Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tips for Traveling with a Toddler

Two Sippy Cups
With the restrictions on liquids through security, I bring two empty cups - one for milk and one for juice/water. My first stop is usually a Starbucks where I order a Chai Tea Latte for me and a kids whole milk for Natalie. Occasionally, the whole milk was free of charge - I am sure it has something to do with the cashier taking pity on me, and I am totally fine with that :) I also grab a bottle of juice and another of water and put them unopened into my backpack ... for later.

Snacks, snacks, and more snacks!
The one thing I noticed this time is that I packed a lot of carbs and sugars ... dry cereal in her snack trap cup, Mum-Mums, bananas flattened, raisins, and a Nutrigrain bar. These types of snacks provide great distraction, but I worry about the lack of nutrition. I guess that's tough to avoid, but I'd like to figure out some more protein options for traveling. Then again, the empty calories mean we eat - and kill time - more often.

Airplane Presents
After a quick stop at the dollar sections of Target and Michael's, I wrapped a few airplane presents for Natalie. This one is a no-brainer; I mean, who doesn't like presents? I actually borrowed this idea from a stranger. Years ago when I was enjoying the flight-privileges that come along with being married to a pilot, I traveled even more than I do now. My favorite part of traveling has always been observing my fellow travelers. You see some of the most interesting things. I can vividly remember once sitting in the boarding area and watching a mom and her little boy. She had this enormous backpack - just like the one I now carry through the airport - and inside were all these little presents. I overheard her explaining to the little boy that all these present were for him and he would get to open them on the airplane. He was so delighted by the mere thought of this and his focus shifted from impatience to anticipation. That idea stuck with me, and I am happy to report it worked just as well with Natalie.

Airplane Presents for this trip:
  1. ColorWonder markers and book - this was the most expensive item and the least enjoyed ... go figure!
  2. Mini MagnaDoodle - the best $2 I've ever spent. Natalie drew pictures and babbled for like 15 minutes at a time and asked for it again and again!
  3. Dried Fruit - Snacks are always more fun and tasty when opened as a present :)
  4. Box of Animal Crackers - She didn't even eat them! Instead, she took each cookie from the inner plastic bag and put it into the little train box ... naming each animal as she went. Let me tell you, some of those animals are pretty nondescript!
  5. Stickers - I chose Sesame Street characters because Natalie is a little obsessed right now! She didn't want to take them off the packaging; she just wanted to point to and name each one.
  6. Elmo Books - I already had these, but I wrapped them anyway.

I used tissue paper for the wrapping because it can also be used to wipe up a spill or even a nose if needed. And the unwrapping was as much of an activity as playing with the new item ... good stuff!

Mini DVD Player & Discs

The one I took was borrowed from my awesome friend Tammy. And my friend Liza loaned me a selection of Scholastic discs - each one in it's own skinny (packing-friendly) case - pictured above. I also brought along our current "favorite" Elmo DVD. While I thoroughly enjoyed the videos of some of our favorite children's books, Natalie only wanted Elmo. But she wouldn't watch the movie; as soon as the DVD was loaded, she would pleaded for the previews - 20 little snippets of other Elmo movies. Initially, I selected each title and pushed play, but eventually realized that I could select Preview All. I don't love the idea of Natalie watching videos all day, but this was a great way to keep her occupied, especially given the circumstances.

Go-Go Babyz - Wheels for the Carseat
Again, borrowed from Tammy - because Tammy rocks - this little gadget is pretty cool. I knew that I wasn't going to need my stroller in VA because my friend Heather - mommy of two - has plenty of that sort of gear. But I did need Natalie's carseat and I really wanted it at the gate with me ... just in case there happened to be an empty seat on the plane ... because 26 pounds of wiggly-squiggly toddler on my lap for 4 hours doesn't really sound like a lot of fun ... neither does paying additional airfare for her to fly in her own seat. But, hey, if there's an empty seat and the airline is willing to let us use it, I want to have a way to strap her to it! Fortunately for us, we did have an extra seat 3 out of the 4 legs of this trip.

Anyway, back to the Go-Go Babyz. It basically turns your car seat into a piece of wheely luggage that your child can ride in like a stroller. You attach a single piece that is a board/wheels/handle, strap your little darling in, and away you go. Clearly it's cool, and I had a lot of parents stop me to ask about it. I also noticed a lot of parents lugging bulky car seats on their backs or balancing them on the top of strollers - neither of which looked very convenient/pleasant.
But I thought I'd also mention a few "negatives." 1. Your little one sits very low to the ground. And many times my fellow "in-a-hurry" travelers didn't see Natalie "way down there" and bumped into her. 2. Dismantling the thing to use your car seat on the plane and then putting it back together again to use while in the airport is not an easy task. 3. The TSA guys were not thrilled that the carseat/wheels combo would not fit through the x-ray conveyor belt dealy. Of course, I played dumb about the fact that the wheels could come off, and the entire thing was scanned by hand.

Hope at least one of those tips were helpful. Happy Traveling!

1 comment:

Chi-town momma said...

I'm right there with you and the 2 sippy cups and LOTs of snacks! The travel presents was something I hadn't thought of, but will certainly use for our next flight!
Some of our other favorite time passers - turning the light on/off, opening/closing the window shade.
Not looking forward to the day when we have to pay for a seat :( But it will be nice to be guaranteed that extra space since B keeps getting bigger and my lap is not cutting it anymore (especially not right now!)

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