Flying With Children: Travel Toys for Toddlers and Children on Airplanes
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Going on an airplane with your kids? Are you wondering how to entertain your baby, toddler or child on a long flight and what the best airplane travel toys are? You’ve come to the right place! We have lots of activity recommendations for babies, toddlers and children on airplanes. Milana is now 9 and has flown well over 200 times, so we have this packing, kids airplane entertainment thing down.
If you want to see all of the travel toys and snacks in one place, head to our Amazon storefront and select the appropriate category.
We got her an Osprey Jet 12 backpack when she was 4 and at 8, she still uses it. We also recently got the bigger Osprey Jet 18 which she just now at 8.5 is starting to use. She knows that she has to carry whatever she decides to take. This has made her more conscious of her packing and she tends to pack only what she knows she will use. We also travel with mostly carry on luggage, so she has her own carry on suitcase that she pulls through the airport. And how awesome is her travel shirt?
She also brings her iPad because let’s face it, we all need to zone out on 14 hour flights! I highly recommend downloading the Audible app and getting an audio book subscription, it’s cheap and a great way to pass the time. Also while we prefer the iPad, we love Amazon’s Freetime and she has the app installed on her iPad to watch all sorts of shows and movies. Don’t forget to download some kid-friendly Podcasts and apps that don’t require wifi, for even more entertainment! And for general tips, check out this post on flying with toddlers.
Most of these items she’s been using since around 18 months. Here are some airplane entertainment and travel activities for babies, toddlers and kids:
How to Entertain Preschoolers and Older Kids on the Plane
- Wikki Stix These are individually packaged, and perfect for travel. If you’ve never played with them, prepare to be amazed! They are completely mess free and require nothing aside from what’s in the package. What you create is up to your imagination! This is great for kids of all ages.
- Glitter Dots This is one of Milana’s favorites! It’s mess free and fun to make, perfect for the plane. There are several sets to choose from.
- Reading Eggs App We have been using Reading Eggs for over almost two years now and highly recommend it! It does require wifi, so it’s great for flights that have wifi or for when you’re in your room or apartment. We homeschool and this is an excellent program to help kids learn and retain their reading skills and it offers math as well, a huge plus! Out of all the programs we have tried, Reading Eggs has been the best!
- Card Games We are a huge game family and always bring card games on trips since they are easy to pack. This pack has all the popular ones that most kids know how to play and the rules are easy to follow.
- Plus Plus These are so fun and open ended. Your kids can create anything they can imagine! The tube packs are small and easy to travel with.
- Paint by Sticker books These are the best for older kids (I’d say 5 and up), Milana is obsessed! They are super small to pack and contain hours of non-messy entertainment. I highly recommend them!
- Puffy Sticker Lot Stickers are always a hit with kids, and puffy stickers are much easier to peel off the paper than the regular ones. This set comes a ton of different sticker sheets, ranging from animals and cars to food and smiley faces. It’s sure to entertain your child for at least some time!
- Kids Travel Journal This one is our favorite! We have tried them all! And narrowed it down to a few favorites. Read our Best Travel Journals for Kids post to see all of our recommendations!
- Melissa and Doug Craft Kits These are relatively inexpensive and will definitely occupy your child for some time. We have the bracelet, headband and bangles kit but there are a few others as well. This is best for older kids, who can peel little stickers and pay more attention to detail.
- Play Doh What child doesn’t like play doh? Milana has been playing with this since she was a toddler, and to this day it’s one of her favorite toys. The possibilities are endless with this. Bring a few tubs and you are good to go!
- Playfoam This stuff is awesome! Similar concept to play doh, this squishy stuff molds into any shape without any mess whatsoever. If you buy this box, they come individually packaged too, making them perfect for travel.
- Playfoam Pals You get the playfoam but with a surprise character inside! Milana loves these, we have quite a few and it’s one of our favorite things to bring on a trip.
- Melissa and Doug Water Wow Books These are perfect for toddlers! Each book comes with a chunky pen (perfect for tiny hands) that you fill with water. Your child can then “paint” the book and the pictures fill with color when wet. Once it dries, you can do it over and over again, making this a great value. There are many different themes to choose from too, so you’re bound to find one your child likes.
- Melissa and Doug Magicolor Pad There are many versions of this too, but unlike the Water Wow, these are one time use. Each books comes with a magic marker that will only color on this paper, so you won’t have to worry about your little Picasso drawing all over the plane walls/seats!
- Aqua Doodle Travel Doodle This was something that Milana loved when she was younger. It’s perfect for toddlers who are just learning how to draw. Similar to Water Wow, you fill the included pen with water and your child can doodle on the pad, making the colors come to life. But unlike Water Wow, there are no pre-filled pictures. What appears is up to your child’s imagination!
- My Mini MixieQ’s Playsets These are great for entertaining kids on flights (and in hotel rooms!) and the contents fit inside the cube, making them great to travel with.
- Shopkins Mini Playsets Chances are you played with Polly Pocket as a kid. Well these are similar and come in many different themes. They are really tiny and perfect for travel!
- Toy Story Mini Playsets Similar to the Shopkins playsets linked above, these feature Toy Story characters!
- Melissa and Doug Puffy Sticker Play Set Are you starting to see a theme yet? Melissa and Doug seems to make the best travel products! These little books come with a scene (many themes to choose from) and puffy stickers, which are perfect for little hands. This is one of Milana’s favorite travel items, and she loves creating different scenes and repositioning the stickers as she sees fit.
- Play Packs You can find play packs in the Target dollar section, but if your Target is anything like ours, the selection is scarce. They’re $1 in store, and just a bit more on Amazon. Each pack comes with a sticker sheet, crayons and a mini coloring book. Great way to pass the time on a flight!
- Eye Spy Seek and Find I recently purchased this for Milana and she loves it. Similar to the Where’s Waldo books, kids have to find specific objects on each page. This would be better for older kids, as it requires more concentration.
- Safari Ltd Toobs If your child likes actual toys vs. crafts/books, these are perfect for you! These little tubes all have a theme (pets, fairies, on the road, sea creatures, etc.) and each tube contains tiny figurines that go with the theme. I love them because it’s compact and packed away easily and Milana loves them because she loves lining up her animals and playing pretend.
- Triangular Crayons and a notebook. The reason I bring triangular crayons is so that they can’t roll away. Because we all know once it leaves the tray table, you aren’t getting it back! Crayons and a notebook are probably the two things that will entertain Milana the most on a flight. She can doodle for hours and loves drawing pictures.
- Kidz Gear Headphones If it’s headphones you’re looking for, I have found that Kidz Gear makes the best ones. We’ve had ours for several years now and they’re still in perfect working condition. These fit little heads well and have an option volume control attachment for little ones. I highly recommend these for kids!
- For older kids, we highly recommend these headphones! Milana started complaining recently that the Kidz Gear ones were too tight and these have been amazing for the bigger kiddos!
- Kid size neck pillow When Milana was younger, we used this one in her car seat on the plane to keep her head upright. It fits tiny necks well and is super cute!
- Trtl Junior Pillow Now at 7, she use this one and both of us adults have the adult version as well. It’s seriously the best travel pillow ever for kids and adults! We never slept on flights until we got these.
- Cheese wooden block puzzle This is awesome and we recently discovered it! It is intended for younger kids (18 months and up) but at 5, Milana loves it too! It’s super tiny and will entertain them for quite some time.
- Trayblecloth This is another item we discovered this past summer. I wish we had it much sooner! The tray tables on planes are nasty, we’ve had so many with weird stains on them. This will cover it and has pockets to put crayons, snacks, etc. You can also still close the tray with the cover on. It folds up super tiny too!
- World Traveler Shirts Because let’s face it, you will be changing outfits mid flight and what better shirts than cute, stylish travel inspired infant, toddler and kid shirts!
- Boogie Board eWriter This is currently one of Milana’s favorites! Costco sells a large version however for travel purposes, we use the small one. She can doodle and erase and it entertains her for quite a bit of time!
- Tegu Travel Set We have a large set of these magnetic blocks at home and a small one for travel. These are awesome and the possibilities are endless! Definitely a favorite in this house.
- Animal Erasers These are super tiny and fun to play with, Milana loves the food and animal ones!
- Jewelry Making Kit Pack up a small bag of pony beads and some jewelry cord and you will have entertainment for hours!
- Portable Lego Set There is no better toy than Legos and this case has built in base plate where your child can built whatever they imagine.
- Puzzles to Go If your child likes doing puzzles, these are great to take on trips! There are many different themes to choose from.
How to entertain infants and toddlers on the plane:
- Wooden Block Puzzle Milana loved this when she was younger and it would entertain her for quite some time!
- Montessori Wooden Lacing Apple This is great for toddlers and will help develop hand-eye coordination.
- Fat Brain Oombee Cube Sorter I love this option since everything is connected to the cube so no pieces to lose!
- Fat Brain Toys Suction Kupz These are awesome for the plane and hotel room! These little cups will stick to windows, tray table, arm rest, etc. They take up very little room and are great for travel.
- Buckle Toy This will entertain even the youngest of travelers and doesn’t take up much space in your bag.
- Fat Brain Toys Dado Squares The possibilities are endless with this toy! They’re light and pack up easily, so you can bring a bunch in your carry on.
- Links These are great for infants as teething toys with lots of different textures. Toddlers will love linking them together and taking them apart.
- Fisher Price DoodlePro This is awesome for the toddler crowd since the magnetic pen is attached so you won’t be reaching down and picking it up over and over!
- Disposable Placemats For older kids, I recommend the reusable Trayblecloth linked above however for babies, grab a pack of super compact disposable placemats. Use them to cover the airplane tray table as well as in restaurants!
- Take Along Shape Sorter Babies and toddlers love putting things into containers and taking them out so this is sure to entertain them for a while!
- Finger Puppets Another easy to pack, entertaining toy for infants and toddlers!
- Wooden Teether Set Milana loved this when she was a baby and I loved that it wasn’t plastic! Wooden baby toys are eco friendly and great for little ones!
- Magnetic Easel Magnets on one side, chalkboard on the other. Great for toddlers!
- Quiet Book These are awesome with lots of different activities for toddlers.
- Tangle These are super fun for little ones to manipulate!
- Dimpl This little toy is sure to entertain your infant/toddler for quite some time. Small enough to pack in your carry on and just one piece, making it great for the plane.
- Vtech Music Player This is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers! They’ll feel like big kids with their own music player.
- Manhattan Toy Crinkle Activity Mat Babies will love the different textures and it’s super easy to pack!
- Melissa & Doug Flip Fish Another great toy for babies that’s easy to pack! They will love flipping the fins and feeling the different textures.
Best Snacks for Airplanes and Travel for Kids
Let’s face it, hungry kids are grumpy kids! Since most domestic airlines no longer serve snacks, it’s important to bring your own travel snacks for kids. Kids love to snack and the more variety, the better! If you are using large packs of something, I recommend pouring into small ziplocs or containers so that if your child drops it, at least it’s not the entire package! Here are some of Milana’s favorite in flight snacks. We always have these in our snack closet, so she chooses a few to bring with us for the flight. Here are some kids travel snacks you can bring on the plane:
- Pumpkin Seeds Pumpkin seeds are a great snack for the plane! These are organic, raw and shelled, making it a perfect healthy snack. They’re also loaded with iron, which is a plus!
- Bear YoYo fruit snacks We LOVE these! The only ingredients are the fruit and vegetable extract for color. Now the cool thing about these is, each pack comes with a country card for your child to collect. Also, when you collect 10 UPC codes and send them in, the company will send your child a map with country stickers!
- Seaweed Snacks They don’t call dried seaweed toddler crack for nothing! Milana has been devouring these since she was a baby and still loves them to this day. Now, she will put rice in the middle roll it up “like sushi” and devour it. These are easy to pack and great for travel!
- Organic Mini Crackers These are some really tasty crackers, and the small individual sizes make them perfect for travel.
- Annie’s Organic Fruit Snacks Milana loves fruit snacks but I hate the ingredients and dyes in the mainstream brands. Yes, these still have sugar, but at least she’s not getting a hefty does of red #40 with each bite! Everything in moderation and these are by far our favorite fruit snacks.
- Bob Snail Fruit Bars The only ingredients are fruit, with no added sugar. Kids love these and you don’t have to feel bad about them eating them.
- Frooze Balls These come in many flavors and are plant based. There are no added sugars are terrible ingredients. We make something similar at home but for travel purposes, we buy these. They are filling and healthy and great for the road.
- Kind Pressed Mango Apple Chia Bars Mangoes are Milana’s favorite fruit so when they had samples of these at Whole Foods, I knew she had to try them. Of course, she loved them and now we keep them in the house. Just like the Roo Bars, these are individually wrapped and perfect for travel. The only ingredients are mango, apple and chia seeds.
- Larabars There are so many different varieties of these, you’re bound to find one your child loves. The main ingredient in each is dates, then whatever nut/fuit/etc each flavor contains. Dave makes these at home by mixing dates and whatever nut/dried fruit we have however for travel, it’s much easier to buy these mini portable ones. Only 3-5 ingredients in each bar, I don’t feel bad giving these to her.
- Organic Dried Fruit There are many versions of this on the market, but Milana really likes the one by Peeled Snacks which has organic mango, banana and pineapple. Trader Joe’s also makes really good dried mango, but make sure to get the unsweetened and unsulphured one since they do sell both. Great alternative to fruit snacks!
- Snyders’s of Hanover Cheese Pretzels These are so good! They come in small packages, with cheese in between two pretzels. One of our favorite snacks!
- Made Good Organic Granola Minis These are a family favorite! They are peanut, tree nut, egg, dairy, soy, gluten, fish, shellfish and sesame free making it the perfect snack for travel. No allergens to worry about and they taste great!
- Annie’s Organic Peely Tape This is another one of those sometimes snacks, basically the organic version of fruit roll up. But unlike the fruit roll ups, these have no high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors/flavors, making them a much better treat.
- Paleo Puffs Do your kids like cheese puffs? These are just like them without all the nasty ingredients!
- Organic Crackers Every child loves goldfish crackers, but the ingredients in them make me cringe especially given the last salmonella recall! These are a better alternative and while it’s not something I give her often, it’s a much better and healthier alternative to goldfish crackers. They’re individually packaged, which is a plus for travel as well.
- Organic Cookies These little treats are individually wrapped and taste really good! They’re 100% nut free/made in a nut free facility, making them perfect for kids with nut allergies. They’re soy/egg/dairy free as well.
- Clif Kid ZBarThese are a great alternative to candy bars. While not something I would regularly give Milana due to all the sugar, the ingredients are better than traditional candy bars and organic.
- Clif Kid Organic Twisted Fruit These are similar to fruit snacks, but with better ingredients. This particular flavor has Organic Apple Puree, Organic Apple Juice Concentrate, Organic Natural Flavors, Malic Acid, Pectin, Colored with Fruit and Vegetable Juice. They’re super tiny and individually wrapped as well.
- Organic Popcorn Popcorn is one of Milana’s favorite snacks and these come in individual bags, perfect for travel.
- Raw, organic nuts This is the one item that makes it on every trip. Nuts are a great source of protein and filling, making it a great snack. The possibilities are endless, but Milana loves cashews and pistachios the most so those two are the ones that always get packed in her backpack.
- Hippeas Organic Chickpea Puffs Kids love these, the ingredients are great and they come in several different flavors.
- Organic Fruit Chews These are very similar to Starbust and perfect for kids who suffer from ear pain/clogged ears on the plane. Be sure your child knows how to chew this type of candy prior to giving it to them!
- Fresh Fruit-If you are traveling internationally, only pack enough for the duration of your flight since you will be forced to toss it prior to going through customs. The best fruit for travel is one that comes in its own packaging-bananas, oranges, etc. Fruit is always a hit, with no hidden ingredients.
Now you have a glimpse of some of the items we bring on our trips. Of course, this may not work for all kids but it has served us well for many years. Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be a harrowing experience. When they’re entertained and fed, everyone will have a much better experience!
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Tread Lightly, Retire Early
The water books are the BEST.
Yes! My daughter loved them when she was younger. Now she does the paint with water books.
Great tips! Definitely will save and share this with friends!
Travelling with kids can get real stressful but if you go prepared I think that makes half the battle won. Love all these tips, especially the snacks. They are a must.
This article is so helpful, we have used many of these suggestions on our adventures!
Thanks for the detailed list! I have also found books of games like tictactoe, hangman etc and sticker/tracing/maze activity books to be really useful and allow us to engage with them.
Great list, thank you! Guess I’m going shopping!
These are great tips! Flying with kids can be really challeging, so it is best to be prepared
Thank you so much for sharing all these ideas! I have not flown with my children yet, but when we are ready I now have great info to refer back to.
What a great list! We’ve driven to all the lower 48 states so we’ve used many of these items! Melissa & Doug make such great travel activities!
Jordan | Mindful Mama Health
Thank you for this comprehensive list! These are all such great ideas and a lot of things I hadn’t heard of! We love Melissa and Doug activities and usually grab a new book before we travel.
I am amazed to read that she has flown 200 times, I need these air travel toys for my fussy girl who hates air travel.
Thanks for these awesome tips! We want to travel to OKinawa next year and I’m SO nervous. He did well for the short flight but it is a lot of flying, 24 hours worth! I’ll have to look into the water book.
I have yet to fly with my kiddos, but th4 idea stresses me out! This is such a great list of ideas and ways to keep things going smoothly- definitely takes some of the stress away!
What an insanely long, great list!!!! Thanks!
We love the organic fruit chews! Great ideas for travel!!
Hi! This list is AH-MAZING! We are taking a flight back to PA (from AZ) in December with a 10, 7 and 2 year old so we will for sure be getting some things from this list. There are so many things I’ve never even heard of. Thank you so much for all your research!
Thank you so much for all of this!!! I am about to take my first trip with my son and am so worried about it being a disaster haha this all was super helpful!
Wow, this is a really comprehensive list! I LOVE the water color pads! Those are the best! (And not messy!) We’re flying to Ohio to visit my parents over the holidays, so I’ll have to revisit this list for some early Christmas presents. My toddler is getting his own seat on the plane for the first time!
love love love these ideas! We’re planning our first trip with our toddler in a few months and I’ve been so nervous about how he will do on a plane for the first time. I’m gonna pick up a few of these. I think if we can keep him busy he should be fine. I really like the aqua doodle, that sounds fun for the younger kiddos!
So many great things listed here! Those water books are some of our favorites for traveling and even long car rides. You can never have too many snacks lol. Sierra Beautifully Candid
What a fantastic list! This always needed as we come upon the traveling season! I am always looking for more ideas for my kiddos! Thanks!
My kids have taken two plane trips, (well 4 if you include the their and back) and busy toys are a must. Thanks for all the ideas for next time 🙂