Staying Sane on the Plane: Busy Bag Ideas for Long Flights

Once your child is in their own seat on a flight they are likely ready for some fun and engaging airplane busy bags. This post shows you how easy busy bags are to put together, and gives you some great examples of what to put inside them to keep your kids entertained!

Staying Sane on the Plane: Busy Bag Ideas for Long Flights

The first question to answer is: what is a busy bag? Busy bags are just small activities to keep little hands and minds occupied. The idea is that all of the parts fit into a small bag which makes the activity portable. This is why busy bags are perfect for taking on an airplane: small; engaging; a novelty; and mess free.

You can use whatever type of bag (or small container) you like. Ziplock bags work just fine, but you can go a little fancier and buy material or patterned bags to make them look even more exciting. The bags used here are from Michael's and cost $5.99 for five. Here are some simple examples that will hopefully give you some inspiration.

Busy Bag 1: Letter Match

Staying Sane on the Plane: Busy Bag Ideas for Long Flights

Materials: alphabet letter strips (Target, $1) and alphabet washi tape (Target, $1).

This is such a cheap and easy bag to prepare. Simply cut the long strips of alphabet letters into individual letters. Challenge your child to tear off the little letter sections of the tape, and stick them on top of the correct large letters. Being in control of, and allowed to tear, the tape will seem like quite a treat for many children. The added fun of letter matching means this activity has a strong sense of appeal. This works best if you just take one letter card out of the bag at a time to avoid them going everywhere mid-flight!

Busy Bag 2: Mini Roads

Staying Sane on the Plane: Busy Bag Ideas for Long FlightsMaterials: Tonka Tinys (Target, $2.49 each) and mini washi road tape (Target, $1).

Without a doubt this will be a crowd pleaser with any vehicle loving child. The excitement of getting two new mini cars is the perfect way to boost a tired traveller. Using the washi tape on the fold down tray works perfectly. You can easily tear the tape, stick it down, play with it, and then peel it off and re-design the road. The road layout combinations are endless! The Tonka Tinys come in small 'garages' which stops them rolling away during the road construction process. You can even build road shapes, a parking lot with garages, zig zag roads and race tracks.

Busy Bag 3: Story Surprise

Staying Sane on the Plane: Busy Bag Ideas for Long Flights

Materials: a random selection of toys from the play room (it can literally be anything!!).

This is a great busy bag for little ones who love stories. The rules are simple, put your hand in the bag with your eyes closed and grab a handful of items. Lay the items out on the tray for everyone to see. Then simply make up a story using the items in front of you. It is up to the story teller when they introduce each item, but they must use all of the items on the tray at some point. You will be amazed at the creativity that this activity sparks. Your child's imagination will lead you to the funniest of places in their stories!

Busy Bag 4: Sticker Passport

Staying Sane on the Plane: Busy Bag Ideas for Long Flights

Materials: mini passport (Michael's, $3.49), selection of stickers from our craft box, old box of free crayons from a restaurant.

How cute is this mini passport?! The inside pages are just like a real passport, with a photo page and destination stamps. You can stick in a photo of your child and give them a selection of stickers. Why not include themed stickers to match your destination or holiday type?! Just wait until you see your child feeling so grown up getting to decorate their own passport with stickers and pictures. The great thing with this activity is that it can provide a nice reason to go on an adventure around the plane. Try asking each steward and stewardess to choose a sticker and put it in the passport. You might even get lucky and get the pilot to add a sticker after the flight!

Busy Bag 5: How long is.....

Staying Sane on the Plane: Busy Bag Ideas for Long Flights

Materials: washi measuring tape (Target, $1), a random selection of small items from the toy room and a few pieces of candy.

Yet another washi tape related busy bag! The aim of this activity is to investigate the size of the items in the bag using the washi measuring tape. Simply stick down pieces of tape on the tray and measure the items against it. After measuring is complete, add a new challenge by getting your child to put the items in size order. It never hurts to include a little edible treat in one of the busy bags just to keep those energy levels up. This busy bag has the added fun of prompting other measuring challenges. Your child might enjoy seeing how big their hand is compared to yours, for example.

I hope that this post has shown you how easy busy bags are to put together, and also how inexpensive they are. Here at Creative QT we find them to be such great boredom busters simply because they are a novelty. If you want to make some busy bags but don't want to traipse around different shops, we would definitely recommend you hit up the Target dollar bins. There are so many fun little resources there and all for very little money. Wishing you safe, and sane, travels on the plane!

Staying Sane on the Plane: Busy Bag Ideas for Long Flights


Creative QT designs quality + innovative toys that declutter homes and inspire creative play. Founded by parents of five, Adam and Dana Sue Hinkle, Creative QT’s vision is to empower parents and encourage a culture of families that Make Time Together. All products are designed to enrich families’ lives through active, creative play and play based learning. Creative QT products are laboratory tested for compliance with CPSC requirements and are free of lead, cadmium and phthalates so you can play with confidence. So, go ahead … today is the day: be your kid’s hero.

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