Traveling With Toddlers- Keeping Them Entertained

We’re now onto round three of my Travel Tips series. This is probably going to be the post that most interests people. 

In the past year and a half we’ve had a lot of different “experiences” in-flight. For the most part (I’d put it at 85-90%) of the time, my son behaves. He just knows the drill now. When he was younger he slept for most of the flight. But as he’s gotten older I find him staying awake more and more, regardless what time it is. I’m not surprised though, he’s just not one of those kids that’ll fall asleep on the couch. He wants to be in his crib, carseat, stroller, or maybe ergo- nowhere else will do. Although he can’t really resist turbulence so I usually hope for a bumpy flight. 😉 In the event I don’t get lucky I do have a few tricks up my sleeve and I’m happy to share them with all of you!

The first and most obvious thing would be crayons and some paper. They’re popular with pretty much every kid, and there’s a reason every restaurant offers them. Coloring is a fun, quite activity you must be seated to do. Right now Target has some travel packs in their Dollar spot. They come with four crayons, a coloring book (that’s also a story book) and stickers. I plan to buy a few more. They also have some full size (but quite thin) coloring books that come with bonus stickers. I know they have/had Frozen ones, my husband bought me one, lol. They also have Crayola four packs that come in different varieties like glitter, pastel, and neon. So you can feel free to make your own for pretty much the same price. 

Next up would be these fun little dolls. 


(Buy Them Here)

I bought mine from Target but you can get them lots of places. My sister in law actually asked me why I was buying my son a “girls toy” but I don’t see it that way. Toys are toys, when I was younger I remember being jealous of my boy cousins on holidays when they got things like remote control cars. I never got them because they “weren’t for girls”. Sorry but no. Besides, I’m just looking to keep my son busy for a bit and these fit the bill quite nicely. When you’re on a plane it’s not about only pulling out gender specific toys, it’s about using what works! These are small, weigh almost nothing, and my son had fun trying to figure them out. He liked taking her dress on and off and making her dance and talk. The package says for 3+ but he understood how they worked right away and I’m not worried about him choking while sitting on my lap. So these were a good buy, I’ll probably get a couple more to rotate with in the future. 

Next up would be these fun little play phones.


(Find Them Here)

These are around $4 at Target (I think) and we have a few of them. Frozen, Planes, and Princesses, my son looooves his princesses- they’re enchanting, lol. These do make noise but I find they’re really pretty quite and no one has ever mentioned the noise. I’m not sure anyone beyond our seat can hear them. So while they don’t light up or do anything crazy they’re a good, tiny, lightweight, reasonably quite toy. My son loves to talk on the phone and he’s more than happy to pretend when we can’t do the real thing. 

If your child takes a pacifier I cannot recommend Wubbanubs enough.


(Buy Them Here)

These thing are amazing, from the newborn stage and beyond. My son loves his and we own about two dozen of them and counting. He likes the pacifier part (he likes a pluggie but he doesn’t “need” one if you will) but he loves his little animal friends. He calls them his babies and it’s the cutest thing ever. He always has one attached to his stroller and carseat and he sleeps with at least three of them. So it’s a good toy/soother on flights. I use TripClips to secure them to his clothes (attach them to a leg, otherwise they fall off!) and he can snuggle/suck whenever he feels the need because he knows his buddy is close by. It’s actually pretty funny to watch him reel his little guys in with the TripClips.

Now I know this next one is likely to be controversial with a lot of parents, but I pack my son an iPad. We travel so much we ended up buying him his own for his first birthday and while he does use it at home sometimes it pretty much exists solely for flights. We have books, movies, tv shows, and apps on there for him. We don’t use it on every flight but I like knowing it’s there. My son is a big Daniel Tiger junkie and I always have at least four episodes downloaded. I also keep a few episodes of Curious George and at least one movie (he likes The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Frozen, basically anything with a lot of singing). It will keep him happy for at least two hours and he plays while watching. Add to that the drawing apps, books, and more, and we’re often good for even longer. So even if you’re on the fence I say bring one if you have one, it’s a good last ditch tool if nothing else. 


Now I’ve tried a lot of things and here are some things you might like but I don’t use anymore. 


These glitter wands can be found on Amazon and in stores for around $6. My son really likes them and has four full sized ones he plays with a lot at home. I bought him a much smaller one (about the size of a pen) for the plane thinking he’d like it just as much, but no dice. He just kept tossing it on the floor, and my kid doesn’t really do that. I know a lot of babies his age do, but he figured out cause and effect a very long time ago and knows I’ll just take anything he drops. So usually he just hands stuff back if he doesn’t want it, but this one he kept chucking. I don’t know why he hates it but I can’t get the big ones through security and I’m not interested in it getting lost on the plane. You’re kids might like these, and maybe my son will change his mind when he’s older but until then it’s a space waster.


Meet Francis. My son has quite a few stuffed animals including this little guy. But while he may play with them at home on occasion he wants nothing to do with them on the plane. He has a tiny Jellycat Lamb that’s about the same size as his Wubbanubs that he really loves, but even him. He just can’t be bothered with stuffed animals in flight. So unless you’re child has a special stuffed animal they can’t be without I suggest skipping this one. It’s just likely to take up space and get filthy. 


This is a VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels toy and my probably one of my son’s most favorite type of toy. I buy them from Amazon mostly because you can’t beat their prices and selection. We got our first in Quebec and it’s an ambulance that sings in French. That was the only one he wanted to play with for about six months (despite the fact I went out and bought him half a dozen more). We actually used to bring his ambulance with us but we had to stop. They do make noise and some of them are quite loud (not all, it’s very inconsistent). Initially he didn’t care if they were turned on or not, but now he brings them to me and asks me to turn them on. He doesn’t like taking no for an answer when it comes to these for some reason. And since I’m not willing to get into a fight about it at 30,000 feet, they stay home. If your kid doesn’t care then I actually think they’re a good toy. They fit well into tiny hands and they’re not too heavy.


So that’s pretty much it for toys and activities I suggest. Now these are just things that do, or did work for me and I make no guarantees your kid will go for any of it. But if nothing else consider this a good jumping off point for finding things that work for your kid. Target’s dollar spot usually has something that’ll keep a kid entertained and it’s all $1-3 so if stuff gets broken or lost it’s not earth shattering. I try to avoid bringing special toys and my son has gotten used to leaving pretty much all of his stuff at home. So we don’t have fights about what stays and what goes and I don’t think we’re likely to in the future. It’s just the routine I’ve established with him. So the next time your out and about check out the little toys they have by the register, or when they have stocking and basket stuffers in the big box stores around holidays. These are the little things I usually buy and so far so good.

Next post will be about the things I like to bring to make my life easier while traveling with a toddler.



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