Veda and I, sans papa, are hitting the road again on Saturday on a long day and a half journey from Ladybrand, South Africa back home to Chicago. A travel fun bag is critical to our success.
My mind is now on packing, and deciding what toys to pack in the checked luggage and which to carry-on. Although I often question the value of many toys, it is useful to have a small arsenal of activities and distractions for a busy toddler on a long journey. One of three flights is a whopping 16 hours (Abu Dhabi to Chicago), most of which are during Veda’s waking hours, so I’m already gearing up mentally for the trip and strategizing how I will keep my 16 month old engaged and happy for such a long time in a contained space.
I’m flying my favorite airline, Etihad Airways, so I know that before take-off they will give Veda an animal back-pack filled with an activity/ coloring book, colored pencils, opposites flashcards, stickers, and foam tic-tac-toe (at least that’s what they usually hand-out on international flights to little ones). It’s always nice to have something new to pull out.
For busy walking toddlers that can’t still still, like mine, it’s great to have a variety of activities to recycle. In my experience with Veda, it’s best to give out the activities slowly, rather than dumping all the toys out at once. I give her a couple things to choose from, and once she is bored I put those away and get out the next. Veda is also at the age now where she feels like a big girl if she is helping or carrying something during travel, so I like to give her a small backpack with her toys she can carry, and that I can easily clip on to the outside of my carry-on if she gets tired.
Here are some toys and activities that I have found useful to pack along with us for a long journey:
– Crayons and coloring books: yes, I just said my daughter eats them, but they’re still great- if non-toxic
– Reusable sticker pads: loads of fun and you won’t have to worry about stickers staying on the seat or food tray of the plane
– Felt boards: good clean packable fun, but you have to let it go if you might lose a few pieces
– Favorite books/ new books about travel: you can’t bring too many books with you, but select a few favorites
– Finger puppets: they’re soft, light, small, and provide lots of giggling and entertainment
– Rory’s Story Cubes: combine these travel-friendly dice with finger puppets to get your creative juices going
– Cars and trucks: Veda loves to push them up and down the aisle- as long as it’s not bothering anyone- or on me and herself if we have to be seated
– Stacking cups: super fun for putting things in and out, make believe, plus compact and packable
– Soft balls: let me emphasize the adjective “soft” as you don’t want to peg a sleeping passenger in the face with a basketball. Small, soft, lightweight balls that can be rolled on the ground or gently tossed are great
– Small musical instruments/ musical toys: Veda’s grandpa got her the V-Tech Sing&Learn Musical mic which is a wonderfully compact music-maker with animals sounds that I always pack in our carry-on. She also loves small tambourines, rattles, and drums.
–Ipod loaded with favorite music: this is a travel staple, which provides instant entertainment and happiness- we always travel with a small portable speaker as my babe does not want earphones in her ear, although some toddlers don’t mind ear buds
– Ipad/ Kindle: okay, before you pounce on this, let me start by saying that I haven’t yet tried this with my own toddler, but I know those who have. There are thousands of children’s books that can be downloaded onto a tablet, which is much more easier to travel with than- thousands of books- providing lots of variety in reading material. Plus, there are lots of fun kids activities and educational games that can keep a busy one entertained. We have friends with a two year old that knows how to manipulate the Ipad, finding and using books, activities, etc. that she wants. Although the Kindle Fire has significantly less storage capacity, it is much cheaper than an Ipad- if it is for a toddler.
DeliciousBaby has some great ideas on travel fun bag ideas including toys for one to two year olds such as blue painter’s tape and pipe cleaners. Love Them Madly has some creative ideas about crafts with little kids on the plane.