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.
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.
On 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!