6 must-have items for traveling busy bags


By Marie LeBaron, Make and Takes

Marie LeBaron is the editor of Make and Takes, a popular parenting site featuring kids’ crafts, home projects, recipes, parenting tips and more. She lives in Seattle with her family, and loves to travel.

When traveling with children, you might need a few things to keep the kids entertained as you fly. I’ve come up with six must-have items to bring with you as you travel. These are tried and true items I’ve used with my own kids as we’re on the go. They are all things you can simply add to your child’s bag or place in a pocket of your own carry-on. These can all be played with while waiting for the airplane to arrive or as you fly to your destination. Hopefully these items will keep the kids busy for a little while before asking “are we there yet?”

** Be kind to your flight attendants and make sure to take used items off the plane with you when you leave.

Here are my top 6 must-haves for a traveling busy bag:

  1. Sticky back notepads: These small pads of sticky back paper are a great way to create fun images or simply to color on. Kids can make letters, shapes, and designs with a small pad of sticky notes. On the airplane, suggest the kids use the tray table to make all sorts of different paper creations or they can place the sticky notes on the airplane windows if they have a window seat. With these reusable notes, kids can make one image and then take it all down to create a new image. Never ending fun!
  1. Pipe cleaners: These can keep children engaged for a long while. Kids can play with pipe cleaners by making shapes, loops, chains, or small creatures, you name it. You can bring buttons or beads to add to them as well. They can also make letters out of the pipe cleaners to spell words for a little added educational bonus.
  1. Small sticker storybooks: Make small little storybooks out of index cards cut in half with a staple ahead of time. Then give your child a set of stickers they can add on one side of the paper and write a story on the other side, creating a little storybook. Or they can make it a color book as well, coloring a scene to incorporate the stickers they add.
  1. Index card drawing starters: This is a simple way to bring new life to coloring with drawing starters. Add a line or shape to an index card and let the kids use their imagination for what it might become. Have crayons nearby as they draw their new creations.
  1. Recycled envelopes: Make a collection of any extra envelopes you receive in the mail from bills or other envelopes you have around the house. These are a fun and unique material for children to play with. Kids can color on them, make hand puppets out of them, write notes to those they are traveling to visit, or even thank you cards to the flight crew. Bring a few blank pieces of paper as well if they want to add any special notes inside.
  1. Printable scavenger hunt: This is the perfect activity for kids while traveling. Simply print off this airport scavenger hunt printable and bring a pencil or a few crayons with to fill it out as the kids are traveling at the airport.

What would you add to a traveling busy bag for kids?

Read more about traveling with kids:

How to travel with kids (hint: just do it)

Explore Baltimore: 5 reasons to take your kid


  1. OMG. That is such a good idea. I’m always worried when I have to travel with my little sis, but never thought about a Travel bag to help. Don’t know how. I usually just bring a color book with me, but this is so much better.
    Tks for the tip 🙂

    xo, Deborah

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