We have gone to the U.S. once a year for the last few years. Next week’s itinerary is our shortest ever at a “short” 19 hours. Coming back to China it will be about 23 hours. Both directions are two legs, and only one layover. Our long flight of about 13 hours is equipped with individual TV’s on each seat with some great children’s programming. That will keep the kids busy! Our short flight however will not have individual TV’s, and will last for about 4 hours. I have to have something for the kids to do!
I’ve learned the hard way that we don’t want to bring any more than the kids can carry on their own. There’s not much worse than lugging around 4 tired kids, backpacks, carry-ons, and all of their “busy” gear as well! With all of the traveling that we do, I feel like we have finally found a system that works for us!
Each kid has:
- Their own backpack. We try not to pack anything for the kids that won’t fit into their own backpack. Sometimes we slightly break the rules (more on that later…).
- We allow each of the kids to take one small comfort item from home. They all love sleeping with stuffed animals and dolls, so they get to choose their current favorite for the trip.
- A water bottle. Let’s face it, kids get thirsty, and no one wants to drag along a thirsty, tired, whiny kid!
- A few small snacks, depending on the length of the trip. I don’t usually buy a lot of individual snack sized things for the kids, but for trips like this, they are perfect. Whenever mommy say, “Okay, it’s time for a snack,” they can pull out one of their snacks.
- A pair of kid friendly headphones. The ones we found are big, but they cover the kids ears well and block out background noise while they watch movies. We are of course careful to monitor that the volume is not too loud.
- A zipper folder of activities to keep them busy during waiting times in the airports, flights with no individual TV, etc. Figuring out what to put in the zipper folder is always what’s most difficult. I always want enough to keep them busy but not more than they need. This is what I packed for this trip.
This is where I break my own rules that the kids things must fit into their backpacks. They boys have toddler sized backpacks that do not fit these folders. They will carry all of their own things except for these; Matt and I will each take one for the boys.
Of course, we always need a backup plan. We have two!
- The iPad with great educational apps.
- The computer with movies just in case we get stuck waiting in an airport longer than expected and get a little too antsy.
And that’s it. That’s how we plan to survive during this long trip back to the States. What do you pack for your kids when you travel? Do you have any great tips?