Last year, I wrote a post about the airplane activity kit that I made for Pumpkin. At the time, we were preparing for her third transatlantic flight and I was a bit worried because, even though she’s always been a good traveller, that was our first trip with her as a toddler – a little person able to walk and form opinions.
That activity kit went down a treat and, as well as keeping Pumpkin occupied for most of the 14-hour journey, it also ended up being my most popular blog post so far. So I thought I would write do update and talk about what I’m including in the bag this time around – now that she’s a two-year-old who can run, jump, climb and form really strong opinions.
Much like the activity kit I put together for Pumpkin as a one-year-old, this bag includes a lot of smaller toys – because she loves sorting and stacking. I bought a variety of cheap items with bright colours and different textures and I’ve been inspired by many of the activities she does at Mini Montessori.
The beauty of cheap, small toys is that if things get lost under the seat on the airplane, it really doesn’t matter. I don’t need to go spelunking under other passengers’ legs to find something. When it’s gone, it’s gone.
So, here’s a run down of everything that’s included:
I used a cosmetics bag to hold everything. I bought it from Wilko last year and I love it. Not only does it have a cute design, but there’s also loads of space and the hanger can be really useful. We’ve used it for long car journeys too.
Frozen stickers, a compact mirror, some silicone cupcake cups and a calculator. I’m hoping she’ll think the calculator is a phone.
Pumpkin is crazy about Star Wars. She’s too young for the films, but I think she senses that it’s something Daddy-man really likes – and she’s obsessed with Darth Vader.
There’s a Star Wars note-book and a pencil-case with crayons, a pen and a ruler, a Darth Vader toy and a Star Wars Wallet full of spent gift cards and store cards I don’t use anymore.
We already had most of these things at home, but I hid them away a few weeks ago, so she hasn’t seen them recently and they’ll seem like “new” to her on the plane.
Foam dinosaur stickers, some post it notes (for pulling apart and sticking to things or drawing on), make-up sponges (for stacking), coloured popsicle sticks and a bunch of bangles purchased from a charity shop.
Plastic animals and toy cars.
An Altoids tin full of ponpons, a glasses case with plastic dinosaurs and two small storage boxes with foam shapes and craft buttons.
This was a last-minute addition. Look how cute those mini Play-Doh pots are! Four of them went into the bag, and the rest into my checked luggage, so we’ll have plenty for the return journey.
Top tips for making your own airplane activity kit
If you decide to make something similar, here are my recommendations:
- Check your airline’s rules for carry-ons, so you know how much you can bring, the dimensions and what’s allowed.
- Bear in mind that some of the items I’ve included could be choking hazards. Since Pumpkin doesn’t tend to put things in her mouth, that’s not a big concern for me, but I will also watch her like a hawk when she has those things.
- Base the toy selection on what will work for your child – and be creative.
- Remember: toys don’t have to come from the toyshop. I’ve found that the health and beauty aisle and the kitchenware department are both great places to find suitable (and cheap!) toys.
- Plan ahead. I’ve been watching out for items everywhere I go for about a month.
- Use individual containers to hold each group of toys – I used mostly pencil bags, as well as some food storage containers. I like them to be transparent so it’s easier to see what the options are.
- Don’t let your child see the bag’s contents while you’re getting it ready. This will help to ensure everything is fresh and new when you need it.
- If you’re planning to use toys you already have around the house, try to hide them away for a few weeks before your trip so your child has time to forget about them.
- When you get to your destination, hide the bag away and don’t bring it back out until the trip home. Again, that will help keep it all fresh and interesting.
- Bring refills in your checked luggage. That way you can re-stock the activity kit for the journey home.
- This bag is a great accompaniment to an iPad loaded with films, books and games. I’m certainly not relying on it alone to get us through the Transatlantic flight!
Have you ever done something like this for a long trip? How do you keep your kids busy on an airplane? Please let me know in the comments below.