How to Entertain Kids When Travelling

Planning a holiday with the whole family in tow? Here's our guide to keeping the little ones entertained (and keeping you sane at the same time).


Child in aquarium

We’ve all been there. The plane is delayed and you haven’t had dinner, you’re getting a light – and now very strong – migraine, the veins are pulsating in your partner’s temples, and that relaxing break you had been looking forward to for months is fast becoming a nightmare. Short of leaving the kids with their grandparents for the week, there’s not a whole lot you can do. Kids will be kids.

But here’s a list of recommendations on how to entertain kids when travelling that might help to assuage the interminable racket, the stress and the meltdowns of your fiendish little ones. From the airport to your Plum Guide home, we’ll be looking at how to entertain kids so that your holiday doesn’t turn into a Holly-don’t. That pun only works if you have a temperamental young child called Holly, who happens to be threatening to do something that’d ruin your vacation. But if you do, by chance, find yourself in that exact situation, marvel at the joys of coincidence and keep an eye on Holly.

At the airport

This is the make or break moment, and it’s where the kids are going to be the most trouble. You’re in a confined space (depending on the airport…Heathrow is massive), facing delays amid all the clamour, hubbub and hullabaloo. More funny words available upon request. Imagine yourself as a negotiator in a hostage situation: you’re dealing with unreasonable tyrants who don’t work by the same morals as the rest of us. As a peace offering, make a goodie bag full of sweets, toys and stickers. Dress it up as though it’s a new and innovative contraption (as opposed to the same toys and things they always play with). If you’re lucky, the good will created from such a deal with last for the flight. Unless you’re flying between the UK and Australia. Then, you’re on your own mate.

Plum Guide home

When picking a Plum Guide home in your destination, check for things you wouldn’t necessarily need if you were alone (like a second mortgage). But, those ambitions aside, let’s start with a TV with cable showing English-language channels. Yes, ideally, we wouldn’t need that, and the kids would be happy enough just checking out the Sistine Chapel and the Eiffel Tower. But whose children are like that? Probably just the worst people. If you're staying in a Plum home with a garden, tire them out by suggesting games to play until they’re so exhausted that they fall asleep.

Pool and garden of Sense & Sensibility, Plum Guide home in Suffolk


‘But wait,’ we hear you aggressively type, ‘the whole point of the holiday is to have some unforgettable moments with the kids. Not just to make them sleep.’ How very ambitious. Ok, we will humour you. Obviously, children find museums boring. But there are all sorts of children’s establishments that’ll keep them happy. For example, in Lisbon, they’d love the Parque das Nações, with its aquarium and interactive science museum. That's why it's one of our top things to do in Lisbon with kids. There’s also the Zimmer Children’s Museum and the California Science Center in Los Angeles, and the HMS Belfast and the London Transport Museum in London. KidZania has locations in London and Lisbon, with scheduled openings in Paris, New York and Los Angeles. Here, your kids can finally be the adults, getting to work in a café or factory before spending their hard-earned coins in the shop. If only you could get them to take such responsibility in real life…

Natural History Museum in London

Out and About

Wondering how to entertain the kids while out and about? Sometimes, just walking around is enough to introduce them to an exotic culture and rich history. Stroll through the Jaffa Port or the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv to get to grips with Middle Eastern cuisine and architecture. They’ll never forget strolling through Times Square in New York, while a walk along the Hollywood Boulevard Hall of Fame in Los Angeles makes for a fun and memorable excursion. Amble past the street performers of Covent Garden or South Bank in London and ride the trams through the historic centre of Lisbon.

Times Square, Manhattan, New York


You may be used to the finer things in life, but let’s face it: your children don’t want to sit through seven courses of tiny, weird things. In fact, if the restaurant is of any note, they won’t even be allowed in. So, it’s all about adapting when it comes to how to entertain kids when dining. In Los Angeles, let them play the arcade games and frolic in the play area of the Button Mash or the Giggles N’ Hugs. In London, you’ve got such favourites as Sticky Fingers and the Rainforest Café, while you they can always have fun at the Hard Rock Café in Lisbon or Barcelona.

Stay in the world's most beautiful homes

Search for a holiday home