Mountain Chic

Reflections and observations on culture, food, style and travel


Finn before his first trip to Mexico in 2014

The title of the post sounds like a bad horror movie, right?  Before I had my son, Finn, I lived in terror of sitting next to a small child on the airplane.  In fact, I recall feeling angry at parents who had the nerve to subject me to sharing a confined space with their children.  I couldn’t understand why you wouldn’t leave that kid at home!  To be fair, I was a high school teacher, so though I liked working with kids, I tended to feel like I needed to manage children when they were nearby.  Kids on a plane felt too much like work.  I still remember the disgust in the pit of my stomach when my husband and I boarded a flight to Australia and I learned I’d be sitting next to a 4-year-old.  For 15 hours.  I was never one of those sweet, maternal women who thrilled at the idea of babies and toddlers, took their presence in stride, played with them and dreamt wistfully of times with babies of my own.  I was more likely dreaming about the next time I could manage to get to Europe than dreaming about being pregnant.


Carry-on baggage

My love for travel hasn’t abated, but by necessity, my attitude toward kids on airplanes has changed.  I still want to travel as much as I possibly can, and I want my son to see the world with me.  Though I can be quite grinchy about kids, I love my OWN more than anything else, and my first choice when taking a vacation is always to bring him along.  He’s enhanced our travel experiences in ways I could never have imagined – and I know this will only get better and better as he grows older.  Therefore, when I prepare for a flight, planning my son’s activities to ensure the least amount of disruption to my fellow passengers (who might be feeling that same disdain I once felt) is of paramount concern for me.


Ready to fly at Denver International Airport

We’re flying to Montana for a family vacation on Saturday, so I’ve packed a bag of small distractions for my son while we’re on the plane.  Admittedly, he sometimes thinks a fistful of straws from the flight attendant is just as amusing as the toys I’ve paid for, but I never leave these things to chance.  Here’s what I’m bringing, along with the details about some of Finn’s favorite iPad apps.


1 Melissa & Doug Water Wow Splash Cards, Alphabet, Numbers & Colors: We own lots of Water Wow books for travel.  Finn fills up his little pen with water, slides the brush across the page, and pictures magically appear – much easier than bringing lots of crayons or markers.  Finn just finished a week of summer camp where he worked on learning his letters and numbers, so we’ll bring this set to keep the momentum going.

2 Fire Truck and Alphabet Stencils: Finn loves tracing and drawing.  I ordered him these books so he could draw his favorite fire trucks and practice writing his name and other letters.

3 Magformers Wow Set: Finn is obsessed with his Magna Tiles, but bringing his 100-piece collection on the airplane is tricky.  This little set, which he just received for his birthday, is perfect for a fix while en route.

4 Magnetic Create-a-Scene Kit – Trains: Like lots of little boys his age, Finn loves trains.  He also loves magnets (see #3).  This is a great little collection for him to use to create his own stories and pictures with trains.

5 Fire Trucks (Sticker Stories): We always bring a set of reusable stickers on the plane.  We’ve purchased the oversized Melissa & Doug sticker sets in the past, and while the stickers are cool and the scenes are awesome, the product is so big it’s a bit unwieldy on the plane; plus, the pages tend to fall out easily, and then they’re all over the place.  This book is the size of a slim weekly magazine.  Finn received this book for his birthday, and I swiped it before he realized it and put it aside for the trip!

6 Wallet and Play Money: Finn’s obsessed with our wallets and the money and our credit cards inside them (and I’m pretty sure that won’t change as he understands more about what that money and those cards represent).  This fire engine wallet and play money are a special treat for this trip.

Finn’s Favorite Apps

We don’t use the iPad much, so when we do, it’s a big deal, and keeps Finn’s attention.  Here are his favorite apps I’ll have ready to go:

Top Row, L-R:

Toca Kitchen Monsters: Chop all kinds of food, blend it, and feed it to monsters.  What’s not to love?

Pony Style Box: This app might be our favorite (but any app from the company that makes this, Fox and Sheep, is super clever and interactive).  Finn cuts, shampoos, blow dries, colors, curls and generally hazes pony’s hair.  He can change scenes and music.  Totally awesome.

Sago Mini Toolbox: Finn plays this one the most.  He saws, cuts, sews, hammers and screws, and makes different projects like robots or seesaws.

Bottom Row, L-R:

Kids Vehicles 1: Interactive Fire Truck: A firefighter guides Finn through all of the equipment on the fire truck, plus he can put out fires.  You can probably guess my son is pretty into firefighters right now.

Toca Band: I hesitate to put this on here because this app contains a bunch of funky characters who each make their own (super annoying) noises – kids select characters to make their own bands.  It can get cacophonous.  But if you’re somewhere noise won’t matter, or if your kid wears headphones, it’s perfect.

Ships: Full Sail: Finn chooses all sorts of different boats and completes tasks as he floats along.  I find myself getting sucked into this one when I’m “helping” Finn.  Super fun!

I look forward to flights with Finn, because I know the more we take him, the better he’ll be – which only means more travel for our family in the future.

2 thoughts on “Kids on a Plane

  1. Meredith Buchholz says:

    You forgot to mention lots and lots of snacks! That’s how I keep my boys from getting us kicked off a plane! 😉


    1. lissa says:

      You’re totally right, Meredith!! Thank you!


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