Let Them Grow: Getting Ready to Travel

Let Them Grow by Candice Chouinard

Getting Organized for Travel is Key to A Successful Trip

Fruit kebabs. Organize a bento box with a lot of different fruits and little wooden skewers – Include a pattern sheet that your child can try to match: apple, grape, apple, strawberry . This is a fun brain game!

As Spring rolls in, many of us will roll out. The travel bug may bite you too! The idea of free play while traveling in airports and on planes can seem nearly impossible for you and your toddler. However, by planning appropriately and creatively, you can make travel with your toddler a great adventure and a great memory for the whole family.

How to Play

Use what the airport offers. Often times there is a play space or a child-friendly area that you can find in advance. Know where this place is in relation to your gate, offer plenty of time to get from point A to point B. If there isn’t a space specifically for children, take over a small corner that you can use as a safe play space until you board your plane. Set rules about that space, to help your child stay within a confined area. If it is a long flight, this can be a good time to burn some energy doing large motor games like stretching, Simon Says or yoga.

While traveling be sure to let you child know in advance what is happening, this can help make the trip a bit more relaxing. “Now we are getting in line,” and “When we are on the plane we will sit in our seats.” – Sitting. Now that’s a tough one. Depending on the age of your little traveler this can be tough. Families usually board early, meaning there is ever more time on the plane, so plan in advance to minimize sitting. Stow your luggage and walk the plane front to back if possible. Check out the bathroom, the flight attendants seats, and the pilot’s area. Then, when it’s time to sit again give your child a reminder and find your seats; and get ready to take off! This is when you open your bag of tricks!

What to Pack

Packing an individual carry-on bag with a change of clothes, hand wipes, busy bags and snacks just for your child will make your travel easier. Have you child pack the bag with you. Use individual pouches and containers so each separate belonging is easily accessible and visible. The most important part is that you and your family enjoy traveling- this means being prepared to enjoy it! You know your child best, so pack what they will love, keeping it small and light.

Snack Project

Snacks creations like bento boxes can be a great way to pass time creatively on an airplane. Afford several options that will encourage you child to put together his own snack. Pack each “snack project” in individual containers with DIY snack like:

  • Crackers, meat and cheese sandwiches. Making each slice a part of a mini-sandwich masterpiece. Have a small container of mayo, mustard or cream cheese for a spread; cucumber slices and shreds of lettuce.
  • Peanut butter, raisins, seeds and mini pita crackers. Using the PB as a medium to paint with the raisins and seeds. Use different colored seeds in little containers, set your child up on the tray and let them play with their food.
  • Fruit kebabs. Organize a bento box with a lot of different fruits and little wooden skewers – Include a pattern sheet that your child can try to match: apple, grape, apple, strawberry . This is a fun brain game!

The Busy Bag

  • Flying themed stamps: Have a small clear bag loaded with flight related stamps. Have paper and inkpads accessible in the same bag.
  • Plane and travel themed coloring kits: Photocopy plane photos and create your own mini coloring book.
  • Airplane velcro busy bin: Toy airplanes, helicopters, cargo trucks, diesel tankers, suitcases etc. with velcro glued to the bottom can be a fun way to keep your child’s toys on the tray. Line the tray with a small felt piece that the Velcro will adhere to.

Having your child help pack busy bins, snack projects and his or her carry on with you is a great way to incentivize free play while traveling. Remind yourself and your child…traveling is fun!

[Photo credit: (cc) dynamicdoll]




Candice Chouinard has worked with youth of all ages and backgrounds, creating and implementing programing for children. She revels in hand-on, long-term, messy projects that are both fun and educational. Candice comes from a background in creative writing, as well as, child development and psychology. She owns and operates a day care in Northampton, MA.

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