Packing Toys for Flying With Kids

Travel with KidsKids on a plane. Not to be confused with Snakes on a Plane—though you may find both prospects equally terrifying.

We’ve traveled a lot with our toddler (read my guest “manifesto” on TheEverywhereist.com), and my mom friends are always asking me for tips.

These are my four “rules” for packing toys for airplane travel with kids:

  1. Small. Parents are the pack mules of the airport, but even we have limits.
  2. Light. Your darling will undoubtedly throw something straight at a stranger’s head.
  3. Disposable. Anything that can’t be lost between seat cushions or sacrificed to the gods of the airplane bathroom need not apply.
  4. Quiet. You don’t want to be “that parent” do you? None of us want you to be that parent.

Here are some of the things I bring to keep Szaba occupied. You certainly don’t need them all, but hopefully they’ll inspire you to come up with your own ideas (which you should share … please … we’re all in the same club here).

Kids Plane Travel

Travel bag: Pick something your kid’s size, and relegate it strictly to trip usage, so it’s novel. The more pockets, the better. I love this one (above, found at a second-hand store) because it doubles as a play house.

Imaginative play toys: The key is to pick toys they’ve either never played with or have forgotten about. For the doll, I also pack a small burp cloth (doubles as a baby blanket) and a tiny bottle or spoon. For the Little People, I always bring along a vehicle, too. For action figures, include a piece of their equipment, etc.
Toddler Plane ActivitiesDiscovery Wallet: You don’t need this and the backpack, but if you have both, you have double the arsenal of distractions. Or you could just use the wallet for shorter trips in the car. I pack Szaba’s wallet with:

  • Old business cards
  • Hotel keys
  • Stickers
  • Keychains (This one is an LED light, which she loves clicking.)
  • A tiny notebook
  • A pencil
  • A makeup brush (She likes the texture and uses it on her dolls.)
  • Bits of interesting ribbon
  • Pictures (I cut up those compilation prints you get when you order photos online.)
  • A snack

Kids Trip ideas

Books and crayons: Save all those crayon packs you get at restaurants, and pick books that are small. Make sure you don’t care if these books receive an artistic rendering as well because they likely will.

A pack of cards: It’s small, but kids can play with it in a variety of ways. I love this Richard Scarry one (Cars and Trucks Card Game) because it’s colorful and has interesting pictures. Plus, as she gets older, it has learning themes like colors, matching, and numbers.

Miscellaneous travel toys: Small cars are always great, as are Easter eggs, which can hold surprises. Sometimes I throw in some toy keys (you could use real ones, too), an old cell phone, a (soft) ball, a random cup holder (which she uses as a spyglass and superhero bracelet) … you get the idea.

Presents and Post-It Notes: These are the clinchers. Who doesn’t love unwrapping presents? And kids can safely go crazy posting “stickies” on the airplane windows, seats, their tray table, etc. Then you can just pull those harmless papers off and throw them away afterward.

Bonus Tip: Save your packing list in an Excel spreadsheet. Then you won’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.

Good luck! And remember to share your tips, too!

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