October 24, 2017

Traveling with a Toddler: Busy Bags

Remember that time last year when we booked flights to Alaska, but didn't end up going? 

Long story short, flights got changed on the airlines’ end. So, instead of a "quick" travel day, we were being rerouted out of the way through Texas and back up. Ya, tell me how that makes sense. 

Anyways, with a three month old in tow, we said a big fat "No thanks!" to that one and instead went to Edmonton to visit my sister and attend a friend’s wedding. Everything happens for a reason.

Traveling with a Toddler: Busy Bags

Well, we're at it again. Flights are booked and we're heading back to Alaska, THIS WEEK! If you follow me on Insta, then you've probably seen my countdown.  Clearly, I'm a tad bit excited. 

While I am really excited for our first visit back to Alaska since 2014 (and the first with Morley), one thing I am not looking forward to? The flight itself. Or should I say, flights… plural. It’s going to be a loooonnnngggg travel day my friends. 

Things were a bit different at three months when Morley took her first flight to Edmonton, and then again at 10 months to Cuba. The flights were much shorter and she had yet to find her legs, or her opinion on things.

Traveling with a Toddler: Busy Bags

So, how do you keep a busy bee toddler occupied (and happy) on a trip from Toronto to Anchorage, and one with three legs? Naturally, I reached out to experienced girlfriends, and Pinterest, for the answer.

The solution? A "busy bag".

Busy bags are a great way to keep toddlers quietly occupied. Or, in the case of Morley, most likely just occupied. Whether on a long road trip or long flight, busy bags are engaging activities that your child can do independently. 

Now, my husband would tell you that I way over did it, and there's a good chance that I probably did. But, I would much rather be over prepared than the opposite. And let's be honest here, at the end of the day, there's a good chance these activities and snacks will also keep mom and dad’s minds off the long travel day and lack of sleep as well. 

Check out how we created a busy bag for Morley below.

Traveling with a Toddler: Busy Bags

What’s in My Toddler’s Busy Bag?

Colouring book
Coloured foam pieces
Window clings
Bracelets and hair clips
Cuddle+kind stuffy

A great place to shop for supplies is at your local dollar store. They have a ton of options, at an affordable price. I only packed items that were small and could be sorted, stacked or otherwise moved from place to place. The beauty of cheap, small toys is if they happen to get lost between seats or on the floor, it really doesn't matter. 

Don’t forget about the snacks. Snacks are just as important as the toys. We used a small zippered lunch cooler to hold everything - goldfish crackers, cheese and crackers, fruit snacks, apple sauce pouches and chocolate chip bear paws. I did not want to use a transparent bag, because she would be able to see inside of it, and would eat her way through the bag. (I mean that in the nicest way possible.)

You can choose any bag to put the entire busy bay in. I opted to put everything in Morley’s school backpack from MEC simply for recognition, because she knows it is “Moley’s bag”. With how she is, the bag itself will also become a toy - unzipping and zipping it back up. 

Traveling with a Toddler: Busy Bags

Additional Tips for Creating a Busy Bag for Your Toddler

Plan ahead. Pick up items as you shop in advance of the trip.

Know your limits. Check airplane guidelines prior to creating your bag. Remember that there are rules on size and liquids. Avoid heavy and bulky items, such as books.

Be creative. When visiting the dollar store, think outside the box. Visit the kitchen and even health and beauty aisles.

Cater to their favourite things. Base the selection on what works for your child and their interests. Morley loves colours and loves to sort, so I included things like foam shapes and coloured popsicle sticks. She also loves to colour, so a colouring book and crayons were mandatory. If they have a favourite stuffy or blankie, make sure to include those items as well for added comfort.

But, mix in some new. Window clings and playdoh are something she's never experience before. Yes, the playdoh may make a mess, but I don't care. It will do its job and keep her occupied.

Buy doubles and split things up. Remember there is a return trip. Chances are, you could pick up some items while on your trip to include in your return busy bag, but if something works on the way there, why change a good thing? Bring refills in your carry-on luggage to restock for the way home. If you buy large packages of something, split them up. 

Keep it top secret! Don't let your child see the contents beforehand. Keeping everything fresh will create added excitement. You can also wrap items to add even more intrigue, and waste more time with them having to unwrap. I opted not to wrap the items, simply because I did not want the extra paper waste.

Safety first. Some of the items I included are considered choking hazards, or for children 3+. Make sure to supervise your toddler at all times.

Traveling with a Toddler: Busy Bags

And if all else fails, let's pray the iPad can hold its battery life...

Wish us luck! Stay tuned to social for how we made out, and for a review of Morley's thoughts on the busy bag when we return.

Have you ever taking a long flight with a toddler? I’d love to hear your tips and tricks!

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