We’re headed to the Philippines again this summer to visit Mr. Bee’s parents because our daycare closes in August. It’s also hard for his parents to make the trip to visit us, so we only see them once a year. Our trip to the Philippines last year was 8 flights (NY -> LA -> Tokyo -> Manila -> El Nido) over 3 1/2 weeks and we survived with a 10 month old and 2 1/2 year old, so we definitely feel a lot more confident this time around. Still it is 50 hours of just flight time, not even including travel and layover time. And we’re headed to a remote island that has electricity half the day, so it requires a lot of preparation!

I’ve updated the packing checklist for flying with kids that I created last year — you can download it here and customize for your own needs. You can also check out my post on last year’s checklist here, which includes links to products and why I packed what.

Below I share what toys, gear, apps, tv shows, and snacks we’re bringing with us this time around for a 3 1/2 year old and a 22 month old!


I think the flights will be easier for Charlie because he understands everything we say, and he can keep himself entertained for long stretches of time with tv, drawing, and just talking. Olive will be 22 months and much harder to keep entertained, so I focused on bringing toys that she would be able to play with.

1) Big Preschool Workbook – This workbook is great for kids 3 and up. It includes activities that are precursors to reading and writing, like practicing fine motor skills through tracing, connecting dots, doing mazes, etc. We’ve been doing a couple of pages each day. Educational and fun!

2) Melissa & Doug 4-piece Animal Mini Puzzles – These mini puzzles are a great way to introduce puzzles to Olive. They’re easy and great for practicing vocabulary as well.

3) Buckle Toy Buster – I wanted to get this toy for our trip last year, but Charlie was too old for it and Olive was too young. Olive loves buckles and is now at a great age for it! It’s a small toy that’s perfect for travel.

4) Melissa & Doug Three Little Pigs – I got this toy on the recommendation of Emily from Oh! Apostrophe (who wrote a great post on traveling with a toddler). It isn’t a small toy, but I thought that it was something that both Charlie and Olive would really enjoy. Olive loves to “containerize” and there are many nesting components of this toy. It’s also great for practicing vocabulary and concepts like open/close, inside/outside, back/front, big/bigger/biggest, small/smaller/smallest, etc. And Charlie loves it when I tell him the story of the Three Little Pigs so this toy will really bring the story to life for him!

5) Lauri Toys Toddler Tote – This is a pretty simple toy, but Charlie and Olive both love building and puzzles, so hopefully they like this!

6) Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad – What kid doesn’t love stickers? This features 5 backgrounds and over 150 reusable stickers.

7) Go Fish Playing Cards – Last year I took a pack of playing cards that I bought at the dollar store, and the kids really enjoyed playing with them. But when a friend recently brought over some fish themed cards, Olive went gaga over them since she loves fish. There are many games we could play that involve learning numbers (for Charlie) and matching (for both kids), and I think it’s much easier and fun for the kids using cute pictures than regular playing cards.

8) Sketchbook & 9) Melissa & Doug Jumbo Triangular Crayons – Drawing is one of Charlie’s favorite things to do right now. We still have the sketchbook that we took on our trip last year. I like sketchbooks instead of loose paper because Charlie loves to go back and look at the things we’ve drawn in the past. These triangular crayons are also great for travel because they don’t roll and fall off!

10) Alex Toys String a Farm – Olive enjoys fine motor activities, so I thought that she would like this toy where you string together farm animals. It’s another great way to practice vocabulary and concepts like in/out, through, pull, etc.

11) Fisher Price Kid-Tough See Yourself Camera – Charlie received one of those kiddie laptops that has a camera feature as a gift, and he’s obsessed with it — especially all the fun graphics you can put on the pictures. But it doesn’t hold very many pictures, and it’s too big to carry around. This child-proof camera holds 1000 pictures, has a rotating lens, and fun special effects you can add to pictures. This may be my new go to gift for 3 year olds!

12) Travel Blokus – This game is for 5+, but Charlie and Olive really enjoyed it when a friend brought one over. It’s kind of like Tetris and even though they don’t fully understand how to play the game, it’s great to practice fine motor and puzzle skills. And Mr. Bee and I can play it too!

13) Play Doh – We took play doh and a garlic press last year, and it was one of the toys Charlie played with most. This year Olive is old enough to play with play doh too. Even though it can get a little messy, they can play with it for such a long time that it’s always in my list of travel toys. We make our own using this recipe from Hellobee!

14) Quiet Book/Felt Board – I purchased this folding felt board and these superhero felt pieces from Etsy seller Storytelling Fun. Felt is fantastic because it’s sticky without the mess and doesn’t take up a lot of space. There are many themed sets you can purchase like Pete the Cat, I Love My White Shoes, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, etc. It’s also easy to make your own pieces as there are tons of free downloadable templates online — I plan on at least making a Mr. Potato Head. I think Charlie will have a blast playing with these and making up stories. Check out our Felt board/Quiet Book Pinterest board for inspiration!

We’re going to be taking some Magnatiles with us as well. They’re not small so we’re not bringing them in our carry-on, but the kids play with them every single day and it’s their current favorite toy. I’m also going to hit the dollar store and see what they have. I’m hoping to pick up some glowsticks! I have to stretch all these toys out over 8 flights!

I don’t know much about children’s tv shows, so I did a bit of research to find some educational, and age-appropriate shows for Charlie and Olive. Commonsense Media.org is a nonprofit organization that has reviews of tv shows, movies, games, and apps for kids, so it’s a great place to start.

Last year we downloaded some Thomas, Dora, and Diego for Charlie for our trip, and he watched those same episodes over and over and over. For Charlie, who’s 3 1/2, PBS has some great educational shows like Super WhySid the Science Kid, and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (on Mrs. Cowgirl’s recommendation). Lately Charlie is also into Transformers Rescuebots. I don’t know what it is, but little boys just love superheroes and robots and Charlie is no exception!

At 21 months, Olive just started getting into watching tv for short amounts of time this past month, and of course Elmo was the gateway drug. We have a couple of episodes of Sesame Street that we downloaded for our last road trip. She is 21 months old and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and PBS’ Caillou are age appropriate shows.

We also started letting the kids watch Pororo clips on Youtube recently (a Korean cartoon that’s also available in English). We’re hoping they pick up some Korean from watching the show, because Charlie has picked up some Spanish from watching Dora and Diego. They both love Pororo!

We’ve never seen any of the above shows (other than Pororo clips) though. What shows do your little ones love?

These are the apps we currently have (click here for a more in depth review):

  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (Charlie loved this as a baby. Olive still adores this!)
  • Bubbles (Easy enough for even babies to play)
  • Monkey Preschool Lunchbox (a really great app for kids 2 1/2 +, but Charlie pretty quickly mastered it)
  • Elmo Loves ABC’s (Charlie isn’t really into Elmo anymore but Olive is)
  • Tocaboca – This series of apps is fantastic. Targeted for the preschooler-kindergarten age, they are open-ended and encourage imaginative play. We have Toca Train, Toca Kitchen, and Toca Doctor.

I’d like to add an app or two for this trip. Montessori Crosswords (which teaches the alphabet through phonics) and Bugs and Buttons (Best of Educational Apps in 2011) look interesting and educational for Charlie. I don’t know much about apps for kids though, so please feel free to share any toddler and preschooler apps you love in the comments!

– We’re packing most of the same gear as we did last year, but I did look into buying those portable mist fans because it is so hot and humid in the Philippines, and since electricity doesn’t work on the island for half the day, it is hot, hot hot! But all those fans had horrible reviews. Then I stumbled across the Frogg Toggs Chilly Pad Cooling Towel in my search. You simply wet it, wring it out, wrap it around your neck, and the evaporation keeps you cool for hours. I tested it out recently and it really works!

Bitybean Compact Carrier – Last year I took my Lillebaby carrier, and it definitely came in handy for carrying Olive through the airport (we didn’t take a stroller) and when we rode motorcycles from town. But I had to keep it in my diaper bag and it took up a ton of space for the few times we did use it. I recently got one of Bitybean’s super compact carriers and I’m so excited to try it out! It’s just bigger than the size of my fist so it’ll take up no space at all in my diaper bag.

Wetbrush – I’m including this here because this is awesome at getting out tangles in Olive’s hair. Something that might really come in handy if you’re going to a beachy/humid destination!

The food on international flights is pretty good, but maybe I’m just weird because I actually like airplane food! But since Charlie and Olive are pretty picky eaters, I make sure to bring plenty of snacks. We’ll bring these snacks (I’ve also included this in the packing checklist):

  • squeeze pouches
  • fruit leather
  • trail mix (they love almonds, walnuts, pistachios, apricots, cranberries, papaya, banana)
  • dried fruit (they love blueberries, strawberries and mango)
  • raisin boxes
  • yogurt melts
  • goldfish (or Annie’s Homegrown bunny cookies)
  • Annie’s Homegrown Organic gummies (for take off and landing)
  • lollipops (for take off and landing)
  • Pirate’s Booty
  • Larabars/granola bars/cereal bars
  • dried seaweed
  • clementines
As far as real food, here are some ideas:
  • peanut butter/jelly sandwiches
  • pastries/muffins
  • bagels w/ cream cheese
  • cut up fruit in ziploc bags
  • boiled eggs

Last year Olive was a belly crawling baby, and now she’s walking and talking, so I think it’s going to be a very different experience flying this time around. Hopefully we survive all 8 flights in one piece!

Please let me know if you have any other tips or suggestions to share!