Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Travel tips: toddler in tow

We have flown twice now with our toddler and while we're by no means pros, we have certainly learned a few things. It pretty much comes down to snacks and keeping busy.

The first flight we took started out great but then we had airplane issues and were trapped in the Charlotte airport for an entire day. On the way home, we were lucky enough to spend an entire day in the airport and then a night in a fabulous Charlotte hotel. The joys. But luckily we were pretty prepared with snacks and toys (and extra diapers -- I learned from a friend to pack more than you think you are going to need. She learned the hard way).

For the 14-month old, the best thing we ever bought was a Doodlepad. At the time, she wasn't drawing much but she LOVED it when we would draw for her. She liked making animal sounds and had a blast naming the animals that we sketched out.

I picked up this guy from the local toy store and he has been beloved ever since. It was nice to have something new for her to play with but I made the mistake of bringing only new toys because I thought the novelty would do the trick but I think it would have been nice to have some old favorites as well.

I brought along a couple of wind-up toys and cars, a favorite book for bedtime, and of course her crib entourage. I made this cloth book and finger puppet sack, Katy Kitty, and picked up finger puppets at Old Navy on clearance. The handmade toys have only recently become beloved so I could have done better.

She was 2 this Summer when we went to Puerto Rico and having learned from last year, we brought along a couple of her favorite toys and the Doodlepad again. This year she is drawing on her own so it is getting some great use.

I made this lego sack and we surprised her on the plane with it. She is a huge fan of legos and loves to stack so we figured it was a good time to "upgrade" to the smaller pieces. We left all the tiny tiny ones at home so they wouldn't get lost. I also picked up a few activity books with stickers and a few new sheets of stickers. Twistables are something new that I've just discovered. Amazing. I also got all girly and bought a tiny Strawberry Shortcake doll. I actually think it was for me but Zadie loved the comb and her dress.

In the picture above you see those chubby little fingers playing with beads. I picked up a huge tub of beads from Michaels with a coupon and a pack of pipe cleaners and they really kept her busy. She loved stringing the beads on the plane and especially in the room. Since a tropical storm hovered directly over our vacation rental for 3 days (did I mention that?), I was so glad to have these. I just brought along a smaller container of the beads.

OK, snacks. I won't go on and on but I absolutely love these pouches of smashed fruits. We just discovered them and they are amazing. We keep them on hand for the car or for special treats. If you order from Amazon and subscribe, you save an extra 15%. There are several brands but when I bought them, Plum had the best price in the organics. That seems to have changed.

I also brought along all of her favorite snacks and had way more than necessary but I'd rather haul a couple of pounds of tiny cookies and crackers through security than deal with a meltdown so it was well worth it.

We stashed all of her toys and books in a backpack. We have a yeti from our awesome friends in Canada but how cute is this bee?

For both trips I spent way too much time packing a getting ready but I do think it paid off. We had two great trips by airplane but we also use some of these same toys and bring loads of snacks if we go somewhere in the car.