Travel Activities for Young Kids on Long Flights

Here is a list of ideas of trip activities/toys we've been collecting for our long international plane ride with our preschool age daughter (total journey time door to hotel will take ~25 hours) for our upcoming trip to China.

Crayola Color Wonder Mini Pack - A bit on the expensive side these activity packs tend to retails for $6-$10/pack. We picked up some on clearance and found them good compact, no mess, activities on the plane.
Melissa & Doug Travel To Go Activity Packs - They tend to retail for ~$5/pack. We picked up a reusable color with water book.
Imagentics Travel Books - I discovered these while shopping on a recent business trip. They are magnetic folding boards with a background scene and 15-30 magnets kids can pretend play with.
Lee Magnetic Travel Tins - Very similar to the Imagentics, these kits contain a number of small magnets for dress up or pretend play in a travel tin. We bought a twinkles dress up tin and grabbed a Wall-E themed tin on closeout. I like these slightly better than the Imagentics as the tins make containing the magnets a bit easier.
Coloring Books - We have grabbed several inexpensive ones. Perhaps wishful thinking on my part that we'll be able to keep our daughter occupied for hours with just these.
Sticker Packs - Our daughter loves stickers so a couple sticker packs and a small drawing pad are a hit. Good to mix with coloring activities as well.
Seasonal Activity Packs - My wife and I have picked up a number of small toys/activities from seasonal merchandise marked on clearance. Some finds we found include Valentine's Day Decoration Kits, Valentine's Day mailbox activity kits, Easter basket stuffers, etc. They tend to retail for $3-$5 a kit, but @ 50%-75% off we grabbed a bunch a $.25-$1.50.
Smartphones Activities/Games - I've purchased a number of inexpensive Android apps on my phone for my daughter. I also regularly review the Amazon Free App of Day and have picked up a few free kids apps I have saved for my daughter to play with while we are traveling. Apps that seemed to occupy our daughter for significant time and she really enjoyed have been the Dr Panda and Pepi apps.
Paint with Water Books - Another minimal mess travel activity. I picked up one of these at the local dollar store. My daughter loves painting with the water on the pages and I don't have to worry about her making a huge mess when our focus is elsewhere.
Kids Movies on My Smartphone - I've copied about 20 of our own collection of kid movies at home onto my smartphone and my wife's Kindle Fire so my daughter can watch them while we travel. I try to limit the amount of time my daughter is watching tv/movies so I like to keep this well balanced with the activities above. We've also picked up a set of Kidz Gear Wired Headphones for our daughter for the trip.
Dollar Stores & the $1 Sections at Target/Walmart Stores - we found ourselves regularly scanning the bins/shelves at these places for $1 activities/toys that we could take on travel. We found a bunch of items including origami packs, stickers, small puzzles, etc.
$1 Play Packs- These packs contain 4 crayons, 25 stickers and a small 24 page coloring book packaged in a nice small pack that you can keep in your bag. We've found these at several places - Dollar Tree, Target, Walmart and with several themes. We've picked up Curious George, MiniMouse, Toy Story and other themed packs. The look very handy to store away for the unplanned situations where you need something to occupy your kids.

We plan to dedicate a carry-on suitcase to some toys and these travel activities for our daughter for our upcoming trip. My hope is we wont use all of these and can save the unused activities (As well as reuse the popular ones) for future travel. Any additional suggestions for travel activities for our 4 year old?

Related in Temporary Assignment:

Wrapped China Assignment, Round 2 (Jan 01, 2014) Hanoi, Vietnam We just wrapped up our temporary assignment in China and arrived back in the US before the end of the year. Its amazing how time flies, it seems like just a few days ago that we began...

Packing Tips for Extended Family Travel (Oct 14, 2013) My young family is on the move - we are currently living in China on a 6 month work assignment. With the exorbitant cost to ship additional stuff to China we were incented to only bring what we could fit...

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Comments (2)


Another round of layoffs at Big Blue. Get out while you still can. :-)

This is helpful!

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