Good morning! I’ll confess to taking an advice query out of order, today, because I found a relevant deal and so feel the need to answer right now. Those of you waiting on answers—fret not, my darlings. All things shall be answered in good time, I promise.
The very pretty Danielle writes:
Mrs. WISE WISE MIR! I need your help.
We are planning to go to Disney World with our 3 year old girl. There will be another family with us who has a 3 year old girl and some older boys. The plane ride will be a long one, about 8 hours or so. I was going to buy some of those great puzzles for the trip but is there anything else I can bring to keep her busy on the plane ride. A few things that won’t cut into our vacation funding too much?
PS any good ideas on planning a trip to Disney World. We are just getting these plans together.
Let me start out by addressing the last bit first; I know nothing about travelling to Disney, but my excrutiatingly pretty friend Chris wrote an entire series on just this topic, and she has seven children and is my hero. Read her suggestions here, here, here and here.
Now. Let’s talk about the plane ride.
First of all, if you take those heavy wooden puzzles on the plane with you I will personally show up at the airport and smack you upside the head with them. No, no, a thousand times no. They are too big and too heavy. What you want is one magical backpack filled with treasures to entertain the kids. Less is more, in this case… or at the very least, smaller is better.
The other key to remember is that you want stuff that is novel. Whatever you end up buying for this trip? You hide until you’re underway.
(Many a great travel toy has been ruined by the overe-ager parent who let Junior play with it beforehand, only to be shocked when met with “I don’t want THAT” once cruising at 30,000 feet.)
My very favorite travel entertainment for small children is usually rather pricey, but today is your lucky day. If you haven’t acquainted yourself with the joy that is Crayola Color Wonder, prepare to be amazed. Little kids love to “do art,” but the resultant mess can make even the most patient mother’s eyelid start twitching. Certainly you can’t be letting your preschooler loose with markers or paint on a plane, right? Wrong. Because Color Wonder only works on the “magic paper,” it is ideal for travelling. No mess. And right now, it not only ships for free from Toys ‘R’ Us, the finger painting sets are on big sale.
Buy it. Love it.
Next: Go to your local Dollar Store. By spending as little as $5 I wager you can find enough to entertain your daughter. Buy large beads for stringing. Buy little plastic animals that can go on a wild adventure on the tray table. Buy a “busy book” or two (fabric books with moving parts, zippers, etc.). Buy one of those giant packages of stickers and a pad of paper. (If you, like me, never let your child just sit down and randomly slap a zillion stickers all over the place, being allowed to do so will be a little slice of nirvana for her.) Buy a cheap set of stacking cups. And of course, bring a few new books to read to her, too.
Here’s one more suggestion, though it will cost more unless you can find one at a yard sale or otherwise used: Consider a ViewMaster. This toy that was a staple of our childhoods is somewhat archaic in today’s Gameboy culture, but I found that my children loved them beyond all reason when I sprung one on them on a trip. I picked one up with about a hundred reels at my local consignment store, and only recently passed it on to a friend who was about to go on a long trip with her little one.
By now you should have plenty on hand to entertain the wee ones. The older boys will probably be easier to occupy; they can bring books, handheld games, portable music, etc. But here’s another rule I maintain that pleases kids of all ages:
Although I am somewhat militant about healthy food in everyday life, trips are a free zone so far as snacks are concerned. We have candy. Really good candy. Not so much that they’ll get sick or anything, but it reinforces the “we’re on a fabulous adventure” and specialness of the trip. Throw the nutrition rules out the window and pack the goodies the kids will love. (Chewing gum is great for helping little ears pop, too.)
Best of luck and have a wonderful time!