If the car or airplane ride is going to last for a long time - and you just don't want you children to watch that much television or play that many games on their hand-held game player - there are some other activities that may keep them happy, busy and entertained.
The Color Wonder coloring books from Crayola have kept kids busy - and mess free - on many a car ride or plane trip. The markers that are included with these books only work on the special paper that comes with these books. They don't work on the car seat, the child or the windows (thank goodness!). The books come in many themes, from Dora the Explorer to Superman.
A Magna Doodle is another toy that involves no electronics and no messy markers - just a child's imagination given the ability to freely roam on a magnetic board. A pen that attracts the little magnetic pieces built in the board makes fun and easy pictures for a child stuck in the car or on a plane for many hours.
Matchbox cars have delighted children of all ages for years and years. The little cars travel well (although they can disappear easily under car or airplane seats if kids are not careful). With that said, the company also makes small playsets - perfectly sized to fit into little backpacks for kids - that also can be removed from the backpack and unfolded for entertainment.
Give the kids some fun puzzles to solve, mazes to travel and words to find - but using puzzle books that rely on "invisible ink." Pens, pencils, crayons and markers can leave marks all over the car (if the kids are not careful), but invisible ink keeps the mess at a minimum. These books come in all different subject matters and involve all different kinds of characters to hold the attention of children of different ages.