Pick up some magnetic travel games as one of your plane activities. For $10 or less per game, kids can play bingo, tic tac toe, chess, checkers and more. The game pieces are magnetic and stick to the board, while the game board itself is compact enough to slide into your carry-on luggage easily.
Pack a deck of playing cards for fun on the plane and at the hotel. Regular playing cards, UNO, Skip-Bo and Canasta are classics you can't go wrong with. Newer versions of playing cards also incorporate your favorite board games into card games. Look for Monopoly, Yahtzee and other decks of children's card games to add a new twist to your old favorites.
Laptop or iPad Games
If you're planning on taking a laptop or iPad with you, load some of your children's favorite games to take along with you. This is one of those plane activities that makes kids feel right at home. Once you're up in the sky, kids can play their games while you read a magazine or even take a nap.
Play Games Online
Many airlines now offer Internet access during your flight. Access prices vary but in-flight wi-fi can be a lifesaver if you have kids that like to play games online. They can visit all of their favorite websites 30,000 feet above the ground.
A portable DVD player gives your kids a customized viewing experience while they're trapped in their seats on a flight. Take a few of their favorites but also buy a couple of new movies they haven't yet seen. You can surprise them on the plane with their new movies to watch as you fly. The only thing missing will be the popcorn.
Turn the airplane into a classroom. There are many learning activities you can practice on your flight, such as writing, math, colors, sorting and more.
Find workbooks that offer a variety of activities. Some workbooks have coloring pages, mazes, word puzzles and stickers. Others are learning workbooks that allow your kids to work on grade-specific activities like spelling, the alphabet, reading, fractions, geometry and more. Also look for dry erase workbooks so kids can wipe away their answers and try again.
Miniature Versions of Bigger Toys
You can't pack all of your children's favorite toys so look for miniature versions to carry along with you. You can find a mini Etch-A-Sketch, mini Simon and mini Bop It, to name a few.
Coloring Books and Crayons
This old classic is a no-fail way to entertain your kids during a flight. Buy coloring books in advance of your trip when your children aren't with you. Break out a pack of crayons and the coloring books you've been hiding this whole time as an in-flight surprise.
Color Wonder Markers & Pads
Crayola offers one of the more modern versions of a coloring book and crayons. The Color Wonder markers only work on the special pads to prevent messes. There are a variety of pads to choose from too, including Disney princesses, Toy Story, Cars, blank drawing pads and more.
Enlist your family members in a project. Have them pick out some of their favorite songs and put the MP3's on your iPod for your children to listen to while they're on the plane. Sharing music with your children will expose them to a variety of artists they would never know otherwise. Plus, it's a great activity during flights that will keep them quiet as they listen to songs they've never heard before.
Ask your kids to come up with a list of books they would like to read. Or head to the bookstore or library and select some you think they would enjoy. Take a few books along with you on your trip. Varying up their activities, from playing games to reading books, will make them forget they're stuck on a plane for several hours.
Audio story books are another way to get some quiet time out of your children while you're all on the plane. Stories for toddlers all the way to young adults can be found in stores or at your local library.
Buy some new toys to take on your flight and don't show them to the kids before you take off. The toys don't have to be expensive. Hit the dollar store for some cheap toys kids can play with while they're on the plane. The best part about getting cheap toys is that it doesn't matter if the toys get lost or broken.
Check With the Airline
Airlines are also interested in keeping your kids happy and quiet on planes. Check with the airline to see what they have to offer your children for in-flight entertainment. Lufthansa gives kids small toys to play with during the flight. Other airlines offer video screens that feature Disney or Nickelodeon entertainment.