What happens on a flight that is long enough to cross time zones but is short enough that it is not a red-eye, nor does it cross into sleep time? We are about to embark on a daytime 8.5 hour flight – so this is what will be inside Bean’s inflight backpack! Here are 5 more activities that should keep mom, dad and the toddler entertained on short to medium haul flights where sleep may not be an option.
1. Memory Cards
Available in different designs and colors, memory card games are easy to pack, to use, and even DIY. Younger kids may be content with matching pairs and naming, whereas older kids can play an actual memory game, matching the cards while face down.
2. Kinetic Sand (Travel Size)
Kinetic sand is available in pocket-sized containers shaped like a castle, making them ideal for playing with both in-flight and at the destination. Easy to mould and clean up (!!!) as well. It can also be made at home with corn starch, craft glue and fine grain sand.
3. Caterpillar Color Game
A straightforward game, it can be played by 2 or more people, and involves a race to see who can create a full caterpillar using the color discs available. A toss of a the die determines which disc is to be placed to form the caterpillar’s body. It can also used as a color or counting activity.
4. Nesting Puzzles
Haba and Goki both make sturdy, travel-sized, wooden nesting puzzles which are about the size of a paperback novel. Different themes, including life cycles of plants and animals, offer both fun and educational options. Definitely a neat and compact way to bring puzzles onboard – especially if your kiddo enjoys them!
5. Search & Find Book
Great for around 2 years onwards, search and find books not only help build vocabulary, but are also entertaining to play together, offering a more structured version of eye-spy for younger kids.
“What do you pack for Bean when you travel with her?” is a question I’ve been asked a lot. Having family spread across the world requires plane trips now and then – including dreaded long-haul red-eye flights. Our next flight will be 17-hours with one stop over – and for this one, mom is going solo again. However, have no fear – entertainment is here!
Bean’s age: 22 months
Bean has a small backpack that we fill with an assortment of activities, including things she can do on her own, and things we can do together. For this trip, we’ve packed (clockwise from far left):
1. A Board book on Zoo Animals 2. A Usborne Pop-Up Book on Dinosaurs 3.Water Wow! Vehicles 4. 3 Vehicle Figurines 5. 2 Mini Play-Doh cups 6.A Toddler Fidget Cube 7. A Calculator 8. 2 Circle Sticker Sheets 9.A Packet of Post-Its 10. Assorted Lego Duplo pieces
Parents travel a whole lot more than they used to – many families and friends are spread out across the world, and air travel has made reaching certain destinations easier. Yet when you travel with a (small) child, the luggage seems to multiply exponentially – car seat, travel cot, stroller, in-flight entertainment, the list goes on. From short haul to long haul flights, whether you are travelling solo with your kiddo, or with your spouse, partner, family member or friend, here are 5 travel essentials that we’ve found have made our travelling with a little one much, much easier (read: bearable!). We’ve personally found these items useful and highly recommend them due to their light weight, compact, collapsible size, and user-friendliness.
1. Plane Pal Inflatable Cushion
Oh, cramped airplane seats. The bane of every economy-traveller’s (or long-legged person’s) existence. For adults, sleeping can be challenging enough – but what about the smaller adults? Having travelled with Bean multiple times, I learned quickly that if she doesn’t sleep, I don’t sleep. Enter Plane Pal. Almost identical to Fly-Tot, this nifty contraption fits into a small pouch with a portable pump, which you then use to inflate the cushion on board. It fits snugly between the child’s seat and the one in front, and forms an extension for the kiddo to place their legs on and – wait for it – sleep on. It works from baby up to 7 years of age.
Hailed by multiple mommy blogs, diapers bags need not always be cumbersome and bulky. Available in 45 colors, the Fjallraven Kanken Daypack is deceivingly slim, but actually fits everything you need for up to a long-haul flight. The zippers go all the way down either side of the bag, making searching for items much, much easier, and the handles are perfect when you are unable to wear it on your back. It is also waterproof, making it a great companion for outdoor activities. Created in Sweden in 1978 for schoolchildren, the bag is also designed to be ergonomic, so no shoulder pain! We found this bag so useful we have one in the original size (below) and in the mini, which works for everyday use.
Okay, okay. So this may have been the single, one item I was most excited about. Travelling with an infant capsule car seat is relatively easy – it can be slung over one arm, adapted to a stroller, and you can carry it with your baby inside. When Bean hit toddlerhood, lugging around an 8kg+ car seat made for some tricky travel decisions (read: public transportation with groceries and a cranky child). Luckily, in April 2017, Urban Kanga released their portable (yes, portable!) toddler car seat, suited from 9kg to 18kg – up to 4 years of age. The seat is cushioned, extremely easy to fix into cars, and weighs a cool 3kg. The head rest and strap inserts are adjustable and adapt to the growing child. And since it comes with its own bag, I hang it on the handles of Bean’s stroller when we are travelling.
From the company that brought us the smallest (when folded) stroller in the world, the GB Pockit+ is the improved, reclining model. Weighing 4.9kg and self-standing when folded, this stroller fits under the airplane seat in front of you. Unlike its predecessor, the GB Pockit, this later model offers recline function which makes it ideal for 6months onwards, and can be used up to 18kg, or 4 years of age. It also offers Cybex infant car seat adaptability, rendering it one of the most travel-friendly travel systems for infants as well as a practical travel stroller for toddlers. The downside may be the lack of a substantive sun shade, but we remedied this by finding a collapsible sun shade that can be stored in the surprisingly roomy basket. Easy to fold, easy to carry, and easy to travel with.
The final entry in this list is a solution for when the place you are staying at during your holiday does not offer a travel cot, or the cot does not meet your expectations. It can also be used as a permanent bed at home. We tried several different types of travel beds before settling on the Baby Björn Lite – it not only offers stability, roominess and is lightweight (6kg with the travel bag), it folds up with the mattress. And a reasonably thick mattress at that. Previous pack-and-plays we used also required the mattress to be carried separately – whereas this travel cot and mattress fit nicely into one bag. We even leave the mattress cover and waterproof sheet inside. The travel bag protects it from damage during check-in, and it folds and unfolds easily. Suited from birth to approximately 3 years of age.
Travel can be daunting with a small child. Travel on a plane, however, has its own special set of challenges. You can’t pull over to the nearest road shoulder for a break, or roll down the windows for fresh air, as you would in a car. You can’t let the kiddo run around a wide deck, and within a cabin, as you would on a cruise. Flying has obstacles such as air pressure, needing to remain seated for periods of time, and courtesy towards other (sometimes understanding, sometimes not) passengers. Here are 5 tried and tested ways to entertain the kiddo between meals and sleep time (if any) – all of which fit altogether into a small, compact kiddy backpack.
What? That messy thing? It doesn’t have to be! This kneading wonder can keep a toddler entertained for ages and is readily available in “mini” sizes often used as party giveaways from play-doh. The small size means that several colors can be packed – and colors offer variety. Other play-doh brands work as well – Flying Tiger Denmark offers a small six-color set as well, (bonus: aimed for ages 1+) though not as compact as the play-doh minis.
Now your child can make art on the plane, without worrying about marker stains on the seat in front of you! Both the Aqua Doodle and Water Wow sets are travel friendly with their compact size, and use special pens that are filled with water. The Aqua Doodle is for drawing on a foldable sheet, whereas Water Wow offers coloring pages and connect-the-dots books. Both have designs that will appear when the paper makes contact with water – which then dries up after 4 minutes or so and can be used again.
Usborne offers an amazing series of reusable sticker books for toddlers to older children. Alternatives also include bringing sheets of paper and sticker sheets – from simple round ones, to themed ones, to ones with different textures.
There are several variations of this game – some, as pictured above, have a thread attached to the object that it is threaded to. Others include a separate thread and beads in a box. Either way, threading requires concentration – and also practices fine motor skills – while keeping the kiddo busy until the last hole has been threaded.
The best for last? After finding this toddler fidget cube on etsy, I promptly ordered one for the Bean and it has, to date, kept her occupied on car rides and in the stroller. Handmade and customizable, these compact miracles can also be hung off backpacks as colorful keychains until needed.