Last Updated on July 21, 2023
Traveling in an airplane with little ones is stressful enough, but traveling internationally with baby would make even the most seasoned parent get a bit nervous. Sometimes when I travel, the tv console doesn’t work. Sometimes, there are no subtitled English options for me or my kids to watch. No matter how old your kids are, or where you are flying to, it’s great to have some screen-free airplane activities to keep in your carry-on.
Here are my favorite items to pack. Did yours make the list? Keep this page bookmarked as it will be updated often!
Screen-Free Airplane Activities For Kids
The Suction Cup Spinner is a must to pack for infants and small toddlers. This toy can be suctioned on the airplane window, and on the plastic tray window. I have even seen this product when I was traveling on the Shinkansen. You can also use this toy in the bathtub while traveling as well. What a great multipurpose toy. The toy does make a small noise, like a ball-bearing noise. However, if you are using this on an airplane, the noise of the engines will mask the sound out. Available on Amazon with three different designs.
The Tegu magnetic wooden block set is a great little set of magnet toys that will provide lots of open-ended play for your little ones. This set is great to bring on an airplane because it comes in a felt pouch and it’s very easy to clean up when they are done playing. These colorful wooden blocks are magnetic and can be easily stored in a backpack or diaper bag.
Palmatte Toddlers Busy Board
Palmatte Toddlers Busy Board Montessori Toys is a great activity to bring on a flight for little children. It is large enough to fit on an airplane folding tray, and it’s a great screen-free option that will keep them busy. Children can play with zippers, buttons, laces, and more without trying to undo their own airplane seatbelts or the other buttons on an airplane. Because of the size, you or your toddler can easily carry this activity by the handles or slip it into a carry-on bag.
Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow!
The “Melissa & Doug Reusable Water Wow!” activity sets are a great way to keep toddlers/preschoolers occupied as a screen-free option. All you need is a little bit of water from the airplane bathroom to fill up the pen. Then, let the kids “paint” over the pictures on brightly colored pages. This mess-free activity is also reusable as well. Once the pages dry, kids can continue to paint and learn.
Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad
The Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad is another great activity for kids who are on an airplane. Even though there are over 150 stickers and 5 beautiful backgrounds to pick from, kids will have more fun placing the repositionable stickers on the airplane window and on the tray table! Kids can create all types of stories with these stickers, and it left no mess. Easy to pack up once we were about to hand. Great hands-on activity for kids.
PicassoTiles are another great little thing to put in the carry-on or in a diaper bag. Kids can play with different colors and learn about shapes, numbers, and magnetic polarities. With just a few pieces, kids can build and create different 3D items on their tray table. Easy to gather when your flight is about to land.
Paint By Sticker Kids
The “Paint By Stickers books: Kids” are a great mess-free activity that fits perfectly in a child’s carry-on bag. There are a wide variety of themes that kids and adults will enjoy including outer space, under the sea, and dinosaurs. Think about packing a paint-by sticker for the adults. This is a great way to stay entertained on a long flight.
These activity books contain 10 “sticker paintings” per book. The directions are very simple. By using stickers and number recognition, everyone will create beautiful works of art. The kids’ books have larger sticker pieces, whereas the adults’ can be more intricate. By the time you land, you will have some beautiful paintings to show off!
ORSEN Colorful 8.5 Inch LCD Writing Tablet
This ORSEN Colorful 8.5 Inch LCD Writing Tablet is another activity that would be great for kids on an airplane because it doesn’t need batteries to charge, and what they can do on this tablet for entertainment is limitless. Kids can draw to their heart’s content without bringing a lot of paper with them. It was great to play paper-based games like tic-tac-toe, and hangman while we were up in the air.
Lonely Planet Kids Drawing Games on the Go
The Lonely Planet Kids Drawing Games on the Go is the gift I recommend grandparents purchase during Christmastime for elementary school kids. In one box, kids can choose from 40 different tasks to complete. Kids can complete drawing challenges, and play games and activities. The best part is that the cards come with a dry-erase marker, which will help continue hours of fun and entertainment.
Play Card Games
Having a screen-free option could be as easy as buying a deck of cards or a UNO set. A set of playing cards can easily fit in a carry-on and can be enjoyed with friends and families. When flying to Japan, I surprised my family by purchasing a Pokemon-themed UNO card set. It was a great way to keep them excited about traveling a long distance to Tokyo. Depending on where you are traveling, you can easily find a UNO set that would fit your travel theme.
Other fantastic card game options to pack for kids could include: Go Fish, Old Maid, Slap Jack, or War.
Travel Themed Books
Books make a fantastic travel gift for children. Parents and grandparents can find books that can fit their travel itineraries. With books, children can learn about what awaits them without the dreaded anticipation of “what ifs”. Read more about my personal collection of children’s books for traveling.
With books, kids can understand their upcoming trip, learn about the culture, or discover hidden gems that even adults have not added to their trip itinerary. From picture books to chapter books, the options for entertainment are endless. I have always incorporated a few new books as a surprise, and I love introducing local authors to my family before we reach our destination. Who knew that Dr. Seuss (nee: Theodor Seuss Geisel) called Massachusetts home?
The Where’s Waldo series is a fantastic puzzle book that can be easily added to anyone’s carry-on backpack. Finding Waldo with the kids keeps them entertained and engaged in the task at hand. Kids can try and find Waldo in Hollywood, in Space, and even back in time! There is an extensive range of products to select from books to little card sets. Once you have found Waldo on every single page, challenge yourself by finding other objects listed on the back of the books or time yourself on who can find Waldo first. The options for one book are limitless.
Did I miss any of your favorite screen-free entertainment for kids? Let me know in the comments below!