Pipecleaners and Shoelaces : Updated Family Travel Tips

December 3, 2008

I am happy to say our most recent cross country trip to San Francisco went very smoothly and with it came a few realizations: traveling without diapers is very nice, charging us to check bags is not nice, and my two kids are traveling pros/troopers. I also realized that as my kids get older our list of travel necessities is changing so I thought I should update from previous posts on the same topic. So here are some things that worked well on our recent trip:

1) Pipecleaners: handy, small, lightweight and good for all ages. Can be used to make crowns, flowers, aliens, and many other twisty designs. Also good for wrapping around the handle of bags to distinguish your black suitcase from all of the other black suitcases.

2) Shoelaces: go great with sewing cards. We love this set and these, too (both brands have nice illustrations and durable cards). But I have also been thinking about making our own set with family drawings.

3) Velcro shoes: makes security lines so much easier. And dressing kids in sweat pants/knit leggings is also good for traveling. Comfy and easy to get of/on in tight airplane bathrooms. And even though my kids are older, I am so glad I still pack extra clothes in our carry on bags. We volunteered to get off one of our flights (got some nice travel vouchers for future flights) and ended up having to spend the night in Houston (yes, I am nuts to do this with two small children...but happily it all went well and now we have a free trip!)...anyway the extra set of clothes was put to good use.

4) Blank sketch books: good for drawing, tick tack toe, etc. Also, keep meaning to make some pencil rolls like these because they would be great for traveling.

5) Magnets and stickers: (or band aids, too!) keep little hands occupied. These sets are nice for air/car travel and also good for restaurants because they are so thin and lightweight.

6) Little things: Noah was thrilled to have some micro machines (thank you, Aunt Carol). Camille
loves these animals. I always find myself stashing little figures, matchbox cars, etc into small bags in anticipation of upcoming trips.

7) Hand gel: I am a fan of the Bath and Body Works hand gel. Nice small containers and less harsh on skin. Baby wipes are also good to have on hand. Just never know when a mess will happen or when you might be someplace without quick access to soap and/or a sink.

8) Car Seats: We travel with our car seats so we don't have to rent them at our destination and for use on larger planes. The GoGo Kidz is a long time favorite for car seat travel. And
here's a more recent favorite. Since my son is now in booster seat (which can not be used on flights), we went with a booster that could be folded and fit into it's own travel bag. Very happy with the Compass booster seat. Here are my other travel gear recommendations.

9) Books: lots and lots of paper back books. This book and this book continue to be big hits when we are flying. I also try to find books about the area we are visiting. I buy a few new books for each trip but mostly just go through our book collection and pick books that haven't been read in awhile. I also packed a couple of "blank books" (paper stapled or sewn togeth
er) so the kids could make some of their own on the trip.

10) Extra hands and extra time! I had my mom with me on the most recent trip which was a huge help, but when I have flown solo with the kids I have quickly learned to ask for help. I have also learned to book flights with enough connection time to get additional food, bathroom break, and run around/play time. I'd much rather have a longer lay-over than be rushing to catch a plane with two little ones in tow. And for military families, check out the airport USO (great for free snacks, computer access, help, and some even have areas for naps and/or showers).

Jessica said...

Thanks for documenting all that. I'll check back when it is time for us to upgrade to a booster seat. ;) I LOVE The pencil rolls too! I might have to try making one--it looks like a great tutorial.

Glad you had a successful trip!

holly b said...

fabulous info! I love eeBoo products too. and those pencil rolls would make great stalking stuffers/church bag additions. I think I bookmarked (delisciou-ed?) every link.

I bought one of those CARES harnesses for our last flight. it might be a good option of the booster seat kids or if you want to check your carseat at the gate. with three in tow, we couldn't physically carry/move 3 carseats, so this was the compromise.

Corinne said...

Girl, this is SUCH a great resource!! I think that crayon roll is fantastic.

craftymama said...

thanks for the great tips! i'll keep them in mind- especially love the pipe cleaners. (although i don't know when we'll be traveling again with the law school family budget in effect...)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. Love the pencil rolls. Glad you had a great trip.


mayaluna said...

What a wonderful list! I forgot all about pipecleaners on trips... perfect! I also wanted to suggest children's magazines for their lightweight portability. We always take a bunch of Ladybugs and when we were in the board book stage, Babybug saved us from lugging too much!

I also wanted to thank you for your loving comment just now... from one snowflake cutter to another!

Raina Cox said...

Thanks for sharing those fantastic tips! After two years in New Zealand, we'll be returning Stateside in 6 months with a (will be) 2 1/2 year old and I can use all the advice I can get.

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