More travel tips!
Pack flat books.
Pack several flat, small books. You don't have to buy brand new ones...I hit the local Goodwill and found several for a quarter each. Babies and toddlers really like to open flap books. Older kids like complicated images they can look at for long periods of time like the I Spy and Where's Waldo books.
Use them as rewards. Let the kids cash in their Good Behavior Bucks for a new book.
Individual drink mixes for post-airport security.
You know how they don't let you have any liquids in your carry-on stuff? Well, that can make for thirsty kids and/or an expensive airport stop for drinks. I don't like paying $5.00 for a bottle of juice, do you? Bring an empty water bottle and refill it from the water fountains past security. If your family doesn't like plain water, bring along some individual drink mixes. They're very small and packable, and come in a wide variety of flavors. I like lemonade, but they have all the Crystal Light flavors, Wyler's mixes, and Kool-Aid choices, too.
I pack an individual ziplock bag of snacks for every family member. Don't forget Daddy. Ours prefers beef jerky, Jolly Ranchers, and more beef jerky.
My girls love those crazy-flavored jelly beans. I cut the identification guide off the package and taped it to the ziplock so they could play "which flavor did I get".
Keep the unhealthy bits to a minimum.
Although I do let them have the occasional bit of candy, I prefer to pack healthier choices like fruit, whole wheat goldfish crackers, whole grain pretzels, string cheese, and the like. However, who doesn't love a bite of candy?
To keep the teeth-rotting to a minimum, I pack only a small candy stash. I cobbled these together from leftover Halloween/Christmas candy languishing in the pantry. Try an oversized vitamin box to store one type of candy in each compartment.
Since my kids don't get candy very often, they think it's a big deal when the Candy Box comes out. You'd be amazed at how much adults perk up at the sight, too.
You know how kids always want what the other one has? I found identical zippered pouches to distribute their "prizes" in. Although I do give them different items, something about the visual of "exactly the same bags" being handed over the back seat seems to make them happy. Perhaps they're assured that it will be fair that way? Kids are weird.
Are you wondering where I'm getting all this crap? A lot of my treasures came from those Jars I found several years ago.
Short version: I found about 50 huge pickle jars filled with crazy stuff at an estate sale. Long version: read here.
I kept one quart sized ziplock bag of toys for each girl.
Toddler: tiny board books, soft animals (that are *cough* totally disposable upon arrival, in my opinion), toys that rattle or move
5 year old: small jewelry, party favor-type games, cards
Just so you know, I probably spent less than $10 on kid entertainments for the whole trip. I always keep little Happy Meal toys and favors from parties. They come in handy, I swear, and your kids think it's a brand now toy. Mine do, anyway.
Don't forget stuff you have lying around the house, too. Your baby will be just as happy with a few rubber bands and bright key chains as they will a purchased toy.
GAMES-print out lots of car games!
I place these games in the Travel Binder inside clear protector sheets. Use dry erase markers and you can use them for years.
By the way...
Make the Travel Binder and use it OVER AND OVER.
Leave all that stuff in there and next time you're ready to grab-and-go.
Here's a Car Scavenger Hunt from Living Intentionally blog.
Tip-print these out on two different pages. I forgot and they had to play side by side. We also enjoyed the Airplane Scavenger Hunt.
Car Brand Check Off game and Find Something in this Color game.
Violet's favorite part of flying is when the flight attendants come around with the drink cart. She ordered very politely. Apple juice. She loved putting her tiny glass of ice in the indented circle on the fold-down tray. I swear...airplane seats are kid-sized, not adult-sized.
Dry Erase EVERYTHING
I'm a firm supporter of dry erase markers when traveling. You can use anything to clean them up and they don't stain. In a pinch, use the inside of a skirt or sleeve.
Print outs- Find your kids' favorite characters online. There are many sites that offer free coloring page downloads. Violet particularly likes complicated patterns like the owl above.
Magic Paint and Bead Kit
Magic paint kits are a hit with my 5 year old. You can "paint" without making a mess. Simply use a q-tip dip it in a tiny amount of water, then smear the color on the black and white picture. It's a good way to use your left-over ice and apple juice on the plane. When you're done, roll it up and dispose of it in the can.
Make a simple bead kit before you leave home. I threw a handful of beads in a ziplock bag, along with a few feet of dental floss wrapped around a scrap of cardboard. Kids love making necklace. Let tiny kids do it with cheerios or fruit loops to make an edible necklace.
I wouldn't recommend this on the plane or in the car. This is better for the hotel or other time when kids are confined and want something to do.
Highlights Magazine Online has fun Hidden Picture puzzles available to print out from their website. Use a dry-erase marker, wipe clean, then hand off to another kid.
Older kids might enjoy making a "passport" and documenting flight statistics. My kid wasn't interested in this, but yours might be.
Hangman with age appropriate word list.
(From Living Intentionally Blog. That blog rocks on travel suggestions.)
Alphabet search game
State Facts pages make the trip educational as well as fun. Quiz kids on state flowers/animals/trees and learn to identify flags.
Scrapbook for kids. Use a blank page for every destination or point of interest. Let older kids write a description and younger kids paste in brochure photos. Kids love collecting those travel tri-folds you see along the way.
Okay...that should give you some ideas.
Let me know what works for you and your family!