Thursday, September 9, 2010

Traveling with tots

My little frequent flyer and I just got back from another adventure, this time flying to Louisiana to visit Daddy, who's there for work until December.  She needed her own seat this time since she turned 2, which was much more expensive but much more convenient too.  She's a good little traveler, with lots of experience and even a few stamps in her passport.  Here are some of our traveling with tots tips and ideas.

The CARES harness!
This was the first time we used it and it was great!  It's for kids 2-5 or 22-44 lbs.  It wraps around the seat (under the person behind you's tray table) and makes a 4-point harness.  It clips across the chest and hooks in the seatbelt, which (obviously) clips at the waist.  It only takes a minute to install and remove, and it was great because it meant no carseat lugging in the airport or on the plane!  It was free to check the carseat.  It's a little pricey, but I think it's worth it!  If you're not a frequent flyer, you can rent one on eBay. (At our house, binkies are only for sleeping...which I was trying to get her to do in this picture!)

The bassinet!

On international flights you can get a bassinet, which hooks into the wall of the bulkhead.  Make sure you request it in advance so they seat you in the right row, and request it again as soon as you get on the plane.  There are a limited number available depending on the type of aircraft, and don't expect the airlines to actually keep track of how many people requested them versus how many are available!  We used one to go to Guam, and we ended up sharing with the people next to us, since they ran out of bassinets.  It wasn't that bad, but it's always preferable to get your own!

Activities!  We are building up a collection of travel toys.  They can only be play with during travel, which makes them more exciting.  Some of our favorites are:

The Go Art watercolor kit
The paint set uses a tiny bottle with a cap for water, so you can fill it up ahead of time and be all set.  It's tiny, so even if it spills it's hot a huge deal.  Everything is magnetic, which keeps it in the tray.  I am going to add another magnet to the bottom of the water to keep it from accidentally being knocked over.

The find-it square

We got this at a craft show years ago, but you could easily make your own.  There are little objects hidden inside, and you have to move it around to find them.  There's about 20 things in there and a list on the back, so it can occupy a lot of time.  For older kids, they can challenge each other by choosing an items for another kid to find.

Magnetic toys
We found this Very Hungry Caterpillar magnet set at World Market.

An ink pad.  This was a surprise for me.  At the airport, I bought the tot an ink pad set for $5, with a tiny book and a pen.  You stamp your fingers and use the pen to draw ears, feet, etc. to make little animals.  The book gives a lot of ideas. (We have a book like this at home, but it's bigger and was, well, at home.)  It kept her occupied for a LONG time!  I was so surprised.  She did the stamping and I did the drawing.  I used wet wipes to clean her up and didn't even have to get out of our seats.

The great stroller conundrum.  Do you risk the life of your "good" stroller for the convenience of having it at your destination, or do you use the cheapest back-breaking umbrella stroller you can find?  Up until this point we went with the umbrella stroller, but I decided she would need the sunshade in Louisiana and I wanted to stash the carry-on bag underneath it so we risked the good stroller.  And they destroyed it.

Lazy airline employee #3467 dragged the stroller by one of the straps, which ripped not only the fabric but the padding in the seat and the stitches that hold the strap in.  I am awaiting compensation, but am not optimistic.  Well, lesson learned. 

Best of luck on your next travels!


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