So we booked our tickets for a long haul flight (24 hours including stop in the middle) plus road trip of more than 17 hours in total (over a week or so) and of course the returning flight. With 14/15 month old toddler, a 5 year old and 7 year old.
Then I started googling what to do with said toddler in a plane. Lots of things people planned to do, neat little toy bags etc, but very little feedback of what actually worked.
We've done the flight a few times before so the big kids didn't worry me, we packed their toothbrushes and a tablet, and told them they could have as much screen time as they wanted in the plane. Easy.
Mr 1 was more of a challenge. He didn't like to sit and read books, had a typically short attention span, and his favourite hobby is moving, preferably while holding onto something big and long like a pool noodle. Not useful in a plane.
I packed 4 boxes/bags of bits I hoped like anything would entertain him in the pane and at the different houses and restaurants we'd visit along the way. The pick of the bunch:
He'd never seen the Wiggles before, but likes music.He maganed to drift easily off to sleep a couple of times while watching the Wiggles. I just put the sound on very low (and had hubby check that he couldn't hear it from the chair beside). Headphones seemed to irritate him too much, despite the fact that he likes them when he's not tired.
For the last hour of the flight over, we played socks on socks off. Boring for me, but kept him seated and quiet when he was at his wits end from sitting still so long. He also laughed when I put his socks on his hands.
A couple of matchbox cars that could drive around the table and arm rests.
Things in a bottle.
In one bottle was paper rolls (strips of magazine rolled up tight and then end glued down) and in the other was pipe cleaners. We've also done it with straws or pegs. We tipped them out and he carefully put them back in. This kept him quietly concentrated for ages, and it didn't matter if the bits got lost.
I stuck them on the tray, he pulled them off.
Wind up toys.
Ones I'd found lying around the house or bought for 50c.