Ask any parent who travels around and they’ll tell you that traveling with children is not one of those things that can be classified as easy. The parent has to contend with the usual needs of the child, like feeding, cleaning and diaper changes, as well as face the very real possibility of the children misbehaving and being a nuisance to the rest of the passengers. For this, parents have to strive to make sure that their young ones are occupied at least for the better part of the flight. A little advance planning especially during packing for the flight can go a long way in easing the nightmare for parents.
British Airways Holidays surveyed parents to understand their travel worries and discover the top toys to take on a plane since the greatest concern of over 60% of parents was how to keep their tots occupied for anything more than 30 minutes. Children’s attention spans are so fickle and they get bored and lose interest in things easily. One would understand why a parent would be tempted to play a film to keep them busy and in the hope that they will eventually fall asleep. But the survey revealed that children are more comfortable with simple play things that spark imagination and encourage creativity than they are with gadgets like iPads and smart phones, with the most popular among kids of between 2-5 years being good old play doh. Others among the top 10 were Loom Bands, lego, top trumps, uno, usborne activity cards, magnetic travel games, Aquadoodle, finger puppets and sticker books.
Dr Vivian Hill, educational psychologist from the Institute of Education, said: “Toys that spark the imagination and encourage creativity, rather than static toys like soft toys and dolls, are proven to keep children occupied for sustained periods.” She also offered the following tips for when traveling with children.
- Have drinks to hand they can sip on for takeoff and landing so they don’t concentrate on the air pressure; which can affect children more than adult.
- Buy new toys and games for the flight as newer toys entertain them for longer
- Bring out different toys at regular intervals. Wrapping them and giving them as presents works really well. Concentrate on packing activities as opposed to static objects such as dolls and cuddly toys. Think of games with extended play. Finger puppets and activity cards are both toys that can be drawn out to last a lot longer.
- Think about games that you don’t need to carry. Verbal games like I Spy and Twenty Questions are good ways to pass the flight time. If it’s an evening or night flight take pyjamas. Getting children ready for bed will help avoid disrupting their sleep patterns.