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Airplane Travel Survival Kit for Sensory Kids


A few months ago, I wrote a blog post talking about how we were planning a huge cross-country road trip this autumn (learn how to plan a road trip here).  Well... we started mapping out how that trip would look, and decided to fly instead!  We've NEVER flown with kids!  I immediately started freaking out, as my mind filled with thousands of questions.  How do I plan this sort of trip?  Road trips are like second nature to me, whereas an airplane trip is a whole different and new beast.


As soon as we announced to our kids that we were flying instead, they naturally had a lot of questions.  The more questions we answered, the more anxious they became about all the details of the trip.  We have found the "How Airports Work" book (there's a sticker activity book also) to be very helpful for showing kids all the complicated pieces of airplane travel and what to expect.  The TSA YouTube channel has a lot of good content, too.


On top of the general anxiety (which I'll write more about in another post), we also have a lot of sensory issues.  Some of them are more sensory seeking, while others are both seeking and avoiding.  As I've been thinking about how to meet their needs on our trip, I decided the easiest way to organize all my thoughts was with a blog post.  I wrote a similar post several months ago with all the things a mom should carry on an airplane (her survival kit), so this is the kid version.



One of the big questions we need to answer is "how many bags are we bringing?"  We're flying Southwest Airlines, which still has a 2 free checked bags policy.  Five family members times two bags is ten bags!  Pretty sure we're not doing that many!  Then, we have the option of one carry-on and one "personal" item for each family member.  That's a total of twenty pieces to keep track of and pack!  Yikes!  We're still figuring out what our luggage situation will be, but we know that we'd like to minimize it.


One easy way to minimize your luggage is to miniaturize your accessories!  For this reason, I have picked things that will fit into this Pencil Pouch.  Even if we decide not to allow the kids to bring their own carry-ons, their three pencil pouches will fit in one bag.  I picked this pencil pouch because of the multiple openings and different sized pockets.  It also came in several colors, so I could buy one for each kid!


Health

When you're road tripping, it's a lot easier to minimize your exposure to people and sicknesses.  Especially in the post-Covid-19 era, all I can think about is how an airplane is just a tube full of germs.  I am planning on bringing Zinc Lozenges to boost our immune system, as well as a small pile of over-the-counter meds for emergencies.


Kids can bring their own Tray Table Cover in their backpacks or pouches to create a less germy place to play and eat.  I'm also going to encourage my kids to wipe everything with a Disinfectant Wipe (I'll carry a pack in my bag).  Each child can carry their own bottle of Hand Sanitizer, as long as the bottle is under 3oz.  You can get some scented ones that hang off their bag and have fun characters on them (maybe a Mickey one for a Disney trip).


Comfort

If your kids are bringing an entire backpack for themselves, then I recommend packing a neck pillow for resting and sleeping on the plane.  Keeping with our mini accessories theme to fit in the pencil pouch, the following items are small enough to fit in our designated space.


Kids (and parents), who get very overwhelmed by loud noises, will appreciate the opportunity to use some ear plugs to minimize the barrage of sounds.  I like these Ear Plugs with Case, because they have a lot of colors for every member of the family and come with a little case to keep them cleaner.


Most people recommend that you bring some Bubble Gum and lollipops for helping kids deal with plugged ears.  Have you heard of these Healthy Lollipops that clean teeth as you eat them?  So cool!  I also like to carry these single use toothbrushes with toothpaste included for brushing teeth on the trip.


If you're child deals with any motion sickness, I highly recommend giving them Dramamine Kids before the plane takes off.  Making sure that your child's tummy isn't completely empty, which is why I'm planning to bring some RX Kids Protein Bars with us for a nutrient-dense snack.


RELATED POST- Mom Travel Survival Kit


Sensory

I don't recommend that you buy and try to pack all of these items in your pencil pouch.  Instead, this list is meant to inspire you and help you explore different ways of meeting your child's sensory needs while you're in an airplane.


My son loves to spin wheels wherever he can find them.  I'm planning on buying him a Toy Airplane for the airline we're traveling, but other wheeled vehicles like these Tech Deck Skateboards are a great option.  Another spinning option is the ever-popular Fidget Spinner.


For kids that prefer soft and squishy toys like my daughter, there are many great toy options.  Right now, she is obsessed with Squishmallows, and has been begging me to let her take her giant one.  Perhaps I can trade her for one of these mini ones.  There are even Disney themed ones for your theme park or cruise ship needs.  We've found these to be good for anxiety also.


Other soft and squishy toys include Stretchy String , which would take up hardly any room in your carry-on.  If you're using the zipper pouch or bringing a backpack, you can add a Bubble Pop Keychain as a zipper pull.  Thinking Putty Minis and Koosh Ball can be very helpful for kids who love to squish and pull.


Some sensory-seeking kids crave things to chew and bite.  Of course, gum and snacks are a help, but I also recommend that you pack some Chew Toys and Chewelry.  I've also found Candy Necklaces to be a fun distraction and something that can be quite satisfying to munch.


Lastly, I have included a selection of toys that are just good for fidgeting.  Although I don't recommend blowing them on the plane, Mini Bubble Wands are a great secret weapon for a long layover.  My son also loves the Fidget Cube Keychain with about 9 or so different ways to engage his fingers.  Kids who crave more visual stimuli or need something calming to focus on will enjoy a Water Bubbler Toy.  My kids also love the Mini Scratch Art Cards, where you scrape off the black paint to make pictures and designs (I love how long they can spend on them).


RELATED POST- 50 Ways to Meet Sensory Needs while Traveling


Every family must to access their own child's needs according to what will make the flight the most pleasant for their unique child.  Not everything on this list is going to fit your plans or fit in your pencil pouch, but I hope I've given you lots of ideas.  Check out my other blog posts for even more ideas and free printables to make your travel time amazing.


 


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