We are about to embark on our biggest family adventure to date taking two toddlers and a preschooler on a 4-hr nonstop flight from Austin to Seattle to spend 7 days of fun with family. Then we will take a flight down to San Francisco & spend 3 days with our favorite MC, before flying home with a short layover in Arizona! Several people have expressed interest (concern?) with regard to what we plan to do with the girls to keep ‘em out of trouble. I just finished packing each of them a child-sized backpack for travel and thought you might like to see what we settled on. I wanted to balance between things that they enjoy playing with but that we wouldn’t be sad to leave behind (or that wouldn’t be expensive to replace). Overall, I chose items that are good for quiet play, require few pieces, have multiple uses, and most importantly – things I already had on hand. I am actually really looking forward to getting some of these treasures out of their goodybags. Many have been neglected for lack of effort on my part to actually make the time to sit down for awhile and practice the skills required. I’m thinking a 4-hr nonstop flight is the perfect opportunity for us to spend some quality time where I can give the girls my undivided attention!
For what it’s worth, here is what each backpack contains:
Violet (20 months)
- Sesame Street mini board books (thanks, David, for the hand-me-downs!)
- finger puppets
- stacking/nesting cups
- a plastic toy airplane that also has wheels so it can fly or drive across the tray table
Additionally, Violet will have her special blanket, girafa, & a full supply of pacifiers! I am still debating about letting her take a baby doll as well . . . guess I’ll see how much room is left in my carry-on.
Molly (33 months)
- magna doodle (I would’ve liked to have had this one instead, but it would be an extra purchase and it’s a little pricey)
- Brain Quest educational cards
- Disney mini coloring pages – Handy Manny
- pipe cleaners
- matchbox cars
- bendy cow & pig
Molly will also be able to choose her favorite doll or stuffed friend and a small blanket (she loves the ladybug one made my Violet’s godmother when Olivia was born).
Olivia (4.5 yrs)
- lacing cards
- Disney mini coloring pages – Toy Story (purchased at Target)
- Brain Quest Preschool cards
- pipe cleaners
- Sea Life in a Box mini jigsaw puzzles
- Highlights High Five magazine (just one issue purchased at the grocery store)
- Cinderella Re-usable sticker book
- Wikki Stix
Livy will also be choosing her favorite doll or stuffed friend and a camping pillow with a small blanket.
As a backup, Daddy will have a portable DVD player and a few new movies in his carry-on (Pinnochio, The Princess & the Frog, and Fox & Hound). We’re also packing our two Gertie balls for some inflatable instant fun. And we plan to take along some of the girls’ favorite music, probably on an mp3 player. They use a CD player in their room.
Here is the rest of the list I considered, but either didn’t fit in their tiny bags or we didn’t have it on hand. We will probably use these ideas for the next 14-hr car trip to NE (just 3 weeks after we return from WA/CA)! The key for packing for those trips is that they have to be able to do it all themselves. Another reason I’m looking forward to the plane ride where we’ll be able to sit together and work on the items that require a partner.
- chopsticks (with free connectors from Pei Wei like these) – get creative & use it for eating goldfish crackers or picking up toys!
- index cards
- Tag Jr. or Bugsby Reading System
- magnetic dress up dolls
- mini princesses/polly pockets
- silly putty
- twistable crayons
- magnets on a baking sheet (obviously better for a car ride)
Well there you have it – my best list of toys, books & activities to keep a toddler or preschooler occupied while traveling! The best thing is that for this trip, we only had to purchase the coloring pages, magazine & re-usable sicker books – everything else was already here at home (but thankfully, most of it was ‘out of rotation’ so it will be like new)!
In my research, these were the best websites on the topic of traveling with babies, toddlers & preschoolers: