Remember the old days of air travel when a deck of cards and a few postcards were all that was needed for in-flight entertainment? Travel has changed. Somewhere between forcing passengers to surrender our tweezers and restrict ginormous amounts of liquid in carry-on bags our personal freedom has decreased. Not to worry, though, because our level of freedom with entertainment has actually grown exponentially. We have so many technological-based was to be entertained, counting them can be hard. I get it. I’m totally guilty, which is why I’ve come up with some tech-free airplane activities. For kicks.

When the kids and I travel, our stress usually centres on making sure all of the technology is charged and that we have back-up power supplies. Airport plugs are hard to come by, planes often have no charging ports and all of a sudden the plane is sitting on the tarmac and a technical malfunction means you’re stuck. In addition to tech-free activities for kids being great for learning and bonding with you, moments like this mean that you should always stash a few in the carry on. Pinterest is filled with the same copycat ideas and activities, so we came up with some unique tech-free airplane activities for kids (and parents too).


learn-sailing-knots-on-airplane1. A length of rope and a knot-tying book is small and learning how to tie important knots isn’t just for sailors. You might just turn them into little lumbersexual handymen.

seat-back-sticky-note-math2. Sticky note math and spelling on the back of the seat in front of you is educational and totally fun. As long as you don’t whack the seat back with excitement every time. Because that could get a wee bit tense.

tech-free-activity-bags3. Individual flight activity bags with written ideas for each bag allow kids can be excited each time they change planes. Sandwich-sized ziplocks fit perfectly in a seat-back pocket. If you’re totally keen you could calculate how many hours of minutes of play they can do with what is contained in each bag. Oh – and glue stucks on planes are a better choice than the runny kind. So I’ve heard.

airplane-thank-you-notes4. Bring stickers, note cards and a pencil to write thank you notes and letters to loved ones. Not only will this pass the time, but you will make many people happy. Buying stamps and mailing them from international destinations is a great local activity as well. Especially if you have stamp collectors in your midst.

5. Sometimes you may forget pretty much everything. In this situation, play I spy with the in-flight magazine. And then perhaps origami with the air-sickness bag?

interactive-books-for-airplanes6. Highly engaging books like Where’s Waldo are amazing. If the book is hardcover and big (and you’ve already purchased it), get the pages colour copied so they are easier to stuff into a carry-on. National Geographic Kids books are amazing for learning because there are so many facts and interesting tidbits on every page to keep the kids’ (and your) attention. They are also soft covered and everybody learns something new each time.

7. Do an in-flight fitness workout. This one is good for both of you! Just try not to do anything too weird or you could find yourself on the Passenger Shaming Instagram account.

lego-tic-tac-toe-airplane8. You don’t need oodles of Lego to be creative. Making a Tic tac toe grid on a lego sheet with lots of building pieces and people is a great space-saver.

wooden-dinosaur-building9. Dollar store wooden dinosaurs are fun to assemble, super inexpensive, and occupy hands for at least an hour.

beading-or-lacing-on-an-airplane10. Beading and lacing toys teach great fine motor skills, and if you accidentally make your neighbour mad by spilling a drink on them, it’s a great peace-making offer.

finger-puppets-for-airplane-travel11. Finger puppets with different scenarios for them to act out are fun and creative. You can Google ‘finger puppet plays’ for your child’s specific age and print a few out for the trip.

airplane-mini-cribbage12. If I had a mini cribbage board with a deck of cards I could pretty much fly around the world without any thing else to entertain me!

13. A dinky car and painting tape allow you to make a racecourse and roads on the tray table. Duct tape in this situation is a bad idea.

games-and-books-for-travel14. Learning a skill, like how to draw or write better stories is great for plane travel. New card games are also the bomb. We love How to Draw for Boys and This or That.

Please know I’m not being all anti-tech. That would be highly hypocritical of me. But for our upcoming family vacation, I’ve kept a few of these tech-free airplane activities with the passports for my own enjoyment just as much as the kids! #ArmWrestle