My daughter just turned 2 and has already been on 18 flights. Though we have yet to fly internationally with her, we have become quite skilled at on-flight entertainment. To my surprise, “Have any tips for keeping them entertained on the plane!?” is a question that I am asked very frequently by families with little kids who are embarking on their first overseas flight. Here are my 10 go-tos!
1. Window clings. There’s a reason this is #1. They are seriously amazing. The Dollar Store is where I usually buy them. They peel on and off the windows and provide hours of entertainment.
2. “What Could This Be?” Game. Choose any object and take turns acting out all of the things that the object could be. For example, a cup could be a hat, a musical instrument, a giant nose, a goatee, etc. This was my mom’s brilliant idea and I have great memories of playing this game with her and my brother on the long flights to and from Africa.
3. Sticker books. Again, Dollar Store for the win. Books with lots of stickers and pages with scenes to put them on are great entertainment.
4. Make up stories. Use the stickers or window clings to make up and act out stories with your kiddos. This can also work with action figures or just your imagination!
This can also be a great way to begin conversations with your children about how they are feeling now that you are really on your way to the new place. Have the characters in your imaginary story fly to a new place and ask your child how the characters are feeling. They may give you an indication of what is going on in their own mind!
5. Water painting. Paint-with-water books are great for planes because they are not too messy and only require water.
6. Language-Learning Games. If you are planning to learn a new language when you move overseas, the airplane ride can be a great place to start that process. Dinolingo is my absolute favorite language-learning program for kids and a subscription includes many games that kids can play on a smartphone, computer, or iPad. With most airlines offering Wifi on international flights, this can be a great way to keep kids busy and working on language at the same time.
7. Talk about the new place. Build up the anticipation for the new place. Talk about the first things you’ll do when you get there. Talk about the things they’re most excited or nervous about. Look at photos or watch videos from the place where you’ll be living. Talk about what they can expect to happen after you land and what your expectations are of them.
8. Travel games. Amazon has some great magnetic games like these that are fabulous for plane rides.
9. “Tell Me About a Time When…” Game. Take turns asking the question, “Tell me about a time when… (you felt angry, you felt scared, you were really excited, you were embarrassed).” Take turns letting your kids ask you and visa versa. Keep the stories short and to the point, and enjoy sharing them with one another! Kids love hearing stories about when their parents were kids, so consider sharing some of your childhood stories.
10. Journal. For older children, give them a special journal when you get on the airplane for them to write all of their thoughts in as they process through their feelings about moving to a new place. This is a healthy way for them to think through their feelings, and it also helps to pass the time!
The time on the airplane can be a great opportunity to talk through some of the emotions of moving to a new place. Use the above ideas as ways to enhance your “talk-time” and to bond with your kiddos. They will need your love and attention during this transition and playing with them on the airplane-ride there is a great way to start that! I hope some of these ideas help to keep you and your kids entertained on your international flights!