I absolutely love taking vacations with my husband and the boys. Nothing beats kicking back and having fun on a family adventure, especially now that the boys are getting older (read: SO much easier to travel with). That said, few experiences are more trying than getting stuck on a flight with kids who can still become cranky.
But before you’re tempted to flee via the emergency exit, take heart! There is another way.
While airline security restrictions have placed some limits on the toys airplane passengers are permitted to carry on, with a little ingenuity, you can find ways to keep the kids entertained and keep your cool in the process.
Classic games like “I Spy” never lose their appeal with kids – and better yet, don’t require any cumbersome pieces. And you can ensure “I Spy” is low maintenance for yourself by making lists in advance, allowing your kids to tackle and check off each item on their own or with their siblings.
Contrary to popular belief, this engaging game isn’t just for car rides; although outdoor scenery may not be an option, fellow passengers, the flight crew and items like safety gear offer a wealth of engaging possibilities. For example, B pointed out quite loudly ‘I spy someone WEIRD’ while pointing to the strange man sitting next to me. Thanks for that, B.
“Would You Rather” replaces bickering with positive interaction between your kids. It also offers a chance to get ultra-silly; create a set of anywhere from 25 to 50 cards posing playful questions, and listen as the giggles commence. Questions like the following are sure to evoke glee:
- Would you rather wear your clothes backward or wear your shoes on the wrong feet?
- Would you rather adopt a pet otter or a pet monkey?
- Would you rather get magically turned into a unicorn or a dragon? (Um, dragon FOR SURE).
- Run out of question ideas like I always seem to do? There is a whole (small) game you can pack – woohoo!
High Altitude Theater
Who needs an in-flight movie when you have puppets, dolls or action figures? These characters are really all your little characters need to make the story come alive; show them how they can get creative and use the tray table as the set and the seat pocket as a bed or hiding place for their cast members.
Due to their miniature size, finger puppets serve as a perfect troupe for long flights. All your kids need is their fingers to make each puppet dance, talk or sing (enthusiastically yet quietly) to their heart’s content. These toys give new meaning to the term “winning hands down!” Seriously, how cute are these? Perfect for the toddler/early preschooler age.
Believe it or not, you can fashion a handy little craft kit from the office supplies you may already have at home. And who among us wouldn’t benefit from saving the time it takes to run out to the store to pick up crafting supplies? Simply toss paper clips, tape, Post-it Notes and scissors with blades smaller than four inches into a plastic baggie and you have an instant arsenal of crafts. (And you’ll have scissors just in case your toddler gets silly putty stuck in his hair mid flight. Yep, that happened).
Adding kid appropriate magazines to the mix allows budding artists to create collages with the tape and scissors. Any faces, letters, landscapes, furniture or animals in the pictures will do! Plus, they’ll have their own masterpiece to show off as a souvenir of the trip.
Amen. Like many parents, I discourage my boys from overdoing it on their various digital gadgets. However, a tablet can be your best friend on a family adventure. No judging here, zone out boys.
Tablets are an especially good form of entertainment for older kids. I barely notice L is on our flight. That said, the little ones get into them, too, because what older brother does younger brother must follow.
Kid-friendly apps run the gamut, with plenty of options for each group. There is a wide variety of apps available including Disney Storytime, DreamWorks Dragons Adventure World Explorer, Gocco Zoo and Kung Fu Robot.
The Tried-and-True Kid Classic
Long before the advent of tablets, books ruled the day – and for kids, they still do! And why not? A treasure trove of book categories exists today and includes board books, pop-up books, easy readers and transition books.
And think about the ease of tossing a pile of books in a carry-on bag. There’s no mess and no pieces to worry about losing to the jaws of the airplane cushions. Plus, it’s an activity they can either engage in by themselves, silently, or you can share by quietly reading aloud to them.
By using the aforementioned mixed bag of “tricks” during family adventures, you’ll guarantee yourself a flight that is free of screaming and whining, and consider yourself ready for takeoff with your little ones! Good luck to you and here’s hoping for delay free travels this spring break.