50+ Fun Things To Keep Kids Busy When Traveling

Travel with kids, you either think it sounds like a grand adventure or straight up hell. I fall into the latter category especially since my husband prefers to drive and we used to make the trip from Austin, TX back to Michigan twice a year. As we added on more kids my desperate pleas for a plane ride instead of a road trip became louder and louder. Since moving back to be by family those long trips have lessened but last week we headed off on a grand adventure to see all of our Texas family and we did in fact fly. Flying is convenient in time spent traveling but inconvenient in terms of limiting the amount of stuff that you want to carry with you. I packed a busy bag for each kid and made the bigger kids carry their backpacks. In my quest for the perfect items I opened up the gates for my friends to share what had worked for them on their travels and here is the amazing list that we all came up with!

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General Items

1. Snack – I love the idea of doing tackle or craft box snacks but those are too large for me so instead we decided to purchase photo cases and put snack baggies with different snacks in the cases so nothing got smashed! We used granola bars, mini m&m’s, gummy bears, Cherrios, and in general snacks the kids don’t get but always want.  
2. Water or juice – I didn’t know this but water, milk or juice is actually allowed in reasonable amounts through security for babies and toddlers. 
3. Writing utensil and paper – my kids love the click pens with various colors or the stacking crayons in either toddler size or for older kids
4. Magazine – kids love flipping pages, this could even be the magazine from the back of the seat in the airplane but we decided to take a few issues of Highlights since they have both stories and activities in them
5. Stickers 
6. Band-aids – because what kid doesn’t love to put band-aids all over
7. Electronic device – we make sure to have at least one movie, some music, a game and a book downloaded for the kids
8. Tape – give them the roll and let them go to town
9. String – repeat same steps as tape

10. Electric toothbrush – hours of good clean fun
11. Compact mirror
12. Headphones – even if they don’t use them to listen to something they LOVE playing with them


13. Wipe clean books – we prefer Usborne but there are plenty of great brands available
14. An age-appropriate reading book – aka board book, picture book or chapter book
15. A busy/quiet book – while you can find these on Amazon I much prefer the handmade options available on Etsy
16. Lift-a-flap book – again we LOVE our Usborne lift-a-flap books because they have so many options for so many age ranges but you can absolutely find these from various companies and in various stores.
17. I-spy books

18. Brain quest – while this could also fall under the games section it is education and reading so it’s going here because I said so


19. Water wow from Melissa and Doug –  If you tear off the back it makes them more compact and they pens use so little water for so little mess it’s a parents dream.
21. Small travel craft kid  – these are super easy to find and affordable just hit up either the target dollar spot or the dollar store! 

25. Play-doh and disposable sticky mat

Busy Hands

28. Lego Kit – it’s easy to grab a small kit and throw everything into a pencil or small cosmetic case but if you want to get fancy you can also buy this cool travel container
29. Window Clings – these are super cheap and super easy to find at the target dollar spot or dollar store
32. Thinking Putty – the travel tins are the perfect tiny size
33. Slime – also super easy to find at the target dollar spot or dollar store
36. Small individual packaged toys – you know those ridiculously overpriced little bags at checkout that have a dime size toy in them that the kids always want? Yeah, those, they do have a great purpose in life and that is rewards for potty training and keeping kids busy on planes. My kids love the flip-a-zoo versions of these
37. Fidget toy – so many options these days but my kids love this weird stress, squeeze octopus looking thing that was randomly purchased for under $5 and I have no idea what it is called. 
41. Baby links – while this might say baby in the description these are great for all ages because they are tactile and awesome for building whatever you want while taking up a small space. They are also great for teething! 
42.  Nerdninja – I have a friend who makes these adorable tiny stuffed toys and my…I mean my kids most favorite is the nerdninja.
43. Music toy – while the people around might be less than thrilled about this option the kids love it. Our favorites include this great small size set from hape and this super cute pineapple maraca from plan toys
45. Favorite small toy from home – like a small car, doll, action figure etc. 
46. Glow stick
48. Floam
50. Buckle toy


53. Barrel of Monkeys
54. Handheld game – you can easily find these non-electronic, fun for all games at any dollar store. 
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