Tag Archives: air travel

Easy Ways to Entertain a Toddler at an Airport

My family traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyoming for Labor Day. We love to travel, and a three day weekend is the perfect excuse to fly somewhere new. I’ve written several times about activities I’ve done with Buddy on airplanes (read more here, here, and here). However, the things we do in the airport are completely different.

When we have extra time in an airport, I try not to pull out our airplane toys. If Buddy plays with them before the flight, they’re not as entertaining on the flight. Also, I don’t want him to sit for any longer than he has to since he has to sit for a long time on the flight. So here are some of the things we’ve done together in the airport.

1. Watch Planes

This is by far our favorite airport activity! Buddy is so happy to watch everything going on outside the airport. He loves the planes, trucks, and people. On one of our trips earlier this summer, one of the airport workers saw us watching and gave us a big wave! This activity keeps Buddy occupied for a long time. He was very frustrated in Jackson Hole this morning because in that airport, there are no jet ways and as a result, the planes are farther out and hard to see. But in most airports, it isn’t difficult to find a window with a great view.

2. Sing Songs

We do this most often when we’re waiting in lines at the airport. (Usually that’s waiting to get through security or on the plane.) “Wheels on the Bus” and “Old MacDonald” are great ones because you can add a lot of verses to make the song last a long time.

3. The Color Game

Buddy and I play this game every time we are waiting in line at the grocery store, and it works well in airports too. I say a color, and he has to guess what I’m looking at based on the color. Then he picks a color, and I have to find his item. (Buddy still likes to point as his object when he says the color, so he needs to work a little on this part of the game.) On this trip, we played in a gift store. Fortunately, Buddy can be in a store and not want to buy everything. However, if your toddler doesn’t do well in gift shops, this can be played anywhere in the airport.

Buddy found my “something black.”

4. Exploring 

I try to give Buddy time to stretch his legs before getting on the plane. Usually, that means we just walk around to see what we can find. Today, we found a small dog that let us pet him. Then we found a couch made with cow hide. (I thought it was kind of gross, but Buddy liked feeling the hair.) The interesting things at an airport always vary, but toddlers are curious about everything, so it’s not too hard to find something fun for them.

5. Scavenger Hunt

I have wanted to print out a scavenger hunt for all three of our summer flights, and I have forgotten every time. (I love this coloring one on Mama.Papa.Bubba’s blog!) Hopefully I will remember before our next trip. In the meantime, I just made up things for him to find based on things around us. Buddy loves animals, so when we were in the gift shop, we did some animal iSpy. Sometimes our scavenger hunts are more like, “find a square on the floor and stomp on it.” I change the game depending on where we are.

Buddy found a bear!

6. Playing Pretend

Buddy enjoys pretending to be different animals. I’ve blogged before about our animal movement game (read here). It works well in the airport too. Some example movements would be to hop like a bunny or fly like a bird. Today, he saw a movie with buffalo, and he decided to give himself buffalo horns!

If you look closely, you can see Buddy’s “horns”.

It takes a little effort and creativity to keep your toddler entertained without toys or electronics. But the effort it takes is worth it to have a happy toddler as you get on the plane. A happy toddler means a happy trip. If you have any other airport ideas, please share in the comments. And best wishes for happy travels, from my family to yours.

Having fun in Grand Teton National Park!




Airplane Activities for a Two Year Old

Summer is almost over, and we’ve finally finished all of our airplane trips for the season. Buddy has always been a good traveler. However, I’ve found that the more activities that I have on hand, the easier the trip is for all of us. This summer, we had four flights over the course of two weeks. The first two were an hour and a half and the second two were two and a half hours. Now that Buddy is two, he got his own seat on the airplane for the first time. He also is able to do different activities than he could when he was one. (Read about our one year old airplane activities here and here.) Since he had his own seat, Buddy brought his toys in his travel backpack.

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Prior to our trips, I spent a lot of time looking for new toys and activities for the airplane. I tried to spend as little money as possible on new things. I set aside several small books and toys from our library reading program and happy meals. (Chick-fil-a board books are the perfect size for travel!) The dollar store sometimes has great cheap toys for travel, but it’s always hit or miss. I found great items in the dollar sections of Target and Toys R Us though. My new favorite place to find cheap travel items is Party City. There are lots of cheap stickers and toys there for treat bags that are perfect for travel.

I rotate our toys and books at home, so some items had been rotated out and seemed like new to Buddy. The only other things I bought used gift cards and rewards money I already had at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Target. I also created some DIY activities for our trip.

The activities I have listed here are from both of our trips. Some items went on both sets of flights and some were just used once. 

  • Thin paper books and small board books. They’re not in this picture because they traveled with us in the diaper bag, but I still love the Indestructibles books for travel because they take up no space.
  • Look and find books are Buddy’s new favorite type of book. I printed out and laminated a bunch of iSpy pages for him. I also found this Disney/Pixar Look and Find book in a box of rotated books. Buddy and I were both so excited about it!
  • I set aside the most recent Highlight’s magazine to have more new reading material on the plane.
  • I also made a quiet book for Buddy. Read more about it here and here.
  • The water wow book was new for this trip, and Buddy loved it! These books are a favorite for us for travel and when I’m cooking dinner.
  • Colorforms are amazing reusable stickers and play scenes. I bought one at Toys R Us and found another one at the dollar store. Buddy can do these independently and they keep him busy for a long time.
  • A notebook and some washable crayons. We also brought a couple Grab and Go coloring book/sticker packs and sticker books from Party City. The Grab and Gos also live in the diaper bag, so I forgot to pull them out for this picture.
  • I put some velcro dots on popsicle sticks to build with.
  • Travel sized iSpy bottle. (Read about how I made the full sized version here.)
  • Pom poms in a salad dressing container from the dollar store. (Read about the large scale version of this activity here.)
  • Light up squishy dinosaur from the dollar store.
  • A retractable measuring tape from the dollar store. This was a huge hit! Buddy loved pulling out the tape and pressing the button to come back again.
  • My old Kindle Fire and kid headphones. I put some Thomas the Train videos on here along with a few apps. I also got some ebooks from the library and free ones from Amazon Prime.

  • Fisher Price Clip – on Doodle Pro. I actually bought this before our plane trips last year, but Buddy wasn’t interested in it. He really liked in on our trips this year though.
  • Duplo Busy Bag. Buddy loves his Duplos! I made small pictures of things for him to build and put it in the bag. Read more about this activity and get the free printable here.
  • Finger puppets
  • Animal flash cards. I wasn’t sure if Buddy would like these, but he really did. They kept him entertained for a long time in the airport when our plane was delayed.
  • Small board books
  • Thomas the Train magnet book. We received this as a birthday gift, and it’s great for travel! Buddy loved having a small version of his “choo choo tracks” on our trip.
  • Jumbo Nuts and Bolts Set. I didn’t take a picture of all of them, but the set has six nuts and bolts with a pattern card and a travel bag. It took up more space in his backpack than I wanted, but Buddy really enjoyed them.
  • Gel clings. Buddy loves these and they are great for airplane windows. Unfortunately, since he was in a carseat, it was too hard for him to actually use it on these trips. This was a favorite activity when Buddy was on our laps. I’m sure it will be great when we decide to fly without a car seat on the plane.
  • I didn’t bring it on this trip, but playdoh is another great activity for airplanes. I wasn’t sure if Buddy could use the tray table in the car seat (he couldn’t), so I didn’t bring it. It will definitely be on our pack list though for the next trip without a car seat.

Here are a few pictures of these travel activities in action.

Coloring with the water wow.

Nuts and bolts on the plane.

Playing nuts and bolts with Daddy.

When we were in the airport, watching airplanes was Buddy’s favorite activity.

Buddy brought one of his many stuffed animals on our trips. Puppy kept Buddy entertained throughout both trips. I also had many snacks and drinks to help keep Buddy occupied during our travels. I especially encouraged eating as the plane was going up and down to keep Buddy’s ears popping comfortably.

I’m not sure when our next flight as a family will be. Hopefully, many of these activities will continue to entertain Buddy when he’s a little older. I’m always looking for new ideas, so feel free to share any travel activity ideas you have.







More Airplane Activities for a One Year Old

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This Christmas, Hubby, Buddy, and I flew to Florida. Buddy’s Nana lives in Melbourne, and the flight is a couple hours for us.  This was our first flight with Buddy since July, and I was amazed how much he’s changed during the last five months. I blogged about our airplane activities in July (read that blog post here), and some of those items were brought with us on this trip as well. However, since I created many new things for this trip, I wanted to share them on the blog.

Currently, Buddy is 20 months old. Every day, he’s becoming more of a toddler and less of a baby. He is much more mobile than he was in July, so I was concerned about finding airplane activities that would be interesting to him and make him willing to sit still for a couple hours. Just like I did for our last trip, I put these activities in two packages. The items in the picture above were in a gallon ziplock (except for the Kindle and headphones which were separate.) I also had a pencil pouch of items with a carabiner that clipped on to the back of the seat for easy access. We didn’t use everything on either flight, but I’d rather have too many activities than not enough.

New for this trip, I wanted to make some travel versions of some of the activities that have been featured on this blog. I used small water bottles to make a travel straw in bottle activity (original blog post here). Buddy has been into his I Spy bottle recently, so I used another small water bottle to make a travel sized one (original blog post here).  I put some of our homemade playdoh in a container (original blog post here) and bought some small cookie cutters and a roller to go with it. This was probably our favorite activity. Buddy loves playdoh and is willing to play with it for a long time. Buddy is just starting to get into TV, so at the last minute we bought Kidz Gear volume controlled headphones. These headphones allowed Buddy to watch his show  shows on my Kindle Fire without disturbing the people around us. While he didn’t spend too much time watching shows, it was great to have as a backup for when he was getting really antsy. I also downloaded some ebooks from the library on the Kindle.

Other items from the picture above:

  • Indestructibles books – These are one of my favorite things for travel because they take no space. Buddy loves to read, so the more books I could bring, the better.
  • Quiet book – I put this together for our July trip (original blog post here).
  • Playing cards from the dollar store
  • Small container with a strip of bells inside
  • Window cling gels – These are one of our favorite activities. I usually get them in the dollar section of Target. Buddy decided that these were fun to tear apart, so they didn’t all survive the trip.
  • Bath book from the dollar store.
  • Oball Go Grippers Car – Small and easy for Buddy to hold. When we aren’t traveling, this car lives in our diaper bag.


Items in the pencil pouch:

  • Chip clip animals from the dollar store.
  • Finger puppets
  • Small toys from the library reading program (I love freebie toys for the diaper bag and traveling!)
  • Small tape measure from the dollar store – Buddy loved this! He had a great time pulling out the tape and releasing it.
  • Small board books
  • Little slinky from the dollar store
  • Roll of painter’s tape – Whoever was the first mom to come up with this idea (not me) is brilliant. Buddy had a great time peeling and restocking the tape on the back of the seat.
  • Stickers in an Altoids tin – Buddy put some in a little notebook, but most of the time he just liked to pull them in and out of the tin.
  • Button snake
  • Triangular Crayons – I love how these don’t roll and they wipe off of surfaces with just water. We actually didn’t use these on the plane, but Buddy did have fun with them at Nana’s house.
  • Light up dinosaur from the dollar store
  • Pom poms in a small container (originally for dressing!) from the dollar store – Buddy had a lot of fun flipping the lid open and shut and poking the poms into the container.

Not pictured –

  • Toddler apps on my phone – Peekaboo Barn was particularly helpful when Buddy was getting antsy prior to take off.
  • Snacks and juice – particularly for taking off and landing to help with ear pressure
  • Built in entertainment – I always try to get Buddy to have fun with things already in the plane before I break out the toys. Buddy loves looking at the other planes and things out the window. He had a lot of fun looking through the airplane magazine and safety card and pulling them in and out of the back seat pocket. Buddy also liked playing peekaboo with the big kids behind us on the flight down to Florida. On the way back, the person behind us was sleeping (“Nappy!”), but Buddy was able to make a friend next to us who gave him some grapes and showed us pictures of his cat.

I didn’t get any pictures of Buddy on the airplane, but here’s one of him having fun on the beach in Florida.

I’m not sure when our next trip will be, but I’m always looking for new travel activities. Please comment if you have any ideas to share for toddler activities for travel.


Airplane Activities for a One Year Old

Disclosure – this blog post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you choose to purchase something using one of these links, I will receive a small commission. 

My husband and I have always loved to travel. Since Hubby works for an airline, we fly often. I’m happy to say that hasn’t changed much since we’ve had Buddy. (Although now we usually travel to see family instead of traveling to new places.)

Even though this was Buddy’s fifth trip involving air travel, Hubby and I were nervous. Buddy is 15 months old, and our last plane trip was several months ago when he wasn’t as mobile. Now that Buddy is used to moving around a lot, it’s hard for him to sit still for a long time. I spent a long time looking for ideas for one year olds to do on planes. However, a lot of ideas I found (coloring books, DVD players, etc.) were better for slightly older kids. Eventually, I found a bunch of small activities for our trip.

Before we got on the plane, I didn’t pull out any of the travel toys. I wanted to keep those for times when Buddy had to sit still. At every airport (we had three different flights on this trip), we looked for seats by a window with empty space. We let Buddy crawl around to burn off energy. He spent hours watching the planes through the window. Another game he loved was stroller basketball. We took our bag from dinner and crumpled it into a ball. Buddy loves balls, and so he loved this “ball” too. He put it in the stroller’s basket over and over again. Our first flight was delayed by four hours, and Buddy was entertained that whole time by these activities (and eating too).

Buddy loves watching the planes.

Buddy loves watching the planes.

I brought a ton of small activities for the plane. Our first and last flight were both over four hours, and I anticipated that Buddy would be awake for most of that time. Our second flight was much shorter (an hour and a half), but I still wanted new activities for that time. In the end, we didn’t need a lot of these activities. Our four hour delay meant that our first flight left hours after Buddy’s bedtime, so he slept that whole flight. He also slept for half of the short flight and more than an hour of the last flight. Luckily, we didn’t need everything, but I was happy to have more activities than I needed.

On each flight, I packed a pencil pouch of small activities and a gallon sized ziplock with a few larger items that didn’t fit in the pouch. I had another gallon sized ziplock in my suitcase of things to switch out for new flights.

Here is what ended up in the pencil pouch for our last flight:

Airplane activities 2

  • Pencil pouch – This was intended to be an activity as well as a holder of other activities. I added a carabiner to clip onto the seat back pocket for easy access. Buddy enjoyed pulling the zippers and pulling things out of the pockets.
  • Cubs teether
  • Post it notes – Fun to put on and pull off of the seat.
  • Dinosaur light up toy from the dollar store
  • Small slinky
  • Police car from dollar store
  • Poms container – This was a salad dressing dispenser from the dollar store and a few pom poms. I wanted to make a travel size version of this activity. This was Buddy’s favorite thing to do on the plane. He loved putting the poms in the container. He also loved trying to put the cap on the container.
  • Koosh ball
  • Penguin toy – We got this as a souvenir on our trip.
  • Finger puppets
  • Measuring tape from the dollar store – Buddy liked pulling out the tape and letting it go back in. He also liked shaking it to hear the noise of the keychain on the box.
  • Small board books – One of these was an old favorite and one was new. The new vehicle books were bought here.
  • Painters tape wrapped around a folded piece of paper. I ripped off tape to put on the back of the seat, and Buddy pulled it off the seat. We actually didn’t use this on this trip, but it was a huge hit on previous trips.
  • Pipe cleaner with some beads to slide around.
  • Altoids tin with cut out stickers and a small notepad. Buddy liked to hold the stickers, but he wasn’t interested in actually putting them on the notepad. He also liked dumping them out everywhere and opening and closing the tin.

This is what the pouch looked like when it was filled.

Airplane activity bag

Here are the additional activities from the gallon ziplock bags:

Airplane activities 3

  • Quiet Book – This was the main thing in the extra ziplock bag. (I was pretty sad that it didn’t fit in the pouch.) If you want to know more about this quiet book and how I made it, read my blog post about it here.
  • Pill case (from the dollar store) filled with snacks
  • Indestructible books – These are one of my favorite travel toys because they take up no space and can’t be wrecked.
  • Bath book from the dollar store
  • Animal chip clips from the dollar store – Buddy loves animals and he really enjoyed these. I brought an index card to clip them on, but we found other things to clip them on as well. Buddy really liked putting them in our empty drink cups, shaking them up, and pouring them out again.
  • Empty easter egg – Buddy enjoyed breaking it open and putting it together again.
  • Playing cards from the dollar store – When we have played with cards before, Buddy liked pulling them out of the box, holding them, and trying to fold them. I bought Pup Patrol ones because he loves dogs. We actually didn’t play with these, but I’m sure we will on our next trip.
  • Button snake with felt scraps – I thought Buddy would enjoy pulling the felt off and putting them on, but he wasn’t really interested. I think he’ll like this more when he’s old enough to practice buttoning.
  • Bead necklace
  • Window gel clings – This was another favorite of Buddy’s. He loved putting them on the window and taking them off. I got these at the Target dollar section, but you can get similar ones here.
  • Small container with a ribbon of buttons and bells – Buddy played with this for a long time. He liked shaking it and hearing the noise of the bells. He liked taking the ribbon out and putting it back in the container. He also liked putting the lid on the container.
  • Extra small books

Not pictured:

  • My phone with a few baby game apps
  • My Kindle with picture ebooks checked out from the library
  • Extra snacks and sippy cup
  • Stuffed monkey

We also had a lot of fun just pulling out the cards and magazines from the back of the seat. Buddy did this for a long time. He also liked stacking our cups after we were done with our drinks. He also liked looking at the people around us and waving at them.

If you have any other ideas for activities, I’d love to hear them!

*Edit*- Here is a more recent blog post of the airplane activities I did with Buddy at 20 months. Some of them are the same, but there are many other ideas as well.