Family vacations are sometimes pushed aside, especially when you have a year as wild as 2020. They can feel cumbersome, overwhelming, and time-consuming to plan. Even more so now that you have to be incredibly mindful of how and where you travel, and what to pack, to travel safely. With that said, the memories you create while traveling are pivotal moments in your kids’ life, ones they will cherish for a lifetime. A few inconveniences should never prevent an upcoming adventure, which is why I try to share up-to-date resources on the blog. My goal is to make travel planning easier, thus more attainable. Whether you are planning a trip for next year or are simply looking for a safe weekend getaway in your area, here are 35 of the best travel essentials for kids, for your next family adventure!
35 Best Travel Essentials for Kids
1. Safe Travel Guidelines
First and foremost, it’s essential to have a conversation with your kids about current public health mandates. Considering we’re in a pandemic, it’s absolutely necessary to go over anticipated requirements; wearing a mask, washing your hands/sanitizing, social distancing, etc. More information and specific requirements are available on the CDC’s Travel during the COVID-19 Pandemic page.
This is also a great time to ask your kids how they’re feeling about the trip, and if they have any questions or concerns. Most likely they’re going to ask if they can still bring their favorite stuffed animal on the plane, or something else that seems pretty minuscule, considering the climate. But really it’s their way of understanding and processing the situation. A little patience and reassurance will go a long way here.
2. First Aid Kit
When traveling, I like to err on the side of caution, and always pack a mini first aid kit. It’s lightweight, compact, and has everything you need for the everyday ermegency including bandages, antiseptic wipes and antibiotic ointment.
3. Vitamins and OTC Medicine
To ensure wellness at home, and on the road, invest in a proper multi-vitamin. I like Ritual, they have an Essentials for Women, Men, and Kids. I also pack a few over-the-counter medicines like Benadryl, Ibuprofen, and Tylenol – for kids and adults.
If you forget to pack these essentials, you can easily order nonprescription medications like children’s cold relief or cough medicine from your phone as opposed to searching for the nearest store. Delivery can be quick, easy, and contact-free, which can be the safest and most convenient option to provide your family with what they may need.
4. Hand Sanitizer
Proper hygiene and sanitization is the current golden ticket. There are a few things you absolutely cannot leave the house without – and one is for sure hand sanitizer. I just discovered the sustainable brand, Olika, a natural hand sanitizer that is safe, effective, and convenient. Olika is made with skin-softening aloe to hydrate skin, pure essential oils to deliver lovely aromatherapy, + 65% alcohol to effectively kills 99.9% of germs. Olika is available in a classic spray, or clip-on (perfect for kids’ backpacks).
5. Wet Wipes
Wet wipes are a must-have for cleaning surfaces while traveling. You can wipe down tray tables, armrests, strollers, car seats, toys, anything and everything the family touches. And let’s be real – kids are messy. I guarantee at some point or another, you will have to clean up a mess, in public, and will need a wet wipe.
6. Facial Tissue
Kleenex in a travel-size is a nice-to-have. They’re lightweight, compact, and come in handy, especially when traveling with kids.
Masks are a required public mandate in 100+ countries, and almost every Government in the world endorses them as an effective COVID-19 containment solution. I recommend packing at least 2 for every member of the family. I like the Kitsch 100% Cotton Face Mask Set, which includes 3 masks for only $12.99. They’re soft, washable, and fit both myself and my daughters.
I cannot handle dry lips…and neither can my kids. I pack an individual chapstick for everyone in my family, in their backpacks, to keep our lips hydrated.
9. Toiletry Bag
A colorful or branded toiletry bag will nurture your child’s independence. Kids love having their own stuff, and it might make tedious tasks like washing their face or brushing their teeth more exciting.
10. Travel Seat
One of the best parenting travel hacks and must-have essentials is a Lugabug®. It’s a lightweight, portable, hammock-like travel seat that secures to your luggage, allowing your child to ride on your luggage, as you navigate through the airport – genius right?!
Lugabug is intended for use by one child, age two or older, with a maximum weight of 50 lbs. A single strap lap belt is included, though it can be used with or without a lap belt.
11. Travel Stroller
One of my favorite travel essentials for kids is the gb Pockit Lightweight Stroller. It is the world’s smallest folded stroller and even fits into any plane or train overhead compartment. We used it during our trip to London a few years ago and it was well worth the price tag. Trust me. Since then we’ve loaned it out to friends and family, and I can’t bear to let it go, even though my kids no longer need it. It’s just so good.
12. Extra Clothes
When packing for your kids, keep in mind they get messy, wet, dirty, skinned knees, have accidents, etc. Pack efficiently, but also plan for the unplanned. I also recommend packing an extra coat or swimsuit – whatever makes more sense for your trip. These are make-or-break items on your trip and if they get ruined, you might be in a bind, unless you have extra.
Easy to forget, a sun hat or baseball cap in warm weather, or beanie in cold weather, are essentials to keep your kids safe and/or warm. Adding them here as a quick reminder.
14. Car Sun Shade
When traveling by car, protect your little ones from the harsh rays by using a car sun shade for happier and healthier road trips.
Pretty self-explanatory, sunglasses for kids are a must-have, regardless of the destination. They’re easy to forget, as well, so here’s your reminder!
It’s no secret, the sun produces harsh UV rays that are harmful to the skin, especially for littles. Lather them in sunblock, and remind them to take breaks in the shade.
17. Sand Mat
Headed to the beach? Order one of these lightweight water- and sand-repellant sand mats, with built-in weights. They’re compact, durable, and perfect for warm weather travel.
18. Water Shoes
A nice-to-have essential when visiting a pool, lake, or river. Keeps your kid’s feet safe and protected. hiitave Kids Water Shoes are non-slip, quick-dry, available in a variety of cute colors and prints, and have over 7,500 positive reviews on Amazon.
A lightweight microfiber towel is an easy essential to pack and comes in handy if there are limited towels in your hotel, and you’re traveling as a family, or if you’re headed to the beach.
20. Bug Spray
Headed to a warm climate? Bring along buggy bands for a child-friendly, DEET-free insect repellent.
21. Flashlight or Glow Stick
What kid doesn’t love a glow stick or flashlight? They serve as entertainment, for reading, walking at night, or in worse case scenario, an emergency.
22. Pool Toys & Inflatables
Pool inflatables are typically lightweight, compact, and easy to pack. A fun “essential” if you’re headed to a sunny destinaton.
23. Travel Pillow & Blanket
If you find that your child needs a nap throughout the day, a travel pillow and blanket are essential for travel. These built-in pillow and blankets are cute, comfortable, and compact.
24. Stuffed Animal
When they’re away from home, having familiar comforts will help anxious littles relax, especially at bedtime. Pillow pet is a great option since it serves as a pillow and a cuddly friend.
In order of importance, snacks are right behind sanitizer. They are ESSENTIAL. I pack individual size snacks so they’re pre-portioned and easy to clean up, like goldfish, granola bars, dried fruit, etc. I also created a post sharing gluten-free snacks for kids if you want to check that out!
26. Reusable Water Bottle
Everyone in our family has a reusable bottle (we love Hydroflask), and we pack them in our backpacks when traveling. It makes it so much easier to stay hydrated, and is a sustainable everyday essential.
I always pack my daughters’ backpacks with a few new activities, like books, art supplies, games – think lightweight, easy, and creative. I recommend The Kids’ Book of Paper Love: Write. Craft. Play. Share.
28. Kindle Fire
One of our favorite travel purchases for our daughters was the Kindle Fire. You can download games and movies, offering a variety of entertainment. Just be mindful of how much screen time you allow – we try to reserve it, and use it sparingly.
29. Drawing or Writing Tablet
The FLUESTON LCD Writing Tablet with 10 Inch Drawing Pad, Colorful Screen Doodle, and Scribbler Boards for Kids, is a creative way to keep kids entertained, especially on long travel days.
30. Polaroid Camera
A fun way to get your kids more involved in the adventure is for them to document the experience through photographs – from their perspective! My daughter has the Zink Polaroid SNAP Touch Instant Print Camera and loves being able to take her own photos, and then add them to an album to look back on.
Another way for kids to document their travels is through a journal. We love The Ultimate Travel Journal for Kids, which includes guided prompts for kids to record hopes for their trip, highlights, new discoveries, and more. Plus, this journal includes ultra-fun travel activities for kids like fill-in the blanks and crosswords for endless entertainment. The book was written by Rob Taylor, founder of 2TravelDads, the original LGBT Family Travel blog.
From toddlers to teenagers, here’s a list of travel-sized games that the whole family can enjoy – a fun way to pass the time while traveling.
33. Duolingo Kids
Whether you’re planning a trip abroad, or just want to enrich your child’s vocabulary, I highly recommend Duolingo Kids. From the makers of Duolingo, the most popular language-learning platform in the world, Duolingo Kids is a fun and effective new way for early readers to learn Spanish or French.
If you have Spotify Premium you can download music to listen to offline. My kids love listening to musicals or soundtracks from their favorite movies.
If your kids have a tablet or mp3 player, you’ll want to make sure you bring headphones – especially in the car or on an airplane. Here’s a list of child-friendly headphones that are durable and volume limiting (i.e. safe for little ears).
Recap – 35 Best Travel Essentials for Kids
I know from personal experience, my daughters are 7 & 10, that traveling with kids can be a lot. From planning where to go, how to get there, and what to bring, it can feel overwhelming. With that said, I hope this list of 35 Best Travel Essentials for Kids makes planning a bit easier, and maybe even inspires an adventure in the near future!
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