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Best Things for Keeping Kids Entertained on an Airplane.

Updated on September 23, 2016

Airplane Ride with Kids? No problem

The thing about going on vacation is that you are here, and your place of desire is there. Enter the airplane: that miraculous flying invention that makes it possible to fly around the world on amazing adventures. Parents may however view the airplane as more disaster waiting to happen than amazing invention. And, no wonder. Kids, especially younger ones have been the worst nightmare of flyers ---both parents and neighboring passengers--- for as long as commercial flights have been invented.

It is possible to make an airplane ride with kids more enjoyable for mom and dad, and bearable for fellow passengers. Technology has become the go to way to entertain kids, but a 2014 study from British Airways found that parental interaction through games or toys kept young kids calmer and entertained for longer when travelling on an airplane. A mixture of the two seem to hit the sweet spot of entertaining the kids, while giving mom and dad a break to relax on the flight. This list combines the best of both interactive and technology driven entertainment for young kids.

Calming kids on an airplane is as easy as mess free art sets and  few interactive card games.
Calming kids on an airplane is as easy as mess free art sets and few interactive card games.

Mess Free Artsy Toys

The mess free nature of these creative toys make them perfect for airplane travel: the kids get to play with color and create “art” without getting glared at by the flight attendant for leaving a mess of paints or stains to clean. Here are some portable options for kid and airplane friendly mess free art (if you are not looking to spend money, crayons, washable markers and a simple writing pad are also good alternatives that your kids may already own):

  • Aquadoodle Travel Doodle

The travel version of this favorite mess free art toy makes entertaining toddlers and older kids on the airplane a cinch. The secret to this wonderful creation is a magic pen which uses water: when the water filled pen is used to draw on the special aquadoodle pages, colors suddenly appear. The special aquadoodle 'magic' pages are enclosed in a travelling case with handles., making it easy for even toddlers to carry.

  • Crayola Color Wonder Finger Paints

Similar to Aquadoodle, this set uses special paper which when touched with the gel like colorless paint, creates colors and proud works of art. Watch as your toddler and preschooler make art and pass the time away on the airplane ride. Be sure to have wipes handy as the gel like substance can feel sticky

Scene Making Stickers

Stickers are another all time favorite of kids. They are also a perfect way to entertain and keep kids calm on an airplane ride. Today's stickers come with background scenes that can be used to create a scene of your kids any interest. There are stickers sets for making zoo scenes, fire engine scenes, ballerina scenes and any other thing your child may be interested in. Here are some of the best regarded ones:

  • Melissa and Doug Reusable Castle or Vehicle Sticker Pad

These affordable sticker pads (around $5 each) come with five different background scene sheets for making scenes that little boys and girls will like. The princes set comes with a bedroom scene, a cute garden scene and three other delightful scenes. The stickers are easy to peel off and can be enjoyed by both toddlers and older kids. The vehicle set is equally enjoyable and has a wide variety of vehicles to keep any little boy entertained on the airplane.

  • Fun Express Kids Design Your Own Dinosaur Stickers

These stickers will have your dinosaur loving kid playing away in amazement. With a colorful and wide variety of dinosaurs and multiple scenes, be prepared for major fun on the airplane. Also check out this company for other options like farm animals and zoo stickers.

Playing Cards

Playing cards are a great way for mom and dad to interact with and entertain their kids on an airplane. It takes time to finish a game, the games can be played with minimal noise and the games are varied enough to appeal to different age groups. Their small size also make them perfect for airplane trips where space has become a precious commodity. Some well regarded options are:

  • Disney Classic Character Matching Game

These matching cards packed in a small, easy to carry box feature colorful pictures of characters from long lasting favorite Disney shows like The Lion King, Bambi and Mickey Mouse. Although rated for ages 3 and up, toddlers ages 2 can play this game with fewer pairs and some patience. Your toddler's face will light up with each match, and the cute cards will have them wanting to just play with them long after the game has ended.

  • Baby Animals Matching Game by Wonder Forge

Animals loving toddlers and preschoolers will love finding the matching pairs of these adorable picture cards. The cards come in a small, easy to pack case and is popular with parents and grandparents. Each card features real photos of cute baby animals and are totally lovable. Again, for toddlers the game may have to be made easier by lessening the amount of cards.

  • Peaceable Kingdom Alphabet Go Fish or Eeboo Color Go Fish Card Games

Go fish is a perennial favorite of kids of all ages. While toddlers may not have the maturity to play these games, the preschool group will enjoy playing go fish with mom and dad. Mom and dad will love that while the kids are being entertained on the airplane, they are learning their letters and colors. These cards are well rated by parents and are small and easy to pack. Of course, the regular playing cards will also work for a game of go fish with numbers. Whichever you choose, expect your kids to keep asking for more, each time a game ends. Of course, the regular playing cards will also work for go fish

Favorite Books and Stuffed Toys from Home

A few favorite books or familiar toys from home will calm a toddler, especially an apprehensive one who is flying for the first time. Older kids will also enjoy the familiarity of reading their favorite stories while hugging a furry friend, and will often sit still for more than few books . The best thing about this idea is that it is free to just grab a few favorites from the bookshelf . Try packing flatter books for better space use


Bringing along some kind of technology is almost a requirement for a stress free airplane ride where mom and dad gets to take a break from entertaining the kids. Tablets with favorite apps and a few episodes of favorite shows like Peppa Pig, Mickey Mouse or any of your child's favorite will buy at least anhour of break time. Just remember, interactive play is the key before giving screen time!

These ideas should make your next flight more manageable and hopefully more enjoyable. Do you have any tips that keep you sane on the airplane? Do share!


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