Category Archives: Travel

Road Trip Activities for a Two Year Old

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Buddy and I started our summer break with a road trip to visit my family. Since this trip was in the middle of the week, Hubby wasn’t able to join us. That also meant that I had to find activities to keep Buddy occupied for more than 6 hours in the car. All of these activities had to be things that Buddy can do independently and would hold his attention. They also had to be easy to pack and carry in the car.

Buddy actually looks excited to start his long car ride!

Last summer, I blogged about tips for driving alone with a toddler (read here), and I used many of those same things on this trip as well. I modified the toy box set up a little from last year, but otherwise it’s the same. I poked holes in a shoe box and used string to tie it to the arm rest next to Buddy’s seat. Then, I loaded it up with small toys and books to keep him occupied. 

Here is what is in the box:

1.Water wow – This is one of Buddy’s favorite things right now. It’s a paint with water book that goes back to black and white after it dries. It actually didn’t fit in the box, but I handed it to him separately. I filled the water pen ahead of time, and he is able to put it in and out of the holder himself. We brought the water wow to a family dinner and all of the kids were obsessed with it. Buddy had to take turns with his 5-year-old and 3-year-old cousins painting one object at a time.

2. Colorforms – These we actually didn’t do in the car, but I bought them to do at my dad’s house. I’d been looking for reusable stickers for plane rides, but couldn’t find anything I liked. Then I came across Colorforms at Toys R Us and realized it was perfect! Buddy’s older cousins loved the Colorforms too.

3. VTech Go Go Smart Wheels – Buddy loves these. (Read about the portable tracks I made for these cars here.) He can turn the noises on and off himself. I did make the mistake of bringing our fire truck, and it took awhile to realize why I kept hearing sirens all over the place…

4. Old MacDonald Hand Puppet Book– Buddy sings Old MacDonald non stop, so of course I had to bring our book/puppet for it!

5. I Spy bottle – I linked one that you can buy, but I packed one that I made out of a tiny water bottle. (See the DIY directions for our larger one here.)

6. Finger puppets– These are small and fun to play with.

7. Indestructibles Books – I have blogged before about how much I love these books for travel. They are made of the same material as packing envelopes, and they take no space to pack. Several of them live in our diaper bag at all times. The Things That Go one is our current favorite.

8. Fisher Price Smart Phone – Buddy hadn’t seen ours in a while, so it was extra exciting for him on this trip.

9. Small board books – Buddy loves reading, so I always bring a bunch of books. I really like these small chunky books that are 2 inches by 2 inches because they don’t take up much space.

10. My First Thomas Pull Back Racer – Buddy loves all things Thomas, and these are a little larger and easier to bring (and not lose) than the wooden trains. They are the best pull back toys I’ve ever seen. They go forward a lot for just a little effort.

11. Stuffed animals – I probably didn’t need a link for this one because every toddler I know has a ton. The one I linked is a Peter Rabbit that is a current favorite of Buddy’s.

12. Munchkin farm animals – These are supposed to be bath toys, but we’ve never used them in the tub. Buddy loves playing with these animals.

13. Baby Einstein Music Toy – The music and lights make this interesting for both babies and toddlers. It is one of the few toys that I packed that would also be appropriate for a night drive. (I drove during the day, but we’ve had the problem of what to pack for dark drives during other parts of the year.)

14. Snacks are an important activity (in my opinion) to keep a toddler happy and entertained in the car. We love this Munchkin snack cup and Munchkin straw sippy cup.

I brought a few more toys and books to play with during our trip (a deflated beach ball is always a favorite of mine because it takes no space to pack). For the most part, these travel toys were the favorites both in the car and out of it. If you have any questions about travel tips with a toddler, please ask in the comments.

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More Airplane Activities for a One Year Old

*Disclaimer – this post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you choose to buy a product through these links, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for supporting my family.*

This Christmas, Hubby, Buddy, and I flew to Florida. Buddy’s Nana lives in Melbourne, and the flight is a couple hours for us.  This was our first flight with Buddy since July, and I was amazed how much he’s changed during the last five months. I blogged about our airplane activities in July (read that blog post here), and some of those items were brought with us on this trip as well. However, since I created many new things for this trip, I wanted to share them on the blog.

Currently, Buddy is 20 months old. Every day, he’s becoming more of a toddler and less of a baby. He is much more mobile than he was in July, so I was concerned about finding airplane activities that would be interesting to him and make him willing to sit still for a couple hours. Just like I did for our last trip, I put these activities in two packages. The items in the picture above were in a gallon ziplock (except for the Kindle and headphones which were separate.) I also had a pencil pouch of items with a carabiner that clipped on to the back of the seat for easy access. We didn’t use everything on either flight, but I’d rather have too many activities than not enough.

New for this trip, I wanted to make some travel versions of some of the activities that have been featured on this blog. I used small water bottles to make a travel straw in bottle activity (original blog post here). Buddy has been into his I Spy bottle recently, so I used another small water bottle to make a travel sized one (original blog post here).  I put some of our homemade playdoh in a container (original blog post here) and bought some small cookie cutters and a roller to go with it. This was probably our favorite activity. Buddy loves playdoh and is willing to play with it for a long time. Buddy is just starting to get into TV, so at the last minute we bought Kidz Gear volume controlled headphones. These headphones allowed Buddy to watch his show  shows on my Kindle Fire without disturbing the people around us. While he didn’t spend too much time watching shows, it was great to have as a backup for when he was getting really antsy. I also downloaded some ebooks from the library on the Kindle.

Other items from the picture above:

  • Indestructibles books – These are one of my favorite things for travel because they take no space. Buddy loves to read, so the more books I could bring, the better.
  • Quiet book – I put this together for our July trip (original blog post here).
  • Playing cards from the dollar store
  • Small container with a strip of bells inside
  • Window cling gels – These are one of our favorite activities. I usually get them in the dollar section of Target. Buddy decided that these were fun to tear apart, so they didn’t all survive the trip.
  • Bath book from the dollar store.
  • Oball Go Grippers Car – Small and easy for Buddy to hold. When we aren’t traveling, this car lives in our diaper bag.

 

Items in the pencil pouch:

  • Chip clip animals from the dollar store.
  • Finger puppets
  • Small toys from the library reading program (I love freebie toys for the diaper bag and traveling!)
  • Small tape measure from the dollar store – Buddy loved this! He had a great time pulling out the tape and releasing it.
  • Small board books
  • Little slinky from the dollar store
  • Roll of painter’s tape – Whoever was the first mom to come up with this idea (not me) is brilliant. Buddy had a great time peeling and restocking the tape on the back of the seat.
  • Stickers in an Altoids tin – Buddy put some in a little notebook, but most of the time he just liked to pull them in and out of the tin.
  • Button snake
  • Triangular Crayons – I love how these don’t roll and they wipe off of surfaces with just water. We actually didn’t use these on the plane, but Buddy did have fun with them at Nana’s house.
  • Light up dinosaur from the dollar store
  • Pom poms in a small container (originally for dressing!) from the dollar store – Buddy had a lot of fun flipping the lid open and shut and poking the poms into the container.

Not pictured –

  • Toddler apps on my phone – Peekaboo Barn was particularly helpful when Buddy was getting antsy prior to take off.
  • Snacks and juice – particularly for taking off and landing to help with ear pressure
  • Built in entertainment – I always try to get Buddy to have fun with things already in the plane before I break out the toys. Buddy loves looking at the other planes and things out the window. He had a lot of fun looking through the airplane magazine and safety card and pulling them in and out of the back seat pocket. Buddy also liked playing peekaboo with the big kids behind us on the flight down to Florida. On the way back, the person behind us was sleeping (“Nappy!”), but Buddy was able to make a friend next to us who gave him some grapes and showed us pictures of his cat.

I didn’t get any pictures of Buddy on the airplane, but here’s one of him having fun on the beach in Florida.

I’m not sure when our next trip will be, but I’m always looking for new travel activities. Please comment if you have any ideas to share for toddler activities for travel.

 

Airplane Activities for a One Year Old

Disclosure – this blog post contains affiliate links for your convenience. If you choose to purchase something using one of these links, I will receive a small commission. 

My husband and I have always loved to travel. Since Hubby works for an airline, we fly often. I’m happy to say that hasn’t changed much since we’ve had Buddy. (Although now we usually travel to see family instead of traveling to new places.)

Even though this was Buddy’s fifth trip involving air travel, Hubby and I were nervous. Buddy is 15 months old, and our last plane trip was several months ago when he wasn’t as mobile. Now that Buddy is used to moving around a lot, it’s hard for him to sit still for a long time. I spent a long time looking for ideas for one year olds to do on planes. However, a lot of ideas I found (coloring books, DVD players, etc.) were better for slightly older kids. Eventually, I found a bunch of small activities for our trip.

Before we got on the plane, I didn’t pull out any of the travel toys. I wanted to keep those for times when Buddy had to sit still. At every airport (we had three different flights on this trip), we looked for seats by a window with empty space. We let Buddy crawl around to burn off energy. He spent hours watching the planes through the window. Another game he loved was stroller basketball. We took our bag from dinner and crumpled it into a ball. Buddy loves balls, and so he loved this “ball” too. He put it in the stroller’s basket over and over again. Our first flight was delayed by four hours, and Buddy was entertained that whole time by these activities (and eating too).

Buddy loves watching the planes.

Buddy loves watching the planes.

I brought a ton of small activities for the plane. Our first and last flight were both over four hours, and I anticipated that Buddy would be awake for most of that time. Our second flight was much shorter (an hour and a half), but I still wanted new activities for that time. In the end, we didn’t need a lot of these activities. Our four hour delay meant that our first flight left hours after Buddy’s bedtime, so he slept that whole flight. He also slept for half of the short flight and more than an hour of the last flight. Luckily, we didn’t need everything, but I was happy to have more activities than I needed.

On each flight, I packed a pencil pouch of small activities and a gallon sized ziplock with a few larger items that didn’t fit in the pouch. I had another gallon sized ziplock in my suitcase of things to switch out for new flights.

Here is what ended up in the pencil pouch for our last flight:

Airplane activities 2

  • Pencil pouch – This was intended to be an activity as well as a holder of other activities. I added a carabiner to clip onto the seat back pocket for easy access. Buddy enjoyed pulling the zippers and pulling things out of the pockets.
  • Cubs teether
  • Post it notes – Fun to put on and pull off of the seat.
  • Dinosaur light up toy from the dollar store
  • Small slinky
  • Police car from dollar store
  • Poms container – This was a salad dressing dispenser from the dollar store and a few pom poms. I wanted to make a travel size version of this activity. This was Buddy’s favorite thing to do on the plane. He loved putting the poms in the container. He also loved trying to put the cap on the container.
  • Koosh ball
  • Penguin toy – We got this as a souvenir on our trip.
  • Finger puppets
  • Measuring tape from the dollar store – Buddy liked pulling out the tape and letting it go back in. He also liked shaking it to hear the noise of the keychain on the box.
  • Small board books – One of these was an old favorite and one was new. The new vehicle books were bought here.
  • Painters tape wrapped around a folded piece of paper. I ripped off tape to put on the back of the seat, and Buddy pulled it off the seat. We actually didn’t use this on this trip, but it was a huge hit on previous trips.
  • Pipe cleaner with some beads to slide around.
  • Altoids tin with cut out stickers and a small notepad. Buddy liked to hold the stickers, but he wasn’t interested in actually putting them on the notepad. He also liked dumping them out everywhere and opening and closing the tin.

This is what the pouch looked like when it was filled.

Airplane activity bag

Here are the additional activities from the gallon ziplock bags:

Airplane activities 3

  • Quiet Book – This was the main thing in the extra ziplock bag. (I was pretty sad that it didn’t fit in the pouch.) If you want to know more about this quiet book and how I made it, read my blog post about it here.
  • Pill case (from the dollar store) filled with snacks
  • Indestructible books – These are one of my favorite travel toys because they take up no space and can’t be wrecked.
  • Bath book from the dollar store
  • Animal chip clips from the dollar store – Buddy loves animals and he really enjoyed these. I brought an index card to clip them on, but we found other things to clip them on as well. Buddy really liked putting them in our empty drink cups, shaking them up, and pouring them out again.
  • Empty easter egg – Buddy enjoyed breaking it open and putting it together again.
  • Playing cards from the dollar store – When we have played with cards before, Buddy liked pulling them out of the box, holding them, and trying to fold them. I bought Pup Patrol ones because he loves dogs. We actually didn’t play with these, but I’m sure we will on our next trip.
  • Button snake with felt scraps – I thought Buddy would enjoy pulling the felt off and putting them on, but he wasn’t really interested. I think he’ll like this more when he’s old enough to practice buttoning.
  • Bead necklace
  • Window gel clings – This was another favorite of Buddy’s. He loved putting them on the window and taking them off. I got these at the Target dollar section, but you can get similar ones here.
  • Small container with a ribbon of buttons and bells – Buddy played with this for a long time. He liked shaking it and hearing the noise of the bells. He liked taking the ribbon out and putting it back in the container. He also liked putting the lid on the container.
  • Extra small books

Not pictured:

  • My phone with a few baby game apps
  • My Kindle with picture ebooks checked out from the library
  • Extra snacks and sippy cup
  • Stuffed monkey

We also had a lot of fun just pulling out the cards and magazines from the back of the seat. Buddy did this for a long time. He also liked stacking our cups after we were done with our drinks. He also liked looking at the people around us and waving at them.

If you have any other ideas for activities, I’d love to hear them!

*Edit*- Here is a more recent blog post of the airplane activities I did with Buddy at 20 months. Some of them are the same, but there are many other ideas as well.

Road Trip Tips for Driving Alone with a One Year Old

My husband and I love to travel, and since our families live far away, we travel with our one year old often. With two parents, our road trips are usually easy. Hubby does the driving and I can attend to Buddy when he needs a new toy or a paci. However for this trip, Hubby had to fly back to work early, leaving me alone to drive with Buddy for more than 7 hours. I was worried about how to manage Buddy while driving, but fortunately I came up with some ideas to help things go smoothly. I hope these tips help any other parents who find themselves in a similar situation.

Tip #1 – Accept that the trip will take longer with one parent compared to two and plan extra time. When we drove together to Cleveland, we only needed to stop once and it took us about 6 hours. I knew that I would have to stop more often to take care of Buddy since I wouldn’t be able to do it while driving. I also knew the stops would be longer. Usually Hubby gets food and gas while I feed and change the baby. But on my own, I wouldn’t be able to multitask. I knew the drive would be longer, and I made sure to allow plenty of time to make it home before dinner.

Tip #2 – Put gas in the car on the day before the trip. I wanted to make sure I could do anything I possibly could to make the trip shorter.

Tip #3 – Leave when the baby is full and tired. I planned to leave just before nap time, so that I knew I would have a long period of time with Buddy sleeping. I also made sure to feed him right before leaving so that I would only have to feed him once on the road.

Tip #4 – Bring snacks and drinks. Buddy’s nap went way past my lunchtime, but I had no intention of waking him up so I could eat. Fortunately, I had snacks and drinks to keep me full and happy  until Buddy was awake and ready to eat.

Tip #5 – Put the pacifier on a clip. I’m not sure why I’ve never done this on a road trip before. On the drive over, I had to hand back several pacifiers because the paci would fall out when Buddy slept, and often it fell out of his reach. We have pacifier clips that keep the paci within his reach, and it was easy for him to find and replace it. I will definitely make sure to do this on all future road trips, because Buddy was happy to be able to get his paci or spit it out whenever he Toys in car seatwanted.

Tip #6 – Put a variety of toys where your child can reach them. This was the part of the trip that most worried me. Buddy loves to play with toys and can get fussy if he’s stuck in the car for a long time without some entertainment. I had to get creative, but I was able to tie a shoebox onto the side of Buddy’s carseat with twine, and I provided additional support with the lid of the box. I also used our two toy tethers to ensure that at least a couple toys would remain within reach. Buddy loved being able to choose his own toys and not have to rely on me to figure out what he wanted.

Tip #7 – Bring a baby carrier or a stroller to help with stops. Our drive was mainly on a toll road, so we didn’t have drive-thru food as an option. I had planned to bring our Ergo to hold Buddy while I was in the bathroom and getting food, but I forgot it. However, the stroller worked perfectly. The handicapped bathroom had plenty of room for the stroller, and the stroller made a perfect highchair for Buddy to eat while I ate my food. It was much easier to carry my food and drink with Buddy in the stroller instead of squirming in my arms.

Tip #8 – Have a plan for melt downs. I knew at some point on the trip that Buddy would get fussy and would need some soothing. I made a playlist of his favorite songs and saved it for when he was upset. Sure enough, about 5 hours into our trip, Buddy dropped his favorite toy and was really upset. The songs helped calm him down for awhile, but then a poopy diaper put him over the edge. At that point, no amount of “Wheels on the Bus” was going to help, so I pulled over at the next stop. (Unfortunately we were on a toll road and it was another 20 minutes before I could stop.)  I had been waiting to get more gas until later in the trip, so I was able to soothe my little boy and get gas at the same time.

Our road trip was over 7 and a half hours, and with my planning, Buddy was happy, entertained, or asleep for more than 7 hours. I would consider that to be a success, and I plan to use these tips again on our next trip.

If you have any other road trip tips, please share in the comments. Buddy and I will be on the road again in a few weeks, and I’d love to have some new ideas for a smooth trip.