50 Things to Do With Kids on Long Flights… WITH NO ELECTRONICS!

         One of the more nerve-wracking parts of traveling with kids is without a doubt the flight.  It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to have a screaming toddler on a crowded flight with hundreds of people judging you and, worse, scowling at your little angel. I mean, they’re not always like this, right?  There has also been a recent trend in countries banning electronic devices larger than a phone on certain international flights. This mostly affects flights from the Middle East to the USA, the UK, and possibly Canada in the future. However, just the thought of having to do a international flight without my son’s iPad makes me shiver.  We try not to use it as much as possible, and on shorter flights I don’t even bother taking it… but it has definitely been a life saver on those long hauls so mama can get some sleep!  So the question is; what the heck is your child supposed to do without electronics for 15 hours?!  Well here is your answer. I created a list of 50 activities to keep you and your child busy.  Some are for younger kids and some are more suitable for older kids so there is something for everyone. I have done nearly all of these with my son on flights and they work like a charm.  Some of them he’s still too young for but you bet I’ll be doing them later on. Hope you enjoy!
1. You should always have a good coloring book and triangular or square crayons so they don’t roll around.

2. Stickers! This is probably my son’s favorite thing to do, plane or no plane. He could literally spend hours putting stickers on a piece of a paper or all over himself (or me). 

3. Fingerprint Art! All the creativity and fun of painting with less mess. This is a great activity, as long as you have a wipe to clean off their hands after.  There are so many great fingerprint pads that you can get at any department or art supply store like Wal-Mart, Target, or Michael’s. I even found one in a Wal-Mart in China!
4. Small puzzles are great. I like to pick up a couple of small packs at the dollar store and pour the pieces in ziplock bags so they don’t get everywhere in our carry-ons. It’s also less bulky than the boxes they sometimes come in so you can save some space! Every inch and pound counts when traveling with a kiddo!
5. Read some books! I always take about 5 of my son’s favorite lightweight or paperback books with us. We usually end up reading these 2 or 3 times on the same flight. He’s such a bookworm.
6. Take a walk around the plane! Go, meet the attendants in the back of the plane, say hi to some folks, and stretch your legs! We try to do this at least 2 or 3 times during the flight. Kills some time, stretches both your muscles, and keeps you from getting swollen ankles and embolisms on those 4,837 hour flights.
7. Draw a road map on a piece of paper and drive little matchbox cars on it.
8. Sing some songs and have a little dance party in your seats.  Not too loud of course but I would bet money that your neighbors would much rather listen to singing than crying.  My son loves Wheels on the Bus, Ants Go Marching, and Dancing in the Dark by Rihanna… because ya know, he’s super cool and it’s from the Dreamwork’s movie, Home.  By the way, if you haven’t seen it, it’s such a cute movie for kids.
9. Play a travel board game.  Almost all of the major board games come in travel size and are magnetized so the pieces don’t fly all over.
10. Practice writing the letters of the alphabet. My son is just starting to learn hand control so these are great exercises for him. He actually enjoys doing them too. I make dotted lines of the letters and he traces it. You could do this with shapes too.
11. Draw a picture for each letter of the alphabet. You could do this after finishing number 10. Example: draw an apple for the letter A, a balloon for the letter B, and so on. Again, you could make dotted outlines and have them trace the pictures and color them in.
12. Counting! Again, great practice for little ones learning numbers. Count all the hats you can see. Count all the headphones you can see. Count all the people sleeping. If they’re really good at counting… take a walk around the plane and see how many people are on the whole plane!
13. If you’re brave and have WASHABLE markers. Let them draw on their hands, face or heck, even let them draw a mustache on you. Anything is worth it as long as they’re happy and not screaming or annoying the other passengers, right?
14. Connect the dots. You could play Connect 4 with older kids or for the younger ones you could make a picture/shape with dots and have them connect the dots and guess what the picture/shape is.
15. Mustache stickers! We use these almost every time we go anywhere. What am I saying… we use these all the time, even when we’re sick and stuck at home.


16. Draw a circle and use a ruler to make a sort of mandala.
17. If there is some sun outside your window, make some shadow puppets!
18. Bring your makeup, jewelry, and sunglasses in your carry-on. Play dress up in your seats!
19. See if you can visit the cockpit. While this is slowly becoming a thing of the past, some pilots and crew members will allow kids to visit, especially if you ask with a smile. Not always… FAA regulations are tightening on this, but hey, it’s worth a shot, right?
20. Bring some post-it notes and tape and you can make a bunch of little crafts.  If you look on Google or Pinterest for Post-It crafts or origami you will find a bunch of cool stuff you can make, even on the plane!
21. Play some card games. Old Maid or Go Fish for younger kids and UNO or Crazy 8’s for the older kids. There are so many great games you can play. If you’re needing to kill a lot of time you could play War. It can go on for so long!
22. We just love to do temporary tattoos. Usually my son comes off the plane looking like he joined a biker gang. You can go to the bathroom to do this or ask for a wet washcloth from one of the flight attendants.
23. Invisible ink coloring books are great for little kids who haven’t quite mastered control over their hands.  They can still make a beautiful picture, usually of one of their favorite cartoon characters, and you don’t have to worry about marker getting all over the table and seats.


24. Make little people or sculptures out of tissues, toilet paper, and tape.
25. For kids who are a little bit older, write a story! After you’re finished you can illustrate each page of it. Write about the adventure you just went on or the adventure you hope you will have when you land!
26. Bring some small binoculars and bird watch out the window, spy on people in the front of the plane, or check out the mountains as you pass over.
27. Act out scenes from your favorite movies. For us, we have to pretend to be Elsa and Anna from Frozen or the alien named Oh and girl named Tip from Home.  You might look like a fool to your neighbors but they’ll appreciate sitting next to Anna and Elsa much more than they would like to sit next to a crying, bored toddler.
28. Make little animals or cars with play-doh!
29. Wrap up some of your new activity books or toys in wrapping paper.  Give one to your lil guy/gal every hour or so. Whenever they start to get a little bored or restless… bam! Present time. Just unwrapping it makes it seem so much cooler than the “gift” might actually be.
30. Buy some gel window clings at the dollar store. Squish those things all over your window seat.
31. Play Tic Tac Toe!
32. Get out your markers and color little faces all over the air sickness bags to make some hand puppets! Be sure to save one or ask for a few extra just in case you actually need one!
33. When your done, put on a show with your puppets! Make a little story with the characters.
34. Make or print out some easy kids’ crossword puzzles or word searches.  If you search for these on Google or Pinterest you will find a ton of options.
35. Ask the flight attendant if they have any activity packs for kids! Usually they don’t have a lot of stuff in them but it’ll keep them busy for a half-hour or so.  Any little bit helps though, right?
36. Give each other mani-pedis! Get some kids peel-off nail polish and paint each others toenails and fingernails. You can always peel it off or wash it off later.
37. Bring some string and play cat’s cradle!
38. Play pictionary! Draw some pictures and have your child guess what it is and vice versa.
39. Play “I Spy”.  I spy with my little eye something red. That man’s hat! Good activity to practice colors too for the younger kids.
40. Have a scavenger hunt/bingo card with things you often find on flights. Try to find all the things on your list/card before the plane lands. A man wearing headphones. A woman under a blanket. A neck pillow. A baby. A cup of juice. Someone waiting for the bathroom.
41. For the older kids, you just can’t beat a good game of Mad Libs, especially if you have more than one kiddo with you. The stuff they come up with is so funny!
42. Have a little chat! Just talk to them. You could do something more structured like an elimination story. “If you were on a deserted island and could only bring one of these five items, which one would you bring? Why?” You could also play ‘Would You Rather?’.  “Would you rather eat a booger or lick a butt?” … I obviously have a boy since that’s the first one that came to mind. “Would you rather be too hot or too cold? Would you rather have Christmas or Halloween?”.  You could also just talk about your destination. What are they most excited to see or do?
43. Scratch Art.  I love doing these myself so we always pack a few of these.
44. If its daytime outside your window… look at the clouds and tell each other what you see in the shapes of the clouds.


45. Use a marker or pen to draw little faces on your fingers and then have a little show  with your “finger puppets”.
46. Make some origami newspaper hats to wear!  They always have those free newspapers before you board, grab one and make some origami!
47. If you get really desperate, read the in-flight magazines and have them describe what’s in the pictures!
48. Eat a snack of course!
49. Freshen up!  Go to the bathroom. Change both of your clothes. Brush their teeth. Brush their hair. Wipe off any marker from their face. Change their diaper. Lotion up both your legs and arms so you don’t stink more than you both probably already do after an international flight.
50. Hopefully, after doing all of these your little one will TAKE A NAP! Hallelujah! Time for you to do whatever you want now.  Of course, by that I mean you can also take a nap.


 

         I know I’m personally guilty of using the iPad probably too much during our flights.  As parents we, rightfully so, stress about how to entertain our kids for long periods of time in a very small space.  We often rely on phones, iPads, computers, and the in-flight entertainment systems to help keep them occupied.  However, recently, there has been a shift away from these things. Airlines are becoming more strict with the devices allowed on planes and budget airlines often do not have in flight entertainment. Even without these factors though, lessening the amount of screen time your young child gets is becoming more widely practiced. Believe me, though, when you’re on hour 10 of a 14 hour flight with no sign of a nap in sight, you need some solace, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty plugging him in for a bit so I can get sleep.  I’m no good to my lil guy if I can’t even see or think straight.  That being said, hopefully these can help you to reduce the amount of screen time for you little ones or help you to survive those long flights, dare I say, without electronic devices!

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For Every Hurdle There Is Happiness

Traveling with kids can be one of the most daunting things you’ll ever do. I have heard so many people say they are going to avoid any kind of international travel until their kids are older. Many think I am crazy for dragging my little guy all over before he will really even remember it. Maybe I am. However, for every hurdle there is happiness. I am such a firm believer that these experiences, whether he remembers them or not, will help to shape who my son becomes as he grows up. It is not easy to travel with a toddler. Not even a little bit. Traveling, especially international travel, with kids can make you want to pull your hair out and question your own sanity. How could I possibly have thought this would be a good idea? Then, there will be those moments that make everything worth it.

For every good there is bad.
For every hurdle there is happiness.
For every time your child pukes all over you in a crowded bus, there will be a time they explore ancient ruins for the first time with the biggest smile on their face.

For every time you have to sit on a plane in a sopping wet shirt from spit up, there will be a time they hug you so tight on their first tuk tuk ride… and you squeeze them right back.

For every time your kids will fight, there will be a time they pull your arm along excitedly on an adventure.
For every time someone stubbornly won’t eat their dinner, there will be a time you find the most amazing little cafe where they devour their food saying, “Wow Mom! That was so good!”.
For every time your child cries because they want a food that is not available where you are, there will be a time you both will cry tears of joy for miraculously coming across a Krispy Kreme in the middle of SE Asia.

For every time someone gets sick on a day you wanted to see or do something incredible, there will be a day where the incredible just finds you unexpectedly and your kids will have the time of their lives.
For every time your little guy screams and kicks because he doesn’t want to leave an amusement park, there will be a time they laugh as a monkey eats out of their hand for the first time.
For every time your kid will not want to get out of bed when you have a plane or train to catch, there will be a time they wake you up early because they’re excited for the day.
For every time your lil sour-puss doesn’t want to smile for a picture, there will be a time you candidly catch them grinning from ear to ear standing in the midst of amazing scenery.

For every time you miss a bus because you had to stop in the bathroom to change a stinky diaper again, there will be a time where you cram into a tiny moto-bus and laugh till tears come down your face as your tossed around with every bump and turn.
For every time your kiddo will want to sit in the hotel and watch TV instead of seeing the sites, there will be a time they sit through a 90 minute local dance performance and they’ll hardly blink and clap their little hands in amazement .
For every time your babe falls down and gets hurt, there will be kisses and hugs aplenty.

For every time your child has an “accident” with no spare clothes handy, there will be a time they tear off all their clothing and run into the ocean naked because they’re too excited to wait 2 minutes to put on their swimsuit.

For every time you and your little one have long nights and early mornings, there will be times when strangers will say “You are so lucky to have such a happy little boy.” because he is genuinely happy to be in that place with you.
For every time you have to make an embarrassing, stupid, goofy face or dance just to make them smile for a picture, there will be someone who notices and thinks you are an amazing mother. (I hope.)
For every time your child screams from their ears popping on a plane, there will be a time they squeal with delight at meeting an elephant for the first time.

For every time you lose a favorite toy, shirt, or sippy cup along the way, there will be times you’ll make the most amazing memories to make up for it.

For every time your baby’s eyes are filled with tears because they just can’t find a comfortable sleeping position on that 714 hour flight (or so it feels), there will be a time their eye’s sparkle from seeing the ocean or feeling the sand for the first time.
For every time your lil one throws a tantrum in the middle of a marketplace, there will be a time when they say “I love you so much, mama” for no reason other than they mean it and they are so thankful to have such amazing experiences with you.
For every hurdle there is happiness.
The most amazing experiences come in the midst of the horrible ones. Or should I say, the horrible experiences happen in the midst of the amazing ones. Sometimes I do still think I’m a bit crazy to bring such a little guy along on my adventures, but that feeling slowly sinks away when I think about all of our memories we have created together. Even the bad ones become great stories later on. The things to be afraid of are not these awful experiences. I would be more afraid to miss out on the good ones that comes with them. I would say to any parent thinking about traveling, but who is scared about actually doing it… take the plunge. You’ll be glad you did and you’ll never question it. You can’t describe, even in more than 1,000 words, the ways that travel enhances and deepens your relationship with your kids and their education about the world. My son and I will continue to travel until he has to push me kicking and screaming into a retirement home (or until he gets old enough to the point where I’m more embarrassing than cool). I refuse to let these bad experiences dictate how or where or when we travel. I would rather be optimistic. The bad is not pleasant. No doubt about it. But… without these hurdles, we wouldn’t have the happiness that comes along with them.

10 Things to See and Do in Siem Reap WITH KIDS!

Siem Reap is the epicenter of Cambodia’s ever-growing tourism industry. Being the gateway to the awe-inspiring Angkor temple complex brings many travelers from all around the world. Naturally, the city has done a lot to accommodate tourists and offers a variety of things to see and do for people of all ages. The following are what we found to be the best in the area for families.
1. The Angkor Temples- 

Duh. If you go to Siem Reap and DON’T visit the temples, then you wasted your trip! Even for kids, this is one of the ultimate spots in the world for your bucketlist. Kids will feel like Indiana Jones exploring all the nooks and crannies of the temples. My son had a ball climbing stairs and wandering through passageways. While there are some areas that are off-limits to kids under a certain age, the vast areas they can explore are still incredible. There are so many temples in the complex that it would take at least 2 weeks to go through all of them. If you only have limited time I would say that Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm are the most impressive and popular ones in the bunch.


Angkor Wat is famous for being the most stunning and favored temple in the complex. It was constructed to be the earthly home for the gods in Cambodian history, kind of like the Mt. Olympus of Cambodia. Therefore it is a very sacred area. Please remember that when dressing for the day. No booty shorts or spaghetti strap tanks. There are areas of the temple that you will not even be allowed into without proper dress.

Angkor Thom is actually bigger than Angkor Wat when you put it all together. It is known as the “face temple” because of the many faces carved in/around the temple and gates. Also your kids can feel like Lara Croft trekking through the sites. Parts of Tomb Raider were filmed here! Ta Prohm is a magical place where Mother Nature has taken over. The trees are grown over the temples creating a beautiful clash of nature and architecture. It makes for beautiful photographs. As for when you should go… I highly encourage you to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Nothing compares to it. Even with kids. You can sit and eat some breakfast (in our case, granola bars) on the shore of the reflection pools and watch the sun come up (or in Ashton’s case, play in the dirt).


After sunrise, stay and check out the rest of Angkor Wat. It’s still cool and many people head back to Siem Reap for breakfast so it’s not too crowded. When we were finished checking out Angkor Wat we headed for Angkor Thom, but by the time we got there Ashton was passed out with no chance of waking him up. So I ended up sitting outside the temple for an hour while he took a nap. Moral of the story… maybe that would be a good time to head back to your hotel and take a nap. Then, you could wake up, get some lunch, and then continue on your adventure to Angkor Thom refreshed and ready. Bring plenty of water with you here. It will be midday, very hot, and this temple is one of the larger ones with lots of different buildings to trek to.


After, head on over to Ta Prohm. It is not very large necessarily but easily one of the most beautiful ones in the complex. It’s also a very shaded area so it will be a nice break from the sun. One last tip, bring lots of insect repellent! We basically drowned ourselves in the stuff and still got eaten alive.

2. Psar Chaa- 

Psar Chaa is a fairly large building with a plethora of winding aisles stocked to the brim with anything you could want. There is a great wet market for fresh veggies. You can stock up on gifts with plenty of T-shirts, trinkets, wall hangings, or paintings. If your best friend is a DSLR then head over to the food and spices section. The vivid colors make for some great pictures. Ashton loved winding through all the alleys of the market. He also loves spending money, as most kids do, so that helps too. They have some great little kid shirts, toys, and stuffed animals.
3. Cambodian Cultural Village-

This is a lesser known site to foreign tourists, as it is more popular with Cambodians, but our tuk tuk driver said it was good for kids and he was right, of course. It is a replication of various styles of Cambodian villages. While it may not be the most exciting thing for those of us who have already gone through puberty, my little one had a blast checking out all the little houses and villages. They also have dancing and performances by locals which Ashton definitely enjoyed watching.
4. Floating Village-

To get to the floating village you can take a tuk tuk to the river harbor and then charter a private boat or get a ticket for a larger ferry. The boat ride is about 30 minutes to an hour depending on which kind of boat you board. The ride itself is such a joy to see the “river life”. Families fishing and swimming along the banks. My son loves boats (and, like most boys, pretty much all modes of transportation) so this was a big hit for him. Getting to the village is such an experience… seeing chickens in floating coops, children playing in house boats, and kids going to school in the middle of a lake. There is also an orphanage here. You can stop at a market before you get on your boat and bring rice, veggies, or other little snacks to the kids here. Ashton ended up playing badminton with about 10 of the kids at the orphanage. Talk about heartwarming!

5. Artisans Angkor-

This company is based out of Siem Reap but has outlets throughout the city and in Phnom Penh as well as at the major airports. They sell handmade jewelry, home decor, clothing, and lots more. The artisans are local people who have been trained at this center in Siem Reap. They also provide tours (which is the fun part for kids!) about how they make some of their stuff! Pretty cute watching a little one learn how to use a loom.
6. Zip Line-

The ‘Flight of the Gibbon’ is the name of Siem Reap’s only zip line. While I did not personally try this, I have heard far too many people say that this was one of the best zip lines they’ve done in Asia. It does not go through the temples but it does go through the Asian jungle and that alone makes it a pretty incredible experience. Our tuk tuk driver/guide Rony said that this was one of the most popular family attractions in the city and it went through a very beautiful area of the jungle. I can’t wait until Ashton is a little older so we can go back and try it!
7. Horse Riding-

The ‘Happy Horse Ranch’ is the place to go. They offer all kinds of trail rides; short 1/2 hour lead rides to 2 hour trail rides for experienced riders. The owner is originally from Cambodia but spent more than 30 years raising horses in California. He has now retired here and has brought his love of horses back with him. His vast property is beautiful and a perfect spot for some trail riding. Various statues placed throughout the property makes for some great pictures along the way. For kids under 5 the 1/2 hour lead ride is perfect. My little one was starting to get fidgety after a while. For older kids the longer rides explore more of the picturesque land.

8. ATV Riding-

If your kids like something a little faster or more modern than a horse, you can always take them out on ATVs! There are a few options around town for ‘quad-biking’. The one we went with was Siem Reap Quad Bike Adventure. Again, there are several options you can choose. You can do a short little ride around the surrounding areas or you can do a longer option to see the sunset and go through the farmlands. The ATVs are all very easy to use and you can go as fast or as slow as you like. There is no pressure since you can book your ride to be a solo guided ride. You are the only one so you can determine the pace. With Ashton, obviously we weren’t pushing the pedal to the metal so it was nice to be able to take it slowly. It also gave us more time to take in the pretty views of the surrounding areas around Siem Reap.
9. Angkor National Museum-

The Angkor National Museum is a must see for anyone visiting the city. It helps inform you more about the Angkor temples and has so much more to offer about Cambodian history. It’s a beautiful building that has an abundance of relics from ancient Cambodia. It is a little expensive considering it’s not that large and the cost of the actual temples but I still say it’s worth it. One of the rooms that you shouldn’t miss is the Room of 1,000 Buddhas, which, if you can’t guess, is a room with about 1,000 Buddha statues in it. Pretty intense and powerful. Definitely check it out!
10. Phare the Cambodian Circus-

The last must-see on my list is the circus. I saved this for last because, besides the Angkor temples, I would recommend this above all others. It was absolutely amazing. Cliche, but there is simply no other word to describe it. Ashton was so enthralled with it for the entire 90 minutes because it is so colorful and the performers are so energetic. I was equally as enthralled because of the storyline behind the acts. It goes through the emotional upbringing of someone raised during the Khmer genocides. I’m a big enough person to admit, I teared up more than once watching this. Luckily, Ashton was too young to really understand the meaning. He just saw cool stunts, energy, and color. If you only see one thing in Siem Reap… see Angkor Wat. If you see two things, see the temple and this circus. I can’t even stress enough how much my son and I both loved it.

I hope you enjoyed our list of “must-see’s”! If you’ve been to Siem Reap and had an amazing experience somewhere, leave a comment and let us know where we should go next time!