Flying with Kids: What to Pack for the Plane

Milana is now 5 and has flown well over 100 times, so we have this packing /airplane entertainment thing down.  We recently got her an Osprey Jet 12 backpack, and 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 no longer bring 100 Shopkins on the trip!

airport

Before every trip, she selects what she wants to bring for the plane ride.  We have a huge box with all sorts of fun travel toys/games/crafts, etc. and it’s sure to entertain even the pickiest child.  She usually selects 2-3 items from this photo for each trip, and it’s enough to entertain her for hours.  Thankfully, she’s really into crafts so a blank notebook with some crayons or markers, and she’s good to go!  Most of these items she’s been using since around 18 months of age, so it definitely fits a wide range of ages.

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This is just some of the stuff we’ve brought on flights, but definitely the most used/played with. I will list them individually, along with links where you can purchase them.

  1.  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.
  2. Old Maid Card Game This is for older kids, but a classic!  It’s an easy game to teach preschoolers and if your child is anything like mine, they will love playing it.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!
  9. 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!
  10. 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.
  11. 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!
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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!

SNACKS

Let’s face it, hungry kids are grumpy kids! Since most domestic airlines no longer serve snacks, it’s important to bring your own.  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.

Snacks.jpg

  1.  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!
  2. 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!
  3. Organic Mini Crackers Back to Nature makes some really tasty crackers, and the small individual sizes make them perfect for travel.
  4. 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.
  5. Roo Bars I first found these little bars at a local health food store.  I bought one for Milana and she was hooked! They are organic, vegan and the only ingredients are organic dates, organic goji berries, organic unsweetened coconut and organic cacao powder. They are small and perfect to fit into her backpack. I highly recommend these.  Check out their other flavors too. We’ve only tried this one so far, because she really likes it.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!
  9. 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.
  10. Organic Cheddar Ducks Every child loves goldfish crackers, but the ingredients in them make me cringe!  I found these little ducks at Costco and while it’s not something I give her often, it’s a much better and healthier alternative to goldfish crackers even though there are still a few questionable ingredients in there.  They’re individually packaged, which is a plus for travel as well.
  11. 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.
  12. Curate Kids Chocolate & Banana Energy Bars Milana loves chocolate and is always tempted by the candy bars at the airport.  I found these things at Target one day and decided to try them.  The ingredients are much better than in typical candy bars and each bar has less than 10 grams of sugar. It satisfies her chocolate craving without the effects of too much sugar.  They have other flavors besides this, but we haven’t tried any others.
  13. 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.
  14. Annie’s Organic White Cheddar Popcorn Popcorn is one of Milana’s favorite snacks, and Annie’s makes a really good one.  Each box contains 20 small bags that you can take along on your trip.
  15. 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.
  16. 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!
  17. 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.  She’s never been one to wander up and down the aisles and has always happily sat in the plane seat or her car seat, crafting or drawing away! Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be a harrowing experience. When they’re entertained and fed, everyone will have a much better experience!

*This post contains affiliate links.*

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12 comments

  1. I don’t have kids, but I think I might have to disagree with the stickers. I’ve sat on one too many planes that had been “decorated” by a previous sticker-happy child, haha. Thanks for sharing, though!

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    • My daughter decorates her notebook and not airline property. I’ve been on planes where adults acted like savages, leaving trash and gum and who knows what else in seat back pockets. Stickers would be the least of my worries!

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  2. My daughter is coming to visit me with her mother, it’s a 10 hour flight so I’ll send this to the mother. I love how the snacks you’ve recommended are mostly healthy and have fibre to fill the stomach. All the items you mentioned will keep the child occupied and are way better than an iPad, I will check out what Wikki Stix are!

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  3. haha wow that quite the travel pack! I’m sure it kept her entertained on the flight. What a cutie. Such a grat idea to pack so much to keep her busy. Its hard enough as an adult for me to sit still on a long flight!

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  4. She has almost the same backpack as me! Although mine is adult size and contains a few less crayons and tubs of play doh! I think its great that you provide her with creative things to do as most of the time I see parents just put an iPad in front of their kids to shut them up!

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  5. She has almost the same backpack as me! Although mine is adult size and contains a few less crayons and tubs of play doh! I think its great that you provide her with creative things to do as most of the time I see parents just put an iPad in front of their kids to shut them up!

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  6. A great list. We don’t have kids but are planning on taking my 4yo niece away in the near future. I always wondered how I would keep her entertained whilst we are in transit.

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  7. Wow, over 100 times at her age? That’s impressive! I’m kinda jealous, that’s way more than me! Haha. Even though I don’t have kids myself, in the future I hope to take my kids traveling with me. Thanks for the useful tips on what to pack to keep them entertained and well fed!

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  8. So great advice here! I love how they are items to entertain rather than to stare at like playing games on a smart phone. The snacks sound great too. I think I would be tempted to pack some of these for myself too!

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