How to keep the children occupied on the plane

We're heading on holiday this summer to Orlando, which means there'll be a 9 hour flight to contend with before we arrive. Getting on a plane is not something I ever look forward to (afraid of flying) but there's also keeping the children occupied on the plane which is always something I struggle with -especially when I have an active 9 year old who doesn't do well when he has to sit in one place for a long time.

A plane's wing flying over snow-capped mountains, it is very sunny.

We're on the countdown to our holiday now, and that means I need to start thinking about what the boys will do on the plane. The plane will have in-flight entertainment like movies to watch and games to play but the boys rarely watch more than one movie and don't spend much time on the games. They'd much rather use their iPad - which of course they will have, but I don't want them spending 9 hours playing on their iPad.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

Saint Augustine

Other things to consider are the weight of the things we want to take on a flight. There's only so much we can carry and lugging a huge bag onto the plan and having to rummage through it to find things while on the plane is not good either. So what we want is small and light things that will keep the boys busy.

As I've been thinking about it recently I'm sharing my ideas with you to help if you're heading on holiday anytime soon.

Card games

Card games are always fun, be it Uno or simple playing cards you can play with your children and they'll be occupied for a while. It's not something they'll do for the entire time but combined with other things it could keep them busy for at least 30 minutes, perhaps longer. 

LP and BP like regular playing cards because they can do magic tricks or practice new tricks they've learned. They can play on their own too because they've just learned to play Patience.

Classic travel games

We recently bought a travel version of Cluedo which we have yet to try out, there's also travel Scrabble or Connect 4. There are hundreds of travel games online that you can buy and they're nice and compact and easy to use. 

New stationery

Every time we have visited Walt Disney World we've bought the boys a new notebook and pen to use while there. It's a great present to start off the holiday with and they both enjoy writing about the holiday while they're there. We encourage them to write when on holiday because it will help them remember what it was actually like rather than trying to remember and writing about it after we've returned home. 

A girl boss pen laying on top of a pink notebook that says Hello on the front of it.


There's so much that you can do on tablets these days that they're essential for entertainment. You can download their favourite movies onto them (although watching movies on them will kill the battery), the children can play their favourite games, or even learn to code.

LP has started to learn about Swift, the programming language used in Swift Playgrounds on the iPad. He bought his own new iPad recently so that he could use an Apple Pencil with it and learned that he could also learn about coding. Needless to say he has been spending a lot of time doing this just lately and is really taking to it.

All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.

Calvin Coolidge

So the iPad or tablet isn't just for entertainment these days, they can actually use them to learn!


LP loves to read too, he's been through lots of books and having a Kindle is a great way for him to take as many books as he likes without it filling his bag full of heavy books. BP is not as enthusiastic about reading but he will do it when he gets bored, so he'll be taking at least one book to keep him occupied.

The Hubby and I both have Kindles too and will certainly be taking ours with us - mine is more for distraction rather than reading, I need to keep my mind off the fact that I'm on a plane!

Mad Libs

This is so funny when you get the kids involved. We've played it in the car before but never on a plane. We'll be taking some Mad Libs with us in case we get bored and I hope our laughing doesn't annoy other passengers!

Activity books/pages

Both my boys love puzzles and given the chance will spend a while doing word searches, crosswords, or even colouring in. It's great when we can find a book or page that has things they're interested in or somehow linked to our trip. That's why this year I've put together a few activity sheets for them, all about Disney. Some are about Princesses, some about the seas (hello Nemo!) but they're all easy enough that neither of them will struggle - I hope!

Hand drawn picture of a bear dressed as Russell from Up by Pixar.

With all these things in their travel bags I have no doubt I'll be able to keep my boys busy on the plane. Now all I have to do is find a way to distract myself!

How to keep the children occupied on the plane if you're heading on holiday.

How do you keep your children occupied on the plane?

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