Airplanes, Kids, and Savvy Parents: Tips for Traveling Abroad with Children

Photo credits: Eowyn Relaxed by Paul Schultz/flickr

Some parents are overwhelmed at the thought of travel time associated with traveling abroad to Europe. A trip abroad can really open a child’s eyes, though, so it’s worth the effort it takes to get the kids to the destination, whether it’s London, Athens, or the Menorca! Anticipation, packing, and the vacation itself is sure to be a blast but the airplane ride is always a gamble. Let’s face it, what child sits placidly in their seat for hours on end? Knowing this, however, you can prepare. Below are some ideas to help towards a smooth plane ride.


1. Airplane Scavenger Hunt – This is one of those games that can be tailored to any age. The list can be written for kids who can read and drawn for kids who cannot. If you plan in advance you can even use magazine cut-outs. Make sure that some of the items can be found from the seat and some from walks to the bathroom, the rear of the plane, etc. Here are a few to get your list started.


From seat:

• A person wearing glasses

• clouds/sun

• A person wearing a red shirt

• A flight attendant with a watch

• Another child



• a person sleeping

• a person on computer

• a drink cart

• a woman’s purse/a man’s briefcase

• a child’s stuffed animal


2. Jewelry Making – This can also be tailored to any age. They can make all sorts of things including bracelets, key chains and necklaces. Things to use can be large beads (handed one at a time to smaller kids), small beads, shaped beads (animals, stars, sport items), foam pieces and seashells. Things to lace them on can be ribbon, leather, twine or wire. Older kids can make friendship bracelets out of embroidery thread (this is easy to do if you tape threads to the chair in front of the child). Precut threads, etc. will keep you from needing scissors which the airlines will not allow anyhow. In a pinch, nail clippers can snip string.


3. Books – Some kids like to read and others do not. For readers you can get some favorite picture books, chapter books or some from a favorite series. Nonreaders might appreciate books on tape. Something fun would be books with island themes. Here are some ideas for different age group.

Picture book age:

• Island in the Sun, by Harry Belafonte and Lord Burgess

• The Little Island ,by Margaret Wise Brown

• Rata-Pata-Scata-Fata, by Phillis Gershator


Series age:

• High Tide in Hawaii, Magic Tree House Book 28, by Mary Pope Osborne

• The Magic School Bus: On the Ocean Floor, by Joanna Cole

• Junie B. First Grader: Aloha-ha-ha!



• Island Girls (and Boys), by Rachel Hawthorne (for girls)

• Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell (for both)

• The Moonspinners, by Mary Stewart (for girls)

• Nation, by Terry Pratchett (for boys)


More fun ideas include card games, small hand-held electronics and goodie bags filled with art supplies and favorite treats. So go ahead, plan that family trip abroad! With these great tips, you and your kids will enjoy the flight and the destination.

Francesca Santelli is a travel agent who suggests checking this holiday search engine for trips such as cheap menorca holidays in the Mediterranean.