Category Archives: TRAVEL

How to Entertain an Infant on a Long Flight

inflight_car_seat-British_air

Our son was exactly one year old when we flew from Dallas to Mumbai, India (via London).  I was pretty confident in our 4 year old’s ability to be entertained on the flights, but Mr. A was just 12 months old and not too fond of being confined to our laps for any length of time!

We didn’t know it at the time we booked our flights, but British Air has a special infant seat (like a car seat) that attaches to a foldout shelf on the bulk head seats. We found out about this just in time to call the airlines and ask to reserve the “cot seat” for myself and the baby.  Thankfully the were also able to accommodate my husband and Miss A on the same row – all for no extra charge!  It worked out perfectly.  Mr A is totally happy in his carseat and stroller, but if someone is holding him, he knows he can escape and he won’t give up until he is successful!  So the inflight “carseat” was perfect – he liked playing there when he was awake – he could see lots of people from his perch – and he slept comfortably there also.  The only downside was that he had to be removed when the “fasten seatbelt” sign came on.

I knew he would’t sleep the entire journey so I tired to plan ahead and pack a few lightweight toys that I hoped would entertain him more than just a few minutes.  So aside from snacks and baby food, I packed the following toys (these were all new to him at the time so that also added to the fun factor)

1. PipSquigz – these fun suction cup toys were perfect to stick on the wall of the airplane or trains once we were in India.  They won’t fall to the ground and get dirty and the best part is the baby loved them!

2. A Travel Magna Doodle – He was happy to “draw” with this for quite a decent time.  This was one of his favorite toys during the trip.  And I didn’t have to worry about any messes to clean up!  Sadly ours broke mid journey but we were able to replace it in India.

3.  Soft blocks that could clip onto each other or anything else to keep them off the floor!  Mr. A was going through quite the “stacking” phase (he actually still is!) So I thought these blocks would be great since they were squishy and didn’t weigh much and I could keep them clean by keeping them off the floor.

Other things that worked to entertain a 12 month old:

pots and pans

  • A box of crayons – he was not really into coloring much at the time but he loved taking the colors out one.by.one. and putting them back one.by.one.  This trick not only came in handy on the planes and trains, but also during church!  Of course the “game” was all over when he got bored and decided to start putting the colors in his mouth. But with close supervision he did remarkably well for his age.
  • Plastic Snack containers and something to “hide” inside.  He would open and close it over and over again.
  • Small cars that he cold roll back and forth.
  • Books – we tried to limit the number of books we took due to weight, we opted for paperbacks instead of board books.  Just be aware that they might get torn up – so don’t bring favorites!  I hit the Dollar Store before we left and found some good choices.
  • Water bottles – never underestimate the entertainment power of cheap plastic!  Just be careful of the lids – Mr. A had not yet mastered unscrewing the lid so we were able to give him the bottles to play with without too much worry about him getting the lid in his mouth.
  • He was given a Shape Box in India, so he enjoyed playing with that while we were there.  We chose not to bring it home with us because we already had one at home, so we passed it on to another child before we left.
  • Pots and Pans and Wooden Spoons – he loves “cooking” so we would find all sorts of steel vessels at my Mother-in-Law’s house and we would throw the shapes from the Shape Box inside and he would stir them up and just generally play with all of that for a long time. This didn’t work for the airplane but was great when we were in houses that didn’t have any “toys.”  This could be modified for the airplane with empty plastic cups, and plastic cutlery if your flight attendant will bring extras.
  • A plastic chair – again not for the flights – but he was just starting to walk (he actually took his first steps in India!) and he would push the plastic chair around the house like a walker.  Worked great on the granite floors in India!

Those are some of the things that worked for us in our travels.  What have you done to keep little ones entertained while traveling?

 

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!

Indian Street Food: Enjoying Fresh Coconut

Miss A had a fabulous time in India!  It was still pretty hot while we were there.  To get some relief from the heat, and to keep hydrated we stopped several times for fresh coconut water right on the street.  If you’ve never experienced this before, you pay around Rs. 12 (depending on the location!) for the lady to use a machete to whack the top off of a young coconut.  Then she inserts a straw.  You drink all the coconut water and then give it back to the lady.  She will then use the machete to whack the coconut in half lengthwise.  Then she will use some of the shell to loosen the meat of the coconut from both halves.  She’ll put all the meat into one half of the coconut and give it back to you to eat the tasty young coconut meat.

Try not to think too hard about this – just go with the flow.  Of course her cart and machete aren’t sterilized.  Of course she didn’t use hand sanitizer to sanitize her hands before handling the coconut or the straws (which have been laying there in the open air all day long).  Of course her hands touch the meat of the coconut when she’s scooping it out for you.  But hey, you don’t get the chance to do this every day back home, right?  We’re pretty relaxed and happily enjoyed it and Miss A did too.  No tummy trouble for us.  I hope you’ll be just as lucky if you get the chance!

By the way…
Coconuts are an amazing food.  All parts of the coconut are so healthy for you from the coconut water (the latest health fad in the US), to the coconut meat, to coconut oil.  If you google just about any ailment and “coconut oil” you’ll come up with claims that coconut oil can heal the problem.  Seriously.  There must be some truth to it!

How about you? Have you tried any street food in India?  Are you nervous about it or do you just close your eyes and go with it?  Ever heard about the health benefits of coconuts?  Do tell!

Photo Thursday: A Crowded Ride

Ever seen a site like this in Southern Asia? This shot was taken on a road trip through the state of Tamil Nadu in India. I can’t really say where they were going or what they were doing but lets just say these animals were riding in style! Well maybe close quarters, but at least they had a view!
More great scenes from India and other places in Southern Asia coming every Thursday.
Don’t forget to, check out my Flickr photostream for more great photos. You can also buy poster-sized prints of some photos featured in Photo Thursdays in my Zazzle shop.

Photo Thursday: Rickshaw Wallas

No doubt, if you’ve traveled to Southern Asia, you’ve seen all types of rickshaws – from auto rickshaws to bicycle rickshaws. (This photo totally reminds me of the movie “City of Joy” with Patrick Swayze.) In my experience however, I have only seen these man-pulled rickshaws in Calcutta (or Kolkata, as it is now known). I’m sure you can still find these types of rickshaws in various villages, but in the major cities that I’ve been to in India, I have only seen these rickshaws in use in Calcutta.
I did not ride in one… it looks like fun, but there is just something so hard about someone earning his living by running through the streets barefoot, pulling passengers. I feel guilty to ride in one somehow, but yet want to support the only business these rickshaw wallas have. I have ridden extensively in auto rickshaws, and many times in bicycle rickshaws. I usually feel more compelled to give the bicycle rickshaw wallas more of a tip than the auto drivers.
Anyone ever ridden in these types of rickshaws? Would you feel comfortable? Have you seen them in other cities in Southern Asia?
More great scenes from India and other places in Southern Asia coming every Thursday.
Don’t forget to, check out my Flickr photostream for more great photos. You can also buy poster-sized prints of some photos featured in Photo Thursdays in my Zazzle shop.

Photo Thursday: TO-LET signs

What do YOU notice in the photo above? Maybe the snazzy name of the shop? The Kannada writing on the sign? The bright colors? Or – is it the huge “TO-LET” sign?
Have you seen these signs in your travels to Southern Asia? In my experience, they are everywhere! A first time visitor to India might make the same mistake that many of my friends have made. The sign is actually advertising a space for rent, NOT public toilets!
Come on, admit it if you’ve made that mistake before! :-)
More great scenes from India and other places in Southern Asia coming every Thursday.
As always, check my Flickr photostream for more great photos. You can also buy poster-sized prints of some photos featured in Photo Thursdays in my Zazzle shop.

Photo Thursday: Three Little Monkeys…

So I typically DON’T get this close to monkeys in India or Nepal. However, I was minding my own business and these guys happened to be right next to me. I quickly snapped their photo (with my handy-dandy zoom lens!) and quickly exited, stage right.
Why so skittish around monkeys? Well, these guys are not the cute little trained monkeys who do cute tricks. They are wild – and can be downright MEAN! Check out the older monkey’s ears in the photo above… I’d say they’ve been in a brawl or two. Plus they can carry diseases – I sure wouldn’t want to get bit by one. Just ask my husband…
He was walking down the road in India, minding his own business. He had a backpack on his back and apparently a monkey thought he must have some tasty treat inside. Before my husband realized what happened, the monkey had bitten him – square on his behind! The only thing that saved him was his wallet. He has two puncture holes in that wallet to prove his story!
More great scenes from India and other places in Southern Asia coming every Thursday.
As always, check my Flickr photostream for more great photos. You can also buy poster-sized prints of some photos featured in Photo Thursdays in my Zazzle shop.

Photo Thursdays: A Houseboat on Scenic Kerala’s Backwaters

This is a photo of a houseboat in Kerala’s backwaters. Kerala is known and advertised in travel commercials in India as, “God’s Own Country.” You can see how absolutely scenic it is. I visited at one of the hottest times of the year, but being out on the water was refreshing. You can rent these houseboats for a period of time – an afternoon, or a couple of days – and they come staffed. You have your own personal fisherman who will catch your dinner and cook it right on the boat for you. If you’re brave enough you can go for a swim right off of your boat. Next time we visit India, we plan to take a family vacation and rent one of these boats. Good times for all!
More great scenes from India and other places in Southern Asia coming every Thursday.
As always, check my Flickr photostream for more great photos. You can also buy a poster-sized print of this photo and others in my Zazzle shop.



Photo Thursday: Hidden Temple

Today’s photo is from a village outside of Kathmandu. I was with a friend, and we stumbled upon this “hidden temple.” It was inside a courtyard, and was very picturesque!
More great scenes from Southern Asia coming every Thursday.
As always, check my Flickr photostream for more great photos. You can also buy a poster-sized print of this photo and others in my Zazzle shop.