Traveling with Toddlers

We're getting closer to a trip to Disneyland!  I like to start packing early because I love it.  I am by no means a travel expert, but we've had a number of pretty successful flights with the kids so far, from 2 month old baby to preschooler, so I thought I'd share some of my packing strategies for a kid friendly carry-on. 

I start by making a list with these categories:
- Eating
- Pottying
- Entertainment
- Sleep/Comfort
- Keeping Clean

What items will be absolutely necessary to get the girls through these events on the plane?  Obviously these have changed as they've grown, so the things we pack now are very different from what we packed when they were younger.  I also have to take into consideration the length of travel time, not just the flight, but the layovers, waiting for the rental car, waiting for check-in....

This trip involves a relatively quick flight- just about 2 hours, so we'll probably only pack a few snacks that aren't too messy and that I know the girls like.  We pack more options for longer flights. Treats are super helpful when you need a bribe for good behavior!  We also like to bring some type of lollipop for take off and landing.  My girls still do better with sippy cups, so we bring those (empty) on board as well.   In the past we've also packed a few disposable bibs, disposable stick-on placemats, and kid sized utensils. Some of the snacks we've packed:
- Peanut butter and honey sandwich cut up in bite sized pieces in a small tupperware container
- crackers
- fruit snacks
- grapes
- dehydrated fruit

We have one potty trained and one in pull-ups, so I'll pack extra undies and about twice as many pull-ups as I think we'll need (just in case!)  I like to pack a gallon sized bag with everything I need in the event of a diaper change (wipes, plastic baggies, disposable changing mat) so I can just grab it and go.  The disposable toilet covers are also nice because they cover the entire seat when your little one grabs the sides to hold on! 

Obviously as soon as they're old enough, the dvd players/ipads/iphones/insert technical device here, are miracle workers on an airplane!  We use the kid sized headphones and download their favorite tv shows or movies onto our ipads.  Thankfully both girls are finally old enough to use and be entertained by an ipad for an extended period of time!  However, if we have a long flight I like to bring other entertainment options just in case, keeping in mind that space is very limited.  It's also extremely helpful that items be new to them and therefore more exciting.  Here are some of the things we've packed over the years:
- paper back books (Goodwill is a great place for these!) or kid magazines
- sticker activity books (we spent a lot of time picking a sticker and finding where it went- this kept Lila busy for about an hour on one flight!)
- Crayola Color Wonder stuff (or any non-messy coloring activity!)
- crayons and paper
- stickers and paper
- travel magnadoodle
- soft activity books
- baby touch and feel flash cards
- mini photo album with family photos
- various baby toys (the non noise making kind) with the exception of Sophie the Giraffe
- a silicone basting brush (seriously, it was pretty entertaining)

The most difficult age for air travel for our girls was between about 9 months and 18 months.  Their attention span was about 3 minutes long and they just wanted to move!  I felt like I had an acrobat on my lap for 5 hours.  My suggestion is to have a variety of distracting activities available and get yourself a glass of wine. ;)

For this trip, we don't really have to worry about either of these because they probably won't sleep and neither girl has a lovey or blankie etc. For a long flight we always bring carseats on board though, because they sleep much better in them than hunched over in a seat or across our laps. We travel with Safety First Avenue carseats.  I chose them based on safety ratings, weight, reviews on ease of use, and because the girls won't grow out of them for awhile. They've been great travel carseats, but we have had some problems installing them rear facing in rental cars. In the photo I also show a pair of earplugs designed to help kids with the air pressure changes. We've never actually used them, but I always have them on hand, just in case.

Keeping Clean:
Purell, baby wipes, antibacterial wipes, tissues.  All are good.  I pack as big of a package of wipes as I can fit!  I like to bring one or two plastic grocery bags as well to collect any wrappers, used wipes etc.  I ALWAYS pack an extra outfit for each girl in a ziplock bag.  If they need it (which they have a few times!) I can put it on and put the dirty outfit back in the bag. When the girls were younger I also packed an extra outfit for myself- usually just a cotton dress that I could fold up small in a ziplock bag.  Once, before kids, I witnessed a poor young mom (in a cute outfit no less), experience a diaper blow out on her lap!!  She had nothing to change into!!  I'm pretty sure I will never forget how sad she looked and how bad it smelled. :(

The other important item here is the actual bag itself.  I've used a few different carry-ons, mostly diaper bags.  My favorite travel diaper bag so far is actually a messenger bag from Pottery Barn Teen!  I love the fact that it has a ton of pockets, the top flap buckles closed, and that the strap is long enough that I can hang it over the handle of our double stroller.  

Another tip is that I don't bring my purse on the plane.  I put any necessities for myself (wallet, sunglasses etc.) in the diaper bag, so I have one less thing to carry!
Here it is, all packed up!
P.S. Amazon isn't paying me to link to them, but I wanted to show examples and I buy almost everything on Amazon. ;)
Linking up... Weekend Bloggy Reading