Flying with children can be a challenge, especially if you have a long flight. Everyone gets a little restless waiting for boarding, then take off — and that doesn’t even count the flight time! Sixty percent of parents report having trouble keeping their little ones entertained for more than 30 minutes. However, while keeping kids happy through a flight with their shorter attention spans may not seem easy, it can be. Here are five tips for travelling with kids you can use to keep your children occupied on aeroplanes.
Forget the Tablet
Tablet computers like Apple iPads have long been a way for parents to keep children busy on long flights, but depending on where you are flying, tablet computers may not be an option. There is a tablet ban on certain flights, but don’t worry. A study from British Airways found that while parents may be tempted to pop in a movie to keep children occupied, activity-based toys like sticker books and legos tend to work better. They keep children more engaged than a film.
Flight Bags for Every Child
Try packing a bag for each child and filling it will small, inexpensive toys. Activity-based toys seem to be the answer. Educational psychologist Dr. Vivian Hill reports that these toys tend to encourage creativity and stimulate the imagination far more than more static toys, like a doll or truck. As a result, they tend to keep children more engaged. Loom bands have been popular in recent years, but old standbys such as colouring books, card games and workbooks (e.g., mazes, word search using unscrambler, math problems) work well and they travel easily. Little things like crayons or Legos won’t break the bank and can keep little ones entertained for hours; just don’t let your children see what is in the bag before you go.
Surprise, Surprise, Surprise
Giving little treats as small surprises work well too. The surprise factor seems to help keep little ones entertained and you could use them as a reward for being good. Skyscanner advises wrapping the toys and bringing them out at regular intervals for your child to open. These little surprises don’t have to be expensive; they could even be an old toy that your child may have forgotten about.
Get a Better Smartphone
Smartphones work too — as long as you have the right one with the right apps. A phone like the Samsung Galaxy S5 has such a strong 4G LTE network so you kids will be able to use the full function of the device and stay entertained playing their most loved apps like the toddler-favourite Bubbles.
Picnic by Plane
You can also try bringing foods that take a long time to eat. Conde Nast Traveler recommends small boxes of raisins, string cheese and other pieces of nibbles that your kids can eat in little bites. For many children, these types of treats are often an entertainment in and of themselves.
Keeping your children occupied on aeroplanes takes a little planning, but the results are well worth it. Just pack a small activity bag, gather some surprises, charge up your smartphone and pack some snacks.