A week from now, we’ll be en route to Texas to spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws and Johnny’s grandmother. (How is it that Thanksgiving sneaks up on me every year?) I’m looking forward to the down time with family — my in-laws are pretty amazing, and this trip is also a rare chance for the boys to spend time with a great-grandparent — and am starting to prepare for the travel day. As every parent knows, preparation is the key to a smooth journey when you’re flying with toddlers and preschoolers.
I’ve learned a lot about traveling with kids over the years, from other moms and my own experience (I’ve taken more than 12 flights with Jack and flown four times with both kids), but I’ll keep this entry food-related to avoid boring everyone. 😉 Number one on my traveling-with-kids checklist is snacks. A well-timed snack can be a great diversion when your child is, say, kicking the seat in front of him or about to pitch the mother of all tantrums (not that my kids do that. Oh, no; they’re always perfectly behaved). Plus, you never know when you’re going to be stuck for long periods of time without access to a food court, so it pays to be prepared. As I was thinking about which snacks to pack for next week, I remembered that two years ago, my wonderfully crafty friend Jill brought some snacks in this nifty box for Jack when she and her daughter came for a playdate:
Isn’t it cute? I never would have thought to get a bead storage box and decorate it, but it is perfect for on-the-go snacking. The novelty factor is also a huge plus for traveling. Raisins alone might occupy a toddler for 10 seconds, but raisins in a compartment of a personalized snack box? You’ve just bought yourself two whole minutes! 😉
At the time Jill made the box for Jack, Derek was only a few weeks old, so unfortunately, I had to make one for Derek to use next week. I say “unfortunately” because I am notskilled when it comes to drawing or decorating. I trekked to Michael’s, grabbed a clear bead storage box with adjustable dividers, some permanent markers, and spent 20 minutes making this (please, please don’t laugh!):
I’m hoping that Derek isn’t old enough to see that the, um, artwork on his box is not nearly as cool as what’s on Jack’s box. But, hey, it’ll do the job. I would fill up the boxes to show you, but I’m too lazy to fill up the boxes, empty them back out, then fill them again next week. Some ideas for the compartments are: raisins and other dried fruits (cranberries, blueberries, cherries, diced apricots, mangoes), Cheerios (I like to mix some plain ones with some of the sweet Cheerios, like honey nut, banana nut or multi-grain), Goldfish, pretzel sticks, graham crackers, fruit snacks, fruit-by-the-foot, peanut butter or cheese cracker sandwiches. I would advise only putting nonperishable foods into the box to avoid leakage or things becoming discolored (or mushy, or otherwise “yucky”).
Along with the snack boxes, I’m also taking along a couple of snack-sized ziploc bags of fresh cut fruit and the boys’ water bottles (if you’re traveling with kids, you can take more than three ounces of liquids past the security checkpoint; just be prepared for extra screening time. Or, you can just take the empty bottles to fill after you’ve cleared the checkpoint).
One final food-related tip: Although it’s a good idea to bring along your own healthy snacks, traveling with young children is not the time to stick to your normal eating rules. It might be different if you’re traveling with older kids, but if you’re going with young children (especially if you’re going it alone!), it’s perfectly fine to resort to bribery to get a desired behavior. Bring on the fries, popcorn, ice cream, chicken nuggets and pizza! It’s only one day, and if it helps you get to your destination a little more easily, it’s well worth the indulgence. Safe travels to all!