I'm a big believer that entertained kids on airplanes = happy kids on airplanes. So I try to carefully and thoughtfully plan out how my kids will be entertained on every airplane trip so as not to be the people with the screaming kids that everyone is glaring at. (Admittedly, even the best of plans can go wrong and I HAVE been the one with the screaming kid(s)--especially while traveling with 2 recently-adopted kiddos on international flights of over 15 hours duration...but luckily I will never see any of those people on those flights again!)
The good thing about booking our Disney cruise almost 2 years in advance is that I've had plenty of time to accumulate things for their airplane travel backpacks.
What I've found works best for us is:
* I pack each kid a variety of toys and entertainment in a backpack that they must use as their carry-on.
* The toys/entertainment are new or new to them and they haven't seen them before.
* I don't let our kids open their backpacks until they are seated on the airplane. While we are waiting in the airport, I run them around a desserted part of the terminal or we go up and down escalators to get some energy out.
* I pack half of the new stuff in our suitcase to refill the backpack with fresh goods for the return trip home.
And of course, my challenge is always to accumulate their entertainment stash without breaking the bank.
I've got the kids' entertainment stash almost done for our upcoming trip. Here's a look:
I've got 3 packs of the Crayola Color Wonder coloring kits. These are great because the markers can only color on their special paper, which means they won't make a big mess. I got all 3 of these for $1 or less at Kohl's over the past year because Kohl's mailed out $10 off $10 coupons and they have these in their toy section.
Some coloring books:
Some small toys purchased at Kohl's (free with $10 off $10 coupons):
A few restaurant prizes that the kids haven't seen: (free)
And, some "new to them" Star Wars and Chuck Norris action figures (these were my husband's from the '80s! taken out of storage):
I've also got some Disney stickers and Disney water bottles (from the Disney Store, on sale). And lollipops for the take-off and landing.
My older two will each have access to an iPod with some games and TV shows.
Hopefully that will keep them happy for about 5 hours of flight time! (We are traveling North for a layover before heading South for the cruise).
What are your tips for traveling with your kids? What keeps them happy?