Now, as I’ve stated in my previous post, I love to travel. And I love my daughter. And as hard as this is to admit, I do not love the idea of traveling with my daughter.
In fact, the very thought of it makes me break out in a cold sweat.
When my daughter was 8 months old, we took her on a trip to Mexico. It was pretty awful. She screamed her head off and was completely inconsolable for over an hour solid. A couple of times. It was my worst travel nightmare (well, other than the plane going down in flames). No one wants to be that family – you know, you see them getting on the plane and think “oh great, a baby”. Yep, that was us. It was frazzling and exhausting and completely nerve wracking. And it took us a long time to even think about re-living the experience.
When the opportunity came to ditch the awful winter we were having and head south, I jumped at the chance. Then I remembered that I would have to travel with my very active, very spirited 2 year old. So I went into hyper-planning/researching mode. There had to be a way to keep her happy, healthy and occupied for 5 1/2 hours in the friendly skies, wasn’t there?
Here are some of the things that ended up working for us:
- An iPad. I know, I know – a toddler with her own iPad? But I was desperate. Loaded with her favourite shows and a few age-appropriate apps, this iPad mini was my saviour. Our flight was delayed by 3 hours and she was happily entertained for much of this time plus a good part of the flight. I couldn’t believe it! The cute case meant that she could hold it herself and it stood up on the tray table for easier viewing. And who could resist the adorable panda headphones? (Check it out on my Instagram feed!) A total life saver. Sadly, it did not help as much as I would have liked on the way home, but that’s another story.
- Snacks. My daughter has very specific culinary tastes, so I knew that I’d have to bring along her shortlist (pasta, boiled egg whites, broccoli, fruit, meatballs) or risk having a very hungry and therefore very cranky toddler on my hands. This freezeable cooler pack totally came in handy. You pop it in the freezer the night before and the built-in freezer pack keeps contents cool for up to 10 hours! Which ended up saved my butt after what turned into essentially a whole day of travelling. And the adorable owl thermos with spork kept her pasta warm for ages too (so great that I didn’t have to search around for a fork). Both items were also completely essential throughout the trip, as I would bring them to the pool/beach every day. Honourable mention goes to these honey lollipops that I made for her to suck on during take off & landing to help with her ears (I just knew that any sugar would make the situation waaaaay worse).
- Books/Stickers. I brought along a bunch of new books (including a few with stickers included) to surprise her with intermittently throughout the flight. The biggest hit was this Melissa & Doug Water Wow book. You fill the enclosed “pen” with water and when the water comes into contact with the page, the colours appear. When the water dries, it simply goes back to the black & white outline and it is ready to be “painted” again. Genius! It was hours of enjoyment for her. Who knew?
- Anti-nausea bands. I had heard some nightmare tales of kids being sick on planes (on themselves & their parents) and so I invested in a pair of anti-nausea wrist bands. They are knitted bracelets that slip over the wrists with a plastic ball that presses on an acupressure point on each wrist. They looked adorable on her and I’m assuming that they worked because there was no nausea (and therefore no clean up!). That was one crisis averted. Phew!
- Safety. I debated the whole car seat/no car seat issue and decided that it would be a lot easier for me not to bring her car seat on the plane. Of course I still wanted my daughter to be safe and so I found that Air Canada allows the use of the CARES child aviation restraint system on their planes. It was very compact and easy to use and it helped keep her in her seat when the seat belt sign was illuminated. And believe me, this was no easy task.
- Her own carry-on. My daughter is very independent (her favourite phrase right now is “I do it!”), so I thought that she would get a kick out of having her own little wheelie. She loves Hello Kitty, so I thought that this case would be perfect for her. She loved it! And it was so adorable to see her wheeling it through the airport.
Along with the above mentioned items, here were some of the essential style items we stowed in her bag: