Keeping Kids Entertained and Educated on Long Flights: A Parent's Guide
Flying with kids can be a challenging experience, especially on long-haul flights. Children can easily get bored, restless, or anxious during the extended period of time spent in an airplane cabin. As a parent, it's important to find ways to keep your kids occupied and entertained, while also ensuring that they learn something new and valuable. To help you out, we've compiled a list of fun and educational activities that you can try on your next long flight.
Before the Flight: Preparation is Key
Before you board the plane, there are several things you can do to make the flight more enjoyable for your kids. Here are some tips to consider:
Pack a Travel Backpack
One of the most important things you can do is prepare a travel backpack for your child. A travel backpack should contain all the essentials your kid needs to stay comfortable, hydrated, and entertained during the flight. Some things you may want to include are:
- Snacks (e.g. granola bars, trail mix, dried fruit)
- Water bottle (empty, refillable after security check)
- Gum or lollipops (to help with ear pressure)
- Blanket or pillow (if not provided by the airline)
- Headphones or earplugs (to block out cabin noise)
- Travel-sized games, books or activity sets
- Coloring books or activity books, crayons or colored pencils
Technology can be a lifesaver on long flights. There are many apps, games, and videos that can keep your kids entertained and educated for hours. You can download these apps before the flight or use the onboard Wi-Fi (if available). Some popular choices are:
- Kids Doodle
- Duolingo Kids (learning app)
- Pokémon Go (game app)
- Netflix Kids (streaming app)
Plan Your Seating Arrangement
The seating arrangement can make a big difference in your child's comfort and entertainment. If possible, try to book seats with extra legroom or seats near the window (for younger kids who enjoy looking out the window). You could also consider requesting a bulkhead seat (the first row of seats) that has a wall in front to allow for more space for your child. According to some parents, it's better to choose seats in the middle of the plane where there's less noise from engines and other passengers.
During the Flight: Activities to Keep Your Kids Entertained
Once you're on the plane, it's time to put your preparation into action. Here are some activity ideas to keep your kids entertained and educated during the flight:
Boarding and Takeoff
The boarding and takeoff periods can be stressful for some kids, especially if they're afraid of flying. You can distract them by engaging them in games or activities like these:
- I spy: This is a classic game that can be played anywhere, anytime. One player says "I spy with my little eye something that is..." and describes an object they can see. The other players have to guess what it is by looking around.
- Coloring or drawing: Pass out coloring books and crayons or colored pencils. Encourage younger children to draw pictures of what they see outside the window.
- Read aloud: Read a storybook or educational book aloud to your child. This can be relaxing and informative.
Once you're in the air, it's important to provide your kids with a variety of activities to prevent boredom. Here are some ideas to consider:
- Travel-sized games: There are many travel-sized games available that can keep your child entertained for hours. Some popular choices are UNO, Spot It, and Rubik's Cube.
- Memory games: Play a memory game where one person says a word, and the next person has to repeat it and add another word. The game continues until someone forgets a word.
- Create a scavenger hunt: Write down a list of things for your kids to find in the plane like a window seat, a red blanket, or a picture of a dog. Give them a treat or a small prize when they find everything on the list.
- Sing-along: Sing along with your child to songs they know and love, or teach them new ones.
- Map reading: Show your child a map of the flight path or the destination you are traveling to. You can talk about different countries and cultures on the way.
Sleeping on the Plane
It can be difficult for children to sleep on the plane due to the noise, lights, and cramped conditions. However, sleep is important for their health and well-being. Here are some tips to help them sleep:
- Bring a blanket and a pillow: Make sure your child is comfortable and warm by bringing a blanket and a pillow if they are not provided by the airline.
- White noise: Use a white noise app or a machine to help your child sleep by masking the background noise in the cabin. You can also try earplugs or noise-canceling headphones.
- Eye masks: Use an eye mask to block out light and help your child fall asleep faster.
- Comfort item: Bring their favorite stuffed animal, toy, or blanket to provide them with emotional comfort.
After the Flight: Reflect on the Experience
Once you've arrived at your destination, it's important to reflect on the flight experience with your child. Ask them about their favorite activities, games, or moments during the flight. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings, and praise them for their patience and cooperation. This can help to build positive memories and prepare them for future flights.
Traveling with kids can be a challenge, especially on long-haul flights. However, with proper preparation and a variety of fun and educational activities, you can keep your kids entertained and educated during the flight. Remember to pack a travel backpack, utilize technology, plan your seating arrangement, engage in different activities during the flight, and reflect on the experience afterward. Happy travels!