Travel With Kids: 5 Activities For Airplane & Road Trips

travel with kids road trip activities

Travel is big on mine and my husband’s to-do list. Once our couple grew to become a family, we quickly realized how our vacations would need to adjust to travel with kids. As a preschool teacher, I know how important it is to plan ability-and-interest-appropriate activities for kids, especially during travel. Thinking ahead and having ideas in mind helps to keep everyone interested and engaged, and thus behaviors are more manageable.

travel with kids road trip activities

Last year’s adventure took us to Colombia. The treks there and back were each over 24 hours. For a nearly two-year-old, our daughter was amazing through the journey. I’d like to think the toddler travel success was due to my careful collection of travel activities to keep her occupied, but I have to admit, she’s pretty much a super star. (Note: Extreme bias.)

In any case, I’m sure that most parents planning a trip with their toddler or preschooler are at least a little bit nervous, and want to minimize the stress of the journey. This fall we’re headed to Costa Rica, and I want to share with you some activities for travel with kids that will help us make it through the flights, lay-overs, and taxis with a busy 3-year-old.

Travel with kids: Travelquiet and non-messy activities for airplane & road trips

5 Activities for Travel With Kids

These ideas could be used for car, boat, train, or air travel – any time you need to keep your kids busy in a small space without making a lot of noise or mess. Space and weight is also key when traveling on air planes, and other carry-on situations, so I try to choose light-weight, small or flat-packing travel activities for my three-year-old’s busy bag. While I admit, technology is also a key player in the tools and tricks we pull out when needed, I try to first offer as many non-tech activities as possible.

Crayola Color Wonder

The Crayola Color Wonder products were an amazing find for last year’s more than 24-hour journeys to and from Colombia, and I will definitely be packing more for this year’s adventure. Not only does my 3-year-old daughter enjoy watching the colors magically appear as she scribbles, but they kept me busy, too. I found myself happily coloring with the markers many times throughout the downtime of our trip. It can be quite addictive!

Travel with kids Crayola mess-free quiet travel activities

I was thrilled to find out that there are more Color Wonder products than the markers and printed coloring sheets. There are also finger paints, and blank Color Wonder paper to let your little artist’s creativity take free reign in what they draw and paint. You can check out the full range of Crayola Color Wonder Mess Free products here.

Travel with Kids Crayola color wonder activities road trip
Our Little Z will be thrilled to find these packed in her travel activities bag!

The wonderful thing about Crayola Color Wonder markers and paints is that they are mess-free, which is perfect for travel with kids! While they leave beautiful marks on Color Wonder paper, they won’t show up on fabric, furniture, walls, or skin. The specially formulated coloring systems are non-toxic, and are recommended for 3 to 5-year-old children (though this 29-year-old child still loves them).


Travel with kids activities for road trips and airplane travel

Stickers offer another opportunity to develop fine motor control as traveling kids peel and place the sticky decorations. Whether you pack a sticker album and different packs of stickers to put in, paper to decorate with stickers to make cards, or a reusable sticker book for imaginary play, sticker fun is perfect for travel with kids. It’s quiet, contained, and often very engaging for toddlers and preschoolers.

Glue & fabric

My (nearly) 3-year-old is fascinated by glue sticks. Noticing how much time she can spend quietly gluing things in her notebook, I made sure to pack this highly successful activity for a road trip this past summer.

travel with kids travel activities for airplane and road trips

Have some extra fabric laying around? A top that’s irreversibly stained, or some scraps from an old project? Sit down and relax with some mindless cutting, turning that fabric into small pieces of light-weight decor for pasting. I recommend non-toxic glue sticks, a notepad to keep everything together and allow for easy access to new paper, and a clear plastic zip bag to hold the fabric pieces. I also include small flat-backed jewels, feathers, and anything else that might be easily glued.

Paperback Books

Travel with kids quiet activities for airplane and road trips

Leave the chunky board books at home, but make sure to pack a few paperback books in your child’s travel activity bag. The best books to choose for travel are those with lots of detailed pictures for looking at and talking about. To get more time out of a book, wonderings are helpful. For example, “I wonder who this is? I wonder what he’s doing?” Not only will this keep your preschooler engaged, but it will also help further language development as well as offer a great chance to bond and share ideas.

Felt Stories

Felt boards are one of my favorite ways of telling stories and allowing children to express themselves, and work through concepts that are important to them. You can either buy ready-made felt story pieces and a felt lap board, or you can get crafty with some felt fabric and make your own.

travel with kids preschool travel activities airplane road trip

The felts that I have used for travel are large “scene” squares, with small felt pieces for using on the larger squares of felt. This way you don’t need a felt board to stick the felt pieces to (although a small felt board could be easy to use, light-weight, and flat to slip into a backpack). I store the felts in a large plastic zip bag to keep them flat and make packing easy.

As a little bonus for all you awesome readers, Crayola is offering you a giveaway of a Color Wonder prize pack, with a variety of their products to try. You can enter using the widget below.

Crayola Color Wonder

Good luck with all your future adventures! I hope my suggestions help you enjoy easier travel with kids. Make sure we’re following each other on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to see what we get up to on our quickly approaching journey, and how we’re using these activities on the go.

Disclosure: This post is part of the and Crayola and the #ColorWonderMessFree sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.

4 thoughts on “Travel With Kids: 5 Activities For Airplane & Road Trips

  1. Jennifer Pitt

    Wow, those look incredible, my daughter would love those even just for travelling to and fro in the car!! Great post, Hannah; I am going to go get some of these for my girl today!!

    1. Hannah Post author

      Yea! They work great for car trips, long or short! And I actually am packing extra in Z’s bag this trip so I have some colouring to do, too. Haha.

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