Have kids, will travel. It’s not a contradiction. It’s been a reality for me ever since my children were born because my parents and family live far away. An eight-hour-long-overnight-plane-ride kind of away. My kids are 7 and 10 now, and although it gets easier to keep them entertained the older they get, it always requires careful planning for a smooth experience.
There are two key elements to any kind of planning for an overnight flight with young children. One is keeping their tummies happy, and the other, keeping them entertained. I solve the first problem by packing snacks such as crackers, cookies, dry cereal, fruit snacks and lollipops in case their ears bother them. I take care of the second issue by relying on technology. It sure helps to keep little ones entertained.
Gadgets to keep kids entertained on airplanes
Yes, gadgets can be a lifesaver during a long flight with kids. Here are my favorite ones:
iPad and other tablets: I download apps, music, and movies before we travel. I even download different things my kids don’t know about so I can surprise them. Don’t forget to bring headphones with you that will accommodate little ears.
Portable DVD player: If you don’t own a tablet, a DVD player will provide hours of fun if you bring your kid’s favorite movies with you. Again, headphones that fit your child’s ears are a must. Remember to check the batteries before your trip!
Video game consoles: The Nintendo DS, for example, is a great way to keep children entertained. Make sure to bring at least three different games. Also check the batteries before you travel; I actually set up a reminder to charge all the gadgets the morning of the trip (if you have an early morning flight, charge your gadgets the night before).
E-readers: For tweens, a good book can provide hours of entertainment. Batteries last during long flights, electronic ink systems are easy on the eyes and you can load all the books you want in one small device. There are many free books, too!
Smartphones: Although I would rather not have my children use my smartphone to play their favorite apps, it really is a lifesaver when you don’t have another device available to keep your kids entertained. There are so many educational apps, games and even e-books you can download for your kids! I take an extra battery pack on my trips so I don’t run out of juice. Remember to set you phone to airplane mode once you are allowed to turn on electronic devices.
Keep in mind that you will not be allowed to use anything that has an on/off switch during take-off and landing. That means you will need to plan for something non-electronic for those long minutes on the runway or during descent. Puzzle books, Sudoku, playing cards and miniature versions of popular board games are a great solution. For younger kids, try coloring books and crayons or special markers such as Crayola Color Wonders, which don’t stain clothes or tiny hands.
Ideas to keep kids entertained on long flights
iPods, iTouch and iPads 1 of 5Children can use iPods, iTouches and iPads for music, games, and other apps.
Portable DVD players 2 of 5Portable DVD players can provide hours of entertainment, especially for younger children. Just make sure to charge the batteries, take several movies and a set of child-friendly headphones.
Books 3 of 5Old-fashioned books can entertain tweens for hours. Have your child pick a new book before your travel.
Coloring paper and markers 4 of 5Non-staining markers and paper such as Crayola's Color Wonders provide mess-free entertainment.
E-readers 5 of 5Electronic readers have long-lasting batteries and can hold books for the entire family in one single device. They also have built-in dictionaries and bookmarks.
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