5 Fun Ways to Pass Time on Long Flights with Kids

Posted Travel Tips by Janice Sakata-Schultze on December 15, 2015

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Our flight from Denver to Honolulu would last approximately eight-plus hours, but it might as well have been twice as long. With my then eight-year-old and six-year-old daughters in tow, I often wished they could mainline Benadryl so they could sleep peacefully for the duration of the trip. Despite these pretty base instincts, I didn’t.

But my husband and I weren’t looking forward to 7 hours of constant complaining of being bored and impatient. Yes, they could read books, trudge through their Summer Bridge academic skills lessons, and watch the same movies they’d seen at least three or four times before during the week.

Believe it or not, you can make this an educational and social-emotional skills development time – and your kids won’t even know it. Most of these ideas will be applicable from children from ages five to thirteen.

Here are five guilt-free ways how you can whittle away the hours on a flight that your kids will enjoy, too:

1) Pull out an old-fashioned deck of cards

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Do your kids know how to play Crazy Eights or Go Fish? If not, teach them these classic card games. For older kids, you might want to try Twenty-One, poker or another of your favorites. Just don’t teach them about wagering, at least not yet!

2) Brainstorm ideas about things to do at your destination

Here’s something that kids of all ages can enjoy. If you have travel guidebooks, have your children look through the restaurants and activities sections and have them each generate a list. Tell each of them to give reasons why their choices would be worth visiting. Be sure to select an equal number of choices from each list.

3) Make geography into a game

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If you have those same guidebooks mentioned previously as well as some maps, try to have your kids figure out transportation to take once your reach your destination. If you have a rental car, have them figure out which roads and highways would be the most direct.

4) Draw pictures of your family on vacation

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If you have children who have artistic inclinations, encourage them to draw a picture of family members at your destination. The drawing with the most color and details gets to choose the first place to eat out that night.

5) Turn the inflight magazine into an activity center  

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While this publication is often ignored, you can have your kids find the most interesting pictures or articles. Ask them why they think it is. Turn to the flight service map, usually located in the back of the magazine, and quiz them on geography.