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Keeping kids entertained on journeys

Posted By Digital Team

Updates May 28th 2024

How to keep your little ones busy on trains and planes 

If the thought of keeping your kids entertained during a long train or plane journey fills you with dread, then we’re here to help. It’s not easy travelling with little ones, especially if your offspring is, like most other young minds, the type who doesn’t like to sit still and stare out the window at the passing scenery. 

If you have a journey coming up soon, (or maybe you’re looking for some kid-friendly holiday destinations inspiration), then relax. Read through some of our tips to keep little ones – and bigger ones – amused so that you can sit back and enjoy some ‘me’ time too. Or, at least, be glad that your child isn’t going to be the one having a tantrum in the middle of the airport departures lounge while other parents watch on, glad it isn’t happening to them (this time!).   

Activities to keep toddlers busy 

First, the secret to a manageable ‘travelling with kids’ journey is to make sure you plan well beforehand. And that means packing plenty of games and snacks to keep their little minds and hands active. That doesn’t just mean colouring in books and crayons for toddlers, but also books you can read to them and even an iPad with Peppa Pig videos etc., that they can watch.   

A little playdough is fine, too (put it in a sandwich bag with a zipper) and don’t forget to pack their favourite cuddly toy, especially the one they like to sleep with.  

A good tip for travelling with under 5’s is to try and plan your journey as near to their bedtime as possible. Hopefully, that way, they will be able to sleep through the journey.  

Plan snack times so they have something to look forward to and get a little exercise. As far as the latter is concerned, do a little dance – in your seat. Or try a game of Simon Says – still seated. It can be done.  

I-spy is a classic game. And there’s a reason for that; everyone loves it. Even the most reluctant player usually joins in, curious to get what the item is.  

Singing nursery rhymes and doing actions is another good game for youngsters (as long as it’s not too loud if on a train or plane). But then, maybe many of your fellow passengers will join in – which will delight the kids even more. 

Travelling activities for older kids 

Add to the experience for older children by suggesting the following activities: 

  • Instant camera. This feels a bit more ‘grown up’ than using a mobile phone, and many of these kids’ cameras have built-in editing tools so kids can learn to add borders, play with colour and experiment with wide and zoom lenses. 
  • Journal or notebook. Get them to write about their trip – what they hope to see or, if it’s the return journey, what the best bits were etc. Encourage them to produce sketches in it, add ticket stubs, show flyers etc. 
  • Mental activity book. If they’re old – or interested – enough, get them to do some brain exercises. Sudoku books, crosswords and word searches are great for kids who like a challenge.  
  • Joke books. Bring these along and hand one out to everyone you’re travelling with. You can all read the jokes out loud to see who can find the corniest. 
  • Cards. Play a family favourite game if you’re on the train and have a table in between you. Or, if you all get bored with that, teach them a new game, such as Whist or Gin Rummy etc. 

You could also develop a narrative game where someone starts a story with two sentences, and everyone else adds on a bit. It can be interesting to see where the story ends up, and it is a good test of the imagination. 

Memory games are good too. It’s where one of you starts with an item in your suitcase then the next person adds another item, including the items that have gone before.  

Be sure to check out our guide on travelling with kids for further advice on packing tips, what to bear in mind for travelling outfits and how to incorporate your normal routines into travelling. 

What to do on a short journey 

Short journeys are all part of the fun of a memorable trip. Children enjoy the novelty of a train trip or flight. Talking about what you can see out of the train window, and the thrill of seeing the tops of clouds from the plane window will keep your little one entertained and create amazing memories at the same time. 

How to amuse when embarking on a long-distance trip  

A film is a must when on a long journey with kids - of any age. So, pack an iPad with some of their favourite movies already downloaded, bring headphones and, after the first couple of hours, when they’re starting to get fed up, let them watch the movie.   

If the kids don’t have access to an iPad, then perhaps they have a Kindle? Or you could lend them your Kindle, on which you’ve downloaded an audiobook. There are plenty of great books out these days for older kids – authors such as Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Morpurgo are still popular and educational. And, if all else fails, there’s always Harry Potter (although that’s probably better as a movie too).  

Regardless of whatever activity you bring along or ideas you suggest, just remember to bring with you snacks and drinks. 


Be sure to book your family train tickets on Stansted Express for half price child fares (children under 5 travel for free!) 

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