Are you looking for the best airplane activities for toddlers or preschoolers? Do you have school aged children and are looking for some entertainment during your next family holiday. Are you panicking about keeping your littles ones seated and quiet during a flight? You are in the right place!
I have traveled extensively with my two boys since they were babies! Both had their first flight before they were walking and are now seasoned travelers, helping to pack their favorite things to do on a plane!
Whether it is a few hours or a 24 hour travel day, our airplane activities do not change too much. Stuff that works on tray tables also works well if there is a layover, or time before we get on the plane! Have a look at my picks for the best toddler airplane activities as well as activities for 3 or 4 year olds and some great picks for school aged children.
25 Airplane Activities for Toddlers & Preschoolers & Bonus Travel Games for Kids
The thought of traveling with young children can be daunting!
Do not feel bad if you feel this way, or are intimidated about your first family vacation. How is it possible to get toddlers to sit still for hours on end? Will my child scream the whole flight? How can we survive this? We are supposed to be going on vacation! I know the feeling, I have been there!
That is why I have come up with this list of airplane activities for preschoolers and a list of travel activities for toddlers and babies as well as some ideas for kindergarteners and primary school-aged children!
Below you will find 25 of my favorite airplane activities for toddlers and preschoolers that we have packed for my kids as well as some recommendations from other seasoned traveler moms!
When I first wrote this post, my boys were 4 and 2 and we were getting ready for almost 24 hours of travel to fly to Jordan. To say I was worried about keeping them entertained was an understatement!
They are now 7 and 5 so I keep adding to the list as my oldest gets older!
All of these activities for kids on a plane are also great for car trips, train trips, bus trips, and just about any other time you need to keep kids sitting (relatively) still and quiet! After reading this post, check out my review of kids luggage if you are looking for the perfect sized luggage for your kids!
The Best Airplane Activities for Toddlers, Preschoolers, Babies, and More!
1. Foam Dress up Super Heroes and Princesses
We recently discovered these awesome foam dress-up people (and animals) for girls and boys at our local Dollarama store in Canada! They had a superhero, princess, dinosaur, and animal options!
I couldn’t find the exact same thing anywhere on Amazon, but they do have cute dragons, mermaids, and holiday reindeer. My boys did these on our five-hour layover in Frankfurt Airport while I half snoozed in the chair.
Check out your local Dollar store in the craft section and see if you have foam figures! Michaels might be another place to check.
Otherwise, you can click on the links above to see what Amazon has. You can also get these magnetic ones but they are not quite as portable for a flight, but would work well for a car trip! My kids have used these before, but honestly, the foam ones were cheap and perfect!
2. Wipe-Off Cards
Travel doodles activity cards have been a hit with my younger son. He uses them in the car, at pre-school quiet time (some of the younger kids still nap), and on our travels! If those are out of stock, try these ones.
They can easily be wiped clean and used again! I suggest you clean them off after your child has finished, as cleaning them off later when you go to use them again is much more tedious.
If you have two kids, grab a second dry-erase pen (but look for ones that do not smell so bad. they seem to smell twice as bad on the plane in the confined space!)
3. Wikki Stix
Wikki Stix are a great craft to keep preschoolers busy when you travel! They can string beads on these (pack some in a ziplock bag and then ask a flight attendant for an extra cup to avoid messes) and they also stick together.
I have only been able to find these on Amazon, but they are great for the creative kid and much less messy than play dough and do not have sharp metal like pipe cleaners.
They can create 3D characters or shapes or letters! There are all different packs and some come with instructions on making creative designs, but my kid’s favorite craft is always making glasses to wear!
4. Travel-Friendly Puzzles
I have a puzzle fanatic at my house, so I always hit up the dollar store and grab a few new puzzles for our flights with toddlers and preschoolers. But check to make sure that they are not too big and will fit on the tray table before your flight!
(Yup I have made that mistake too!)
These are also great for before the flight if you have an hour or so to wait at the gate. I tend to go with cheap ones rather than expensive ones in case a piece goes missing I do not mind tossing them out and picking up a new one.
Sticker books are great to keep toddlers entertained.
They also make great toddler plane activities but you might have to help them get the stickers off the pages.
I often let them stick them all over themselves, or me, or a coloring book. There are dozens of options online. Check them out here.
6. Water Painting
My boys love these when we travel.
A little bit of water goes inside the pen and they can paint the scene to life! Whether waiting at the airport or while on the flight, these are no-mess ideal travel activities for toddlers. When the pages dry, the picture will disappear and it can be painted all over again!
This is recommended for preschoolers aged 3 and up, but it makes a perfect addition to toddler airplane activities as well.
7. Triangular Crayons
Keep an eye out for these triangular crayons so they do not roll off the table. After you bonk your head for the 5th time trying to retrieve crayons that have rolled off the tray table, you will wish you had these!
8. Post-It Notes
My (now) 5-year-old is learning letters and loves using every single page of a Post-it note to practice his letters. My (now) 7-year-old loves pretending they are trading cards and loves to create each design and then trade them or create a card game as we travel.
They are also fun to stick all over everything as a way to entertain a toddler on a plane. Do not cheap out and buy cheap ones. I suggest sticking to the Post-it brand. they are only a few dollars anyway, but when I have bought the cheap ones the glue is not good and they will not re-stick or half the glue ends up still on the next piece of paper!
This toy has been in my purse for over two years and the boys still love it. They are not easy to find at a store, but you can get them on Amazon.
The small ones fit into the palm of their hands and their bendable and foldable design keeps my preschooler occupied for ages!
It also makes a great superhero when needed. Just make sure that you do not lose the instructions on how to make it back into a square! Cubebot comes in lots of sizes, We have the small one and it is not only just a great travel staple, it gets used in restaurants, in the car and even at friend’s houses!
9. Small Animals
I usually grab a pack of plastic animals or figures before our trip and wrap it up.
Whether it be farm animals, dinosaurs or bugs, it is something new and fun for the kids to use their imagination. You can get them in a handy tube so they can be packed up and carried easily!
10. Imaginetics Magnet Board
I have never seen anything quite like these Imaginetics Magnet Boards. The board opens up and creates a scene with a bunch of characters and accessories that stick to the board!
The photo above shows outerspace, but there are also dinosaurs, pirates, ballet, construction sites, and lots of other choices for boys and girls.
I love that they are less than $10 for airplane activities for toddlers that can be used again and again! You can also get a similar brand here.
This is probably my favorite airplane toy for toddlers and often a gift that I buy for anyone that I know is going on an upcoming trip!
There are two sizes of these.
The smaller one is more square, whereas the larger one is more rectangular.
Both are fine, but I would recommend the smaller one for a plane or car activity. These are also great road trip activities for toddlers and preschoolers as long as your toddler is not putting them in their mouth as there are small pieces!
11. Travel Passport
We love the Travel Passports from Tava Adventures.
The Passport comes with 10 4×6 travel cards highlighting your chosen destination in a kid-friendly way! We have the London and the Seattle ones and when we traveled there, I read them to my kids! These can also be for older kids to teach them fun facts about the places they are going!
12. Kids Tablet
YES we pack the technology!
A mum has gotta go what a mum has gotta do! We picked up a Fire Tablet and loaded it up with movies that the kids are into and that gives me a break if there is not a seat-back TV.
More and more we have come across flights without TV’s (like visiting Oahu from Vancouver) so we always come prepared.
I was recently on an overseas flight to Jordan with a screen that would not work, so I always like to have a backup. Anyone with toddlers also knows that sometimes, there is just a specific show they want to watch again and again!
My (now) 7-year-old now plays Minecraft on the tablet that we have had for a few years. So it at least has some longevity and you do not end up handing over your phone to occupy them!
13. Toddler Sized Headphones
Get headphones that fit toddlers!
We made this mistake on one of our first trips and bought what looked like kid’s headphones. While they say fit ages three and up, they ended up being way too big for toddlers!
Now we look for headphones designed specifically for toddlers and preschoolers. In that search we stumbled onto Marley headphones.
These are great because we have broken about 5 pairs as the kids seem to love to pull on the wires! This wire is removable which means pulling and swinging them around doesn’t break them. They also get small enough to actually fit toddlers! After purchasing them (yes they are a little more expensive) we have yet to replace a pair of headphones!
14. A package of Band-Aids
Let’s face it, toddlers LOVE them!
And will love playing doctor and fixing your owies! These are inexpensive travel toys for toddlers on airplanes and if they happen to have a scrape or fall, you have them handy! Check out Amazon for their favorite characters!
15. Crayola Color Wonder Invisible Markers and Pads
These are some of the popular toddler plane activities that avoid the mess of markers getting on the tray tables!
If you have not seen these, they only produce color on paper. Check them out here
It means no marks are left on the tray tables! I have even seen sparkly ones lately!
If you have a little one that is into coloring, this is a great travel toy for a 2-year-old, when you can’t keep your eye on them for every second, like in the car! They are also great for restaurants and airplanes! My 4-year-old happily uses these, as does my 6-year-old, even though my 6-year-old is a pretty proficient colorer!
16. Skoolzy Travel Peg Board
This is another new one that I recently came across as car activity for toddlers and preschoolers. For those looking for Montessori-type toys, this one is great for fine motor skills! You can get more info here. I like that it has a carry bag to keep all of the pieces together!
17. Paint by Sticker Books
These books allow children to create a picture one sticker at a time.
They require fine motor skills so they are not really a great toddler travel activity, but would be better for kindergarten-aged children and older. It would probably be one of the popular airplane activities for 8 year old who is into art, and crafts or creating things! It is a good price point at less than $10 for an activity for your child on your next flight!
18. Take-Along Shape Sorter
Melissa and Doug is well known for its great toys and good quality items! So many of them make great toddler plane activities! This is one that came up on a recent search that I did and I think it makes a great idea!
19. Neon FX Coloring Board
This one is something I would recommend as one of the road trip travel toys for toddlers that I would pack because it is a bit bulky.
Kids love drawing on it and then changing the lights and the neon felts come to life! You can check it out here or watch the video below!
It really is pretty cool and something that kids can use at home as well! It does say for kids 6 and up, but any kids that are doodling can easily use this! If your road trip occurs in the dark, this is something the kids would have fun with as well.
20. Tissue Paper
Kids love wrapping up and giving gifts, bring some tissue paper and let them wrap up some small items that you have brought for them to play with and check out the thrill on your face when you open them up!
We did this for almost an hour with my 2-year-old on our first 6 hour flight!
Sometimes, if you want to know how to entertain a toddler on a plane, it is the things we least expect that will be the best!
21. Wipe Clean Activity Books
These are great for little ones that are into markers and doodling. Similar to the cards I mentioned above, these are better if you want everything in one place and do not want to be playing 52 pickup!
They can trace shapes and the markers wipe off. If you get these, try and wipe the marker off after your child is done. It makes it much easier than trying to wipe it off a month later when you go to use it again. The marker is much harder to clean off then!
22. Teething Ring
You might already have a teether for your baby but make sure you pack a round one on your travels.
A few reasons: they can go on your wrist when your baby is done with them so they don’t get lost, they are easy to hold with two hands, they make a great sensory object and they are cheap!
Grab one of these before your next trip! Once you have one, I doubt you will have another teether leave the house!
23. Sensory Rattle
This is a great product to travel with for young kids. I like it because it is mostly rubber on the outside and easy to wipe clean when it hits the ground! It makes my list of the best travel toys for toddlers on airplanes that still like to chew!
24. Eggs for Babies
These are popular travel toys for one-year-olds. But even my 6-year-old is happy to play with them when there are little ones around!
Again these toddler airplane activities are easy to wipe clean with a package of wipes when your little one is on the floor with them.
25. Stuffy from Home
When you are packing your toddler airplane activities, do not forget their special blanket or stuffy to keep them feeling safe. It also adds an extra person to take care of. When Mattias was four, he loved role-playing and had fun on the plane being “Bunny’s Daddy”
Travel Activities for Kids: School Aged Children
Our boys are pretty well-traveled kids. Quite often our trips are two legs with multiple hour stopovers. They are often content with technology, but I like to include some travel games for kids as well. We all know that zombie tv-watching child, so at least they can use these while we wait at the airport AND on the airplane. because these items have been so popular with my readers, I have expanded them into their own post on airplane activities for kids.
While I do not bring ALL of these travel games on each trip, I pick a few. They are also great at our destination in the evening!
- Along with your toddler plane activities, don’t forget a neck pillow for your little one (and yourself)! This one has a ton of great reviews!
- Do not forget the snacks when you pack for your kids activities on an airplane. Read our updated list of airplane snacks for kids (from toddlers to teens)
- If you want some ride on luggage, or to see what works for kids, check out the best kids carry on luggage article.
- If you are bringing a car seat to your destination, read reviews on the best car seat travel bag.
- Are you headed on a long-haul flight soon? Check out the Savvy Globetrotter’s Post on What to Pack for a Long Flight
Lindsay Nieminen hails from Vancouver, Canada and shares her love of travel on this website. She is passionate about showing others that they should not put off traveling the world just because they have young children or are single parents. She aims to encourage them to seek out adventure, whether it is at home or abroad by providing information on how just about everywhere can be a destination to explore as a family.
Saturday 19th of October 2019
These were great ideas for my preschooler. For those looking for more ideas, I took my son to Switzerland when he was only 10 months old. The best thing I did was pack a baggie full of random objects (you know how babies find the most interest in weird ordinary things instead of the toys they have?) like a spring from a spiral-bound notebook, crinkly celophane, clothespin, small empty box, a ribbon, a pincushion (no pins in it obviously), bookmark with a tassle, stickers (to watch them constantly try to pull it off), miniature tongs with the rubber hands on the end, and more than I can't remember. We used those over and over again on long drives as well as the flights where he wasn't sleeping.
Friday 28th of June 2019
Wow this is amazing guide for all the moms as kids get bore in airplane during the flight and these activities will keep the kids occupied.. Thanx for such a nice post.....
Saturday 29th of June 2019
Im glad it was helpful Pammy!
Tuesday 28th of May 2019
Great post.,flying for the first time with my 1yr old son ..this article is so helpful, Thank you for sharing.
Tuesday 28th of May 2019
Glad it was helpful! Enjoy your holiday!! Were any of these items new to you? The Cubebot STILLLLL travels with us and my kids still fight over it! I should just buy another one!
Tuesday 4th of September 2018
The name of the toy from the 70's is View Master. <3
Wednesday 5th of September 2018
YESSSSS!!!!! thank you!!!
Friday 1st of June 2018
Amazing post. I got various new ideas for keeping my child busy during traveling so that he doesn't get irritated. I was unaware of the triangle crayons. Keep sharing such interesting ideas through such posts.
Friday 1st of June 2018
glad to hear it was useful Kanika!