Airplane Travel with a Toddler

It’s been a few weeks now since our trip to Texas to visit my brother and his wife.  I spent a few days brainstorming ideas for the plane ride (5-ish hours each way) to keep my busy tot occupied.

We started off by getting him excited about riding the airplane.  We showed him his airplane toys and told him we were going to get on one and ride it to Texas to see his aunt and uncle.  We demonstrated taking off and did sound effects for a few days prior to leaving, and he was in love.  When we got to the airport, we showed him all the big airplanes outside the window and told him we were going to get on one.  He couldn’t wait!  When we boarded, he loved checking out the inside, watching people board and watching the people down below loading our luggage onto the plane.  (We always choose a seat right overhead of where they load the luggage on the right side of the plane… Not sure why, we just do!) 

Ideally, had I gotten a start on good toddler travel activities long ago, (I wish I would’ve had the time to sit and make one of these beforehand!) I would’ve packed a “Quiet Book” much like this one:

(I have since bought all the supplies I need for this type of quiet book and have started on a couple pages already!  Hoping to get it done before baby #2 arrives in a few months. :))

Since I didn’t have anything like that made for this trip, I had to use my imagination a little more. These are the things I came up with to pack:

  • Zippers and buckles
    •  Zeek has really been into zipping up his own jammies and buckling his own car-seat lately.  I dug around in my craft closet and came up with a couple of unused zippers and a large buckle, which I tied both pieces to a ribbon so they wouldn’t get separated and lost while he was playing with them or while in our carry on bag.  He spent a great amount of time with them, buckling and unbuckling, zipping and unzipping.  
    • For one leg of the trip, he had his own seat because the airplane was empty enough and he had his own seatbelt which he also loved to try to figure out how to work.
  • Crayons and coloring book
    • I brought his favorite Planet Earth coloring book (the boy loves animals!) and I packed some crayons in a little travel wipes case, like this:
    • It worked so well to keep them together and not smashed!
  •  8-10 of his favorite books
    • Most of Zeek’s favorite books include animals and he is a pro at animal noises and mimicking the ones you make!  This was an added bonus because we could read the books to him and also quiz him on animal noises too.  Double duty.  šŸ™‚

 Photo’s via
    • We knew we couldn’t really take any hearty meals on the plane for him, so we made sure to get a good lunch at each of our lay overs.  
    • The last two times Ezekiel flew, he was 2 1/2 months and 9 months and I was still nursing him.  I’d read back then that I should nurse him while the plane was taking off so that he was sucking and his ears would pop and not be painful/plugged.  Since I’m no longer nursing, I made sure to give him one of the Happy Tots each time we took off so that he was still sucking on something.  Seemed to do the trick!  He never once seemed bothered by his ears.
  •  iPad
    • Yep, I definitely loaded the iPad with several toddler apps and all three of us remained very entertained on the plane ride!  I uploaded probably about 25 free apps.  Some were duds, some gave a little entertainment and a few were awesome!  These are the ones we all really enjoyed:
      • MusicSparkle
        •   This fun little app has three music instruments in the free version: xylophone, drums and saxophone.  You just play by touching the different parts of the instrument.  You can also add background music to play along with (guitar, drums, banjo, bongos and piano).  As you play, bursts of color and colorful music notes float around the screen, making it visually entertaining for your tot as well.
      • Kids Doodle
        •    Definitely one of ALL of our favorite apps I downloaded!  This is a really fun art app with several different styles of “markers” to color with.  We all had so much fun drawing with our fingers.  This one was very entertaining and easy to use for Zeek!  It’s a little hard to explain, so check out this screen shot that was on the iTunes app download page:

        • Animal Sounds
          • Like I mentioned, Zeek LOVES animals.  This has an awesome selection of animal flash cards that shows the picture, has the name written out and makes the animal noise.  We quizzed Zeek on all of the animal sounds and he LOVED mimicking the noises!  Another screenshot from the iTunes app store:

        •  Critter Cards
          • The Critter Cards app had more animal flashcards, but so much more also!  They have shapes, letters, vehicles, numbers, food, colors, and places.  It shows the picture, the word and also says the word.  Fun educational app!
        • Disneyland
          • Hands down, THE most amazing app!!  We spent at least a couple hours playing with this app (not all at once, but all together).  You get a virtual tour of Disneyland, which is cool in itself, but you can see details of all of the exhibits/rides.  There are some short movies, view pictures, play a few games, etc.  We (Zeek) especially loved Mickey Mouse’s house where you can watch 8-10 short (2:30 min) vintage Mickey cartoons!  Skyler was thrilled to find his favorite one on there: the one where he’s a magician.  
          • Zeek STILL loves to watch the Mickey cartoons on here.  He asks to  “watsch oh, boy!”  šŸ™‚

    There were plenty of other apps we downloaded that gave us a little entertainment, but these were definitely our top 5 app picks, without having to spend a dime!  I’m sure there are plenty more cool free apps that I haven’t explored yet. šŸ™‚

    We also searched all over iTunes for a Winnie the Pooh video or episode that we could purchase.  We had NO luck, other than a video for $20 (no thanks).  We did find one little few minute movie clip of “Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh“.  It was only about 2 1/2 minutes, but Zeek watched it a few times and loved it the same every time. šŸ™‚

    • Blanket & Sleepy Puppy
      • We also packed a light blanket and his smaller of two “sleepy puppy’s” that he always sleeps with.  He cuddled with them and took a little nap in my lap both on the way there and the way back.  That killed an hour or two. šŸ˜‰
    • A couple of his favorite small toys
      • He loves driving cars and trains and loves balls, so I brought a few along for him to play with.  On the way home, we had purchased some golf ball sized magnetic balls which he LOVED playing with.  He’d pull them apart, put them together, pull them apart, etc.  LOVED it.  (Though we did get a stern talking to from our stewardess about not giving them to him or at the very least watching him very carefully so that he wouldn’t try to swallow them and choke… Ok lady.  YOU try swallowing a golf ball.  Let alone my 19 month old! …  Whatever. :)) 

     And THAT is how we made it through two 5+ hour plane rides with our toddler!  We had layovers at about the half way point both there and back and made sure to get out and run around with him (literally) while we were in the airport as well as eat a good protein filled lunch.

    Anyone else have any good tips for long travel with a tot?  We’re always on the go and I’m always looking for new things to do to entertain him from his car-seat!

    I’m working on the quiet book right now and will show you the progress after I’ve finished a few pages.   šŸ™‚  I remember playing with my own quiet book for HOURS, quietly, when I was young.  I loved the thing and still vividly remember a few of the pages.  Whoever came up with it is a genius!  I only wish I had started making mine months ago so I would’ve had it for this trip! šŸ™‚

    Happy travels!


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