Another couple of round trip flights for Bergen (2 years old) have come and gone, and we continue to add tricks and diversions for keeping him busy on the plane.
Given the fact that the little guy earned an “A” on each leg of a recent trip down to California, I thought I’d share what kept him from going bananas. Yes, Slaed (dad) gives Bergen a grade at the end of each flight. Something that Bergen of course pays no attention to and isn’t yet aware of, but it’s fun for us to together assess how he’s performed.
Even for a quick hour and a half flight to San Jose, CA from Seattle we have to stay prepared and pack plenty to keep Bergen occupied while in flight. I like to think his high scores might have to do with some experience with flying as well as some of the toys and entertainment items we packed along for him to keep safely content in his seat.
Many of the standby, tried and true items from Busy Toddler’s Plane Ride Part 1 remain. He still loves to flip through photo albums so for this flight I printed a new batch of recent photos for us to look at and talk through. The stickers, matchbox cars, slow (and frequent) snack time, and courtesy airplane items (like ice, in-flight magazines, brochures) continue to work. However, in order to keep things new and fresh, it’s important to throw even more fun into the mix:
A Toddler-sized Carry-on
We’ve made one big new discovery. We recently purchased a toddler-sized backpack for Bergen, thanks to a birthday gift certificate he received from REI. I thought it would be good for him to start getting used to wearing a backpack for some of our short hikes; giving him a little ownership of his water bottle, snack, maybe a tiny toy or two. When I started preparing for this plane ride, I realized the backpack would now be the perfect place for him to house all his plane goodies.
Bergen loves to wear his backpack. He marched around the airport with it strapped to his back, and would in fact get upset if we tried to take it off! I think he’s very proud that he’s able to carry his own supplies, and it makes the items inside even more special and precious to him (and thus more entertaining). It was also great for the rest of the trip. Since we were attending a family wedding, it was nice to have around as we towed him from event to event.
Plane-Friendly Art Supplies
Much of Bergen’s fun on the plane centered around keeping his little hands busy, and it makes sense that creative art supplies were involved. You can’t exactly craft a full blown work of art in the confines of an airplane, so some more compact (and less messy) items would have to do:
- Wikki Stix-Several restaurants in our area give small packs of these crafting sticks, so we often save them for later use. They are a mix of yarn and wax, and we have great fun twisting and bending them into shapes, creatures, and things you can wear! You can of course buy entire packs, and I know from my teaching days, these will stay fun and entertaining for years to come.
- Play Dough-All it took was a super-small container of play dough to keep Bergen busy for at least 20 minutes (that’s a long time for him). He loved to pull the dough out, squish it back in, and make snakes and balls on his tray table. It’s also really easy to clean-up as it all just sticks together so nicely. I used this super easy dough recipe a while back and our dough is still going strong!
- Plastic-covered Crayons-Bergen is not past the stage of putting everything into his mouth. He still uses this as a way to explore, and with regular crayons, it can get tiring to pull bits and pieces out of his mouth as he “taste-tests”. He also isn’t shy about just breaking the crayon in half before he even has a chance to color with it. So even though, the longer “crayons” with plastic covers are made for older kids, they make coloring with Bergen a whole lot easier, and he actually colors!
Just the right size for travel, those mini figures that seem to automatically collect in your house once you have a toddler, are fascinating for Bergen. We have animals, army guys, cowboys, even some disney characters have popped into the mix, and they are great for staging little scenes and doing lots of pretend play. I had Bergen choose several to take along before the trip, and we keep them in an old yogurt container.
Traveled with a toddler? What tips and tricks do you have to share?
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More on Flying with Little Ones:
- Flying with Young Toddlers: Lessons Learned from a 5-hour Flight From Kauai
- Flying with Babies: Front or Back of the Plane
- Inside Baby’s Carry-on Toy Bag
- Preparing for Airplane Travel with an Infant
- One Busy Toddler’s Plane Ride PART 1