Airplane activity kit for toddlers

airplane activity kit for toddlers - Shannonagains

Travelling with kids is a lot of work – and since little ones change so quickly, you never can be sure what to expect from one trip to the next.

airplane activity kit for toddlers

In June, Pumpkin had her third transatlantic journey. Considering she’s not even a year and half old, I think she’s pretty well travelled already. (Update: If you’d like to see what was in her bag at 28 months, check out my airplane busy bag for two-year-olds.)

airplane activity kit for toddlers - Shannonagains

For her first two trips, she was good as gold – but I was dreading the journey this time around. She wasn’t walking for the previous trips and, these days, restraining her results in loud screeches until she gets her way. She can’t even sit still for the duration of Let it Go anymore, so an 11-hour flight seemed… well… impossible.

So, I decided to make sure we had plenty to keep her brain – and little fingers – busy.

After some internet browsing, I came up with a few tips:

  • Variety – so something new could be introduced periodically.
  • Cheap and cheerful – if something falls under an airplane seat, it’s better to be able to write it off than go digging for it.
  • Mess-free – if it splatters or sticks or goes gooey, it’s not for the airplane.
  • Compact – the carry-on allowance is pretty limited and travelling with a toddler means there’s a lot more to bring along (nappies, changes of clothes, bottles…).
  • Unlikely to be eaten – while she doesn’t tend to put stuff in her mouth any more, I tried to choose things I thought Pumpkin would be less likely to try to eat.
  • Easy access – the toys needed to be within easy reach throughout the flight.
  • The lap factor – since she didn’t have her own seat on the plane, there was the chance Pumpkin would spend those 11 hours on my lap – the toys needed to be suitable for that.
  • Pumpkin’s preferences – the toys needed to suit Pumpkin’s current development stage, and reflect what she likes to play with.

With all this in mind, I made a plan to create a set of busy-bags for the airplane, which I could pull out one at a time and give to Pumpkin.

Here’s what I came up with:

The bag

airplane activity kit for toddlers

The bag I bought to put everything in came from Wilkinson’s. It’s technically an overnight bag, but it had everything I was looking for – clear sections that could be zipped shut and plenty of space.

Best of all was the hook – meaning I’d be able to hang it to the back of the seat in front of me. It would be out of the way but also in easy reach.

airplane activity kit for toddlers

The toys

Since Pumpkin is really into sorting and moving items from one container to another these days, I focussed on those activities for the activity kit.

And then I went shopping.

I browsed 99p stores, I wandered the aisles at Hobby Craft and I spent a lot of time at Wilkies.

airplane activity kit for toddlers

A coin purse full of ribbon and an unused shoelace.

airplane activity kit for toddlers

A wallet full of cards.

airplane activity kit for toddlers

A pencil case full of finger puppets

airplane activity kit for toddlers

A pencil case full of dinosaurs

airplane activity kit for toddlers

Plastic envelopes with straws, strips of cleaning cloths and velcro

airplane activity kit for toddlers

A pencil case full of plastic clothes pegs – one had with ribbon tied to the end.

airplane activity kit for toddlers

bendy hair curlers and sponges with holes cut in the middle

airplane activity kit for toddlers

makeup sponges, hair curlers, toothbrushes and combs

airplane activity kit for toddlers

Colourful pompoms in a cake pop mould, a tiny tupperware and a medicine sorter.

airplane activity kit for toddlers

Crayons and paper, cupcake cups, small balls and a retractable tape measure

Oh, and everything that went in that bag? I packed duplicate in my checked luggage – that way anything that got lost on the journey out could be replaced it for the journey home.


Note: nothing in this kit would be considered suitable for a child under three years old. If you’re making your own version, please bear this in mind.

I was very careful to select items I ‘trusted’ Pumpkin with and I never took my eyes off of her when she was playing with any of them. You know your child best – please don’t take risks by giving him or her something that could be a choking hazard.


Did it work?

Yes! Very well actually.  (phew!)

airplane activity kit for toddlers

We were lucky to end up with a bulkhead seat, which meant more leg room (that is, play space). And Pumpkin’s favourites were definitely the pompoms and dinosaurs.

airplane activity kit for toddlersShe probably spent an hour taking dinosaurs out of the pencil case and then putting them back in.

airplane activity kit for toddlers

Eventually, all the sorting wore her out and she fell asleep – thank goodness for the empty seat next to me too!airplane activity kit for toddlers

The activity kit also turned out to be a bit of a lifesaver on the roadtrip part of our holiday as well.

airplane activity kit for toddlers


Have you made any busy bags for your child? I’d love to get more ideas – we have a road trip to Scotland coming up in a few weeks!


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32 Comments on "Airplane activity kit for toddlers"

  1. What a brilliant idea! I think you should market these. They would definitely be a best-seller amongst travelers with children whether it’s by plane, rail or car.

  2. Awesome i definitely agree with the above comment , you should think about marketing them.

  3. Ahh Shannon – this is genius. The thought of taking Jasmine on a long haul flight would quite frankly fill me with dread and I wouldn’t really have the slightest idea of how to entertain her either. The purse and cards is brilliant, Jasmine is OBSESSED with mine and I’ve never thought to get her her own.

    I love that bag from Wilkos too as it’s perfect for what you need. It looks so handy that I might keep an eye out for it in my local store.
    Jenna recently posted…My Life in Lomo #1My Profile

    • Thanks, Jenna.

      Pumpkin is obsessed with cards too. I have a pocket in my purse full of old cards that we don’t use. Like a Subway loyalty card and an empty Starbucks gift card. We also bought a pack of 50 blank cards from eBay for a couple of quid. I thought I could put my own designs on them with Sharpies, but it turns out Sharpie comes off the cards with a bit of moisture. Boo! So, the cards had to be left blank, but Pumpkin doesn’t really care.

  4. I used to try and do things like this but they always failed miserably and now we opt for the ipads. It makes me a bit sad but it keeps them quiet.
    Louise Fairweather recently posted…Green’s Indulgent Range Review and GiveawayMy Profile

    • Oh, we had the iPad loaded with films and games just in case. I don’t think giving those to the kids on a flight should make you feel sad at all. It’s not like they’re missing out on a glorious summer day by sitting inside. You’re on an airplane and it’s a case of whatever gets you through with the least amount of stress!

  5. I love this post! We are off to the states later this year and I have been racking my brains on what to get / do / read / play with. You have saved me! I love the overnight bag idea, that is definitely top of my list x #PoCoLo
    Sherry recently posted…20 things I learned in my 20’sMy Profile

    • Thanks! I think the great thing about this is that it can be easily customised/changed as the child gets older. Good luck with your trip the US – it’s a long flight, but so far it’s never been as bad as I expect it to be. 🙂

  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea! Will definitely be using this idea when we fly with our babaloo. Will be following your blog and reading up on other posts too! #PoCoLo working its magic.
    xx
    Mumsy Midwife recently posted…Maternity Leave and ITVBeMy Profile

    • Thanks for the lovely comment (and the following!) Good ol’ #PoCoLo 🙂

      I hope your little one enjoys the entertainment kit as much as mine did!

  7. This is such a lovely idea. My daughter used to love playing with pom poms – they kept her happy for hours!

    #PoCoLo
    Catherine recently posted…The Moomin stories – Comet in Moominland by Tove JanssonMy Profile

  8. What a fantastic idea….It sounds like it worked so well!!
    I agree you should think about selling these. x
    Kim Carberry recently posted…The Waiting Game – #WotWMy Profile

  9. I miss reading your post! I have been in hiatus from commenting in the last 2 weeks so I werent able to read the blogs that I follow.

    This looks amazing. I want that bag as I am forever looking for one that had hook so that I can put stuff in it and just hang it. Will look for that bag. Sadly I dont think we are going anywhere that needs a plane anytime soon so I cant use this tips .. yet =)

    #pocolo

    • Oh, Merlinda, you’ve not missed anything from me lately. My dumb day-job has been keeping me from blogging. (boo!) It’s good to see you back though. I hope everything has been okay?

      Definitely check out the range of bags at Wilkinson’s they have quite a few with really nice designs. They’re all in their toiletries section. My local shop has a couple of bags in man-friendly designs too.

  10. Oh my god, this is AMAZING. I might be flying with my littlest in a couple of months, so I might just have to steal this idea. That Wilkinson’s bag looks perfect. Thank you so much for this post. A

  11. that is so brilliant! what a clever mummy you are. Ali popping over from Mum in a Nutshell & guest hosting #PoCoLo
    Ali recently posted…My (Black & White) Sunday PhotoMy Profile

  12. Brilliant tips here, ours did long haul for the first time recently and were good as gold. I couldn’t believe it. The on air entertainment helped and they slept too. Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts x

  13. What a great idea! My lo is three and I’m pretty certain he’d end up throwing most of it around, would love to do something like this though
    Jemma chambers recently posted…10 Things To Do On A Rainy DayMy Profile

  14. I am so going to do this next time we travel! Some great ideas. Izzy is now at an age where she will happily sit and watch a film on the iPad, but it’s going to get increasingly difficult to entertain two kids on a flight.
    Kiri recently posted…Wicked WednesdaysMy Profile

  15. Thank you so much for the ideas!! I was trying to be creative before our trip to Turkey with our 13 month old but was really hitting a blank. These ideas are brilliant and save having to buy too much as we already have lots of the little bits. Xx

  16. So we’ve tried and tested the bag now and whilst it was perfect for the plane it also goes to restaurants, appointments etc and always keeps E entertained. We put many similar things in but a few extras we added were post-it notes which were great for landing as she could stick and remove them from the folded table. I also in a last minute rush threw in a loo roll tube which became a great hiding place for the Pom-poms and we spent lots of time playing peepo with that. Finally I added two staple items which I knew she’d play with if she wasn’t interested in the newer things – a buggy book from asda and a plastic phone from tesco. These barely got played with in the end as everything else was too exciting, particularly the pompon medicine box.
    Thanks so much for all the ideas!

  17. Kathrina Martinsen | May 23, 2017 at 9:03 am | Reply

    I’ve been looking EVERYWHERE for a bag similar to the one you have here, but no luck. Can you point me in the general direction of something similar? The hook is important, as you said, as are the clear pockets and storage space 🙂

    • Hi Kathrina – I got this bag at Wilko (in the UK – I don’t know where you’re from), but it was a couple of years ago now and they don’t seem to carry anything like it anymore. Amazon has a few options though. I searched for “toiletry bag with hook” – click here to see what I found.

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