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My husband and I are musicians. And we’re parents. When we are onstage, we do our best to really be ON stage. But all our “backstage” experiences with our son (our little frog) deeply affect who we are as people, thus musicians. Recent insights:

In a recent post about kid outings with minimal gear, I celebrated the ease of carting around less stuff … and the confidence boost I got from successfully improvising with materials at hand.

Another great place to be minimalist? Air travel. Snacks, extra dry clothing and sleek, compact toys and activities for kids (games and books) are essentials. Here are some travel faves for us:

1) Jelly Ku  (or some other transforming/building toy).
In the middle of a recent ANA flight, one of the incredibly gracious airline attendants came by saying, “A gift! For him! For your son!” She handed us a little multicolored square: a toy which simply folds out into shapes. And then folds back in to its elegant, compact little square.

Jelly Ku kept our 3-year old engaged and relaxed for over an hour. (A real help, since we got off of this lovely 13-hour flight right onto another 7-hour flight).
Of course, it doesn’t have to be Jelly Ku… just something that a kid can bend into imaginative shapes throughout the day. 

2) Play Dough

One of our fave travel activities = small bags of play dough. Sure, you can make your own. Put different colors in different snack bags. Or go for the pre-made rainbow pack, and let your kid choose 5 colors for the trip.

You can make shapes!

You can “wrap” things in play dough (like Dad’s watch!).

You can press things into the play dough (the cruddy plastic train at the bottom of your bag when Dad decides that the watch is off limits).

Play dough is soft, cool, and relaxing = good travel toy.

3) Book (yes, singular)

Poring over book illustrations, touching/turning the pages, finding hidden bugs and worms… these are the elements of engagement for Kid Lit for us (so Kindle doesn’t cut it).

We used to carry around a bag full of books. And then our pal Alison gave us this AMAZING, MAGIC book that has ALL the other books in it!!!

Janet Schulman’s “20th Century Children’s Book Treasury” is the best 2 pounds, 12 ounces you can carry with you.
(yes, I just weighed the book)

If you need another book, travel with Goldbug. Take Cars and Trucks and Things that Go.

We do also have an older i-pod in a Toddler Proof case, loaded up with a few favorite videos (Jungle Book, Thomas, the Winnie the Pooh with Zooey Deschanel singing) and music playlists. And we like to save that… and the snacks… until we really need ’em. But just the Jelly Ku, Play Dough and Book can get us through most travel.

That and this toilet seat, and this paddle game…

Leap, Little Frog

a musician's musings on nesting, being creative, traveling, and parenting