Toddler Tuesday: Busy Box for Traveling

Last Summer we took our 2 year old to London and Croatia for a month of traveling. I have been asked to post about how we travelled with our toddler but the past year has been a whirlwind since our vacation. Upon arriving home we found out we were expecting our 2nd child, sold our house & had to move out in 1.5 weeks, lived with my gracious in-laws for 3 months, all while being very ill from "morning" sickness, remodeled and moved into our new home, compteted in a cooking show on national TV and on and on to name a few...

Thinking back on the experience I have to say I was VERY nervous about our 10 hour flight with my 2 year old. She is well behaved and listens most of the time but her first flight at 6 months did not set a good impression of flying. We took the red eye to the East Coast thinking she would sleep the entire time but the plan backfired. She wanted to stay awake the entire trip to take in all the sights, sounds, & smells, which made for 1 tired mama.

Despite our previous experience, we took the red eye again from SF to London directly and this time it was much better. I packed her bag with a busy box, books, coloring supplies and lots of SNACKS! We bought a pair of Kids Gear Child's Headphones, in pink or course, to make sure she could watch a video (or 2, or 5- who am I kidding) on the iPad or in flight entertainment. I think the head phones are key because they are made to fit kiddos and have a volume limit so you can rest assure your kiddo is not damaging an eardrum.

Skip Hop Roller Bag, Umbrella, reusable bags, fork & spoon Set, Water Bottle and travel night light

Skip Hop Roller Bag, Umbrella, reusable bags, fork & spoon Set, Water Bottle and travel night light

We made a really big deal about Alexandria getting to bring her own special bag of goodies. Her backpack did not roll but I highly suggest you invest in a roller bag to protect your Little One's back and/or prevent you from carrying it for them. We brought along a fork & spoon set which came in handy a few times. We took this trip 1 month after her 2nd birthday so she was just transitioning away from Sippy cups, so I also packed a few straws. We didn't pack a portable nightlight but in retrospect that would have been very nice to have. I tend to be a light packer, often forgetting to bring a diaper bag around town with me, but when traveling with kiddos it's best to be prepared.

I packed a large tote purse as well as a small cross-body purse that was big enough to store a few credit cards & cash, phone, sunglasses, lipgloss, check stain & passports. The large tote has 6 pockets so I was able to organize and store items  for "A":

  • Wet Wipes (sanitizing ones)
  • A small notebook for her to doodle in- it was fun to collect all the pictures in a book to have as a momento from the trip.
  • A 5 sided crayon from Tesla motors- I swear this was a life saver so many times
  • Packs of National Raisins Antioxidant Blend as well as raisins… Easy snack to pull out when waiting in line, waiting for food, or just stuck being tourists.
  • Lara Bars- a go to "on the go" snack for my daughter, she is obsessed with them.
  • Chapstick- her little lips were easily chapped on the plane rides & after days at the beach
  • Nasal Saline Gel- we all put a little in our nose during each plane ride
  • Lots of pouches to organize everything in the purse, 1 for cords, voltage adapters, etc. 1 for my makeup & lipgloss, 1 for A's stuff
  • Baggu foldable bags to have just in case
  • I also packed a few ziplock bags 
6 busy box items to occupy my Little One's time

6 busy box items to occupy my Little One's time

I created a busy box that we were able to pull out on airplane rides, at dinners, while sight seeing, etc. It still gets used to this day, intact I just took these pics so they have been used & abused. First, I bought a photo organization box, with 6 separate plastic containers meant to store photos. In each container I created a different activity. We brought the entire box but during day sightseeing outings I would bring 1 or 2 activities with me.

1. Color Block Clothespins: 

  • 5 wooden clothes pins
  • 1 foam piece in each color: pink, green, yellow, orange, blue
  • 1 piece construction paper in each color
  • glue
    1. Cut a strip of foam in each color and glue onto both sides of the clothespin
    2. Label foam pieces with color name
    3. cut strip of construction paper in each color and label

This activity will help with fine motor skills when your kiddos practices squeezing the clothespin open. Thew will also work on color recognition and matching, as well as start to identify the spelling of each color.

2. Sewing:

  • 5 pieces of small rectangular cardstock
  • hole puncher
  • yarn or bungy string
    1. Cut holes around the border of each piece of cardstock
    2. cut 5 pieces of string

My daughter loved her sewing projects. This was probably the most used activity. We used this one a lot during Sunday morning Mass since its a quiet activity that help her attention for a while.

3. Button Threading

  • Brightly colored large buttons- 20
  • Bright pipe cleaners- 5 or 6
    1. Tie the end of the pipe cleaners to prevent buttons from slipping off.

My daughter spent a lot of time making us bracelets & necklaces. We directed her to separate the buttons and thread them by color, then by shape, and we also practiced making patterns. I suggest packing a sandwich bag to keep the buttons all together.

4. Flashcards:

  • Flashcards
  • Binder rings
    1. Cut hole in top left corner of flashcards
    2. Put on binder ring

5. Triangle Crayons

  • Triangular crayons are AMAZING when traveling with a toddler because they do not roll off of the tray table! This is a game changer, you must invest in these!

6. Stamps, ink pad and a pad of post-its

  • My daughter follows directions really well, so she knew that she could not stamp anywhere but on the paper. She did a great job, but I did use the Wet Ones to wipe off ink from tables and fingers a few times.

I put the busy box activities in my roller carryon bag and took out each separate activity for her to work on during the plane rides. I packed Alexandria's backpack with 1 spiral journal, 1 coloring book, 2 paperback Angelina Ballerina books, 1 pouch of Washable Markers, headphones, her small "lovey" stuffed animal, and another pouch of activities (I'll share on another post), and in the outside front pocket 1 pair of undies, utensils, straws, & wet wipes.

Wherever you are going and might be packing. I hope you have a wonderful time with your family and don't sweat the small stuff.