Trips, tricks, and the best toys for plane travel with little kids.

We love to travel.  We only wish our budget allowed us to do it much more often than we do.  We also think it’s important for our children to travel and experience everything the world has to offer.

We are currently on a trip to Australia with the kids, visiting family and friends for the holidays.  Of course one of my primary concerns was ensuring that the little ones would be entertained on our long trip over – 3 flights (spanning 15+ hours, with the longest stretch being 13 hours), 5 hours of layovers, 2 shuttle bus rides and a long car ride.  It isn’t that they haven’t done this trip before because they have, twice in fact.  But with each year, their needs change, they need more to stimulate them and they sleep less.  I have to say though that I am so proud of my kids, they really are fantastic travelers. 

When it came time to pack their on-board bags I carefully assessed what would be appropriate to take and what wouldn’t. 

Now that they are 4 they love to feel independent and in control.  My first must-have item was a small wheeled case with a handle for each of them to fill with both necessities and fun items that they could be in control of on our trip.


  • A full change of clothes
  • Tissues and wipes
  • Medicines: we have one asthmatic and one with allergies so it is important to pack their prescription medications.  I also take homeopathic medicines for nausea and nasal congestion.
  • 3 books each (which they chose)
  • Favorite stuffed toy
  • Blanket – the twins each have a teddy bear that is stuffed with a plush blanket.  This is perfect for traveling as they have a familiar blanket for sleeping and the teddy bear can be used as a pillow or snuggle toy.
  • Snacks:
    • Individual bags of pretzels
    • Small boxes of raisins
    • Individual packets of chewy candy (to help with popping ears on take-off and landing)
    • Individual bags of Goldfish
    • A couple of lollipops
  • Sigg water bottles – airline attendants are more than happy to fill these during flights.  Using these as opposed to the plastic cups on planes will not only reduce the number of spills (aka wet clothes that will need changing) but also help the environment.  I also recommend filling these once you are through airport security, drinking will also aid in the relief of popping ears during take-off and landing.


Here are my top picks.

Best travel toys for kids

Thing.26734034.s DVD-LS86 – Portable DVD Players:

This portable DVD player runs for 13 hours (perfect for a 13-hour flight).  Even though the kids had unlimited cartoons on their individual screens on the plane, if they wanted to watch their favorite DVD’s (which we packed into separate DVD storage cases for each of them), they had the option, this is also handy for during airport layovers.  The added bonus is the 2 headphone plugs so you aren’t subjecting those around you to the noise.

Thing.26733423.s Nano Starter Set – HexBugs:

This has quickly become a favorite toy in our house, it is fairly quiet (read: cannot be heard over airplane engine noise), is perfect if you have more than one bug and you have 2 starter sets – they can be joined together, or used individually.  Don’t forget spare batteries, just in case.

Thing.26733215.s Melissa & Doug Drawing Paper Pad:  $2.99 –

A notepad full of blank drawing paper is a must-have.  Kids love to draw.

Thing.26733258.s Melissa & Doug Jumbo Triangular Colored Pencils…:  $10 –

What I love about these pencils is that they are triangular so they don’t roll like regular pencils, which means using them on a plane where there is a lot of movement means you won’t be picking them up off the floor continuously or losing them as the roll under all of the seats.

Thing.26733152.s Magnetic Fun Tins –  Lee Publications:

These tins are fantastic.  We purchased one that is similar to paper dolls, only it uses magnets and the other is all about trains, planes, and automobiles.  They provided countless hours of entertainment with the added bonus of not losing any of the small pieces because they are magnetic and so are always attached to the tin case.  During one layover we even had other children in the airport coming over to play with them too.  The kids can create their own scenes and change them around as often as they want. 

Thing.26733306.s Educational Work Books –  School Zone:

This is the perfect opportunity to have the kids work on their letters, numbers, coloring in-between the lines and keeping them stimulated with matching, counting, science, and reading.


Stickers:  These will be stuck to every inch of the plane and airport
Toys that make noise. 
Toys that move without a contained area such as Zhu Zhu pets, Beyblades, cars, and trains etc.  These will spend most of the time on the floor of the airplane and so will you.

You Might Also Like These Too


Tonya Staab January 13, 2011 - 12:25 pm

Thanks Susan.  You will do great and so will Seven.  I need to pop over and visit you, I've been a little behind since returning from vaca and I miss seeing all of the deliciousness on your site.

doughmesstic January 13, 2011 - 9:15 am

Just wanted to pop in an say I thoroughly appreciate this post. How you travel with TWO baffles me…especially that far! We will be taking Seven on a trip this summer, and I fully intend to utilize your suggestions. It won’t be the huge journey YOU took, but still, it’s far enough!
Also wanted to say I’ve been enjoying your photos from your trip…those sand castles were incredible! I also liked the safari…I hope I can do something like that with my boy soon!
Thanks again for the great advice…


Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More