Any experienced parent or frequent flier can tell you that you can’t just board a plane, kids in tow, and expect a smooth flight. You literally need a game plan. Kids are probably going to get bored during the flight and begin some sort of squirmy, kicking-the-seat-in-front, whiny behavior, unless you provide some entertainment. For the sake of your children and the other passengers, bring some games with you.
Plan for the Worst
You have to figure that you are going to be cooped up with your children in a cramped airplane for several hours, and you can’t count on your children being asleep the whole time. You have to occupy every minute of the time they are awake before they get out of control. When they are not eating, have some activities planned.
Favorite Toys and New Toys
Bring toys from home for children 1 year and younger. They will like the comfort and familiarity of a toy from home, according to the Flying Rugrats website. Colorful and geometric toys work well with many babies. Older children can select one or two favorite small toys from home. Buy a few new toys that you figure your child will like, and hide them. Bring them out as a surprise during the flight.
Books, Movies and Media
New books that you can read with your children and activity books that your children can use on their own will occupy many children for quite a while. These books need to be new, though. The ones from home will probably not hold much interest. If you have a portable DVD player or a laptop with a DVD drive, you can bring some children’s DVDs. You can’t count on the in-flight entertainment. Children can also occupy themselves with hand-held game systems or portable media players.
You can play some good-old-fashioned games with your children that don’t require anything but your imagination. You can play peek-a-boo with babies or just lift them into the air. (This is also good exercise for your arms.) For older children, play I Spy, where you see something on the plane and your child has to figure out what you see by asking questions. You could also play the similar 20 Questions, where you think of an animal, vegetable or mineral, and your child can ask up to 20 questions to figure out the answer. Scavenger hunts can be fun, according to the Disney Family Fun website. They work particularly well if you have more than one child. Have the children look for a father holding a baby, a person with two different hair colors, someone sleeping or someone wearing red, for some examples.
Walking Down the Aisle
When sitting still and playing games is not enough, go ahead and walk your child down the aisle. She can look at and talk to the passengers. Some people get a kick out of this, and others do not want to be bothered. You need to gauge the situation. Many passengers will welcome the distraction of a little one stopping by.
- Mother and child watching airplanes image by nextrecord from Fotolia.com