Thursday, May 30, 2013

Traveling with a Toddler - Airplane Activity Kits

Today I'd like to talk a bit about traveling with a toddler, especially on a plane.  Our family recently flew together (5 year old and almost 22 month old) for 6 hrs on a plane.  The "baby" was still a lap child which complicated things a bit more.  I was very apprehensive about these flights and decided to prepare ahead by bringing as many activities and things to keep the youngest's interest as possible! 

Here are the activity kits that I created.  I put anything with little pieces in (easy) zip-lock baggies for storage and organization.  Pretty much everything here was found at home, the dollar store or the dollar section at Target.

First up felt.  I had leftover felt from this Christmas Tree project.  I cut out a white rectangle and a variety of multicolored shapes.  I picked out some to make the above design, but the others were random.  She could create on either (or both) side(s) of the felt.

Next were stickers, sticky notes and masking tape.  It's a sticky activity kit!  I picked quantity over quality for the stickers, thinking that more was better!  I read that kids enjoy putting sticky notes on things and that masking tape can be used in all kinds of (non-destructive) creative ways.

Along with the stickers I cut up some colored papers and included a pair of (very) safety scissors. No issues with the scissors going through airport security.

4 mini puzzles, seemed like a good skill level for the toddler and they were small.

A little (water safe) book that squeaked and a magic write/erase board.  This was a really cheap dollar store version, they have more expensive ones at toy stores too.   

The plastic bottle activity.  This only needed a handful of pipe cleaners and an empty plastic bottle (with a lid).  Basically the child keeps busy pulling the pipe cleaners in and out of the bottle, scrunching them up, smooshing them down, etc.  Amazing how those little cleaners can be used.  My husband even made them into little shapes and animals to amuse the kids.

Not to leave her big sister out I planned a few activities for the 5 year old too. Although she would have been very content to play on the iPad the entire time I decided she needed a few less techie-things to do.  I bought her some grab and go packs, coloring books, big sticker pads (her choice), 2 mini puzzles and a fun mini-notepad and pen (a big hit).  

We also brought other basics like crayons, books, iPad and lots and lots of snacks!

So would you like to know what she actually played with?  The most popular activities hands-down were the magic/erase board and the felt pieces.  She also played quite a bit with the plastic bottle/pipe cleaners and the sticky notes.

The less popular kits were the puzzles (not her level yet I think), the stickers (shockingly!) and the magnetic shapes.  

My busy 22 month old found other (non-planned) ways to keep busy.  They included opening and closing the seat-belt over and over and over.  Opening and closing the window shade and flipping through magazines.  Also reaching through or over the seats in front or behind us to say hello to the other passengers (didn't let her do that enough to wear out her welcome).

Oh, and hitting her head against the seat in front of us (when she'd bend down to get something out of a bag) that eventually resulted in the irritated (and very angry) man in front of us turning around and yelling at me.  Sigh.  I made nice with him at the end and apologized, he then grumped down a little and said it was okay.  Oh, and his wife commented over and over about how lovely both of the girls were. 

Another fun travel mix up involved my busy toddler's diaper.  First off it's challenging enough to change a child's diaper in those tiny tiny bathrooms.  I had the hardest time getting hers on and I discovered that the diaper's tabs were broken (wouldn't stick).  Being the creative think-on-my-feet mother that I am I carried my half diapered child out to retrieve the masking tape that I'd brought (see above sticky activity kit).  While out of the bathroom I heard my other child (5 year old daughter) yelling in the opposite restroom that she was stuck and couldn't open the door (the locks can be forced for future notice btw).  Once that issue was resolved I fastened the toddler's diaper with masking tape and we were set, or so it appeared.  

Fast-forward about 20 minutes later and her pants were drenched in pee.  Hmm, turns out that diaper was not actually broken after all....I'd put it on inside out.  In my defense it was one of those all brown diapers (no print) that looks very much the same on both sides!  Oh, and remember we cloth diaper when at home. :)

So let's just say it was a challenging experience made a little smoother by all the activities (and snacks) that I'd packed.  Oh, and a change of clothes for the baby!

Look here for red-eye flight tips and tricks including my experience with drugging a toddler!

Want more travel tips?  Check out my entry on Road Trips Tips and Tricks

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