The countdown is on - my Decocrated 2020 tabletop calendar says November - winter travel is upon us! Our family has one major trip planned this winter, we are headed to Breckenridge, CO for a family reunion! I don’t know about you, but travel the last year and a half has been pretty minimal given the state of the world, so I feel like I’m re-teaching myself how to successfully get my kids from point A to point B. Anyone else in the same boat? We’ve taken multiple cross-country flights and 10+ hour road trips with our kid(s) over the years, so it’s weird to feel out of practice! 

As I was gathering items for our trip I thought I’d lay out a few of my tried and true, kid-approved travel items that have kept my kids occupied successfully throughout the years! I try to stay away from items with small parts that can get lost, things that make a mess, or things that make too much noise. If an activity occupies them for 5+ minutes or more I consider that a win. 

Here’s where I start. I pull out a backpack for each kid. They are responsible for this bag, however, I pack it. What’s inside is a complete surprise to them - they cannot open it until the trip starts. They can add their favorite stuffed animal/one toy, but otherwise it’s mine to pack. 

Here’s what’s inside: 

Window Clings

I don’t care how old you are, window clings are enormously entertaining. Whether you’re in an airplane, a car, or you’ve already reached your destination - these squishy, clingy designs are always a hit for my kids! I’ve used these to occupy my daughter (who is 4.5 years old now) starting when she was just 9 months old! Sit your kids next to the window on an airplane or in the car and let them go to town! 

Mess-Free Markers & Paper

Whether you snag one of those water books (we love the Melissa & Doug brand) or the Mess-Free Crayola drawing pads, these mess-free books are THE BEST! My kids love to color so this is a no-brainer! Essentially you use water to activate colors in the water books or you use special markers on special paper (yep, they don’t make marks on anything else)!! Amazing! 

Library or Second-Hand Books

I’m obsessed with our local consignment store (shout out to Small Threads in Issaquah, WA)! They have second-hand books available for $1 each. I always make a trip there prior to a trip and load up on new books for the kids! My “It’s what’s inside that counts” tote from Decocrated was filled to the brim this time, here are just a few of the books I snagged! You can also visit your local library, too. I find new books occupy my kids, and it feels like something so special to them! I add a few of these books to each of their backpacks! Such a fun experience for me too, I love watching them discover new books! 

Painters Tape

I know this sounds crazy, but painter’s tape is a GODSEND while traveling! My favorite use for it is constructing roads for my son’s matchbox cars while on the airplane! He loves this. The roads go from seat to seat, up on the tray table…so fun! And the tape doesn’t make a ton of noise, causes no damage - the possibilities are endless! My daughter also likes to practice writing her name on the tape with crayons or using the tape to make some of her paper drawings into a book! So many uses! 

Snacks are Queen

Yep, for the sake of occupying them, I just feed and feed and feed my kids on trips. No shame. Sugar, that’s fine. Whatever it takes. Travel of any kind, I consider it survival mode. My go-to snacks take a lot of time to eat and aren’t too messy. My favorite are 1) mini boxes of raisins 2) goldfish/pirates booty/chickpea puffs 3) suckers (could be dumb-dumbs, but my favorite brand is Yum Earth) 4) my kids also love apples, so I usually include one of those cut into slices. My kids can eat their snacks in their backpack anytime, but once they’re gone - they’re gone. I will also bring a few others in my bag for later. Like I said, survival mode! I find giving them a little autonomy (when they can snack on their backpack snacks) makes them feel a little more in control while we are dragging them through the airport or sticking them in the car for long hours! 

Phew, okay. I think that was all the major items we pack to occupy the kids on trips! Hopefully, this list was helpful! Cheers to traveling again!! Happy holidays, y’all!