We have had two long trips the past five months. One
to Jamaica (long flight, long shuttle) and one to Tennessee and North Carolina
(extremely long car rides). Both trips were AMAZING and I thank it to
being prepped and able to entertain and feed our raging toddler. I was so excited
(and a little nervous) to go on these HUGE family adventures because the only real travel we had done before was when she younger and a 2 hour flight where we were staying with family who has
a similar aged child, so all the toys, diapers, snacks, accessories they had
readily available to us #lovepeoplewithbabies. But these trips,
we had to think of EVERYTHING! How do we keep her happy, us sane, and the
people around us happy??!!
these packing excursions. So here it is, the best budget friendly way to
prepare for long travel with a toddler, but mainly it boils down to having lots
of toys, lots of food, and LOTS of patience.
Tip 1: Go to a Dollar Store, thrift store,
or discount market and get a bunch of small, new toys that your kid has never
seen before. You can also create some fabulous DIY toys that will keep them just
Here are some great examples of what I purchased
at the Dollar Store:
(lots of them!) for the plane I also found gel stickers that could go on the window and tray table, which were so cool!! If your Dollar Store doesn’t have them, try these.
and coloring books
(not really car friendly, but this was great on plane tray table and at
lizard and mini pony that my daughter thought was amazing
I also found a couple of interactive
booksat HomeGoods that were lifesavers and showed her noises for
transportation, so helped her understand.
Some DIY toys and engaging ideas that our little girl LOVES:
in a cup, totally free and weird, but this is the best (straw+cup+ice=toddler
Take a old plastic container and make holes to be able to poke pipecleaners or pom-poms through
or iSpy with family or travel mates
Learn your nursery rhymes! Willie and I were a musicial choir on our car trips. Those songs are hidden in your memory somewhere…go ahead and tap into that brain!
wipes, gallon sized Ziplocs (for toys or if a clothing accident occured), band aids, change of clothes, snacks and plastic
straws (more detail below), hand wipes/spray, toy/area wipes, waterproof bib,
sunscreen, and snacks (more below).
carry plastic straws everywhere since I know she can have a drink anywhere I go without
the hassle of cleaning/finding my sippy cup.
snacks (familiar and new) in small zipper bags or containers. This saves you so much since you
don’t have to pay the upcharge within the airport or even at the hotels.
A nifty trick for plane entertainment, grab a daily pill boxfrom the Dollar Store and hide snacks inside. You can also do this trick with plastic Easter eggs.
For the car ride since we had more baggage
ability, I bought lots of treats that she normally doesn’t get from
the Dollar Store as a disraction and reward for good behavior. This bag of
goodies on the long car ride was essential. What the magic of a Cheetos and
M&Ms will do 🙂
For these longer trips I also brought a few easy
meals in case of emergency.
Tip 5: Make a plan with your partner and
family (if traveling together) about the expectations for the flight and daily
activities so everyone can enjoy the flight and vacation.
will be miserable. If you are hungry, thirsty, or unhappy, everything your
child does will be that much more annoying. I always pack snacks for us too. If
your husband is anything like mine, they get HANGRY real fast and there is
noooo turning back until they are satisfied. When I used to travel
internationally for work with long flight times, my favorite essentials were
protein bars, PB&J sandwiches, raw nuts, dried fruit, and a fresh banana or apple. I also always
have an empty water bottle to fill once I pass security so I don’t have to pay
the enormous upcharge for a water bottle at the airport stores.
pacifier, make sure you have it. Hartley would be devastated if her “B” didn’t
make the flight. We would be those parents running through the airport to find
one or borrow one I’m sure. For the chance of further discomfort from a cold or
earache, always pack a children’s pain/fever reducer.
backpack. We brought our Ergobaby and a stroller for the trip. Hartley prefers the
stroller, so that’s what we used most of the time and through the airport
(along with chasing her around to get some energy out).
checked our carseat at the boarding door, but if your child is small enough
just make sure your car seat is flight compliant. Checking a carseat is free on almost all airlines, so it really is just more of a necessary hassle than anything.
Tip 10: Bring the iPad if your other
distractions aren’t working. Hartley rarely watches TV but she is fascinated
with “Elmo” aka the iPad and will watch him for hours.
Bathing suits (a lot we’ve found at the thrift
store for CHEAP)
Swim Shirt (these are bountiful at the
Sun Hats and/or waterproof hat (again these are
bountiful at the thrift store)
Puddle Jumper(found this at the thrift store,
but we also saw at Costco for $15)
Sunscreen (Oxybenzone free) For Hartley we use
The Honest Company Mineral Based Sunscreen and Arbonne’s sunscreen
have an option for play-n-pack, so just make sure you have that confirmed
before arrival (some may have applicable fees for this, so if you can carry a travel bed, that may be a good option). I also packed some crib stuffed animals, a nightlight, and her
sleep sheep just to make sure she was comfortable. Anything you can bring to
make sure they sleep on vacation is great!
Tip 13: We did not bring a travel highchair.
She does not care for the small fabric seats and just ate her meals on our laps
or next to the pool in a lounge chair (yes…already a diva). But if you are
going a lot of places that wouldn’t have a chair option or you prefer sitting
them in something, go ahead and pack it.
Tip 14: Find a way to exercise. When flying get to the airport a little early and find a non-crowded area to let your little one run and view the planes. Once safe in the air, you can also use the aisles to your advantage. As long as this isn’t a red eye flight and everyone is trying to sleep, everyone will get a smile out of your curious baby. For the car rides, take breaks. Stop and use the restroom, scenic spots, coffee, etc. These little stops can help extend their patience and also get a little energy out.
Do you have any great tips to share?