Our favorite things for the plane

We just flew from Warsaw to Mallorca for a much-needed family vacation in the sun.  Miss H has turned into a very good traveler at the grand old age of 4.   Gone are the days of my super-active toddler, resisting sleep on a transatlantic overnight flight.

This wasn’t a U.S./Europe scale trip but was still a 9-5’er with a three hour layover.  So I had to keep it organized.

Miss H has a limit to her toy space for the vacation. They must all fit in her backpack and she has to carry it. (We do take some things out to lighten her load and carry her bag at the end of the long trip, but it all has to fit in the small backpack, and she is responsible.)

She helped choose what we packed:

1.  Colored pencils, crayons and a small pad of paper.  We really like these crayons and they come in a pouch with a drawstring.

2. Play dough.  It is a life-saver for frustrated/tired/bore/not-getting-what-she-wants child.  As an added bonus, it also works for mom’s nerves on a long flight:)

3. Tegu blocks.  We love these!  They are compact and magnetic and come in a pouch.  They are good for waiting at restaurants too!

4. Uno cards.

5. Tell a Story Cards.  These are a real favorite right now.  We use them on the plane, at the restaurant and when we play our ‘quiet game’ after dinner.

Tell a story cards

6. Miniatures.  She has princess, turtles and dinosaurs.  They are great for imaginary play and take up very little space.  These work very well for the car.

In my bag, I pack:

1. The iPad with headphones. The iPad is loaded with a few new TV shows or a new movie.  It’s funny.  I told myself pre-Miss H that I would NEVER let my child watch TV in the car / on the airplane / at the dinner table. We are holding fast at the table, but I’ve come to realize that for our sanity, we both need a break once in a while!

I’ve also learned the hard way (on a 20 hour transatlantic trip) what too much iPad can do to a child.  So I limit it.   We first look at the planes, explore the airport (some have really great play-spaces) and play with some of the toys.  And, we take breaks.  On overnight flights, we turn it off before dinner service so we have a chance of sleep.

2. Something new.  For this trip I ran out of time to organize much:  just a new sticker book and a set of different colored post-its.

3.  Snacks. When traveling it is really hard to get healthy snacks, and a young child on a full day of travel stuffed with crackers and sweets is not so much fun in the end.

I try to pack some veggies, fruit and protein.   It all needs to last a full day of traveling since good food usually takes awhile to organize upon arrival.   Carrot sticks, a boiled egg, fruit — grapes or blueberries or small apples — that isn’t too messy, cheerios (traveling for U.S.) or millet balls (traveling from Warsaw or Budapest), granola bars, hard cheese and nuts all work for us.

One thing I will remember from now on:  Toss the apple and egg upon landing in the U.S.! We were approached by a dog and guy in uniform.  My heart sank for a minute as I thought someone had stashed some contraband in my bag.  But the agriculture dog just wanted the apple and egg!

For emergencies:  lollipops and chocolate!!  I hide these in an easy-to-get-to separate pocket so Miss H doesn’t find them before a REAL emergency, i.e. hour-long passport control followed with hour-long baggage claim, delayed flight, early morning arrival, rental car line, lost luggage… All of which we have experienced.

Airport runOn this trip, Miss H got her chocolate while waiting for the rental car.   Then the lollipop and the remainder of her blueberries and carrot sticks in car on the way to the airport.  It was dinnertime after a full day trip after all!

4. Extra clothes, wipes, paper towel and tissues — of course!  We had vomiting all the way back from Prague to Warsaw on a recent trip this spring.  Poor girl.   I pack these clothes in plastic bags so I can separate the dirty/wet clothes from the rest of my bag contents.

5.  A small blanket and ‘lovey’.  You think you don’t need this once they get past the baby/toddler stage but it really helps Miss H feel relaxed and to fall asleep.  This worked for us on the afternoon flight during this trip.

I’m always looking for new entertainment ideas to fit in our airplane/car trip bag.  So share if you have any good ones!


6 thoughts on “Our favorite things for the plane

    1. Hi Jamie, I’m glad you like some of what we do. Things are lot easier these days now that they are 4. You will have fun on your trip:) No stroller or carseat to worry about as well! Let me know how it goes. xoxo, Jen

  1. Hey Jen, great tips, and just in perfect time as I literally just bought tickets for our transatlantic flight to England, lots of time to prepare as it’s months away and I may have to revisit your list 😉 so I don’t need a stroller???? He is really going to walk everywhere with me????hmmmm, getting nervous thinking about that one!
    Here’s an entertainment idea- travel with another mommy and young person 🙂 want to join us 😉
    Where are you headed Jamie? Hugs and kisses to you all!

    1. Hi Karla! Yes Yes!! Let’s discuss your plans. Maybe we can arrange a meet up?!!!

      Are you flying direct to the U.K. or do you have a transfer?

      Miss H started refusing a stroller the summer she was 2. That trip it was helpful for the transfer through Heathrow which is a total bear (and I had to force her stroller strap on) but still a pain with multiple buses. When I arrived in Miami it had to go through baggage claim anyway so was useless. Now, I try to get Mr F on the flight to Europe to help with the early morning transfer and fly alone to the U.S. with her. If schedules don’t arrange, I pack EXTRA EXTRA lollipops/sweets for the morning transfer. I also make sure I wake her for some breakfast and give her a little candy BEFORE we try to get off the plane. That way avoiding total meltdown due to lack of sleep trying to de-board (which we have definitely experienced!!).

      Xoxo. Talk soon!

  2. Good ideas! We have the Trunkies, which were a life savior last time I flew. They enjoyed packing them themselves and then they just rode them in all the airports we’ve been to.
    Other than that – I’m normally taking books and drawing stuff, and once I brought a big jar filled with big wooden beads that M just set and put on a string for a long while. And sticker books of course… So nothing too new I guess 🙂

  3. Just picked up some play dough and pack of uno cards while I was thinking of it 🙂 will write later about travel details for more advice! xoxo

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