Thursday, July 21, 2011

Traveling with a toddler...a travel activity bag runs through your head when your midway between point A and point B and your child is done with the car/trip.  Well I knew this year could be a tough year for us travel wise so I've been planning and preparing for months.  Ava no longer naps but I'm still hoping she'll sleep for an hour or so just because she is stuck in the car.  A good part of our trip is on back mountain roads where there are literally no gas stations or stores for hours.  There were times last year that we wouldn't pass another car or people anywhere.  This means no real stopping to stretch our legs and no place to potty.  I had planned to pack Ava's old baby bjorn potty chair which we have used a few times at the track (Ava doesn't like public stalls) but then I started to think what about our train ride we are planning, or if we go on a hike.  I knew full well my little girl wasn't going to agree to popping a squat out in the random wilderness.  So I began to research and this is what I found...

It's a kalencom potette plus  (see my newly added review of the potty here) and it's a two in one that can be used stand alone with this little baggy inserts or laid flat on top of a regular toilet.  It's tiny and folds up so that I can tote in it a bookbag to have it handy.  I'll admit the lined baggy inserts looked questionable so I had Ava use it first thing in the morning to really test it's absorbancy.  Let's just say it holds up pretty darn well and then can be easily tossed away.  She even insisted on testing the "car potty" in the car and it passed on comfort and stability too.
 I did have to go in search of some wipes and was happy to find a pack shoved in the back of Ava's closet.  I haven't bought wipes since before Christmas.  You can get a good idea of it's compact size when compared to the pack of wipes.
 The seat, wipes, and extra liners all fit well in the bag that it came with.

Now that I've covered travel potty's let me get back to the travel bag.  I researched a lot and it seems the most important part is that you include a few key favorites and a ton of small new items.   That way you have toys you know your child will play with and new things that your child will play with because, well, they are new.  So here is what is in Ava's...

Ok I last thing I purchased for traveling with her.  A travel tray so she can color, eat, and play on a surface.   We have not tested this out but the reviews said it worked well with the carseat we have (Britax Marathon).  Seems the most important things when searching for a travel tray are to find one that is soft and one that works well with you carseat.
back to the activity bag...a fresh activity book.  She has been asking to try the Giraffe one for a while now.  Also a few movies for the DVD player which saved our trip last year.  I grabbed movies that she either hasn't seen in a while or has not watched at all.  I thought about going with some tried and true favorites but figure a new movie is more likely to keep her attention.
This wasn't a cheap purchase but something Ava has wanted for a while.  She is always after my camera and as cute as it is my camera is just too expensive for her to walk around with.  Not to mention it's heavy.  I got this a few months ago with the intent to give it to her right away but after thinking it through I thought it was be a great present to reward her for being good on the trip.  I'll have my camera out a lot and this way she can have one of her own.
These were free if you don't count paper and ink.  To make them completely free I guess I could have printed them at the library but I would have exceeded my limit and had to go at least twice.  I printed coloring pages from all her favorite shows.  (I held the folder down a bit so you could see Layla snoozing in the background)
She got this in May for being good and going on countless errands with me one day.  It was on sale and under $10 and she really seemed to like it so I thought why not.  Well after two weeks it had fallen under one of the seats in the car and when I located it I decided to stash it away until vacation.  (Wouldn't you know that little bugger came sneaking in when I was taking these pictures and tried to take this and the camera...I quickly moved them)
Her Grammy gave her these with a few other things and the girl LOVES animals so I thought it would be fun to stash these away to.  Plus they should make fun refrigerator toys once we are there.
My Dad got her this coloring book for Easter and she has colored in it a few times but I stashed it away more than a month ago so it will kind of be like new.  There is also a little pack of crayons left from a goodie bag.
These sticker sheets and matching paper to make scenes are from a wedding we went to.  The kids were given activity bags with lots in them and these were untouched when we left.
Target dollar section find...thought they went well with the theme.
Borders clearance for $3
The inside
Borders clearance for $2
The Inside
Target $1 section...who doesn't love pipe cleaners
Michaels $1 section
Target $1 section
Target $1 section
Target $1 section....see sneaky miss coming in to see what I was doing
The mini felt car maps I made her.  When we get back I'm going to make a few more and attach them all to be one large map.
All stuffed into a reusable bag.
This was one of her car must haves.  It typically stays in the car but I put it in the travel bag so we don't forget it since it was in a different car. 
This was another car must have that I grabbed so everything is in one place. 
and what travel bag is complete without some wipes.

Of course I will have a separate bag with snacks and drinks  but this includes Ava's travel bag.  I'll post after our trip about how it all worked.

O and if all else fails she can play with one of our iphones which are loaded with apps for her.  In airplane mode of course so she can't call people or download anything.  I'm thinking I'll get her the new super why app so she has a fresh one to play with.  The kid can use the phone better than me.  In fact she has organized my phones apps in to categories and it looks so nice now.

Well, we need to go visit Nan who we are going to miss so much on vacation.  This may be my last post before vacation so see ya'll next time :)

Update:  Post vacation details :)  Our trip to and from the mountains (approx 5hrs each way) was a huge success.  The potty seat is AMAZING...see my review here.  As far as the bag of course I had more than enough to keep one 2.5yr old content.  In fact the bag stays in the car so we always have it on us for shorter trips.  It's convenient to be able to just grab an activity or two for waiting in doctors offices, etc. as well.  Most of the dollar items from target and Michaels were used and tossed on vacation.  Pieces inevitably went missing throughout the week and I don't like to keep partial toys but for the price they were worth it.  Ava's favorite was the lacing beads...those kept her content for hours on end.  Most of the coloring items, stickers, and such remain in the bag for when they are needed.  I clean the bag out every few weeks when I do routine clean up of the car.  I add small things from the $1 section at Target when I find them or little goody bag items when she gets them.  That way there is always at least something new.  Also the bag came in handy during a hurricane when we lost power.  I brought it inside and believe it or now her car toys being inside was the coolest thing ever or so she said.  All in all I am glad I did my research and the only thing I plan to change is the bag itself.  The bag kind of becomes a bottomless pit for smaller items so I plan to replace it with a small canvas or plastic container with a lid.  Something that will fit on the floor behind the drivers and/or passenger seat.  I am hoping to make the trek to ikea this weekend so I'm sure I'll find something there.

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