The July round-up: My travel essentials
Another month has zoomed by, this one celebrating my daughter turning four – and me, inevitably, spending most of my spare cash on Frozen-themed party invitations, presents and balloons.
So a bit of a mixed bag this month as a result, with quite a few product and travel book reviews to add to my list of suitcase essentials but not too many frivolous purchases. I really need to rectify that!
In the meantime, here’s what’s making the cut for my packing list – fashion, books and travel essentials.
I did come away with one thing for myself – my regular July purchase of a new pair of FitFlops after the latest pair eventually gave up through overuse… I loved the style I bought last year so much that I ended up getting them again. The Lulu Shimmersuede which I picked up on Amazon for less than £40: just enough sparkle to make the neutral interesting, as comfy as ever and goes with anything I put in my suitcase.
And I couldn’t miss snaffling a few things in the Vertbaudet sale – like this T-shirt with the Eiffel Tower on for £2.40 (bargain!), which Minnie loves to say she’s been to, even if her 18-month-old memories are unlikely to be too clear. Plus a cute bow-back glitter print Breton top… well, we might as well match.
And I’ve also been investigating some new suitcases from House of Fraser after finally admitting that my trusty bag is on its last legs.
There’s one final addition to mention: not essential, exactly, but it’s a toy which I can see being really useful as we travel. I read about Magformers over on Mudpie Fridays blog and snapped them up for Minnie’s birthday. She loves building shapes and seeing the 2D pattern turn into a 3D creation, plus they’re silent, magnetic so less chance of dropping them on the plane floor and keeps her amused in the early hours: the perfect jetlag toy.
Who remembers the I Spy books? Not the game itself, but chances are you probably had a set of these little books to keep you entertained, ticking off various objects on a theme (since 1940!). Well, they’re back… There are 20 different titles, including At The Airport and In the Countryside which we were sent to review.
We haven’t actually been to an airport since, but have taken the other one to the seaside at Whitstable and to Warwick Castle and managed to tick a couple off without much effort. They’re pretty small, so easy to keep in a bag for emergency entertainment, and the new five-year-old friend that Minnie made in Warwick was equally fascinated. And at £2.99, they’re great to pick up different ones to keep kids amused. I can see us adding to this set in the months to come!
Another picture-led ‘book’, this time from Lonely Planet – called Just Point, you need never be short of words when you’re abroad again. Full of different icons, you can just point (as the title suggests) to the one you want: a bed, fork, violin, yoga class… There’s also a 30% off sale on at the moment too.
Minnie has visited three US states so far, including our most recent major holiday to California. So while the 50 States activity book and 50 States Fun Facts were too late to plan for our holiday, it’s been perfect to keep the destination in her mind.
Both are lovely books, with a string of interesting trivia in the hardback Fun Facts plus a jigsaw map to help you identify the various states. It’s not just Minnie who’s learning things there! Each has brightly coloured pictures to show, for example, 50 animals with links to the different states, whether alive, fabled or extinct, including an Oklahoma lizard which can puff up to a bigger size.
She’s a bit young for some of the puzzles in the activity book, with a few designed for readers from America, and a few which would tax my general knowledge, but would be ideal for older kids.
There is also colouring and easier games, along with stickers and a map in the back featuring state flags, so it’s something to hold on to for any future trips as well. We were sent these to review but I’d definitely be packing these for any US trips in a few years’ time.
I’m always looking for ways to persuade Minnie to be more adventurous with food: travel can see her becoming even pickier than ever, between occasionally trying something brand new. So when I was asked to review The World in my Kitchen: Global recipes for kids to discover and cook, it seemed a lovely idea for us to learn more about food around the world, cook it together at home and maybe even try eating it one day.
So far, we haven’t had chance to try any of the recipes but it’s a fun book to flick through with information about the countries and different ingredients, and some more quirky facts there as well. For now, there’s been guarded enthusiasm to a couple of recipes and significantly more excitement over any cake and biscuit ideas, but it’s another to keep on the shelf for the years ahead as well.
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