I'll admit that while we've taken almost 30 flights with our 2-and-a-half-year-old, we've yet to use the iPad. That's partly due to the fact that we cracked the screen years ago and haven't bothered to have it replaced, but it's also because the kid bucks all typical toddler and kid trends and doesn't care about screens in the least. But you can bet the minute she shows an interest, I'll be pulling up these 15 free apps to load into your kids' tablet before a road trip or flight, because those are opportune moments to give your kid the treat of an app to chill out.
Both flights and road trips definitely necessitate extra entertainment than the usual day-to-day books or toys. When you need your kid to sit (relatively) quietly so you can drive in peace for hours to see family, or so you can avoid driving a flight full of stern-looking adults crazy, a tablet might well be exactly what can help you all survive the journey in one piece.
It's important to remember, though, that the tablet is best used as the last resort when things really start getting out of hand (i.e. your kid has eaten through your whole stash of special treats and blown through all of your Target dollar-bin entertainment options). Don't start the journey by offering the tablet —that'll only set you up for disaster an hour down the road. If you do pull it out before take off, make sure it is loaded with hours of entertainment, even way more than the length of your journey.
If you're headed out on a road trip or flight soon, here are some free apps to download to keep your kid quietly distracted until you arrive.