However, with the right kind of content, electronic gadgets can make excellent pastimes for traveling kids.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to kid-friendly apps for your phone (as well as other electronic devices).
- iPhone apps from parenting.com.
- Tons of apps, educational and otherwise, for phones and other devices from iKidApps.
- There are also many free book apps available.
- Best Kids Apps has a list of Best Android Apps for Kids.
- If you like the idea of being able to access audio-books for your kids, you might be interested in Tales 2 Go. This is a subscription service that provides access to streaming content on your phone.
- Moms with apps is also a very good site to check out for kid-friendly apps.
I know many kids really love iPad's, especially the simplicity and intuitive control of the touch-screen. There are many sites that offer reviews and recommendations of iPad apps specifically for kids, for example:
If you're bringing your laptop on-board, you can obviously access any games you have installed on it, and a lot of online content (if you have access to wi-fi: many airports do offer wireless Internet access these days). For my next trip, my laptop will probably be traveling with us on the plane, including my kids' current favorite games:
A lot of kids take their hand-held games everywhere, and it can definitely be a good way for them (or you!) to spend the time on a long-haul flight. Lots of systems are available, just make sure to pick one that your child likes (I still haven't been able to find one that holds my kids' interest!), and that isn't too bulky or heavy to bring in a carry-on.
- Nintendo DS.
- LeapFrog Text and Learn.
- Leapster 2 / Leapster Explorer.
- Kid-Tough Preschool Game Player.
If you're going on a long trip, movies are usually a sure-fire way to keep your kids occupied. There are tons of portable players, and just like with anything else you're bringing on board an airplane: make sure it's reasonably sturdy, not too bulky, and not too heavy. Also, bring some kid-sized headphones!
6. Audio players
Audio players can also be a great way for your child to pass the time while traveling, listening to music, books or stories. There are many different players on the market, and you'll just have to decide which one you think works best for your child.
Many of my friends are totally sold on the Kindle, and I think e-readers can definitely be great for traveling kids, whether they can read themselves or you are still reading to them. (Because of the constant engine noise, it can be a challenge to read to a child on-board, but it can be done.) Check out kids.kindlenationdaily.com for news and tips on using a Kindle for kids.
Tips for airplane-travel with electronics
- Electronic devices, like laptops, phones, hand-held games and the like are usually allowed on board. However, they do have to be turned off completely at take-off and landing.
- Laptops often have to go through the security screening separately, meaning you have to take them out of your bag and out of their carrying case. Just be ready for this and you'll save yourself a lot of time.
- The TSA's website has the latest regulations for what you can and can't bring on board, and what electronics must be screened separately.
- Small electronic devices, like iPads, audio-players, etc. can usually stay in your hand-luggage when you go through security.
- Remember to bring any wires and battery-chargers you need. Also bring adapters and converters if you're traveling to a foreign country: an electronic gadget really is no good to you or your kids unless the battery is charged!
- Make sure you check with your cell-phone provider if you can use your phone abroad and what it will cost you. The rates for making calls, texting and using the Internet can become quite astronomical if you don't watch out!
If you are traveling with kids, especially if you're the only adult or if you're traveling with an infant, carefully consider what electronic devices you bring with you. Your carry-on can become quite full even without any electronic gadgets.
Also consider that if you are traveling as the only adult, you might have to lug your carry-on with you everywhere (including inside a washroom to change a diaper), if you don't want to leave your electronics unattended.