Saturday, January 1, 2011

Christmas Travel Suggestions

Christmas travel with a toddler is NEAR impossible. When our little guy was a baby - it was easy enough to throw him in a baby carrier and he would happily fly the friendly skies. But now that he walks, talks, sings, dances, runs, screams and tantrums - 6 hours in a plane along with the hours in the airport leading up to the flight can be painful. So here are five of the exceptionally entertaining things that were must-haves for us this past Xmas season's trip back hom.

First thing we did was buy Maximoo a whole new backpack. We hid it away and filled it with new treasure for him to find and some old favorites we hid away. He was so excited when we gave it to him and that added to the already-existing excitement about getting on a plane and going to "Danma's house" (that is Maximoo for Grandma) made for a happy two-year-old! Now onto the five best things we had in the bag:

Kids headphones:
There Kidz Gear headphone were the best thing to have happened to us for this trip! Maximoo was so excited to have his own headphones to watch whatever he wanted on the flight (and fortunately we were flying Air Canada which has individual entertainment systems for each seat so Maximoo could choose whatever he wants to watch - which for the most part was YTV's Zigby). We loaded up the iPhone and the laptop with his favorite shows and he totally chilled out in his seat. Really affordable at around the $20 mark

Crayons and Paper:
An age-old classic and still a winner when it comes to being entertaining. There are some great portable art options out there and likely over the next few years we will explore them ALL but for now, Maximoo is happiest with a plain old box of crayons and some paper. Fancy coloring books with his favorite characters don't seem to get a lot of attention so we are happy to sit back and let his imagination run wild with a blank piece of paper. Target always has a great selection of crayons at super cheap prices (I always have a couple of boxes lying around for emergencies). 

I Spy Board Books:
Maximoo loves these books and if your toddler is learning letters and numbers - this is a great way to explore with them. Our favorite is the I Spy Little Numbers. Finding the numbers and some of the little other hidden elements on the page has brought us hours of fun. Additionally, Maximoo is now starting to be able to pick out all of the fun random elements on each page that we keep revisiting whenever we read the book. He asks for it by name at bedtime so it is a definite win for us. We have recently picked up the I Spy Little Letters and I Spy Little Animals as well. I'll let you know if those are as big of a hit but so far these books get a huge thumbs up from home. 

Magnetic Books:
Maximoo is really into books - the more interactive the better. Unfortunately he is at that in between stage where he is a little unintentionally rough and anything with a pop-up element can end up destroyed in two seconds. Finding a book he can enjoy over and-over that will last longer than 10 seconds is a huge challenge. So we checked out a couple of magnetic books. We picked up ABC and Muddle Farm - one for each leg of the flight - and so far they have both been a hit. To be fair, Maximoo hasn't quite figured out how the magnets and the book interact and his favorite thing to do is to open and close the little magnet compartments in each book but we are slowly starting to figure out and explore where the magnets go and what they do. We talk about the different animals and animals noises as well as running through the letters and talking about what word they go with. The books definitely kept us both busy but if you are looking for something that encourages independant play - these require a little more parental help - at least initially. 

CamelBak Water Bottles for Kids
This bottle from CamelBak is actually an at-home favorite and we brought it along because Maximoo likes to have it nearby at night when he gets thirsty. Turns out it was an absolute lifesaver. Whenever there were any altitude changes, a few sips from this and it immensely helped his ears. We kept it filled with water and a little bit of apple juice just to keep him sipping on it and he was a happy camper for the whole flight. The bottle is easy to use, BPA free, inexpensive and dishwasher safe.Note: It can be a little drippy so best to keep it upright. We've noticed it sometimes gets a little leaky when left on it's side. Overall we love it and the selection of designs they offer for kids. For the grown-ups, there is also a bigger version.

Overall - the plane ride was far more painless than we expected but we came prepared. Great toys, some great surprises, and being ready for whatever Maximoo had in store for us was the key to getting through the flight and still all being friends. Happy New Year everyone! 

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