Warning: toddler in transit!

As S approaches his second birthday we decided to bite the bullet and book a long awaited trip to visit family in Mexico. S’s grandparents haven’t held him since he was seven weeks old and he’s never met his Mexican aunties and extended family (except for on Skype).  We’ve been putting off this inevitable journey for months.  S has never been a good sleeper and we’re only just now getting into a better routine; as well as the well known nightmare of screaming babies on planes, we were afraid that all the unfamiliar surroundings and jet lag would put us back to square one with sleep problems.  However, once S turns two the flight costs will increase substantially so it seemed like the best time to visit.  It also helps that in August there will be a large group of extended family meeting in Puerta Vallarta (a famous beach resort about four hours from Guadalajara).

We now have less than a fortnight before we experience the dreaded long haul flight with a toddler!  We have decided to break the journey in Houston, where L’s youngest sister lives with her new husband (who we’ve also never met).  This will hopefully make the outbound journey a little less painful, although it will be still involve over 18 hours of travel time door to door.  We fly direct from Houston to Puerta Vallarta a few days later, and after a week at the beach, we’ll head by road to Guadalajara for a couple of weeks before the return flight to London.

In preparation for hours and hours of flight time I have been doing some research and getting together some toys and activities.  S is a very active little boy.  Even as a tiny baby, where others fell asleep with the movement of the car, he always hated the car seat and wanted out!  Imagine an hour of screaming when you are stuck in traffic on the M25 three hours into a four journey – can you see why a 24 hour long transatlantic journey didn’t appeal!  Luckily he’s now much better with short car journeys but it’s hard to keep him occupied sitting still for several hours in a row   At least in the plane we should be able to walk up and down the aisle a bit!

in flight activitiesHere is a selection of the activities and toys we are planning to take for the journey.  I’ve been scouring the internet for tips and hint and found a recommendation to wrap everything up individually  – it makes it more exciting… and it makes the activity last that little bit longer.  Here is a list of what we are planning on taking so far – if you have any other suggestions it would be great to hear from you.

After the trip, I’ll come back and update you on how the flights went and feedback on which activities and toys were the most popular and effective!  



Hello, we have now returned from Mexico and survived two long-haul and short short (2.5 hour) flights.  Here’s my review of the above items we took with us. What about you? Did you find anything else was particularly useful?

Most Popular/Useful

Used quite a bit (worth it if you have space)

  • Travel size aqua doodle
  • Lacing cards 
  • I-spy book
  • Finger puppets
  • Felt activity book
  • Small baby-safe mirror
  • Play dough
  • Bubbles

Didn’t take in the end

  • Small blackboard and some chalk



8 thoughts on “Warning: toddler in transit!

  1. Hi Abbi! As a seasoned traveller, Jose and I have flown with the girls from the time they were infants. We’ve done it all and in many combinations involving infants, toddlers and surly teenagers. We’ve done the trans-Atlantic flight more times than I can remember, as well as Mexico and South America. My two youngest daughters were particularly rotten travellers until they were about two or three. A crucial survival tool is lots of snacks! Dried cereal, raisins, small pieces of fruit, and preferably in fun little containers that are relatively spill proof. 🙂 Airline food can have its own challenges, but when time changes are involved I found that the food service schedule did not always blend well with little appetites.

  2. I admire you! I’m dreading an hour and a half car trip to the airport for a 2 hour flight to Mexico! I totally shouldn’t complain! But, thank you, you have given me some great ideas. Thanks!!!

  3. Pingback: First trip to Mexico. Part 1 – Air Travel | taco de lenguas

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