20,000 travel miles, two little kids, six years – it might sound like the beginnings of a tweet that goes viral, but surprisingly, it doesn’t have to be. Travel can teach you a lot about your family, namely, how to keep everyone happy and sane while sitting on a plane together for hours or being strapped into a car seat across a couple of state lines.
More importantly, the sane-ness and fun-ness of it alljust requires a bit of pre-planning.
Healthy snacks one of the best ways to keep little hands and mouths occupied. Think trail mix, fresh fruit, cereal bars, rice crisps, baby cheeses, string cheese, squeezable yogurt, cherry tomatoes and baby carrots.
And, while air travel limits what you can pack in terms of good eats, sticking to kid-friendly sundries like animal crackers, dry cereal, raisins, pita chips and granola –divided into individual baggies or small plastic containers –can make all the difference about an hour into your flight when someone decides they’re hungry. Now.
A few mom-never-lets-us-eat-those treats might come in handy, too. In other words, no, I’m not above a little bribery, especially once that destination is in sight yet out of reach for another 30 minutes. Consider toting along lollipops, chocolate candies or any other sweet treats – individual “fun packs” come in nice small portion sizes – to hand out as rewards for good behavior like not kicking the seat in front of you even though your legs are really short, keeping your seatbelt fastened especially when the captain says to do so, and generally being polite little children fellow passengers didn’t even notice were there. Not much anyway.
On The Go Toys + Games
It’s no secret that kids know their way around tech. From laptops to iPads, they’re all about tapping and flicking and downloading. But, instead of letting them go to town on a bunch of random apps or a never-ending list of YouTube videos, why not make sure they keep their minds sharp and active by mixing up entertainment with education?
VTech is all about it, and even combined those two words to coin the term “edutainment.” What’s more, the new InnoTab 2 Learning App Tablet and MobiGo 2 Touch Learning System put kids on the cutting edge while keeping things creative.
The InnoTab 2 gives kiddos ages 3-9 their own multi-functional tablet that combines a photo and video camera, interactive animated e-books, creative activities, tilt sensor learning games, and a collection of applications into a sleek and durable toy. A 5-in. touch screen, tilt sensor, microphone, pop-up (onscreen) keypad, and stylus allow children to play games, create art, take notes, or use utilities like the onboard calendar or friends list all on one device. Cartridges with licensed characters (sold separately) teach essential skills in reading, logic, and creativity, and additional apps like games, e-books and music can be easily uploaded through VTech's Learning Lodge Navigator.
MobiGo 2 is a handheld, multi-functional device for children 3-8 years of age that puts games and apps that teach basic learning skills including math, vocabulary, spelling, reading, logic, drawing and more right at their fingertips.
Touch screen play, plus a motion sensor and microphone give kids tons of ways to play, and offers up lots of built-in and downloadable apps including e-books, coloring books, an art studio, a photo album and more.
And, when it’s time to recharge for a bit, turn to classic fun: some favorite books, coloring sheets and activity pads, and travel versions of family-friendly board games – think Checkers, Connect 4, Hungry Hungry Hippos and others.
What’s Mine is Mine
Pack toys and games into an individual backpack for each child to count as their carry-on. Not only does this keep things organized by age, but it cuts down sibling squabbles, too.
Let little ones choose from the activities mentioned above, and include some inexpensive novelties like glittery crayons, special markers that only show up on “magic” paper, decks of cards featuring their favorite characters, tiny notepads, sticker sheets and autograph books.
Consider gift-wrapping a few toys the kids haven’t played with in a long time – or some new ones if budget allows – and hand them out during the longest stretch of the trip. Kids love opening presents, and it can make for a great way to tie-in a trip theme or surprise them with a clue to their destination.