Kids on a Plane

5 No-tech ways to keep them entertained

Our four-year-old daughter couldn’t wait to board our plane for Cancún. Minutes after take off she couldn’t wait to deplane. We asked our flight attendant if they had tablets to rent. He replied that they stopped this service a few years ago now that everyone has their own phones and tablets. He said the only movie playing would be Gone with the Wind—right outside our window. We laughed and I thanked myself for installing the in-flight app. However, screens can provide entertainment for only so long.

Here are my Top 5 non-screen entertainment options for kids on planes. Keep in mind that a few of these activities will depend on your kids’ ages, too.

Write, Draw and Crafts

My kids enjoy watching me use handwriting in my journal, so I taught them how to hand write their names. Printing practice, sudoku, mazes, word searches, and connect the dots are also great time fillers.

- Advertisement -

We have a set of cards that you write and draw on with white board markers. There are also colouring books that you colour with water and then reuse and mess-free colouring pages, too. Other great activities for passing the time include: drawing, airplane making, and Origami.


I love the unlimited time that I have to complete tasks when I am travelling. You might be able to read an entire magazine on the plane or an entire book. It won’t be uninterrupted, which is why magazines for kids are great. They also include lots of activities to keep kids busy.

Bring books, comics, and/or any books your kids love. I recommend carrying all these items in a wheeled carry-on bag—which is easier to transport. Perhaps you can even leave some of the books at your destination to free up space and weight for souvenirs on the way home.

Play Games

We have travel-sized games, but if you are worried about losing tiny pieces, a mini deck of cards will do. There are so many games from Go Fish, Crazy 8s, to Solitaire. Visit for the rules to many card games. If your kids are too young for some of these, then even learning to recognize the numbers and suits can be a great activity.


I try to think of all the items that I never have time to do at home or that the kids don’t have time to do.

Think of lists that you could write together. For example, How many different types of stickers are there? Fuzzy, scratch n’ sniff, puffy, etc. Write a list of all the photos you want to take while you are on vacation. Write lists of things to do when you are on vacation and when you are back from vacation.

Make a list of who you are buying souvenirs for or email thank-you notes from your child’s birthday party. Update your electronic calendar with events for the year. While you are typing away on your phone or tablet, teach your kids to type, write a letter, or email to their friends.


Need more cookies or pretzels? Take the kids for a walk and ask for more at the back of the plane. Make it a game. How many people did you pass on the way there? How did you fit by? Walk sideways and then change it up and walk on the other side. Stretch your legs. For stretch ideas, Google “Simple Airplane Stretches.”

If your kids are still small and you get tired of pacing the plane, they can even just stand up in the space in front of their seat.

After you‘ve spent some time on all of the above activities, your kids might be ready for a few more minutes of screen time. Remember to download their favourite shows and music ahead of time.

Empathy may be challenging to have as your patience is continually tested, but they can go a long way. Sometimes you have to accept that your kids will make noise and other passengers may not like it, but in some situations there is nothing you can do. Your kids ears may hurt or they may just be miserable and cry. Sometimes you just have to accept the circumstances.

Serena Beck
Serena Beck works full-time as a Technical Writer. She loves to write, travel, and swim at the beach with family and friends.
Victoria Bug Zoo