You are planning to go on a trip with your kids… but you dread the long journey you are going to have to get to your vacation destination… Don’t worry, everything will be fine, driving or flying long distances doesn’t have to be a nightmare! To make a car, train, bus or plane ride run smoothly for you and your children, the busy bag is the vital thing to bring with you! Here are the 8 essentials to pack in your kids’ “activity bag”.
#1 The right bag!
Choose a not too big and not too hard bag for your kids, otherwise it won’t fit under the seat in the plane, train or bus… and your kids won’t be able to play with their stuffs. Plus, with a soft and not too heavy bag, your kids will be able to carry it themselves and I can tell you that will help you a lot if you have other bags to carry or if you have a toddler with you!
#2 Favorite toys (but non-noisy toys!)
Get your kids involved while packing their busy bag. They will therefore understand that they cannot bring their whole bedroom with them! Invite your kids to take 2 or 3 favorite books and toys (expect the noisy ones otherwise you’ll get into trouble with your neighbors on the train, bus or plane…or you’ll quickly get crazy on a car ride!). Choose activities they can do with you (card games, reading a book, colored sticky labels…) or on their own (watching a cartoon, coloring books…). For coloring activities, rather take crayons than felt pens to avoid any bad surprises on your kid’s seat!;)
Pack some sweets (if they are allowed…) and buy something special for the occasion (e.g. an activity book)! Making the trip special will motivate your kids and therefore they won’t drag their feet especially if you are driving or flying long distances!
Nearly every parent has a smartphone or a tablet (or your kids might even have their own kid’s tablet). If you do, before traveling, you can download kids friendly cartoons and/or apps (example of apps to download, click here). If you don’t, then you will have the dvd player if you are traveling by plane! Again, if usually your kids are allowed to watch only one cartoon per week at home, on this special day, they will be so happy to have one or two extra and in the meanwhile you’ll be free to read your book!
#5 Foods and drinks
Your kids might be hungry or thirsty while traveling. If you cannot stop buying some food, then it’s better to have some water and healthy snack with you… and it always helps passing the time. For take off and landing while on a plane trip, it is always good to have some water or some sweets to give to your kids (depending their age) to avoid earache.
One is never safe from a small accident… Maybe your kids will be sick, or they will drop some food or juice on their t-shirt or on their brothers and sisters’ one! or they might forget to ask you to go to the bathroom! Everything can happen! Bring some baby wipes and 1 or 2 plastic bags with you (hermetic ones if possible)! That will help a lot in every situation!
Pack and keep also a small first-aid kit with you (even if you don’t use it necessarily on the car, train, bus or plane ride): gel wash; citronella and soothing lotion if you traveling in a country where your kids can be bitten by mosquitos; oral rehydration solution in case of diarrhea…)
#7 Spare clothes
Spare clothes are always useful in case of small accidents indeed and also because you never know what the temperature will be in the train, bus or plane… Or for very long distance travel, the weather in the country you will land might be different from where you took off… It’s always practical on a car ride too, as your kids’ jumpers will probably be somewhere in a suitcase, which probably won’t be accessible easily.
#8 Some Comfort
If you are traveling by car, you can bring your own kids’ pillows… or you can also buy U shaped pillows if your kids are traveling quite often… You can also bring a small blanket in case they feel a bit cold in the plane or train (AC can be too strong sometimes!), which will also reassure them a bit if you travel with young children. If need be, they might take their “wubby” that you won’t forget in the train;) You can also bring a small headlamp if you travel by night… Finally, rather dress them with comfortable clothes such as leggings…
We are a family of 4, living abroad, and with our 2 daughters – aged 6 and 2 – we are flying long or short distances nearly every two months! We have already experienced a 25-hour-train trip when our youngest daughter was only 7 months! Our girls are used to boat trips and 5-hour-car drive on rough roads too! So, we’ve had quite a lot of opportunities to test their activity bags, so I can tell you that it works! The most important thing is certainly to keep your kids busy … or sleeping!;)
Have a safe and sound journey & Bon voyage!
But maybe you think that other essentials are missing?! Don’t hesitate to share your ideas!
Special thanks also to Anne-Virginie, a member of the Huddle’s community and mum of Melia, for helping me by sharing her advice!