away ticket stubs from all the places you went. Even better, you can probably find an inexpensive scrapbook to hold all of it, so a new travel journal for every vacation — and for every kid — won’t break the bank.
Pack Play Doh
An airplane doesn’t seem like the right place to play with Play Doh, but think about it: your kid will have a small table at the ready, and it’s the perfect surface for squishing, rolling and building with Play Doh. Just be sure you bring along a cleaning wipe so that flight staff doesn’t have to clean up after a glittery or otherwise colorful mess.
Make a List and Check It (At Least) Twice
No matter how you plan to distract your kids on an extra-long flight, you won’t be able to do it without a well-thought-out plan for packing. So, make a list of everything your kids could possibly need on the plane and put it in your carry on: medications, Band-Aids, extra sweaters and socks, extra clothes (for messy eaters), extra games, batteries, chargers… Having a well-organized arsenal of supplies will make it so much easier to assuage any on-board needs your kids have.
There’s no right or wrong way to entertain your kids. Whether they like books, tablets, soft toys or sleep, you know what to bring to keep everyone happy. The above tips are just meant to make that process even easier and lessen some of the stress that comes with family travel. So, pack up, plan well and get going: it’s time for family vacation, all of which will be a great time for everyone in your brood.
Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.