Over the next three weeks, we'll spend more than 28 hours on an airplane with two squirmy five year old girls. We've done long flights like this several times before and survived pretty well but it's never something we look forward to. It's stressful and uncomfortable and exhausting (I never sleep on planes). Sometimes the only thing that knocks the sharp edges off of my misery is 2 or 3 plastic cups of delightful airline brand Chardonnay.
The girls are veteran air travelers but a lot of thought goes into keeping them happy during a flight this long. I always make sure they have plenty of snacks and art supplies or games to get them through the flight but it seems like I'm constantly called on to retrieve dropped or stowed items. Just when I get comfortable, someone's iPod falls off the tray table or someone wants some Cheetos... or their 'lovey' or their purple crayon or some gum or a tissue. Or I need my computer or my reading glasses or something that is always more than an arms length away from me. And these search-and-find missions are made more frustrating by the extra challenge of reaching around and under kids legs and dealing with tray tables and the reclined seats of the people in the row in front of us.
By the end of the flight, I feel like I've flapped my arms all the way across the Atlantic.
I can't tell you how many times I wished there was something I could attach to the upright tray table. Something that would organize all of our stuff and keep everything at our fingertips. I really needed to solve this problem - even if I had to invent something myself - so I was thrilled when I found this:
It's the Nirvana Travel Organizer by Zen Class. It's designed to fit over the upright tray table on the airplane. You just slip it on and lock the table in place. I couldn't wait to test drive it so I hung it over the back of my kitchen chair and started filling it up. Man, it holds a TON of stuff! Including a bunch of things you can't see in the photo. It even holds a large laptop computer!
When the flight is over, the whole thing folds in half (minus the laptop, of course) and zips closed to make it easy to tote.
There are so many extras on this that I'm sure we'll use it for every flight. Even (gasp!) when we travel without kids. So far, the only downside I can see is that you can't really use it when the tray table is in use (down) but we plan to figure out a work-around to solve that.
I bought two. One in black and one in brown.