The days of loading up my purse with People Magazines and Sudoku puzzle books are temporarily on hold. Not only does my purse no longer contain my favorite in-flight entertainment, but it has been completely replaced by a diaper bag. So, when you ask “What is in my carry-on?” The real answer is, I don’t have one. I simply Carry. On. a bag for my children, and here is what’s in it:
- My cardholder/wallet
- A pack of gum
- My phone
For my boys:
- Snacks – We are not a big “snacking family” but those rules are thrown out the window when we’re forced to sit in a confined space for many hours with our cherubs. Plus, snacks are a great distraction! My favorite type of snack is one that takes a long time to eat and creates a minimal mess. I know those may be weird qualifications, but the longer it takes them to eat it, the more “air time” we have filled. I have found that the following snacks take “longer than normal” to eat and produce little-to-no-mess:
- Carrot Sticks
- Apple Slices
- Baby Bel cheeses – Make the kids peel the wax.
- Clementines – Again, have the kids be in charge of peeling.
- Trail Mix – The trick here is to cut a small hole in the package. This way, only one to two pieces can come out at a time. The kids spend just as much time working for the one peanut to come out as they do eating it.
- Lollipops – I don't love giving my kids a ton of sugar on a plane, but lollipops take longer to eat and are less messy than a chocolate candy bar, so we use them as treats.
- Activities – While I try not to bring an entire Toy Store with me on the plane, I do like to have a few things besides the IPad. So here's what keeps my kids entertained:
- IPad – Duh. We aren’t communists.
- Melissa & Doug Water Wow Books – FRIENDS. These little books are the crown jewel. They come with a self-filling water paint brush that magically colors the books without leaving a mess. These books are reusable and are a big hit with kids of all ages!
- Melissa & Doug Color Blast Books – Similar to the Water Wow books, these create NO MESS. While the pages aren’t reusable, there are plenty of pages to choose from, and the single marker creates beautiful images right before your child’s eyes. What I love about both the Color Blast Books and the Water Wow Books is they are super compact, comparatively to large coloring books, and they fit nicely in a purse or diaper bag.
- A Quiet Book – I have one that I made with some friends, but Amazon has several options for Quiet Books as well. What I love about these books, is they keep the kiddos entertained by actually DOING something (tying a shoe, snapping buttons, braiding rope, etc.) and they are also QUIET – which is basically the golden word when traveling on a plane with 300 of your closest strangers.
- A few “wrapped” surprises. In addition to the aforementioned toys, I like to have a few surprises for my kiddos during the long flights. These often included matchbox cars, small light up balls, or anything small you think your kids would enjoy. They aren't anything fancy, and can even be old toys from home. The key is to wrap them like you would a Christmas present, but with A LOT of wrapping paper. Same rule applies here that did with the snacks – the longer it takes to open, the better.
- Diapers – Obvi.
- Wipes – Duh.
- Formula – When I have babies.
- Extra Change of clothes
And as the Wise Wandermom, Cally, said in her post, "The most important thing you can pack, is the right attitude and energy. If you go into a long flight with the attitude that this will be a fun and exciting adventure, your kids will pick up on that and have the same mentality. Long flights are a mental game on a parent. You just have to put on your game face and look for the special travel moments you can have. No amount of items in your carry-on will determine whether your trip is good or bad, but it does help to be prepared!" I couldn't have said it better myself! (Which is why I didn't even try).
What do you keep in the "bag you carry on for your children"? What did I miss?
Happy Wandering to all the WanderFamilies this Holiday season!