Planning to Travel this summer season? For those making any sort of journey, be it plane, train, boat, or automobile, most parents wonder how they are going to keep the little ones entertained for the duration.
I consigned myself to the idea that I’d spend the trip walking up and down the aisle, trying to stop my very busy little son from annoying other passengers and the biggest dread of all – having a tantrum. I think if you’re like me, the journey is something you dread. If you could just time travel and arrive at the destination immediately, I’d sign straight up.
So did I survive? It actually wasn’t as bad as I thought… a combination of planning and a few ideas adapted from my ‘rainy day’ bag of tricks and I’d actually say it was… fine!
And before you shout ‘iPad’ at me, I don’t have one. Don’t get me wrong, I think an iPad is a modern day Life Saver for long journeys (and so is included on my list), but it’s nice to have a few alternatives and keep technology as emergency/when all else fails option! I did have a jigsaw on the original list, but it didn’t pass the tester’s standards – the tray on the airplane wasn’t big enough to fit the jigsaw for a start, then we left a piece behind, which irritated the OCD side of me (and my daughter) when we played on holidays, and when it came to coming home, I secreted it away because the box was so bulky. So jigsaws are relegated (unless they are tiny!)
Now without further ado, I give you my bag of tricks!
1. Crayons / colouring pencils / twistables
Airline and trains don’t tend to like you bringing things like markers, the scribbles on the back of the seats are tricky to remove, and play doh, which ends up mashed into the floor. They are not banned, but I suppose keep others in consideration.
2. Sticker books
These are life savers! My very active son sat on my knee for about 40 minutes and we did a sticker book together. The ones where there is a pull out centre page with stickers, and you’ve to find which page the stickers go on – LIFE SAVER!
The small packs of Lego, which you can buy for both boys and girls will again absorb their attention, and yours, for at least half an hour, if not longer as you assemble the bat mobile or Lego Friends’ café.
This is a tricky one, you have to make sure you get one that comes in a suitable container – like a tin box with little dividers – otherwise the beads go everywhere. But stringing beads and necklaces together will again keep the little ones quiet, for a while.
5. Kid’s magazines
I hate them, they are usually full of pieces of plastic rubbish BUT I concede that I do resort to them on rainy days or when I need something for them to do. Aside from the rubbish, they are usually choc full of kiddie versions of ‘Spot the Difference’ and Find your way through the Maze type puzzles. And they’re handy because you can pick them up airside at the airport and chuck them in the bin as soon as you get off the plane.
If you have games, tv shows, cartoons or movies downloaded, this will keep your little ones nicely entertained. Just try to not overly rely on it! advance).
Bear in mind that space is a major issue when traveling, so the more compact the items, the better. It goes without saying, mix up the activities a bit – maybe do a bit of reading and colouring for when they’re quiet, then pull out the Lego when they need to be distracted. Oh, and pulling out the toys, one at a time as a ‘surprise’ is sure to keep them in good spirits for the flight. ‘New toys’ are way more exciting than bringing toys they already know, but I’m not one to go mental spoiling my kids, so again mix it up – it’s all logical really!
For more expert travel advice, check out our travel experts, the Stork Exchange.