Travel Bags For Your Underwear

A couple months ago we had a four-day-long trip in a national park South of Aachen. Because it was such a short trip, we only took a very large suitcase with us and I packed into that for the four of us. Besides that we took a couple of backpacks but the point is that all of our clothes were in that one suitcase. Yes, it was big enough  but the smaller items like panties and socks got lost all the time and I had to go through the whole suitcase to find a sock every single morning. It was a bit annoying and it made me thinking: how could I minimize the mess? This was when I came up with the idea of personalized bag for the underwear. Each of us should have one bag, maybe even with some kind of name tag on it and it would be a lot easier to find what we are looking for.
In a month or so we will be traveling again and I wanted to take action before that and yesterday the bags were finished! Let me show you what I came up with!

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With two boys and a Husband in the family you can probably guess which bag is mine. The largest! And not just because my name is on it but also because I’ve got bras and a few more delicate pieces to store in that travel bag.

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The name tags were made by cross stitching which is one of my favorite techniques. I learned cross stitching in elementary school and I love it ever since.

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I also added a soft cotton inner linen and a draw string to close the bags.

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We are now a little more prepared for our next trip and each time we travel we get better. It is stressful enough to travel with kids, let it be a long road trip or a flight, it doesn’t matter. Your nerves will be put to a test anyway and these little tricks might help you to survive.

Travel Binder for the Kids

My very old post about traveling with toddlers seems to be a big hit and it made me realize that it might be a good idea to share an other travel tip with you. Our son is about four and a half years old now and we were recently having a longer road trip with him again. Before the trip I started to collect ideas for his age: what should I prepare for him this time? I needed something age appropriate for him (and we were able to use the old tricks with his little brother from my previous post). After much consideration I made my son a TRAVEL BINDER!
This travel binder was full with stuff that he enjoys now but I think something very similar would work for older kids, as well.

DSC_2727Firs of all, I let him choose the binder itself and he instantly got excited about the hole thing and was looking forward the trip.

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As you can see on the picture above, I added a plastic pouch to keep the pencils etc. together with the binder. I just cut two holes with scissors and it was good to go. It worked out very well throughout the road trip.

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Beside the pencils I bought two non-permanent markers for this binder because I thought he could use those on the plastic and solve the mazes and other worksheets with them without taking each sheet out. He even tried it but his hand ended up all dirty from the ink, so he rather took out the pages from the plastic and worked on the paper itself.

The very first page in the binder was a map of our route. I even marked the three places where we would stop and stay overnight. My idea was that he won’t be asking all the time how far we are but he still managed it although to be honest he asked this question a lot less, so my plan worked. And he also enjoyed drawing on the map: he added a couple of large islands to Europe and some ships in the sea.

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Next I printed out some coloring pages. Most of them were knight and castle related, or Easter related, since we were traveling to see our relatives for Easter.

DSC_2730Then I printed out a couple of mazes which he enjoys lately a lot.

DSC_2731His other favorite worksheets are the ones where he has to find the (5-10) differences on the pictures. Great stuff for a 4/5 years old kid! You can find those online, as well and just print them out.

DSC_2732I also added a few pages with pictures of family members to doodle on them. Although I showed him how doodles work prior to our trip, he didn’t bother to try it on the trip. Maybe in a couple of years it will be more fun for him.

DSC_2736What he loved most were simply stickers. This one never gets old, I guess.

 

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I stored the stickers in a buttoned folder at the end of the binder. I added this folder by punching two holes into it with the normal paper puncher.

DSC_2734I also added two worksheets: one where he had to check the vehicles if he saw one on the road (tracks, helicopter, fire truck, bus, etc); the other one was a color match game, but the same method.

DSC_2737We also had some fun with scratch off pages that I found in our local dollar store.

The last thing in the binder was an other folder to keep the plain white papers in and it also doubled as a tiny desk for drawing.

DSC_2740Look, he drew himself on the top of the walnut tree! He was climbing that tree during our stay at the Grandparents’ every single day!

DSC_2741We spent about 4-6 hours in the car twice, and after the vacation two whole days in a row on the way back. I think our son enjoyed the travel binder very much, maybe a bit less then I hoped but I am convinced that it was a good idea and we definitely enjoyed some quiet time in the front seats. We are traveling this week again and although it will be just a short, two hours road trip, we’ll bring the binder again and try to finish it all!
I hope you like this idea and find it inspirational. Please, let me know how do you occupy your kids on a road trip! I would love to hear more tips!

 

I pimped my car…

It’s probably not a very “christmasy” thing to talk about but I promised in a previous post so here it is. When we were planning our big trip to France this year I was thinking about how to get our car even more comfortable for a long road-trip and I figured out a couple of things.
First I renewed the cardboard arm-support thing that I made two years ago because it was a bit worn out. Taped extra support onto the top (it was also a bit lower than the perfect size, so I definitely had to make it slightly higher) and sewed a new cover. It also has a small pocket on the side for my cell-phone because I drop it sometimes and can’t find it for hours… The old cover was actually in excellent condition but I didn’t have more of that fabric and I wanted to match it with the new add-ons. DSC_0724

Then I burned a new CD which we do every year before starting a long road trip. I know: nowadays burning a CD is very old-fashioned but this works in our ten-years old car and we are fine with it. For all the CDs we collected over the years I sewed a very practical and also great-looking CD holder. I followed this tutorial for that.  This CD holder turned out very well and we love it! Easy to reach the CDs without opening the glove compartment and putting the whole family in danger. I can only recommend it!

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My other favorite thing is the trash-bag which hangs over the transmission handle. I found somewhere a tip how to make a bag water-tight from the insidewhich makes the trashbag washable. You have to melt a few layers of plastic bags together by covering them with a thin paper and ironing them until they melt.

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Then just use this plastic-sheet as a fabric. I have used this car-trash-bag since summer almost every day when I pick up my son from the kindergarten and it is so amazing I couldn’t live without anymore!

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Beside these things I also made a bigger bag to hang over the front seat and keep food in it for the long road trip but it wasn’t as successful as I hoped. It turned out a bit too big and without a cooler system it is just not  practical enough. At least not for food. But if you have a child on board who still wears diapers, then I would recommend to make something like this to keep diapers, wipes and extra cloths in it for an easy reach. We were always looking for the diaper bag when we stopped to change the baby, somehow it always hid somewhere… Or maybe use the bag for toys, raincoats etc.

Drawing Set

As you probably know I am getting ready and creating lots of stuff for an up-coming craft fair. I am focusing on kids and traveling and as my newest product I would like to present the drawing set for on the go:

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It has six small pockets for pencils on the left side and one big pocket for a notebook on the right side.

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You can fold it like a book and carry the whole set like a bag because it has handles, as well.

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I thought it would be a nice feature to have a pocket for the owner’s name on the front side, so I added something similar to what I made as luggage tags.

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It’s unfortunately not the easiest project that I’ve ever made but it is a great thing to have in your bag when you are traveling with kids. Don’t you agree?

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Car Seat Organizer 2.0

As I mentioned in the previous post, I will work on more car seat organizer in the near future because I would like to sell them on the up-coming craft fair in Aachen. While working on the second piece, I realized that something important was missing from the first car-seat organizer: a cup-holder! I added one to the next organizer which wasn’t easy, so I will have to come up with an other design for the cup-holder. This one works perfectly but it took a bit longer time to make it and I can not afford this luxury. Check out the picture of the first and second car seat organizers!

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Which one do you like better?

And here is one picture of the second organizer with more details:

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I even added pencil-holders and made the upper hole better looking by hand-stitching it. I think it functions much better then the first one, but let the kids decide!

Tips on travelling with toddlers

I started to write this post almost a year ago but as the good weather is approaching, I feel like it’s time to finish it and give some tips to other parents who are planning a road trip with their toddlers.

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This post is not much about getting the car itself ready but preparing ourselves for traveling with a 21 month old toddler for at least 12 hours. And our son is quiet active, likes to run around and climb on things. No, he is not a girl who can sit and play quietly alone for twenty minutes… And we are totally against the electric baby toys, or giving our child an iPad, or letting him watch a movie or something on a screen. It feels wrong and unhealthy. Plus our last long trip with him was a disaster and we don’t want that happen again. We learned the lesson and this is why I prepare as many activities for him as possible. And I am pretty sure that there are many other families who happen to travel with toddlers and hopefully they will find this post very useful. My first advise would be to prepare everything in advanced (I started 2-3 weeks before traveling), do not think that these are last minutes projects! So here is my list:

1. I found many great posts and  tips online about the “travel tray”. Yes, it’s a real thing. You can buy one or make one, as you prefer.

2. The first thing on my list is BOOKS. Bring as many books as you possibly can. Beside running around reading books is the most beloved activity of my sons’. Before the road trip I bought a couple of new books, but also hid some of his favorite books a few weeks earlier. This way he will enjoy them more on the trip when he gets those back.

3. A few new and small toys. For example this wooden block puzzle seems very interesting because our son loves building and animals, as well. IMGP7204

Or these building blocks with buttons and small doors etc. On this picture you can also see the tray that we use: a plastic tray from IKEA called ANTILOP and costs about 4€. We cut the sides a bit shorter, made holes on both sides and added a belt, this way we are able to attach the tray to the seat. IMGP7272

4. Different kinds of drawing material. IMGP7212

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5. I read that many people use a baking sheet or some kind of a metal tray so the kids can play with magnetic toys. I wasn’t really convinced with the idea because in an accident a metallic try can be very dangerous for the little one. Instead we bring along our cake sheet and he can still play with magnets. And this one has a sheep on it and I think he will also like that. IMGP7195

Note: after our road trip I must say, this was our son’s favorite activity on the road. I would highly recommend it!

6. Crafting is also a good way to keep kids busy but at this age it might be a bit difficult. Still, there are options, like cutting out different shapes out of paper, color them and punch some holes in them. With colorful pipe cleaners and strings they can try to “sew” the papers. Our son loved the shoe shape and the shoe lace but he didn’t care much for the other ones. I think he did not understand why he should pull the wires through a flower or a sun. IMGP72007. Once again, I cut out a few animals out of paper and bought a bag of google eyes. We will stick the eyes onto the animals, or just create new “monsters”, as we go along. He liked this one also very much but I had to sit with him on the back seat and do this activity together. Still better then a board or crying kid. IMGP72038. Stickers. I think there is no explanation for this one. Only that it also requires some help. IMGP72069. Puzzles. We are going to visit relatives in Hungary, relatives that we haven’t seen for months. I thought my son would enjoy some puzzle games of his little cousins. And also fire tracks and ambulance car, since he is crazy about those. So I printed out a couple of pictures, glued them onto cart board and cut them in few pieces. Voila! But you can also buy or bring along puzzles, or if you have a metallic sheet, maybe use magnetic puzzles so the little pieces don’t get lost in the car!IMGP7196 10. Pompoms and a tube to stuck the pompoms into it. He loved it and still does although he is two and a half years old now. IMGP719811. CDs with children’s music and/or audio books. I read somewhere that you could also record your own voice reading a story, or ask grandma etc.

12. As I mentioned before our son is crazy about cars and the siren. He always wants to sit in front and pretend to drive. That’s why I decided to buy a toy steering wheel for him. It did not have batteries in when we bought it and as it turns out it plays not just car-noises, but also stupid children music. And it’s loud. So I am not sure about that but the little one loves it (of course). And it might be better to hear that for hours instead of crying. We will see… IMGP7214

Note: it wasn’t that bad because our son played with it for not longer than 20 minutes. I think his and our limit is set to the same… But if you can buy a steering wheel with a volume button.

13. Don’t forget to get ready for sleeping time. Bring everything what your child is used to sleep with. And maybe an extra blanket and a special pillow that is made for car-seats, like our one in the picture. IMGP720914. We do not like to play with puppets because our son loves it and he would demand on a show for hours which is exhausting. But we have puppets and lots of finger-puppets for traveling time. The finger-puppets don’t take up much place in your bag but if you have a bit of imagination they can provide hours of fun for your child. We also take them with us when we are flying. But to keep it real fun, we don’t play with them at home and it makes the whole game more fun on the road.

IMGP720715. Print out a sheet for toy cars and bring along a couple of smaller matchboxes.

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Pack up all the different activities in zip-lock bags and store them in a bag beside your child’s seat so he or she can reach in and seek for new adventures for him/herself.

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If you liked this post then you might find my other articles about “20 toddler activities for rainy days”  or “travel binder for the kids” interesting, too!

Getting the car ready for a road trip (Part 1.)

Finally the summer has arrived to Aachen, too and we are planning a trip to Hungary again, to visit our relatives. We will travel by car and the last few trips to Hungary taught us a couple of lessons. Our car (Opel Astra) is not 100% comfortable for long trips as it is, although we love our Opel and otherwise we are very satisfied with it. But a 12-14 hour long trip is a lot, especially with kids.

The first problem to solve was some kind of an arm-support for the driver. Mostly my husband drives on these long trips and after a few hours he usually has pain in his right shoulder/upper back because there was nothing to support his arm. And the pain stays with him for weeks after these long trips, which is a very bad way to start any vacation. So I searched on the internet for some kind of a solution and you can buy these parts for any car (sorry, I don’t know its official name if it has one), but they start about 34-45 Euros. Hmmm… Then my husband had an idea: try to make one out of scratch. This is how I ended up with the biggest puzzle in my life (so far). Take a look:

IMGP7172I measured the place between the two car seats including the space for the seat belts and the parking break. Then I took a shoe box and lots and lots of tape. After a couple of hours of taping and trying it out in the car this box was my final result. Looks crazy, right? I also cut out a circle for a plastic cup, that used to be a salad-cup, and our mug or a small bottle of water fits into it.

IMGP7173I stuffed the whole box with wrapping paper for more stability. Then I taped some betting (which I usually use in patchwork blankets) onto the front top of the box.

IMGP7177After that I measured a good piece of fabric (inside out!) for upholstering.

IMGP7178Then I cut out a hole for the plastic cup and just slid it into the hole.

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This way I can take out the plastic cap and wash it or the cover of the box any time I need to. Tada!

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IMGP7182Take a look how it fits into the car:

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IMGP7187Ok, I must admit, that I have doubts that it will fit perfectly but I thought we give it a try and if something goes wrong, we can still buy the professional-arm-support-thing. We will see and I promise to get back to you and tell, what happened on our road trip.

The other ting that I bought for the car is an organizer on the back of the seat.

IMGP7193I truly believe this will be very helpful on the road.

In my next post I will show you some ideas on surviving a long road trip with your kid(s).