Travel Gear

Ways to entertain your kids on planes

Taking young children across the country or abroad can be a gratifying experience for the whole family. But that extra-long trip to get to those amazing places is daunting. If you’re staring down a multi-hour flight with your little kids, here are nine ways to keep them happy in the air. (Now if you could just get them to stop kicking the seat in front of them...)

  • 1. Don’t board early

    Don’t board early

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    If you have assigned seats on the plane, wait until the end to board—or have one parent board with carry-on luggage while the other stays in the boarding area with the kids. Although pre-boarding privileges can be tempting, be wary of tacking an extra 30 minutes of sitting onto an already long flight. There’s nothing worse than a child who is already sick of the airplane before the wheels have even left the ground.

  • 2. Bring a deck of cards

    Bring a deck of cards

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    A small stack of cards like Uno can provide hours of entertainment. Play the standard version, or sort by color and put them in numerical order. Besides, when else will you be willing to play 50 consecutive games with your child?

  • 3. Pick snacks that take forever to eat

    Pick snacks that take forever to eat

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    Everyone will recommend bringing snacks for your child on the plane—just be sure they are snacks that won’t be gone in two seconds flat. Little boxes of raisins, string cheese, or other treats that can be eaten tiny bit by tiny bit extend how long that snack (and the entertainment associated with eating) will last.

  • 4. If it’s an overnight flight, bring pajamas

    If it’s an overnight flight, bring pajamas

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    If you’re flying at night, bring along a pair of pajamas for your child so they can be comfortable and feel like it’s really bedtime. Brushing teeth and snuggling with a beloved stuffed animal or blanket can also help make it feel more familiar, and it will increase the likelihood that your little one will sleep for at least a couple of hours during the flight. Now if only you could just fall asleep…

  • 5. Choose highly interactive books

    Choose highly interactive books

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    Books weigh a lot, so be careful about packing too many of them on a trip. Opt for ones that aren’t finished in a few minutes. A good I Spy book or Where’s Waldo volume can keep your child occupied for a long time, rather than for ten minutes or less.

    See how else you can keep your kids entertained on your next long flight.

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