How to entertain kids on the plane: 6+ ideas

Yesterday was last the day at nursery for us - still trying to figure out how I managed to contain the tears - so now everyone who is leaving Dubai for the cooler climates is probably officially packing, if not migrated already.

One of our (my) endless debates is what to pack to keep the kids under control on the plane and avoid neighbouring passengers giving us 'the look'. Funny how, I was once-upon-a-time one of the passengers giving 'the look' to those poor parents trying to do anything possible to keep the kids quiet ... so like with almost everything in life, the tables have now turned!

So here is what we are packing for an almost 18-month old (Little Miss M) and a 4-year old (Little Mr M):

1. THE stickers. One cannot be a parent and not have the biggest collection - they are an absolute essential! Bubble stickers are my favourite for travelling as they peel off easily (from airplane seats and fold-down tray tables, your arms and hands, bub's arms and legs and any other available surface - beware neighbours!) and you can also 'recycle' them for the return flight. So we have a few sheets of those for Little Miss M but I know her brother will try to steal them, so packing a few for him too. Also, have a train sticker book for him with scenes to complete (Usborne's My First Sticker Book). That is a good hour or two ticked off - yes, stickers are the best entertainment!

2. 'Where's Wally' book. Enough to spend another at least 30 minutes, if not more. Mostly packing for my son but I know his little sister will get in on the hunt for Wally and his buddies. Again, brilliant for a trip, as there are scenes of a (packed!!) beach, airport, train station etc

3. Magneto Face Up. Excellent magnet game where kids can either follow the suggestion cards to make fun faces of a pirate, princess or nurse, or use their imagination to create funky faces. Probably an activity for when Little Miss M naps (fingers crossed!), as some of the pieces are rather small. 

4. Washable colouring book. Gifted to us by a dear friend, this book comes with us everywhere. I love it for travelling because if the kids clothes (or mine) get stained with the markers, it comes off in the washing machine. Equally, the book can be washed and re-used on the return trip (by then, hopefully the kids have forgotten they had already coloured this on the outbound flight ... haha!). Alternatively, just use a colouring book with the favourite theme of your kids and washable triangular Crayolas - so that they don't roll off your fold-down table. For Little Miss M, we have chunky crayons and A4 colouring sheets as she still needs a rather large surface to colour in.

5. The marvellous and beloved iPad - please don't judge! It saw us through our last holiday which consisted of 4 cities and 8 flights over the course of 3 weeks, although the detox process once back in Dubai was rather painful. And so this time around, flying with the kids without Daddy, I will not get on that plane without one ... two, actually! These will come out last to hopefully maintain the calm up to landing time. Loaded with Fisher Price games, Dibo the Gift Dragon and several colouring apps for Little Miss M, Wiggles videos (magically hypnotic) for both kids, and an array of games for Little Mr M - favourites are Toca Boca apps, Minions and Angry Birds games, but we have tons more.

6. The obligatory reading books. Faves of Little Miss M are 'Hippo has a hat' and (so very predictable but successful) 'The very hungry caterpillar'. Little Mr M is currently into Dr Seuss, so nice and compact for travelling, and allowing him 4 books: 'There's a wocket in my pocket', 'I can read with my eyes shut', 'And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street', and last but definitely not least 'Oh, the places you'll go'.

Where to find:

  • Bubble stickers: available at most stationary shops but we also stock up at good old Daiso. Scene sticker books from Kinokuniya at Dubai Mall.
  • Where's Wally: available at Kinokuniya - must clarify: I do not get commission or have any relation to the store and it is pure coincidence that we happen to have gathered several items (whether directly or through gifts) from this one store!
  • Magneto Face Up: available from the recently opened Spanish toy store Imaginarium at Box Park 
  • Washable books are available on Amazon, Washable Crayola, in any toy shop (we got ours at the Toy Store), and chunky 'Mini Artist my First Crayons' at ELC.


For those looking for an 'all-inclusive' idea, the lovely Jumana at The Happy Box has put together a gorgeous little 'suitcase' for this travel season, the 'Harvey Happy Box', packed with 8 activities and a little bottle of hand sanitiser just big enough to get you through the security check:

  • Happy Passport with stickers
  • Magnetic/wipe-off board with alphabet magnets and a fun booklet with Happy Games
  • Playing cards and 'card games on the plane' booklet'
  • Home-made non-toxic play dough and a board game with spinner
  • Travel journal activity
  • Travel foam plane activity
  • Kaleidoscope activity
  • Colouring book and crayons developed by the Happy Box

Where to find the Harvey Happy Box: Harvey Nichols Dubai, naturally!

Photography credit: Happy Box photography by The Studio Dubai.

Off to pack now. Safe and happy travels, everyone! xx