As parents, we know travel with kids can be fraught with… let’s call it “adventure.” Long trips require a level of patience most children (and their parents) simply don’t have. How do you all survive without a major meltdown? Read on.
Pack Wisely – Plan to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse
If you don’t have an extra-large diaper/nappy bag or backpack that will hold a changing pad, invest in one. It will save your life and maybe the sanity of your fellow passengers. If your children are old enough, they’ll be super proud to carry their own little backpacks.
In their backpacks:
- Let them pick a favorite toy or book and pack it along with a snack in their backpack. If their packs are too heavy, you’ll end up carrying them; so keep them light!
In your diaper bag or carry-on:
- Diapers, Pull-Ups or Extra Underwear: If your little ones are still in diapers or pull-ups, plan on packing twice as many as you think you need for each child. You never know when they’ll have tummy trouble, or if you’ll be stuck longer than expected in traffic or at the airport. Whether you have a toilet trainer or an older child, extra underwear can be super-helpful if you face lost luggage or an accident.
- Wipes: Whether your children are in diapers or not, pack wipes… lots of wipes. Once while flying, my kids’ well-meaning dad bought them each a lollipop in the airport. What wasn’t stuck to the airplane tray table was stuck to hands, faces and HAIR. Extra wipes will help clean up unexpected sticky messes.
- Extra change of clothes: If you are meeting judgy in-laws at the end of your trip, bring an extra change of clothes. They’ll never know the darling tykes were covered in crumbs, juice or other foreign matter.
- Snacks: Most flights don’t come with full meals any longer, so pack plenty of their favorite snacks. Think of things that don’t make huge messes: cereal, crackers, grapes, applesauce in the squeeze packages, etc. Avoid caffeine or sugary snacks… do you really want hyper, cranky kids?
- Bottles, Sippy Cup and/or Water Bottles: Bring these through the TSA line empty and make a quick trip to the water fountain to have your little ones “help” fill them up once you are through security. Your children will be proud to be good travel helpers.
- Children’s pain reliever: When my daughter was 2, we took a cross-country trip to the ocean for our summer break. We did not realise her sniffles weren’t just sniffles but an ear infection in both ears. She spent most of the flight screaming in pain and I was a certified wreck WAY before arrival. Having a little pain reliever available can save everyone a lot of pain and suffering.
Plan for their Entertainment with Car or Airplane Toys for Toddlers, Pre-schoolers, etc.
So, by now your older ones have a favorite toy packed away in their very own backpacks. But this isn’t likely to keep them occupied for long. We would have a stash of toys meant just for travel, waiting rooms, etc. Things they rarely see keep them happy for longer because the novelty is still there… and are less likely to be projectiles thrown at your unsuspecting fellow passengers.
We reserve mobile devices for truly desperate measures, so here are a few of our favorite things to stock up on before you get in that car or plane.
For all ages:
- Small Cars or other push toys, like our Rainbow Roller - Dash Hound, are great goodies to pull out of your bag. You can create terrain with your bag, shoes and extra clothes that they can navigate over while in the airport waiting for your next flight.
- Tubes or baggies filled with tiny plastic animals. These are perennial favorites on our travels for hours of imaginative play.
- Silk Crayons & a pad of paper: Two simple items = hours of fun. Have your kiddos colour the paper from edge to edge and then make paper airplanes or other origami items to extend the fun.
- Books or Children’s Books on Audible.
- What to avoid: Building toys with small parts. Small parts are easily dropped, lost, etc. which can lead to meltdowns.
- Activity sets designed specifically for toddlers, like our Magic Painting World – Dinosaurs are perfect for flights or long car trips. Fill up the paintbrush from your water bottle and voila. Bonus features: No mess and once their paintings dry, the colours disappear so they can be painted again on your return trip.
- I Spy/Search books: Books filled with hidden items like animals (like Richard Scarry’s GoldBug), people (Where’s Waldo comes to mind) or more can be great ways to keep them occupied on a plane or in a car – perfect for kiddos 3 and above.
- Colouring and activity kits like our Unicorn Magic Colouring Set or Transfer Magic - Create a Robot. These sets are packed full of stickers, activities, markers in a portable box – perfect for keeping little hands busy.
- For those a little older, consider Top Secret Missions - Detective Set: Your kids will love discovering what it takes to become a secret agent with this set filled with activities like fingerprint analysis, code-cracking and more.
Travel Games: There are all kinds of games you can play while traveling that require nothing but your time and engagement. Our favorites:
- I Spy with My Little Eye: Take turns picking items from your environment and have others ask questions to figure out what was spied. Great for kids aged 2 and over.
- Alphabet Game: For those a little older who can recognise letters, start by finding an item or name starting with A and work your way through the alphabet.
- Bananagrams: Scrabble without the board, this is perfect for older ones and can be played on an airplane tray table on in a restaurant while you are waiting to fuel up.