Monday, 11 July 2011

10 toddler entertainment ideas for long journeys

Last year I wrote a post with some suggestions for keeping your toddler entertained when you're travelling. As we are entering the peak summer holiday season and we recently had a 10-hour flight to visit relatives in the US last week, I now have 10 more ideas to share with you!

Most of my mummy friends seem to rely on portable DVD players and iPad games to keep their little ones amused on journeys but as we don't have either, I asked around for other ideas and was given some some helpful recommendations of things to try. Here they are, along with some of my own:

(1) Sticker books. Great as an activity and can be educational or encourage interaction about different scenes and situations.

(2) Lacing / threading activities. Punch some holes in a shoe-shaped piece of cardboard and take along a shoelace to be threaded through. Pack some dry pasta and a piece of string to make a pasta necklace.

(3) Collage. I took some scraps of coloured paper and a small roll of sticky tape. I had my son tear up the paper into tiny pieces (plenty of space on your aeroplane drop-down table for doing this) and then placed tape (doubled over to leave a sticky side up) onto a sheet of paper. He then stuck on the various coloured scraps of paper. This was a big success, he spent a lot of time on it and the end result was quite pretty.

(4) Fastenings: buttons and button holes, zips affixed to a square of material, various buckles and clips. These types of things are fun for little fingers to open and close but just be careful they are easy enough to not become frustrating for them.

(5) Flash cards: use them to create matching / sorting games or play snap.

(6) Children's magazines: they often come with free tacky toys that have a certain novelty value to them. We got one earlier this year that had a free plastic camera and our son still uses it now and takes it out sometimes to take photos. They usually have pages for colouring as well as simple counting and matching activities so they can provide a variety of activities to pass away some time.

(7) Music: my son is a big fan of children's music and nursery rhymes. The in-flight entertainment system (on British Airways) has a children's section with a selection of these kinds of songs and he sat very still listening to those. We also had some of his favourites on our iPod but didn't ever get around to switching it on.

(8) Cleaning: we opened up the free toothbrush provided on the plane and our son enjoyed using it to clean the area around his seat - the seatbelt, the tray table, the armrest etc. Same with the paper napkins.

(9) Calculator: maybe it's because our son is not used to playing with phones, screens and computers but I decided to pack a calculator for the journey and it turned out to be a good source of entertainment. It wasn't a really tiny one so the buttons were a good size for his little fingers to press. He pretended it was a computer and we also used it to practice numbers.

(10) Cooking: I packed one of his little saucepans that he has at home and gave him that, along with some of the unused plastic cutlery we got with our meals and a couple of pieces of the dry pasta I had brought with me and he used them to do some 'cooking'. You could also just use an empty plastic cup from the aeroplane instead of a toy saucepan.

Have some of these suggestions aleady been a success for you? What else have you discovered works well for keeping your toddler happy on a long journey?

Remember to check out my post from last year with more ideas. I'll also be following up with some general toddler travel tips later this week.


Photo credit



  1. We travel mainly by car as we haven't started doing far flung yet (one day!) but I take the random miscellaneous objects approach too as we don't have an Ipad and even if I did have a portable DVD player it wouldn't keep Babyzoid amused as she hates to be passive!

    I like to tie a helium balloon to her carseat sometimes - well away from where it would cause me driving issues, of course. She loves punching it. I assume you'd be allowed one on board a plane, but if not an ordinary balloon could be tied to a coat hook.

    As Babyzoid also seems to like dressing up, or putting various items of clothing on her head to make a sort of snood/hood, I leave a piece near her so she can play dress up, making sure there is no way it can be a strangling hazard of course!

    Little whiteboards or chalkboards are good too as there is no danger of running out of room to create, unlike with a sketchpad.

    I'm also tempted to take an old remote control or mobile phone as that would probably keep her entertained for a long journey!!! xX

  2. Brilliant! I love the cleaning with the toothbrush one! x

  3. Mummy Beadzoid - thanks for those great additional ideas! An old mobile phone would be a big hit with my son for sure too :-)

    Emma - thanks so much for reading and leaving a comment.


Thank you for reading. I'd love to have your comments and thoughts!