10 Better Ways to Keep Kids Busy on a Plane For a Smoother Flight

By John Cruz

There are several ways to keep kids busy on a plane, but it requires some preplanning on you, the parent.

I know that traveling with kids can be a challenge, especially when it comes to keeping them entertained on a long flight.

Children can easily become bored and restless, leading to tantrums and frustration for both the child and the parent.

However, with a little planning and creativity, there are plenty of ways to keep kids busy and happy during a flight.

Now, depending on how long your flight is, you might want to pack accordingly.

10 Best Ways to Keep Kids Busy on a Plane


One way to keep kids entertained on a plane is by bringing along a variety of activities and games.

Coloring books, puzzles, and sticker books are all great options that can keep kids occupied for hours.

It’s also a good idea to bring along a tablet or portable DVD player with headphones loaded with their favorite movies or shows.

Another way to keep kids busy on a plane is by involving them in the travel experience.

Encourage them to look out the window and point out interesting sights, or give them a map of the flight path so they can track the journey.

Additionally, many airlines offer in-flight entertainment options specifically designed for children, such as kid-friendly movies and TV shows.

By providing a mix of activities and involving them in the travel experience, parents can help ensure a smooth and enjoyable flight for the whole family.

But, there’s more.

1. Load That Tablet

I don’t care what device you have your kids on, load that sucker.

Download a few movies, a few NEW games, and an interactive app or two.

They might have their go-tos, but remember that it’s children you are dealing with.

Although you can improve their attention spans, it’s not going to change them completely especially not overnight.

Let them be the kids that they are because sooner than later, they will be in high school, doing their own thing.

For your next flight, download some entertainment and give your kids something new to get their attention.

2. Pen and Paper

If you want to keep your kids busy on a plane, a tablet might not cut it.

Sure, they’re used to it at home or wherever you go, but you have to remember that they have other things to distract them.

On a plane, things are different.

They can feel constrained to a seat, and they’re going to need more than just a tablet.

This is when things like coloring books and a good old pen and paper come in handy.

Take a notepad and a few extra pens.

This will also help when it comes time to fill out a customs declaration form.

3. Coloring Books

Coloring books are a great activity to help keep your kids busy on a plane.

They might already have them at home, but they might not use them.

It’s something about that tight space and long flight that will have your kids wanting more than just their tablets.

Take them, regardless.

You’ll thank me later.

4. Play Dough

My wife is completely against this type of stuff, but I embrace it.

Kids will be kids, and unless you’re not paying attention to them, things like playdough and slime are things they should be playing with.

If you want to keep kids busy on a plane, playdough will help keep their minds and hands entertained.

Just be prepared for some “Daddy, look what I made” comments.

Store them in the proper containers to prevent the Playdough from drying out and getting on things.

5. Fidget Toys

I know the fidget spinner has come and gone faster than the pandemic, but it doesn’t mean fidget toys are out of style.

Heck, most people don’t know that there are other fidget toys out there that aren’t fidget spinners.

I know this because I am one of those parents.

Your kids might have introduced you to Poppits and Pop Tubess, but there’s more.

Check out this entire fidget set that you can find on Amazon, and you’ll see all the other cool fidget toys your kids can play with.

6. Magnetic Board Games

If you want to keep your kids busy on a plane, magnetic board games can help.

Regardless of their age and skill level (unless they’re an infant), these things can keep their brains occupied.

Not to say that they will or even have to play these games, but they’ll be amazed at how these things are designed.

For one, they are magnetic.

Everyone loves magnets, and your kids will love these things.

And, two, they are a mini version of what they’re used to seeing.

Put those two together, and you’ll have your kids busy for at least an hour.

7. Travel Puzzles

There’s no better way to keep your kids busy on a plane than by keeping their minds occupied.

One great way to do that is to keep them thinking.

One great way to keep them thinking is through something that allows them to do that.

And this can be done through something like puzzles.

I know it sounds crazy because puzzle pieces will fall easily, and that’s why they have something like Tangram puzzles.

8. Tape Activity Book

Playdough and coloring books are cool, but sometimes your kids need a little more.

Like my daughter, she can stay on her iPad all day but it depends on what she has available and what she’s surrounded with.

If she has nothing else to do, she’ll be fine with her iPad.

If you give her something like a Tape Activity Book, you can bet she’ll put that iPad down.

Keep your kids busy on a plane with a Tape Activity Book.

9. Prepare Conversations

Not every one of us can come up with the best topics to discuss with our children.

Sometimes it’s just weird, while other times it pisses off your children.

Instead of thinking you’re a failure, become a better parent and be prepared.

Think along the lines of what they did that was fun.

Think of what they like and how you will be going to or seeing it.

Talk about what they can expect when they land.

Tell them how amazing the invention of the plane is and how it’s shaped like a ______.

Don’t always be the know-it-all, either.

Make things fun, get creative, and remember that you are dealing with children.

10. Play Games

Sometimes you need to improvise and come up with things on the fly.

You don’t always need to MacGyver your way through things either.

A good game of rock paper scissors is a great place to start.

Remember that you’re trying to satisfy kids and not yourself.

Letting them win is not hard to do, so consider that or expect more problems.

Remember that pen and paper we talked about earlier?

That’s another thing you can use for something like Tic Tac Toe, spelling practice, and whatever it is that you do with young children.

Pre-Flight Preparation


Preparing for a long flight with kids is not something we look forward to, but with a little planning and organization, it can be made much easier.

I would not travel when my kids are in diapers unless I have to.

It’s not fun for us and it’s not fun for everyone else.

However, regardless of age, there needs to be some preparation to help keep kids busy on a plane.

If not, don’t expect the parenting turbulence to be minimal.

Here are a few tips to help make pre-flight preparation a breeze.

Selecting the Right Seats

Choosing the right seats on a plane can make a big difference in keeping kids entertained and comfortable during a flight.

When selecting seats, consider factors such as legroom, proximity to bathrooms, and whether the seats are near the aisle or window.

If traveling with young children, it may be helpful to choose seats near the front of the plane, where there is less noise and disturbance.

If possible, get you and your family in some business class seats.

Packing Essential Items

Packing the right items can help keep kids busy and comfortable during a long flight.

Essential items include snacks, drinks, books, games, and electronic devices.

It’s important to pack enough items to keep kids entertained for the entire flight, as well as any layovers or delays.

Consider packing a small backpack for each child, with their favorite items and snacks.

Setting Expectations

Before boarding the plane, it’s important to set expectations with kids about what to expect during the flight.

Explain the rules of the plane, such as staying seated during takeoff and landing, and the importance of being quiet and respectful of other passengers.

It may also be helpful to discuss how long the flight will be and what activities they can do to pass the time.

This will keep them excited and they will have something to look forward to.

Also, consider saving one item as a surprise.

When all else fails, turn to the surprise and you’ll cover at least another half hour of keeping your kids busy on a plane.

By setting expectations ahead of time, kids will be better prepared for the flight and less likely to become restless or disruptive.

Snacks and Meals


Snacks are always a great way to keep kids busy on a plane.

They are always hungry and snacks are a great way to keep their minds off of the long flight ahead.

Not all snacks are created equal though, so consider opting for the healthier bunch.

Healthy Snack Ideas

Keeping kids fed and happy on a long flight can be a challenge. While it can be tempting to rely on sugary snacks and treats, opting for healthy snacks can help keep kids energized and prevent sugar crashes.

Here are some healthy snack ideas that are easy to pack and travel well:

  • Fresh fruit: Apples, bananas, grapes, and berries all make great snacks. Pack them in a plastic container or bag to prevent them from getting squished.
  • Trail mix: Mix nuts, seeds, and dried fruit for a satisfying and nutritious snack.
  • Veggie sticks: Carrots, celery, and bell pepper slices are all tasty and easy to pack.
  • Cheese and crackers: Choose whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheese for a filling and healthy snack.

Hydration Tips

Staying hydrated is important on a long flight, especially for kids.

Here are some tips for keeping kids hydrated:

  • Pack a refillable water bottle: Many airports have water bottle filling stations, so bring an empty bottle and fill it up after you pass security.
  • Offer water and other hydrating drinks regularly: Encourage kids to drink water, milk, or 100% fruit juice throughout the flight.
  • Avoid sugary drinks: Soda and other sugary drinks can dehydrate kids and cause sugar crashes.

Managing Meal Times

Meal times can be tricky on a plane, especially if you’re traveling with picky eaters. Here are some tips for managing meal times:

  • Pack a meal: Bring sandwiches, wraps, or other portable meals that are easy to eat on the plane.
  • Check the airline’s meal options: Many airlines offer kid-friendly meals, so check the options before you fly.
  • Bring snacks: Even if you’re planning on a meal on the plane, bring some backup snacks just in case.

Comfort and Relaxation


Dress for Comfort

One of the most important things to consider when traveling with kids is their level of comfort.

Dressing them in comfortable clothes is key to keeping them relaxed and happy during the flight.

Loose-fitting clothes made of soft, breathable fabrics are ideal.

Avoid dressing them in tight or restrictive clothing, as this can cause discomfort and irritability.

Flights do get a little chilly, so always have a jacket readily available.

Sleep Accessories

Getting some rest on a plane can be challenging, especially for kids.

However, there are a few things you can do to make it easier.

Bringing a neck pillow can help them get comfortable and fall asleep faster.

Eye masks can also help block out light and reduce distractions.

Additionally, noise-cancelling headphones can help block out the sounds of the plane and create a more peaceful environment.

Not to mention that all these things will keep them interested.

Calming Techniques

Traveling can be stressful for kids, so it’s important to have some calming techniques on hand.

Encourage them to take deep breaths and practice relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation.

You can also bring along some calming essential oils or a lavender-scented pillow to help them relax.

Finally, bringing along some of their favorite toys or books can provide a sense of comfort and familiarity, which can help them stay calm and relaxed.

Physical Movement


Kids aren’t designed to keep still.

They need to be active and that’s not the easiest task on a plane.

However, you can improvise and get them to do stuff that will help keep them busy and pass the time.

Stretching Exercises

Encourage kids to stretch their muscles while seated.

They can do simple stretches such as touching their toes, reaching for the sky, and twisting their torso from side to side.

These stretches can help prevent stiffness and improve circulation.

Aisle Walks

When the seatbelt sign is off, take the kids for a walk up and down the aisle.

This can help them burn off some energy and prevent restlessness.

Make sure to keep an eye on them and avoid blocking the aisle.

Seated Activities

There are several seated activities that can keep kids active and engaged.

They can play games such as thumb wrestling or Simon Says.

They can also do simple exercises such as leg lifts or arm circles.

These activities can help keep their mind and body occupied during the flight.

Overall, physical movement is important for kids on a plane.

Encourage them to stretch, take walks, and do seated activities to keep them busy and prevent restlessness.

Social Interaction


I know we shouldn’t teach our kids to talk to strangers, but being on a flight has its acceptions.

Having your kids interact with others on a plane will help keep them occupied.

For now, let’s start with you, the parent.

Conversing with Kids

One way to keep kids busy on a plane is by engaging them in conversation.

Ask them about their favorite movies, books, or video games.

You can also play games like “I Spy” or “20 Questions.”

This not only helps pass the time but also helps build a bond between the child and the adult.

Playing with Fellow Passengers

Another way to keep kids busy on a plane is by playing with other passengers.

This can be as simple as playing a game of cards or tic-tac-toe.

It’s a great way to make new friends and pass the time.

However, it’s important to be respectful of other passengers and not disturb them.

Flight Crew Interaction

Finally, interacting with the flight crew can also be a fun way to keep kids busy on a plane.

Kids can ask the flight attendants questions about the plane or the flight.

They can also ask for a tour of the cockpit (if allowed).

This not only keeps them entertained but also helps them learn more about flying.

Conclusion – Keep Kids Busy on a Plane With These Tips


Traveling with kids is not the easiest thing to do, and keeping them busy on a plane is a must.

If this is your first time traveling with kids, remember that staying calm is a must.

Let your kids do the kicking and screaming while you focus on getting them safely to your next destination.

Remember that you’re traveling to have fun, so keep it that way.

When that little critter of yours drains all their energy and finally falls asleep, you’ll find that peace and comfort you’ve been waiting for.

Kiss them, and get back to reading that book or listening to your favorite podcast.

Need ideas for yourself?

Don’t forget that you can always start a mommy/daddy blog to make money online, or you can always get that much-needed shuteye.

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to tell your children you love them.



About the author

With four humans of his own, John is our parenting expert. He loves being a dad, and when he's not trying to work on his golf game, you'll find him at his kid's soccer games or at the mall with his kids.

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