In Travels with Baby, I recommend playdough as a great help when traveling with highly active children who need a physical outlet for their energy while trapped in transit. But playdough can also be a great “travel toy” for many toddlers and preschoolers, regardless of their temperaments. Just keep one small ball of playdough in a Ziploc sandwich bag handy in your diaper bag or day pack, and it’s ready to entertain at restaurants while waiting for a meal, as well as in hotel rooms and cruise ship cabins. While strapped into car seats or safety boosters, a travel tray may provide the perfect surface for working with playdough (especially one with a wipe clean surface like the Taby Tray, Go-Anywhere Table & Footrest, or Fisher-Price Soft Travel Tray). Help your child shape an airplane, or a boat (perhaps with a small passenger), roll balls to build a snowman, or create a flower with playdough petals, and you’ll both be entertained. Here is my family’s tried and true playdough recipe, which my mother used for her elementary school students for more than 30 years and still uses today for her grandchildren.
Recipe for Playdough
Combine and bring to a boil:
2 Cups Water
1/2 Cup Salt
Add to hot, salty water and mix well:
2 1/2 Cups Flour
1 Tbsp. Oil
2 Tbsp. Alum
Divide and color with food coloring as you wish.
As far as traveling with playdough through the airport security is concerned, your results may vary. Playdough is not presently listed in the TSA’s allowed or not allowed list for carry-on items, and it’s not exactly a liquid or a gel, though it can be argued that it resembles a plastic explosive (yikes). You might prefer not to chance it.
Shelly Rivoli, author of Travels with Baby
The Ultimate Guide for Planning Trips with Babies, Toddlers, and Preschool-Age Children