Unplugged Adventures: Kids activities for Long-Haul Flights and Road Trips

Many of you most likely have summer travel plans with your family. Canada Day is coming up July 1. Independence day on the 4th. Maybe you will be taking long road trips or airplane rides – but if you have small children you have to be prepared to entertain them along the way. Comes with the territory, right? My boys are 5 and 2 and luckily play really well with one another (lately, anyway!). But I also want them to entertain themselves when one wants to rest or simply play alone.

I’ve curating a collection of activities that are specifically designed to entertain/educate kids during long-haul summer flights/road trips. I’m not against using screens as an option when it comes to flights or car rides, but my youngest definitely bores of screen-time easily. Here are some other options, folks!

1. Magnetic Building Blocks: Magnetic building blocks are easy to pack and provide endless possibilities for creative construction during the flight. They can be stacked, connected, and built into various shapes and structures.

2. Water Wow Books: Water Wow books are mess-free coloring books that use a special water pen. My boys can fill the pen with water and “paint” on the pages, revealing hidden colors and patterns. Once the pages dry, the colors disappear, allowing for continuous use. I bought these from Target, and we’ve never had them before. Thanks to a friend for recommending this one.

3. Miniature Playsets: Portable playsets with themes like airports, construction sites, or farms can spark imaginative play. These sets often come with small figures, vehicles, and accessories, offering interactive play options for the boys.

4. Sticker Books: Sticker books featuring their favorite characters, animals, or themes can keep boys entertained for extended periods. They can create scenes, decorate pages, and engage their fine motor skills while peeling and placing stickers. I bought some dinosaur ones with reusable stickers from Daiso the other day.

5. Puzzle Games: Compact puzzle games with large, easy-to-grasp pieces are ideal for airplane travel. Look for puzzles with age-appropriate difficulty levels and themes that interest the boys, such as animals, vehicles, or superheroes.

6. Travel-sized Board Games: Look for travel editions of popular board games like Connect Four, Guess Who?, or Uno. These compact versions usually have magnetic or snap-on pieces, making them perfect for in-flight entertainment.

7. KEKE (Keep Every Kid Engaged): This grab-and-go bag (see photo above!) provides a convenient and organized solution to keep children entertained and learning, no matter where they are. With Keke, educational and fun activities are easily accessible, making it an ideal companion for travel, dinner time outings, or even quiet time at home. The bag is thoughtfully designed with pouches that focus on developing various emerging skills, ensuring a well-rounded experience for children. It promotes cognitive, fine motor, and sensory development through its diverse range of activities. With its 3 colours to choose from and compact size, Keke offers a compact and all-in-one solution that grabs children’s attention, and encourages learning.

8. Travel-friendly Arts and Crafts: Consider compact arts and crafts kits that include coloring supplies, stickers, or simple craft projects. We’re bringing some plain sketchbooks, small colouring books and crayons, little toy cars, and playdoh!

9. Sensory Toys: Sensory toys like squishy balls, fidget spinners, pull-back toy cars, or stress balls can provide tactile stimulation and help relieve anxiety during a road trip or flight.

10. Doodle boards: We have used these in the past for my oldest for a flight back in 2019. He enjoyed drawing and erasing his doodles! You can find dual-packs of them on Amazon for about ten bucks.

And don’t forget to pack endless snacks/drinks!

Go ahead and keep an eye out on my Instagram for a giveaway with KekeKidCo. Rules are always simple, follow both me (spiffykerms) and KekeKidCo and give me some travel tips in the comments! I need all the help I can get. We’ve never travelled with two kiddos before, am I missing anything?

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Simplify Parenthood with GillyGro: The Ultimate Backpack for Parents

Leaving the house with a baby or toddler (or both in my case!) can often feel like a daunting task. Juggling diapers and bottles to keeping everything organized, parents need a reliable companion that simplifies their lives. My friend has created GillyGro, a brand founded by a team of three moms who intimately understand the challenges parents face.

With their innovative, functional backpack, GillyGro aims to revolutionize the way parents navigate the early years of parenthood.

GillyGro knows that convenience is key for parents, and their backpack is designed with just that in mind. It offers an abundance of storage pockets and compartments, allowing parents to keep everything neatly organized. From diapers, wipes, and bottomless snacks, to spare clothes and toys, the GillyGro backpack has a designated place for every essential. No more digging around in a chaotic bag – everything is within reach.

The GillyGro is your modern day Mary Poppin’s type of bag. I gotta say, it’s impressive. The GillyGro Backpack is a multitasking marvel that combines five essential parenting solutions into one convenient bag. Here’s what it offers:

  1. Portable High Chair: YES. This backpack has a built in highchair/booster seat. Genius right?! Eating out with a little one can be a challenge, but GillyGro has the solution. This backpack has a plastic shell (holds up to 55lbs) that lets you attach it to any chair and transforms into a portable booster/high chair, providing a safe and secure seat for your child to enjoy meals comfortably and conveniently whether you’re dining in a restaurant, or visiting friends at their house.
  2. Diaper Changing Station: Changing diapers on the go is always a bit challenging but my pals at GillyGro have figured it out and has this part on the back of the backpack where it unzips, and unfolds into a spacious and hygienic diaper changing station. Equipped with pockets for diapers, wipes, and other essentials, this backpack ensures quick and hassle-free diaper changes while keeping everything organized.
  3. Picnic/Activity Mat: Spontaneous picnics or playtime in the park are a breeze. It effortlessly transforms into a comfortable and water-resistant mat, providing a clean and safe space for your child to explore and play. Whether it’s spreading out snacks, engaging in fun activities, or simply enjoying the great outdoors.
  4. Nap spot: When your little one needs a nap on the go, GillyGro comes to the rescue. With its clever design, the backpack creates a cozy and comfortable spot for your child to rest. Whether you’re traveling, visiting friends, or exploring new places, the GillyGro Backpack offers a secure and familiar space for your child to recharge and relax.
  5. Spacious Carry-All: In addition to its incredible multitasking features, the GillyGro Backpack is also a spacious carry-all. With multiple compartments and pockets, it provides ample storage for all your essentials. Say goodbye to the hassle of carrying multiple bags – GillyGro keeps everything in one place, making your outings more organized and efficient.

Visit GillyGro‘s website and go getchurself one! Spiffykerms approved ;)

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Travel story: why you need to visit San Jose

San Jose, located in South Bay just 45 minutes away from San Francisco. A city I called home for our first four years of moving to the USA. Many people visiting the area perhaps don’t realize it, but San Jose has a ton to offer, and single ladies? They don’t call it Man Jose for nothin’!

San Jose is a quick drive away from the experimental playground, the Tech Hub known as Silicon Valley. Where Apple, Google, Facebook, Netflix, eBay, HP — all those companies reside about a 20 minute drive from San Jose. Dude, I saw the home where Steve Jobs grew up! I’m constantly in awe here. Feeling like I’m in a movie, anytime I explore this area. It’s still so surreal to me that I even live here, let alone can explore the area at a moments notice.

A few weeks ago I was invited to attend a FAM trip with 20 other journalists from around the globe, to explore what San Jose has to offer with its tech-hub, wineries, and delicious eats, all thanks to Team San Jose. It was a jam-packed week with a slew of items on our must-see to-do list, which in turn took a while for me to recuperate from! So much (amazing) food, I definitely packed on a few pounds during the 5 day staycation. But, despite the staycation in the city I reside, it’s always nice to come home to comforting surroundings, and your own warm inviting bed. Admittedly those post-vacation blues are real! For real though, I’d love a live-in Michelin Star chef cook me meals every night, or have someone clean up after me (hotel life!). Ha!

I had the pleasure of staying at the lovely Toll House Hotel, located in the elegant and always classy, town of Los Gatos. Psst, if you love coffee you must go to Blvd Coffee in Los Gatos! I found the spot just over 2 years ago, and I’ve been a weekly visitor ever since. I love that they know my order and are preparing it, just as I line-up behind a few folks to pay. Spose you know you’re a regular, when!

So, friends, if you’re planning a trip to Sunny Northern California anytime soon and want some recommendations and a comprehensive guide of what to see/eat/do, then read on as I share my week in San Jose with you.

California is beckoned with world-class wineries that isn’t easy to pair down on which to visit. Bare in mind there’s no need to make the trek up to Napa and Sonoma, although both gorgeous locations; we ended up touring two beautiful winery locations in San Jose. You bet I’ll be bringing my Mom to these when she visits!

We had an intimate tour of the winery, given by the owner Rob Jensen, followed by a gorgeous lunch (and table setting!) that happily filled our bellies. The old Novitiate Winery (now known as Testarossa) was originally built in 1888 by the Jesuits from Santa Clara University. I loved touring it simply for the fact of knowing its age, its history and now Rob has transformed it into what it is now – a gorgeous setting for locals and visitors alike.
Location: 300 College Ave A, Los Gatos, CA 95030
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Ridge Vineyards
We made a stop here too during our wine tasting tour. It’s a gorgeous spot and is location right on the San Andres falls. It completely withstood the previous large earthquakes that hit the area in 1989 and 1906. Check out this spot too when you have a chance.
Location: 17100 Montebello Rd, Cupertino, CA 95014
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Santana Row
Santana Row is my go-to place to do some shopping, eating, lounge around, chill out at one of the many coffee shops and peruse the Japanese stationery store, Maido. We ate lunch at Sino, a dim sum location (I’ve never had dim sum before!). Unfortunately a lot of the dim sum had shrimp/other things in it that a pregnant lady can’t have. So I opted for some delicious chicken lettuce wraps.
Location: 377 Santana Row, San Jose, CA 95128
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Japantown San Jose is 1 of the 3 last remaining authentic, historical Japantowns in the USA. I’m quite familiar with the area as a friend used to live right in the heart of it. There’s fantastic restaurants, museums, shops and probably one of my favourite spots in Japantown: Roy’s Station Coffee (which I wrote about 2 years ago!).

San Pedro Square
A perfect meeting spot for lunch, or before a San Jose Sharks NHL Hockey game (which we’ve gone to multiple times, especially when the Canadian team, Ottawa Sentaors played down here!). They have one of the best pizza places I’ve ever had in my life. If you’re a huge pizza fan like I am, visit Pizza Bocca Lupo right in San Pedro Square, I swear you won’t regret one ounce of those bites from that Neapolitan pizza.
Location: 87 N San Pedro St, San Jose, CA 95110
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Lick Observatory
Opened in 1888, the Lick Observatory is an astronomical observatory, owned and operated by the University of California. It’s located right on the summit of Mount Hamilton, in the Diablo Range, and what a drive up the mountain it is. I’ve only personally driven up once (as the driver) and I much prefer to be a passenger as I often fret that I’ll drive the car right off the mountain top due to all the switch-backs and narrow roads, especially at the top. Well worth the view though, and they offer nightly tours and events throughout the year. I know my husband would love to attend one of these, to see that massive telescope in action.
Location: 7281 Mt Hamilton Rd, Mt Hamilton, CA 95140
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San Jose Museum of Art
Originally built as the postal office, turned library now the San Jose Museum of Art, as of 1969. You should tour the exhibitions, and some permanent collections in this gorgeous historic building located in the heart of downtown San Jose.
Location: 110 S Market St, San Jose, CA 95110
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The famous Steve Jobs garage
Visit where Steve Jobs grew up, and view perhaps the most famous garage in the world. We toured his childhood neighbourhood while venturing around all the tech companies in the area. He grew up in a modest sized home, in a regular suburban neighbourhood. His childhood home however, is of course on private property. The Apple garage is clearly visible from the street. But if you’re to take photos – you mustn’t step foot on the property. Apparently his sister now owns the home, but no one lives there.
Location: 2066 Crist Drive, Los Altos, California

Mount Hamilton Grandview Restaurant
A historic mountainside destination for classic American cuisine offering beef, veal & seafood dishes; and what a view it was. It’s where we went on our last night with Team San Jose and the journalists. A farm-to-table restaurant, however the farm they source from is literally across the street so it’s incredibly fresh. The staff was unbelievable and took extra good care of me, serving me fancy-pants mocktails and well-done meats. Undoubtedly one of my favourite moments from this trip was the breathtaking views, but I especially enjoyed the live piano man singing old Sinatra classics as we all ate our dinner at sunset, overlooking the mountain views. It was pure bliss, and I will most certainly be back.
Location: 15005 Mt Hamilton Rd, Mt Hamilton in San Jose, CA 95140
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ADEGA — San Jose’s first Michelin Star Restaurant
On one of the evenings with Team San Jose, I attended the media event at ADEGA, San Jose’s first Michelin Star Restaurant which serves authentic Portuguese cuisine. However this night was a bit different, as it was a Michelin All Star Experience with multiple Portuguese chefs flown in from the USA + Portugal to prepare a 7 course meal with 2 desserts. At first I thought I was a little out of my league, being invited to such an event, however I quickly warmed up as it wasn’t at all stuffy feeling. In fact, I laughed so hard I think I cried. Perhaps it’s because there was another Canadian at my table of 4? Us Canadians b’y, can’t keep us away from one another. 7 courses of Portuguese cuisine; you can say I ventured completely out of my comfort zone to try a couple of new things (pigs ears, lamb, and caviar for instance). The atmosphere in ADEGA is divine — a beautifully decorated Michelin restaurant located in the heart of Alum Rock, in a valley in the Diablo Range foothills on the east side of San Jose. Ya gotta book a meal here, for real.
Location: 1614 Alum Rock Ave, San Jose, CA 95116
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Needless to say, you don’t always need a trip up to the well-known city of San Francisco (although I do love to escape the heat of San Jose from time-to-time and explore SF’s coffee shops and get my fill of the ocean).

If you’ve stuck around reading thus far, I must congratulate you — this is a long one, hey! I want to give a huge thanks to Team San Jose for being an exceptional host, hosting me for the week, along with 20 other journalists from around the world to experience this city. It’s all well worth a visit to say the least, and an experience that formed forever-friendships you betcha I won’t soon forget!

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