Make Flying a Breeze: Fun Activities to Keep Toddlers Busy on Airplanes

8 Great Subscriptions to Make Flying with Toddlers a Breeze

All airline passengers are familiar with the stress of being seated near a crying kiddo – no one more than that little one’s parents!

“We’re really great about limiting his screen time at home,” my friend, the parent of an 18-month-old, told me recently. “But when we’re flying? All bets are off. You want your movie on my iPad? You want your movie also playing on Daddy’s iPad? Whatever it takes to keep him happy – he’s got it.”

Anxiety about keeping young children quietly entertained for long stretches of flight time (plus the glares of flight attendants and childless passengers) keeps many new parents at home in the first years of their children’s lives.

But traveling with kids can be fun and rewarding. With the right attitude – and some awesome airplane activities in your tool belt – you can enjoy family travel with kids aged five and younger.

Subscriptions to the rescue!

With children, travel planning and more, sometimes just keeping your head on straight is challenging enough – who’s got time for shopping?

For busy parents, subscription boxes for kids can be life savers, delivering new toys, self-care items and more to your home each month. If you’re not already on top of this on-trend shopping model, here are a few ways subscriptions can make flying with kids a breeze.

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Stock up on fun, healthy, kid-friendly plane snacks

Those tiny packets of peanuts and pretzels served by airlines are enough to make anyone cranky. Save the day with a carry-on ready, kid-friendly snack subscription, curated specially with little ones’ tastes and dietary needs in mind.

Non-GMO-focused Savvy Snack Box is dedicated to teaching lifelong healthy habits. Each box contains 10-12 natural or organic snacks. As a bonus, some snacks appear consistently month-to-month, with a few new ones sprinkled in, to satisfy both adventurous and careful kiddos. Step aside, Cheerios! (Savvy Snack also offers a gluten-free box – check them out!)

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Or, if you’re trying to outfit your family for a last-minute trip, check out Healthy Living Kids. This box takes a whole-child approach with fun, healthy snacks (with the option to select gluten- and nut-free on check-out) as well as toys, crayons, activity books, travel games and more, all curated by children's health experts. As an added bonus, this one ships within 3-5 days of ordering, so it’s great for last-minute vacations.

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Unplug for screen-free quiet play

We all know to bring headphones (and back-up batteries for the headphones – and back-up batteries for the back-up batteries!) for quiet entertainment during plane rides. But if you, like most parents, are savvy about screen time, the learning-forward, quiet-time-focused Two Pink Balloons subscription has got your back.

Touting itself as “active early learning with no batteries required,” this subscription box delivers a felt lapboard and a variety of felt board activities, puzzles, coloring books, busy bags, pretend play items and more for children up to age 6. Products are handmade and crafted with child and toddler travel in mind, and each box centers on a different theme to keep your kiddos learning, even when your whole family is on the go. Guaranteed screen time-free!

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Focus on creativity and learning

When your kids are so little, developmental milestones seem to come at lightning speed. Keep your children’s minds growing while you keep them entertained with subscriptions that emphasize creativity and play-learning.

The Little Learners Busy Box takes busy bags to a whole new -- boxy! -- level. Designed by a former teacher, this subscription comes with 5+ prepackaged activity kits per box you can mix and match to keep your children entertained, immersed and learning, even on long-haul flights. Plus, travel activities are designed to be re-usable, to enhance the long-term value of each shipment.

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Or, scale to your kiddo’s development needs with the My Busy Box Buddy! Select from 3 tiers – for 2 year-olds to 3-year-olds, 3-year-olds to 5-year-olds, or 5-year-olds to 7-year-olds – and get productive, age-appropriate activities to inspire your child to create, imagine and learn. Each box comes with 7+ items like sticker books, activity books, alphabet learning activities, blocks and more – easy to pack up and fun to pull out on road trips and plane trips alike.

Reading together

Whenever a friend complains, “A baby screamed through our entire flight,” a knowing parent chimes in, “I bet their parents weren’t paying attention to them.” The benefits of reading aloud to young children include not only literacy gains, but curbing hyperactivity, aggression and difficulty with attention span – so why not give your children a boost and make travel time an opportunity for special time to read together?

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My First Reading Club is designed for exactly that. Select from five reading levels – from pre-readers all the way up to older kids and preteens – and receive three hardcover books, plus an activity book and a small gift for mom. Turn those close quarters on an airplane into cozy ones, and build memories you’ll cherish for years to come.

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Behavioral rewards

If the top secret to parenting is distraction, rewarding good behavior isn’t far behind. Fill your kiddo’s sticker book with StickyBoo. Designed for teachers, these packs of reward stickers are colorful, bright and hands-down adorable. Share them with your children for playing quietly, being considerate to those around them and cleaning up their travel toys. When you’re done with the flight, you might reward yourself, too.