We were quite the travelers during our first years of marriage. R's job included quite a bit of travel, and the perks of airline miles and hotel points were not lost on us :) We had a "pre-kids" travel list, and all but one were checked off when Tink arrived! We also traveled a bit while she was small, including two international trips. She was a great traveler, and we were fortunate to have positive flying experiences. Our travel has slowed significantly over the last few years (I can't imagine why), but we have high hopes to travel regularly as our kids grow. Our summer plans include a trip to Canada (yay!), and I am making small purchases here and there to fill the kids' bags with surprises. My Mom made fun travel bags for family road trips, and it was one of the highlights of our vacations. Several friends have asked about activities for their own vacations, and I thought I would share what works for us. We are NOT packing this entire list! I will pick and choose for this trip, but found some great ideas that I wanted to tuck away for the future.
A few tips -
Pack separate activites and snacks for both flights. Goodies for the return flight can easily be packed in gallon baggies in the bottom of your suitcase.
Wrap things in newspaper or wrapping paper - part of the fun will be unwrapping each surprise!
If you decide to include coloring books and crayons, buy triangular or shaped crayons that won't roll away during travel (Wrap tops of markers in Wikki Sticks to keep them from escaping).
Spread the activies throughout the flight. I will have surprises in my bag for each hour of our flight and the kids will have favorite books and activites from home in their own bags.
As well as movies on our iPad (or DVD player), I plan to fill an old iPod with favorite music. You can also purchase books or story collections on CD. Don't forget kid-sized headphones!
If your child is small enough that their legs don't hang down from the seat, tuck an airline blanket in the back of the seat cushion before they sit down. Once settled, tuck the other end in the pocket in front of them. This will make a "sling" to catch most things that fall (I haven't tried this, but think it's a great idea!)
Pack an easily-accessible change of clothes (for everyone) and plenty of wipes! No one (especially Mommy) wants to travel soaking wet.
Activity Ideas -
Travel-sized Magnadoodle, Etch A Sketch, or Aquadoodle
Crayola Color Wonder markers and coloring books
Crayola Model Magic (comes in small packets and is less messy than Play-Doh)
Stickers - in the past, I have given each kid several pages of stickers and a mini spiral notebook. I'm going to splurge for our summer trip and purchase a Melissa and Doug Make-a-Face Sticker Pad
Band-Aids (what kid doesn't love covering themselves in Band-Aids?)
Melissa and Doug Paint with Water - these are neat because the paint squares are on each page. All you need is a paintbrush and a small amount of water.
Melissa and Doug Stamp Marker Activity Pad
Finger Puppets (I found some really cute ones at Carter's)
4x6 photo album containing pictures of family and friends. I am also going to make name labels for Tinkerbell's album. Place the labels on the pictures and use a dry erase marker to trace the letters.
I Spy Books
Scratch and Sketch Activity Books
Wikki Sticks (AKA Bendaroos)
Mini Potato Head
Slinky Pop Toob (I found these in Cracker Barrel, a great place to look for fun small surprises)
Fun Snack Activity Ideas -
Cheerios, Raisin, and Goldfish Play Books - I found these board books at Half Price. The pages include holes where your child can place a snack to complete the picture
Pack chopsticks with a small snack (my kids love the chopstick helpers from Pei Wei)
Make bags with everything needed for a cereal necklace (plastic lacing is perfect for this)
Look for "dipping" foods - small containers of peanut butter with crackers or apple slices
Look for small bags of fun treats that your children don't eat on a regular basis - it's all about novelty!
Have any tried and true travel tips? Please share!