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My husband and I travel with our kids a lot. With our firstborn, it was a lot of trial and error what to bring, but now we pretty much have it down to a science. Here is a list of items to bring when traveling with kids.
Baby Wipes – Baby wipes are great for cleaning hands and faces and cleaning up any small messes that may occur while traveling.
Candy – Great for a little reward for great behavior on the trip or a little surprise on the pillow at night.
Cards – Card games are tons of fun with older kids and are a great non-electronic way to pass the time waiting at the airport or train station or in the evening at your hotel.
Fire TV Stick – Hotel TV options can be very limited, and sometimes kids just need to watch their favorite shows from home. A Fire TV Stick is lightweight and easy to connect to any Wi-Fi network, and gives you access to YouTube, Netflix, and other entertainment options.
Frisbee – Frisbees are great fun to play with in a park or at the beach. On a road trip, let the kids play for a while to stretch their legs at a rest stop or use it at the park or beach at your destination. Get the flexible kind and they barely take up any room in your luggage.
Headphones – With two kids five years apart in age and two adults in one room, we never agree on the same thing to watch. Headphones save everyone’s sanity, mainly the adults. For our younger child, we like headphones that have volume controls to prevent ear damage. We also try to bring a splitter, so that the two kids can watch the same video on an iPad if they want to.
Laundry Bags – We have taken laundry bags with us on our last few trips. Each member of the family has one and we just put dirty clothes in the laundry bag. When the trip is over we just put the laundry bag in the suitcase. No folding of clothes necessary. We get ours from the Dollar Store.
Lysol Wipes – When traveling with my kids, I wipe down all handles, switches and phones in our hotel room to try to eliminate a lot of the germs. On the plane, I wipe down the tray table, remote and arm rests so the kids can feel free to touch things without having to constantly clean their hands.
Picnic Blanket – Take a lightweight blanket along with you on your trip and have a picnic in the park for lunch or go to the beach. We forgot one on our last big vacation and it was sorely missed.
Power Strip – Useful for charging everyone’s electronics. We usually have phones, Kindles, iPads, computers and Nooks to charge.
Small Laundry Detergent – Accidents happen, especially with small kids, and a hotel sink is great for rinsing out pee accidents or ice cream spills.
Snacks – Whether traveling by plane, train, or automobile there are inevitably delays. Having snacks can keep kids and adults from getting hangry as well as keep you from having to buy more expensive snacks while traveling.
Baby Banz – For babies and toddlers up to the age of 2, Baby Banz are a life saver when on a vacation. We were able to go to an outdoor concert when my daughter was really young and she didn’t wake up because she was wearing her Baby Banz.
Baby Bjorn Crib – I loved my Baby Bjorn Travel Crib. I have taken it with me both by air and by car. Pack-and-plays at hotels usually have a thin cardboard mattress that doesn’t seem very comfortable. The Baby Bjorn comes with an actual mattress that my kids seemed to love. It folds up into its own case and is easy to travel with.
Cares Safety Restraint System – When flying we bring the Cares Safety Restraint System instead of lugging our car seat. CARES is the first and only harness type Aviation Child Safety Device to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as an alternative to a car seat.
Joovy Groove Umbrella Stroller – We absolutely love our JOOVY Groove. We made the mistake of going on vacation with our larger stroller and it took up so much space everywhere and was difficult to get on and off of trains and airplanes. The Joovy is compact, still reclines and has a sun shade. It worked and still works perfectly for us.
Activity Packs – Before each trip we pick up activity packs at the Dollar Store. Each pack comes with a small activity book, stickers and 4 crayons. They usually have activity books based on characters from Disney and Nickelodeon.
Aquadoodle – We just recently discovered the Aquadoodle and we love it. No lugging tons of paper and markers with you on a trip. Just fill the pens with water and kids can make tons of designs on the Aquadoodle. We bought an AquaDoodle Travel Doodle which has a mat instead of a board. The mat dries in a couple of minutes allowing kids to make new designs. When it is time to go, just close up the mat and you’re done. No clean up necessary.
Kids Travel Journal – On the last couple of trips we brought along a journal for my daughter. We really like the Kids’ Travel Journal. It has games and activities she could play while traveling, asked her questions about her trip and gave her sections to fill out based on her travels.
Portable White Board – My daughter loves to play tic tac toe and hangman. A portable white board is a great option for this as it is more environmentally friendly and we don’t constantly have to search for paper.
Stuffed Animal – We bring each kid a stuffed animal to cuddle with at night. Instead of bringing the favorite one from home, we let them pick out a travel stuffed animal to bring – one that they like, but if it gets lost, won’t signal the end of the world. This is also a stuffed animal that is easier to clean, as it sometimes goes straight into the wash when we get home (depending on how much time it spends on a hotel room floor).
Tweens and Teens
Digital Camera – For kids who don’t have a phone yet, a digital camera is great for travel. Kids can take pictures of what is important to them and have a great reminder of their trip.
Kindle – For kids who love to read, a Kindle is a great addition to their travel gear. It is so lightweight and since some newer models have their own backlights, they can stay up and read while little ones go to bed. Kindles also sync up well with digital library loans allowing you to borrow ebooks from the library instead of buying them.
All the items above have really been useful for us when traveling with kids.