Flying with children is never easy—but it can be a nightmare if you run out of things to do on a long flight. A parent’s best weapon against in-flight meltdowns is having plenty of activities on hand. These iOS and Android apps will keep your little ones engaged during long travel times—and they’ll even learn a few things, too.
1. Bamba Airport
Ages 3 to 8
In this interactive game, kids take charge of an airport and airplane by conducting security, seating passengers, serving drinks and meals, and more. Young and older children will have a blast learning about the ins and outs of air travel while they call the shots.
2. Toca Builders
iOS, Android, $2.99
Ages 6 and older
Kids can build their own unique world with the help of six Toca Builders who jump, rotate, walk and roll while they construct new objects. Unlike other apps that have set goals, Toca Builders is designed to unleash your kids’ creativity and build confidence through free play—great for keeping young minds from getting bored on a long flight.
3. Disney Story Central
iOS, free with in-app purchases
Ages 5 and under
Even their favorite Disney movies can only keep kids occupied for so long. Download the Disney Story Central app so your kids can read new stories about their favorite characters. The app is free, but you’ll have to purchase credits to access stories. Or, read an unlimited number with a $7.99 monthly subscription. Either way, plan in advance and allow your children to choose a few books before you take off in case there’s no Wi-Fi on board.
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4. Moo, Baa, La La La!
iOS, Android, $3.99
Ages 1 to 5
This interactive version of Sandra Boynton’s popular board book is a hit with little ones who need a distraction. Babies delight at the animal sounds and toddlers enjoy making the book interact with their touch. Kids learning to read can practice their skills and touch the words for hints as needed.
5. Pacca Alpaca – Travel Playtime
iOS, $1.99; Android, $2.20
Ages 2 to 6 years
Pacca the lovable alpaca will guide your child to attractions all over the world, from Mount Fuji in Japan to the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Each location serves as a backdrop for different activities, like using blocks to build Buckingham Palace, helping Pacca find his hat in New York City’s Times Square, or connecting dots to make the Acropolis appear.
6. Jack and the Beanstalk by Nosy Crow
Ages 5 and older
Jack and The Beanstalk blends story time and playtime to create an exciting reading experience. Find the right key to open doors in the giant’s castle, win games to unlock new parts of the story, and wake the giant to create different endings. This app is an excellent way to get reluctant young readers to engage in a book—and a great way for the entire family to interact on your journey.
7. The Robot Factory by Tinybop
Ages 6 and older
It can be difficult to let your imagination run wild when you’re stuck on a plane. Kids can get lost in The Robot Factory app as they use 100 parts to design their own robots. When their work is done, they can test their creation to see if it can run, hop, walk or fly.
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8. The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Friends – First Words
iOS, $2.99; Android, $2.49
Ages 1 to 5
This pop-up book app is perfect for babies developing first language skills and older kids learning a second language. Set a primary and secondary language and use the app to learn names for animals, people and common objects. English, Spanish, French and German are available for brushing up on new languages before visiting a new place.
9. Sesame Street Video Maker
Kids of all ages
Download songs and let the app guide you toward making a personalized music video featuring your entire family. The Sesame Street app will give hints for how to dance (pretend you’re making pizza!) and let you add fun animations and special effects to the video. Just be mindful to keep the volume low and keep your dancing in your seat. The app comes with three free songs, with more available for purchase.
10. Plum’s Creaturizer
iOS, Android, Free
Ages 5 and up
Use Plum’s Creaturizer to make your own creature from more than 100 body parts from different animals. Once your creature is complete, the app will access your camera and guide you to find a place for it to hide, make a home, eat a meal and defend itself. Document your travels by letting your kids’ creatures “photobomb” the scenery on your trip.