Category Archives: Resources

Top Things to Pack to Keep A Preschooler Entertained During a Long Flight

It is hard to believe that our big India trip is less than two weeks away! I feel like I have been planning for months, but have so much to pull together at the last minute!  One thing that I wanted to make sure of was that I had plenty of activities for our 4 year old daughter to do during our 30+ hour travel time to India.  Like most kids her age, she LOVES to play with the iPad, and she will be allowed generous amounts of iPad time throughout our journey, but at some point, the battery will die or she will get bored of it, even though I will be loading all fresh games the day before, so I wanted to be prepared!

backpack-for-traveling-with-kids

I found a great preschool sized backpack, by The North Face, called Happy Camper.

I chose this backpack for the following reasons:

  1. That she would be able to carry it herself
  2. That it have a chest clip/strap so that the straps wouldn’t fall off her shoulders
  3. That it not be too small to hold all of her activities

This backpack is perfect for our trip – and I’m sure it will last through preschool and kindergarten too!

So once I had the backpack nailed down, I had to figure out what to fill it with.  All of these things are new to her and will be a surprise, which I hope will ad to the fun factor, and help hold her attention for more than just a few minutes!

backpack-full-of-goodies-for-airplane

 

Top Row: Three different mini activity books, stickers
Middle Row: Lalaloopsy Magnetic Fun Paper Dolls, 3D Origami Sea Animals (from the Dollar Tree), Doc McStuffins Sticker Activity Playset (from the Dollar Tree)
Bottom Row: A sewing craft (with plastic “needle”), Runway Scratch Art Set, Melissa and Doug Paint with Water Book

Pictured with the backpack at the top: An iSlate Dry Erase Case with a set of dry erase markers and crayons inside, and a report cover holding several printable Octonauts coloring pages – so that she can use the dry erase markers on the clear plastic cover and color the pages over and over again.

Below: 3 Leap Frog Workbooks

airplane-busy-books

I will also add a small tub of play-doh, some individually packaged snacks, a surprise stuffed animal, crayons, a surprise set of Gup Speeders (she’s a huge Octonauts fan!), which I will give her one by one throughout the journey, and a custom mini photo book that I designed, with fun “Octonaut” activity pages – I’ll have to try and share that once it arrives in the mail!

All in all my strategy for traveling on such a long flight with a preschooler is lots of new & surprise lightweight activities and snacks that can be contained in her own bag (so that I’m not fumbling through all of our carryon bags looking for her stuff!) The iPad is a little too heavy for her bag (and I don’t trust her to carry that through the airport!) so we’ll keep that safely tucked in with our laptop until we get on the plane.

Up next, what I’m packing to entertain a 12 month old!  This one is MUCH harder than packing for a 4 year old – let me tell you!  If you have any ideas or suggestions – I’m all ears!  What activities or toys would you pack for a toddler and a preschooler for a long international flight?

My Must-Have List of Gear for Traveling Internationally with Kids

must have gear for international travel with kids

For our upcoming trip to India this summer, I have put together a list of travel gear that we won’t leave home without!  Here’s our favorites…

The Joovy Ultralight Caboose Stroller is the best travel choice for a tandem stroller.  Last time we went to India we had just one baby, who was about 18 months old.  We left our stroller at home and went with a baby carrier instead. This time the tables have turned and with a 10 month old baby and a 4 year old, we decided that a double stroller was the best option for the airport.  Once we land in India, we will probably leave the stroller at home {unless we are going to go to a mall or someplace where the stroller would be useful}. We’re planning to leave the canopy and tray at home for a more compact fold.

Baggallini Crossbody Bag – I’ve been traveling through airports for many years now, and I always take a small crossbody bag for keeping tickets, passports and other essentials handy.  There is nothing worse than having to dig around for your passport or tickets while you are holding up a line of passengers behind you!  Now that we are traveling with a family of four – we have US Passports and Indian PIO cards to keep up with – it is much easier if I keep them all right with me, with easy access.  The bag is small enough that once we are safely on board the plane, I can slip the whole thing into one of our other luggage pieces, or I can keep it across me for safety.  I usually don’t keep much cash in my bag, I would recommend a money belt for lots of cash and extra credit cards.

Littlelife Baby Backpack Carrier – We have the Voyager S2 Model of the LIttlelife Backpack Carrier.  We used this on our last trip to India – and it was wonderful!  While I’ve decided to take a stroller for the airports, a stroller within India isn’t very practical {depending on where you are going} the sidewalks are generally uneven, and crowded. As a fair-skinned baby with a “foreign” mother, our little girl got lots of attention.  Sometimes it can be frightening for a young child, and the best part of this carrier, was that she was up high – away from prodding hands! The only downside is that it can be hot for the person wearing it {my husband in our case}. Ours goes up to 44 lbs – which means that our daughter {who is now 4} can still ride in this.  It also works for our son who is just 10 months old.  While we probably won’t be offering our daughter any rides in it – it is nice to know she can still fit in case she gets too tired to walk on any of our excursions where the stroller wouldn’t be appropriate.

ERGObaby Carrier – we will be tossing one of these in our checked-in luggage, and might use it in the instance where both kids need a ride or if I go somewhere without my husband.  While the Littlelife carrier is adjustable and fits me, I feel more comfortable using the ERGO if it is just me.  However, I would say it is easier to load a child into the Littlelife Backpack Carrier than the ERGO {especially our wiggly baby boy!}  Given our son’s personality he will do better in the Backpack Carrier because, he prefers to be on his own and have a bird’s eye view of what’s going on vs. strapped tightly to Momma. But the ERGO is light and portable and will be nice to have as an option if we need it. {Plus my daughter is still able to fit in this as well! You never know!}

Northface Happy Camper Backpack – Our daughter is old enough to carry her own backpack full of goodies, but a full size backpack is still too big for her.  I also wanted a backpack with a chest strap so that she wouldn’t have to fight with it falling off as we rush through airports!  The Northface Happy Camper is a great size for preschoolers, but still big enough to hold a good amount of “stuff” {including full-sized folders – a great option for preschool or kindergarten!}.  I have quite a few ideas for activities and surprises to fill her bag with for the airplane ride.  {details coming in a future post!} Our son isn’t quite walking yet – but might well be by the time we travel – so I also have one of these that I’ll throw in our carry-on luggage, in case he wants to toddle around in the airport terminal.

BenBat Yummigo Booster/Bag – I’m super excited about this one!  On our last overseas trip, our daughter was in between being able to kneel in a regular sized chair and still needing a highchair or booster seat.  We decided not to travel with one, but I really wish we had.  Some restaurants in India have highchairs and some don’t.  For those that do – the chairs are often well used, and not too hygienic! Believe it or not, we are trying to limit our luggage for this trip… so I didn’t want to waste space with a regular travel booster, but the genius thing about the Yummigo Booster is that it opens up like a suitcase and has tons of storage inside.  Basically, if we are going out to a restaurant in India {or to someone’s house for a meal} we will use this as his diaper bag.  There is plenty of room for diapers, wipes and his food/sippy cup.  I also plan to use it at my in-law’s houses, since they don’t have a booster or highchair at home either.  I look forward to seeing how much use we get out of this product on our trip.

So that’s my list of must-have baby gear for international travel.  I’ll be sure and update you with details and photos of all of these being put to good use on our 2 month trip to India!  Have you traveled overseas with kids?  What makes your top list of necessary baby items?  Have you used anything from my list?  I would love to hear your feedback and thoughts!

DesiLink Blog Ring – Are you in the Loop??

Did you know there are now 48 blogs 61 blogs that are a part of the desi-link blog ring?  I had no idea that there were so many intercultural desi relationship blogs out there!  I also have about 13 blogs 20 blogs that are still pending for one reason or another.  That’s over 60 blogs 80 blogs!  I have to admit I have a hard time keeping up-to-date with everyone, but wanted to say a big “thank-you” to everyone who has joined.  Keep spreading the word & keep updating your blogs!

If you want more info about joining the desi-link blog ring check this post.  To browse all the blogs in the ring – simply follow the banner in the sidebar of my blog.  Or for a master list – click here.

Chai Survival Kit

Click to download blank recipe card.
Click to download the chai recipe card.

I recently mailed a “Chai Kit” to my favorite aunt, back home in Texas.  We got to visit her while were were home for Christmas.  While we were there, I made chai for the whole family.  Out of necessity, I outfitted my mom with all the necessary ingredients for making proper Indian chai, long ago.  My aunt saw the spice dabba,  and really liked it, and liked the homemade chai even more.  So when I got home, I decided to assemble a “Chai Kit” and mail it to her.  I included the spice dabba (I had one on hand to use as a gift), loaded with the spices that I use in my chai recipe: cardamom, cloves, cinnamon sticks, sugar (I told her she’d have to buy the fresh ginger herself!).  I also included some tea leaves, straight from India (courtesy of my Mother-in-Law, on her last visit).  The last item I included was the tea strainer – I picked up several packs of these on our last trip to India, but they last for quite a while (even running them through the dishwasher!)  So I had extras to complete the chai kit.  I also designed and printed off a recipe card, so she would be able to have the recipe handy.  It turned out to be a great surprise gift for my aunt – she loved it & is perfecting her chai making skills!  Who knows, maybe I can turn over the chai making responsibility to her on our next visit!  She’s planning on accompanying us to India this year, so maybe her skills will come in handy, did I mention she’s single?  Maybe she can nab her own Indian man!  ;-)

Do you “do” homemade chai – or Starbucks “chai-tea lattes”?  

For your enjoyment, I’m making my chai recipe card available for free download as well as a blank version of the card, in case you have your own special recipes you’d like to use.  Enjoy!

Have you read about my first experiences making chai?  Or about our”chai-dates”?

Download Free English Fonts That Look Like Hindi and Urdu!

I’m a graphic designer, and I love great fonts (especially free font downloads!)  How about you? Do you collect fun fonts?  You never know when cool “Hinglish” fonts like these will come in handy!  Why not download them now so you’ll have them on hand for that party invitation or craft project you’ve been working on?



Click here for other Arabic/Urdu fonts.



Not sure how to install fonts on your system?  It’s not too hard at all!  Click here to install Windows fonts… and here to learn how to install Mac fonts.

DIY Indian Inspired Gift Boxes

Shala over at “Don’t Eat the Paste” has created a truly inspired little gift box. The pattern reminds me of Indian Rangoli or Mehendi designs. These boxes could be a great DIY project for an Indian themed event… I’m thinking wedding favors, birthday party giveaways, even cute little gift boxes for that pair of earrings you picked up on your last trip to Southern Asia. The possibilities are endless – thank you Shala! Hope you guys can find some uses for them too!

Hindi Magnetic Letters for Kids

So my baby girl is 6 months old now and I can hardly believe it! My husband and I have decided we really want to encourage her to learn Hindi from a young age. We speak English primarily in our home (even with my Mother-in-Law), so we will have to make a conscious effort to teach Miss A Hindi. My husband is doing his best to try to remember to speak to her in Hindi…and he sings a song in Hindi to her that she loves – I’ll have to try and get that on video one of these days!
To help accomplish our goal of teaching her Hindi, we have found a few resources.
  • I have copies of the Baby Hindustani DVDs in Hindi – which she’ll start watching when she gets a little bigger (at least big enough to sit up on her own!)
  • Sometimes when she wants to be held, but I am trying to get some work done for one of my graphic design clients, I will put on a YouTube channel with short Hindi cartoons. She will sit in my lap mesmerized by it for several minutes.
  • Kahani Magazine was also a great resource that I was hoping to introduce our daughter to when she got a little older – but sadly, they’ve had to stop publishing for now. I’m crossing my fingers that they will work something out – but for you you can still order back issues.
  • A new resource that I just ordered is the magnetic “Varnamala Hindi Letter Set.” I have not seen these in person yet, but I will be sure and let you know how we like them. I think they are a great idea for a young child to help them learn the Hindi letters. I’m hoping Miss A agrees!
Do you have any other resources for teaching your child a South Asian Language?
*photo above is from DiscoverBee.org

Fun Indian Wedding Website

I know some of the IndianTies readers are planning upcoming weddings with a South Asian twist. I thought you might enjoy this fun website with tons of gorgeous photos of picturesque Indian weddings.




Eating out in India

This looks like a fun blog to dig into… Eating Out in Delhi.


“While Delhi offers a bewildering array of eating joints, there is a tendency in the media to focus on those which make commercial sense to the media mogul, but which regrettably often make little sense to those looking for value for money and plain good taste. Consequently, most of us don’t even get to hear about the many unpretentious places which thankfully, still abound in Delhi, and which — whether elegant hotels or simple streetside stalls — offer a truly rewarding experience to the foodie who is willing to venture away from the beaten path. Eating Out in Delhi is thus an attempt to discover and share the hidden gems of Delhi’s food scene…”

It makes me wish I were in Delhi! I think I’d try Sancho’s Mexican Restaurant first – I’ve tried local Mexican restaurants in both Hyderabad and Bangalore.

I’ll be the first to admit that they weren’t your typical Tex-Mex that I know and love, but after suffering Mexican food withdrawals while I lived in India – both places tasted pretty good to me! I did discover that I preferred the rice and beans to the Indian-ized enchiladas, etc.

But I hear India is coming up in the world of Mexican fast food. According to this report Taco Bell is opening its doors soon. It was only natural since it is a sister company of Pizza Hut and KFC – both of which are mega hits in India. I’ve always thought that Taco Bell would do well in India, it is similar enough to Indian food (think tortillas = chapattis) and can be easily adapted for vegetarians. I half way expect to be ordering a Maharaja Quesadilla by this time next year…