Traveling This Summer? Keep Little Hands Busy!

Activities for the 12-24 month age group

As I mentioned in my other travel post, packing lots of snacks was essential in keeping Grace happy on our 4 hour flight. But I also packed lots of activities that kept her busy and therefore well behaved. I have another post in the works for the 2+ age group (which can mostly be summed up with snacks and a tablet!)

Overall Tips

  • Bring extra clothes for each child
  • Pack each activity in its own ziplock bag to keep everything organized
  • Bring a roll of “dog poop” bags. I carry these with me all the time but especially when traveling. They are actually sold as dog poop bags but double as diaper bags, trash bags, deposits for messy clothes, etc. A travel essential! They usually come in hundreds so find a friend with a dog and ask for a roll 🙂
  • If possible, try and get the bulkhead row. There is often extra leg room which leaves more room of the floor for squirly kiddos to play. Sometimes, that means the tray table and tv are on an arm as opposed to on the head rest in front of you but in terms of not kicking/hitting the seat in front, it’s a total win.
  • I usually dress my kids in one long sleeve and one short sleeve item, even when the weather is hot. Sometimes, it is freezing on the plane so having either a long sleeve shirt or pants on helps keep them warm. This trip I packed a blanket but neither kid needed it.

High Expectations

I have written a few posts about setting high expectations. For this trip, I started talking to both kids about my expectations for airport/plane behavior. Even though Grace doesn’t have fully developed language skills yet, I know she understands almost all of what I tell her. Therefore, I didn’t shy away from telling her exactly what I expected on this trip.

We are going to be flying on an airplane on Wednesday. We see airplanes flying in the sky all the time but we don’t often get to go on them. I expect you to use your quiet voice while on the airplane and to stay in your seat/our row unless you are using the bathroom. Just like when we are at a restaurant, your voice only needs to be heard by our family. The other people on the airplane may be having their own conversations, watching tv, reading, or sleeping. We don’t want to disturb them just like we don’t want them to disturb us! If you scream or cry on an airplane, it might scare people. They will think there is a problem and we don’t want anyone to be scared if there is no problem. Mama will be there, and Mimi, and Ms. Beth and we will all be there to help you and keep you safe and healthy.

I have found that previewing what is going to happen and making my expectations clear ahead of time really helps prepare both of my kids. It sets them up to be successful as they can anticipate what is going to happen. They also know what I expect their voice to sound like, and why I have this expectation.

Pom Poms

These were such a hit. Grace played with these on and off throughout the entire trip. She loved putting them in cups (save your drink cups and/or ask for extras). She had 3 cups and loved filling one up and and dumping them into another. I tried to help her explore the concept of sorting by color but she had zero interest in that game. 🙂

The best part about these is they super lightweight! Bringing so many activities can really add up but these add virtually no extra weight to the bag.

For little fingers, I recommend getting a bigger size, at least 1 inch. A girlfriend had shared these tinsel/glitter pom poms with us (which she got at Joann Fabrics) and the added texture helped Grace pick them up. They are on sale at Joann, 30 for $1.20. The ones without “glitter” are fine as well. And just to be clear, they are not the messy kind of glitter that rubs off. Tinsel is a more accurate description.

Pill Case

Please see my post about using a pill case to entertain a 1 year old!

Little Baby Bum

Grace will only watch a screen for about 10 minutes before she is ready to move on to the next activity. The show that keeps her interest the longest is Little Baby Bum which is nursery rhyme music videos and is on Netflix. I mentioned this in my post about helping Keener work through his fear of monsters.

Mother Goose Club

Another show that we discovered on the kids section on board the flight was Mother Goose Club. A friend with a 14 month old also mentioned it to me yesterday. They are short, 2-3 minutes nursery rhyme videos that feature real people dressed up. Grace did enjoy this show as well for 10 minutes at a time.


I borrowed my sister’s Amazon Fire Kid’s Tablet for our trip. On Amazon Prime Day, I contemplated buying one for my kids but decided not to. I found it to be a little tricky to learn and I am pretty tech savvy. I have an old ipad and I found that to be much easier for the kids to use.


These headphones were great and even Grace was able to wear them. They have a sharing ability so you can have two kids listen to the same device without a splitter. They fold up which is great for stuffing into a bag and makes it so they can’t break (or at least makes it less likely!) We had another pair but found the cord to be too short and prefer these by LilGadgets.

Baby Carrier

My kids are only 18 months apart. Keener is also a very active kid so it has worked best for our travel needs for me to wear Grace and let Keener walk through the airport. That way, I can check a stroller at the gate and not have to deal with it at security, loading the plane, etc. This also gives Keener some extra time to burn some energy before he is expected to sit for multiple hours without running.

My favorite baby wearing device when the kids were little (0-6 months) was the Baby Bjorn, not just for travel but all the time. It almost didn’t occur to me that I could still wear her given she is 20 months and 27 pounds, but I realized I needed to keep her contained and still have my hands free for Keener and bags. I put her in the Ergo Baby which says fits babys 4-36 months and 12-33 lbs (without the infant insert).

Animal Toys

These animal toys kept Grace’s attention for at least a little while. I only brought the pig and the horse with us as they each have 3 pieces each. The downside of bringing lots of toys is more to keep track of… but with only 6 pieces total, we were able to keep them all together/find them when she was finished with this activity.

Toddler Fidget Spinners

These are a great toy that even older kids enjoy. They are similar to the hand held fidget spinners that were all the craze a few years ago. If your kids are anything like mine, they also double as a chew toy!

Please leave any travel tips you have in the comments below!

*The links in this post are affiliate links to Amazon. All of the products are products I have purchased and recommend.

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