Traveling with kids

After two weeks of visiting my family in California I am back at home in Kansas.  I had a lot of fun adventures on this trip and loved spending quality time with my family in both LA and Palm Desert. I’m most proud of surviving my first plane trip by myself with both kids. Besides my daughter’s huge blow out diaper that went through her clothes, the flight went really well. My daughter, Eliana, has been in cloth diapers since she was three weeks old and I put her in a disposable diaper for travel, thinking it would be easier and I was rewarded with my first  full-on blow out!

ipadFive things that kept my sanity on the plane/airport:

#1 ipad for my son to play with

#2 bringing the car seat on the plane so he could nap

#2 several snacks (carrot, cucumber and bell pepper sticks plus dried fruit, almond butter and rice cakes)

#3 redeeming my free drink coupon…when they both fell asleep on the flight, this is how I celebrated.

#4 GoGo Babyz Kidz Travelmate to get around the airport (this turns your car seat into a stroller)

#5 Wearing my baby (love my Ergo!) and using a backpack/diaper bag so that I could  be “hands free”.

So it was baby in front, backpack on back and pulling my son in his car seat. The great thing is I still had a hand free for my soy Chai latte!

After doing tons of research on toddler apps. I downloaded 40 free ones (from itunes) for my son to play with on this trip. In determining my recommendation for favorite apps I looked for three main factors as he played with each one .

I watched which ones…

#1 caught his attention for more than 10 minutes at a time

#2 he could operate, figure out by himself (with minimal help from me) and

#3 had a learning component

Here are the 7 best free apps I found for my 2.5 year old son:

#1 Railroad Lite: Learning games like building different types of trains, matching shapes on a train and making railroad sticker scenes (plays a great rendition of “I’ve been working on the railroad”)

#2 Doodle Dots (Sprouts): Make dot to dot pictures by listening to the directions about what to press. You can choose to make the picture by pushing colors, shapes, fruit or numbers.

#3 Whooping Trains: If your child likes trains as mush as mine then he/she will love this app. It is full of different moving train scenes. My son can watch this app for a very long time.

#4 The Wheels on the Bus: Learning games like car puzzles, memory,”tap the car”, coloring book and songs

#5 Farmyard: Make different scenes by placing animals, tractors, people, vegetables etc. in different environments.

#6 Kids Vehicles: Touch different vehicles to learn about the different components and what they do

#7 StoryBooks: Books starring you. This is the cutest app I have ever seen. Take a picture and you become the star of each book. Eitan loved seeing his face on each page and couldn’t stop smiling and laughing. This was my favorite app (by far!)

The only problem with these free apps (and many like it) is the advertisements that keep popping up as you play. I can’t believe my son now knows how to push “cancel” and “x” so he can continue playing his game. I downloaded a Thomas the Train movie which he watched on and off, but I could tell he preferred to play those games. When I first started traveling with him two years ago I would bring a bag of toys for him to play with on the plane and within 5 minutes the toys would be thrown on the floor and rolling to the back of the plane. I learned the hard way! Even though I am not into turning my child into a “techno baby” I was sure grateful for the ipad during our plane ride. I would never suggest buying an ipad only for the purpose of “child travel sanity” when there are much cheaper tablets geared towards children out there, like the Leap Frog Leap Pad 2. If you pefer to take “plane-friendly” games/activities on instead then I would highly recommend checking out to get some great games and activity kits for your little ones. They even sell pre-made activity travel kits for various ages/interest, called Travel Kitty.

Since there were 20-30min for take off and landing where I couldn’t use the ipad I brought a 5 in 1 Dr. Seuss book  (I bought this at Costco) and a Create-a-Scene Magnetic Playset: Construction Site to keep him entertained. 

Something else I found useful was to make sure my kids drank (or nursed) during take off and landing so they didn’t fee pain in their ears. I would have my son drink and eat a meal during those times and my daughter would nurse-makes all the difference in the world. Another tip I have is to make friends with a flight attendant (or someone near you). They sure come in handy when you have to take one of your kids to the bathroom and need someone to sit and watch your other child. My friend gave me a great tip that she says works wonders with loud or fussy kids. Right when you get on the plane offer the people around you a drink on you (no, I don’t mean soda). No body dares to take you up on it  and they are so touched by the gesture that they will keep their mouth shut when your child kicks their seat or starts screaming for no good reason.

Next time I fly I think I will buy some kid headphones because it was hard for my son to hear the ipad, since I kept the volume low (as not to disturb the other passengers). These look good and have wonderful reviews-Califone 2810-TI Kids Stereo and PC Headphones

Hope these tips help you as much as they helped me! All in all the trip went smoothly, my son was entertained and my daughter slept most of the way, so Mama was happy! The trip would’ve been even better for me if I didn’t leave my iphone in the front seat pocket of the plane 🙁

Safe travels!