So I am sitting here procrastinating the last few details of being packed up to leave for the States...uh just kidding really it is me having not packed at all, but I have the lists all made just gotta put everything in the bag!!
As you know we have lived over seas (Hawaii, and Germany) almost 5 years. So we have been traveling more than most people ever do. And not just simple hops from state to state, but hour upon hour flights...(10 hours to east coast, than 3 hours to Denver). This was never really an issue for us when we were living in Hawaii because given (only 7 hours flight from there) to sleep and watch movies, not a huge deal when your traveling as an adult...Than we moved to Germany and had Kyra and boy did traveling become a whole new story.
Anyone who has a toddler knows even a simple 15 min trip to the grocery store can be a handful sometimes. Now imagine confining that same kid to 1 chair for 10 hours straight...It totally makes a long day!! Traveling backwards in time is nice because you do manage to not have to deal with as much jet lag, but it does end up making you spend an entire 24 hours with out sleep which is UTTERLY EXHAUSTING...And more so the older we get!
So the trick to traveling with a toddler is DISTRACTIONS. The first time we traveled with her she was only 6 months old. Strangely moms seem to be most worried about traveling with kids that age, but it was sooooo easy. We totally over packed and she was easily entertained by mom and dad and nursing and sleeping. It was just so simple. Than last year I had to make the long flight all by myself, JOYS of military life. And I know so many moms here who have done it with their toddlers and I give them Kudos, because that is not an easy task.
When we know we have a long flight coming up we plan ahead...WAY AHEAD. The best possible thing to do for trips is to get new, small, and interesting items to bring a long. We get like 7 or 8 different little things to entertain her, and make sure she never sees them before we leave so that it will last longer on the plane. The goal is to see how long you can make each little item last and don't let them see any of the other items until they are completely done with the first.
This year we have:
1. (busybag idea) Pipe cleaners and cotton balls This works well as its new textures, shapes, and you can bend them and shape them and be creative in just so many ways with them.
2. (busybag idea) Buttons So we bought some little multicolored buttons, these for Kyra are great because we can count, we can move from one cup to another, we can sort by colors etc. And I also grabbed a handful of buttons from Dustin's Grandma's Button box. And they are all kinds of shapes and colors which will give her even more things to sort and organize.
3. Stickers So stickers at 2 years old are just super fun. We got a couple different kinds, and my mom sent us this really cool reusable fish bowl sticker thing where you can decorate the fish bowl and put different fish in it. And it is a clean thing to play with that cost like 1 dollar a pack just really fun go to activity.
4. Magnetic Paper Dolls So this toy we had let her play with at home since it was a birthday present but at the house they tend to just get spread around the house, so it is going to be interesting if she will actually play with it more when she doesn't have the option to leave it all over the place.
5. My little ponies Always a hit for little girls, most kids love animals of any sort, and just a great small item that lets them use their imagination and enjoy it.
6-8. Coloring items, books, movies For us we get little mini sized of these items, we got her a toddler bag she is gonna carry and it has all her fun stuff in it. And small just works well and fits easily on the fold down desk top thing. Luckily with International (most the time) they have personal tv's at each seat and its free since you are sitting there FOREVER!!
So obviously these things will help cut off (if your are lucky an hour each) some time. But inevitable your toddler is going to get restless and toys just wont cut it. This is when we bring new fun tasty snacks a long, snacks always keep kids happier longer!! We grab things we can poor into sandwich baggies and give her serving size amounts and than store the big bags of in our roller carry on up above with like extra clothes, and diapers (you are gonna wanna bring TONS altitude and different food, and nerves and a whole list of things can really mess with your kids tummies and you don't wanna make them sit in icky clothes)
And now that Kyra walks ( has been for over a year now, wow that is so hard to believe) she is clearly not going to be okay not doing that for 10 hours straight. So unless she is asleep, completely in a trance watching a show or eating a meal every hour at least and anytime we need to go to the bathroom we let her walk to the bathroom with us! As long as she isn't screaming, or touching everyone as she goes people tend to oooh and ahhh over a cute little kid walking around on a plane! And of course before loading the plane and on lay overs avoid carrying/strollers as much as possible, it is truly better to let them walk off the energy!!
So there really is no magic trick to making traveling easier people say give them benadryl it will make them sleepy etc. But for us really just going with the flow (enjoy a couple glasses of wine or coffee) makes the whole transition go smoothest for us. We don't want her to sleep the whole flight even if that would be easier because when we arrive at our hotel she is gonna be wide awake when all we wanna do is sleep!! NOT A FUN GAME TO PLAY!!