Playaway is a versatile suitcase and entertainment centre for children” and was a big hit with my two boys William (aged 6) and James (aged 2). The first thing they liked were the bold colours and design on the case, they are not boring or for ‘old people’ but also not babyish. The case is sleek and shiny with a high gloss finish and has smart black and silver trims, even the wheels are silver and black to match and my boys were both very excited to try it out.
William loved trundling the case around like a ‘grown up’ and although James is probably not in the target age for this product he was able to manoeuvre the case around easily as the extendable handle has three height settings. The adjustable height also means that if your child were to get too tired to trundle the case along on a long walk around the airport, then an adult can easily take over with no need to bend as they pull and hurt their back.
My children were perfectly happy pulling the case around but then I showed them the ‘playpod’ and in-built board game. Their excitement built as I explained how we will fill the play pod with colouring materials, books, magazines, card games and also their favourite electrical gadgets including their DS or (possibly after Christmas) their tablet computers.
The playpod easily pulls out from the front of the suitcase and opens up to form a sort of ‘lap tray’ where your child can sit and entertain themselves. The play pod can also be opened up fully and laid flat if your child prefers when at a table or on the floor. Included in the play pod is a book for drawing that also has a selection of play scenes to colour, a pack of 12 colouring crayons and also a set of ‘Where in the World?’ Travel Playing cards. If I am honest, we did not quite understand the rules of the suggested games for the playing cards but William loved making up his own games using them and played a mixture of ‘Top Trumps’ style games and games involving the map. However, there is plenty of space to store other bits and pieces that your child may want on the journey.
The Playaway website also has many different downloadable and printable resources that can be enjoyed by your child on the journey or holiday. There are numerous word searches, word puzzles and colouring sheets on the website and add to the enjoyment of the entertainment centre. Please see http://www.playawaycase.com/
As the play pod is removable from the suitcase, it means that you can store the main suitcase in the overhead locker but then have everything your child needs for the flight to hand, which is an excellent feature as I am sure most parents are aware of how awkward it is to keep reaching up to the locker to get something down.
Underneath the play pod, there is a board game. If I am honest, we found some of the words very difficult to read due to the size and possibly the background colours but we were still able to have fun playing the game. Inside the play pod there is a decent sized, soft dice to use when playing and a sheet of thick paper with some counters to cut out to use. Personally, I think that it would have been better to supply proper plastic counters to use as the paper counters got squashed and ripped easily and also had a habit of falling over whilst we played with them. This meant that we needed to cut out new ones to play and of course, you are not allowed to carry scissors in carry-on luggage. This is not a big problem and of course the counters that are supplied are perfectly adequate. The board game is perfect for playing in the departure lounge before boarding or even in your hotel room whilst away.
As well as all that though, the Playaway is of course a suitcase. I am so surprised at how much you can fit into the Playaway case. I had thought when looking at it, that because the play pod takes up room, that there would not be enough space for my son’s clothes. I was wrong. Here in this picture, I have packed everything that my son needs for a week’s holiday in the sun including smarter clothes for evening wear, jumper and trousers as well as a change of shoes and beach towel, I was amazed to find that there was still plenty of space and managed to get most of James’ nappies in there too!
The Playaway is a perfect fit for almost all airline regulations for cabin-size luggage and according to my own measurements, even comply to the current ‘Guaranteed hand luggage’ sizes that some of the budget airlines are suggesting and so should not be any problem to carry the Playaway onto most flights.
There are several different designs of the Playaway case and each has an animal explorer or adventurer on the front. These characters all have an historical reference and are linked to famous people in history. All this information can be found easily on the Playaway website together with activity and colouring sheets related to each character. Our Playaway case has Alexsee the Russian Wolf on the design and Alexsee represent Yuri Gagarin who was a Soviet pilot, cosmonaut and the first man to travel into outer space. Other characters represent people including Amelia Earheart, Amy Johnson and Sir Edmund Hillary.
We love the Playaway Case with integral playpod and although it is not cheap, we feel that it is built to last (a feeling backed by company as their cases come with a 10 year limited warranty) and can imagine needing to buy James his own one next year when he is a little older.