Planning a long haul flight or big road trip with the kids? How to put together a ‘Busy Bag’

Travelling with children can make parents a little tense at times. When travelling, you can find yourself in situations when you need to rush, when it’s busy, when you really have to concentrate, when you have to sit still and so on. All of these situations can prove tricky at times when you have children – try telling a one year old who has just started walking they have to sit still on a plane, or a tired child they need to queue to get through passport control.

We’ve found ourselves in all sorts of situations over the years with the children when travelling, and over the years developed a few strategies to handle situations like these.

The key for me is ‘be prepared’, so here is a bit more about what I call the children’s busy bags, although to be fair, they could also be called the parental survival kit!

What is a busy bag?

A busy bag can be any bag you and your child choose to be their hand luggage bag when flying, or a bag that will be accessible to them on a long car journey.

It pays to have a bag that they are happy to carry, but one that is also practical. Something you can easily hook over your arm, a trolley, or a pushchair if you need to.

A rucksack is ideal for this, but really it’s whatever works for you.

Once the bag is decided on, I basically fill it (not too heavy) with things to occupy the children on the journey. This may differ slightly depending on what kind of trip we are going on.

What should I include?

You’ll need to pack these bags according your your child’s interests and ages, to ensure you’ve packed enough of what they like and what will occupy them.

As a general theme, I always pack things to do – so colouring, drawing, word searches, scratch magic, travel games and so on. I also pack snacks, some I know they really like and a couple of other new things to try. Sometimes just something different can distract from a tricky situation.

I also pack a few treats, like a few sweets and a lolly pop. You never know when you may need something like that as a distraction and lollies are great for flying to avoid sore ears.

I tend to pack a small ‘gift’ – these can be so useful if a child is struggling during a journey and you need to distract them, or if you need to concentrate and need them to focus on something else for a few minutes.

It doesn’t need to be much, or very expensive. Our little boys for example love the little blind bags you can get. The last trip we took they each had a ‘Cars’ one and it kept them busy for ages.

Where should I buy the contents?

Totally up to you of course. You might find you have lots of bits and bobs at home already, so you might just needs to top up your supplies.

Lots of the bargain shops are a great start for the extras you need. I really like Pound Toy because they deliver and they have a huge selection of bits and bobs ideal for creating busy bags.

You can order everything from packets of sweets and lollipops, to word search books, puzzle cubes, dot to dot books, and a range of blind bags. They stock products to suit children of a range of ages too, so you’ll be able to get things for toddlers, young children and older children.

Add in their regular headphones and their favourite electronic device and charger, and you’ve got a great bag of bits and bobs they will be thrilled to open during your travels.

Do they work?

Obviously travelling with children can be uncertain. You never know what situation is around the corner. What I can say is that from experience, it pays to be prepared. These busy bags have got us through many a delay and tricky travelling situation – so from my point of view they work and I wouldn’t leave home without them.

Happy travels!

This is a collaborative post.

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