Monday, July 30, 2012

Backpack Backpack

If you sang the title of this post, then you understand my current world. ;-)

I've been meaning to write this post for some time. Because traveling with a small child is no small feat.

Traveling with a small child who is dealing with all kinds of emotional volcanoes and doesn't speak the same language as you?

Is downright crazy.

But getting Marvel home was non-negotiable so I wanted to be as *prepared* as possible for entertainment, food, and the overall welfare of our little guy!

The first thing I will tell you is that we had Marvel for 5 full days in Africa before we flew home. That's a LOT of downtime for a 4 year old so it was important to have plenty of activities for the Guest Home.

Because of this, I actually packed two different "sets" of entertainment packs for him. 

One for the GH and one for the trip home. 

Guest home stuff included bubbles, cars and a road-mat for the floor, Amharic children's dvds for watching downstairs, and....(contrary to our original plan) we pulled out the tablet and let him watch movies some (we were sick sick SICK for a couple of days so unfortunately we needed a babysitter--enter tablet with BuzzWoody. And done.)

For the trip home I wanted to be methodical on what we packed.

No mess.

No noise.


Note: we got a bigger backpack before leaving: It was AMAZING!
For the actual plane rides, Marvel had an assortment of activities to choose from (all of which--except the tablet--were completely new to him!):

Color wonder coloring books and markers
* Trace-n-lace animals for lacing (he STILL loves these)
* Pipe cleaners and collapsible colander 

for sticking pipe cleaners in and making shapes
* Tablet stocked with movies. 
We bought an OLD used tablet on ebay before we left for less than $50. Its certainly not fancy but we wanted something he could use without us worrying
* Mini-playdoh and shape-cutters (sort of messy business)
* 15 legos (enough to build a car) ;-)
* Pull-n-go car

What we found as far as necessities go-- in the snacks department-- is protein is key! We learned at an Empowered to Connect conference that in times of "neuro-imbalance" (i.e. meltdowns, frustration, flight, fight or freeze etc...) 3 to 4 oz of protein and some water can do wonders for a child's neuro-chemistry and help restore their ability to self-regulate.  We have found this to be 100 million% accurate with Marvel! 

Snacks that proved invaluable on the plane:
* Beef jerky

* Go-Go squeeze applesauces (also TSA compliant!)
* Trail mix
* Protein bars

We also had suckers (he was asleep for every take-off so we ended up not needing them) and water flavors (also didn't need) and dried fruit (he just hated this, haha!)  

We wanted to make sure he could carry a large majority of the items we listed above so they had to be extremely light. Usually I opened packages and put smaller amounts in ziploc baggies for him to keep in his backpack and kept the rest in my carry-on!

We also chose to bring Melatonine and Dramamine on the flights with us in case of motion sickness or inability to sleep! Our flight was late at night, so we had kept Marvel busy all day so that he would be exhausted for the flight. We gave him one children's Dramamine and he was asleep before take-off and got about 8 hours of solid sleep! Definitely a good thing considering our first flight was 17 hours long!!

For layovers, I --again-- wanted NEW things to entertain him, especially since we had two semi-lengthy layovers (more than 3 hours each)! 

We were given a Leapfrog "leaptop" at a celebration shower before we traveled and I was truly surprised by how much he LOVED this thing!!!! He still gets it out daily to play with it and learned his abc's and several animals just playing with it on the layovers!
Be warned, it can be kind of noisy but we figured that sitting in airports 
was MUCH less of a noise issue than sitting on a plane!
Another fab-find were these foam faces and features from Hobby Lobby! Not only did Marvel enjoy pealing off the "stickers" and making funny faces, we actually had some other kids join in on the fun!  Good thing I brought more than enough to make friends!

I wanted a Mr. Potato Head type activity but these were FAR more popular because they were stickers!!! Marvel will do ANYTHING for a sticker! =)

All in all, Marvel was an incredible traveler and we couldn't have been more proud of how bravely he handled everything! Of course, Now? If you ask him if he wants to go on an airplane, you'll get a resounding "Marvel Aeroplawn NO!!

Alright then! ;-)


April said...

This is fantastic advice for ALL parents. Just got done with a roadtrip with my four-year-old, and I could've used any/all of these things! Will take note for the future.

Krisa said...

I sang the title!
Great job being prepared Momma! Where did you get a collapsible collander?

Christie said...

Oh wow! It sounds like you did a great job preparing for your flight home with him! Great, great ideas! And it paid off too! Good job!

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