What are the best items for traveling with kids?
Let’s talk traveling with kids, shall we? I mean, you clicked this link. I’m assuming this is something you are (at least) marginally interested in.
I don’t have all the answers for traveling with kids, but I do have some thoughts from my years in this “game.” I’ve had some hits and I’ve had some misses taking my kids on trips and vacations, but it always comes back to this one tip.. so let’s start here:
Think it through.
My first (and best) tip for traveling with kids: think it through
As you plan this vacation or trip, think about your life. Your kids. Their days. What makes them tick, what helps life run smoothly, what does each day on vacation look like with your kids?
This doesn’t mean overthinking (where we spiral into a parenting black hole of elaborate “what if” considerations…).
This also doesn’t mean over packing (which sometimes makes vacation life overwhelming).
There’s this middle ground in the packing and planning for vacation with kids game, and I like to stay right in the center. I don’t over pack, but I’m not a minimalist. I don’t over complicate things, but I do look at every angle possible to help us have a successful trip.
Here’s my list of favorites to take on vacation with kids
This list is not exhaustive.
It’s a few random items that help my family on vacation and ways we set things up to keep life running vacation-smooth (which is always different than “home-smooth).
My families most recent vacation (a five day park hopping trek through Disneyland and California Adventure) was an epic success for us… and I give myself and my husband a lot of credit for how we packed, what we brought, and how we set things up for success.
The items on this list are ones that we travel with often, whether it’s a road trip to grandma’s or a plane ride to an amusement park.
I sincerely hope these can help you as you plan and consider packing for your next vacation with kids. Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be a stressed out nightmare… but it does take some solid time of just thinking it all through.
Busy Toddler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Read more about these links in my disclosure policy.
MVP of vacation: the zipper pouches. These pack easy, hold a ton, and come in different sizes. For our Disneyland vacation, we used these to pack:
- Kid toiletries
- Snacks (with an extra zipper pouch for day-to-day snacks)
- First aid
- Electronic cords, cables, etc
Get on this train, NOW. Packing is 100x easier with packing cubes. We have a set for every member of the family and mix n’ match each vacation. I had no idea how much these would change my life.
They make packing, unpacking at the hotel, and packing to come home the simplest process.
There was a double umbrella stroller my friends and I passed around years ago. When it died, I bought a new one which got passed around again for travel by many families. It finally died so we got this new one.
It’s perfect for travel when you absolutely need a stroller but don’t want to bring your “good one” (I didn’t want my good one stolen or damaged in flight).
Talk to your friends. This is a great item to go in on together and share.
If you are doing a beach vacation (like Hawaii), this is the better option than a stroller. You can pull it through the airport, check or gate check it (talk to your airline) and then use it on vacation to haul gear. We couldn’t have made the long walks from rental car to beach in Hawaii without being able to pull our gear.
We also used this when we stayed in Palm Springs once to pull kids and pool gear back and forth.
Laugh all you want, but consider this. Our childhoods were not recorded in 15 second clips on phones. We have long family movies of vacations, birthdays, and celebrations.
I want those minutes long videos for my kids and for future me. We bought this camera back in 2016 and it’s been a joy. We have so many LONG memories saved and easy to access.
This is the one that we have but it’s currently unavailable online. I’ve linked to it anyways so you can see the specs.
We travel ALWAYS with a wake-up clock for our kids so they know when they can wake up in the hotel room. No one wants a 5 am “good morning” on vacation. This brings a bit of normalcy and routine to my kids – it’s what they are used to at home.
It may seem like a “big” item to pack, but the few times we’ve forgotten it…omg. I can’t even talk about those times…
If you aren’t familiar with these clocks, they turn green when the child is to “wake up” and get out of bed. It’s an amazing visual strategy for helping kids in the morning.
If your child is used to a sound machine at home, bring it with when you travel. Hotels are loud. Rentals aren’t home. Help your child sleep better on vacation by bringing this part of home with. You won’t regret it.
These are our favorites. I haven’t tried others so I can’t say anything more than “We’ve had them 4 years and they are fantastic.”
Tip: Before your first trip with headphones, make sure to practice at home…a lot…
If you’re looking for great rolling luggage that elementary aged kids can use, this is it. It’s spacious, has a lock, and rolls so easy. My kids feel so fancy pulling these.
We love having our kids carry a few items in their backpacks, and this began around age 2. We’ve used a few different back packs over the years, but I love these two sizes. One is perfect for big kids (school sized) and the other is smaller for our little ones.
We bring water bottles for the kids on every vacation that they can have in their bed. That way they aren’t coming to us for 47 drinks or trying to navigate a hotel room or rental when they’re thirsty.
These are also great for airplanes because they won’t spray water everywhere like the stray kind do.
Kid “entertainment” supplies
Travel is long, hotel rooms aren’t home, and kids get antsy in lines. Here are a few items we often bring with to help with some of the down time (we don’t bring all of this every time – this is a list of what has worked):
- Pop Its – these were GREAT in line at Disneyland. Shout out to my bestie who recommended these.
- Coloring books
- Book of mazes
- Sticker books – something about these are magical
- Travel Simon game – it’s way different than regular Simon
- Water wow
- Wiki sticks
- Silly putty
- Window clings (amazing for airplane rides)
Super random travel item but my kids LOVE to bring these on vacation. For kids who have a concept of large numbers (think preschool/kindergarten and older), this gives them a way to tell time, to understand how far they’ve walked, and it’s something to “look” at and be invested in. Kids love this “data.”
My 7 year old walked 40,005 steps on our last day at Disneyland. What a champ!!
This is not to be used as a weight loss tool.
I travel with a back up battery ALWAYS on vacation (but especially at places where I need to use my phone lots and won’t have plug in options).
Carrying one of these was enough to keep both our phones charged up in 12-14 hour days at Disneyland. That Disneyland App is a battery-drainer.
What’s your favorite item for traveling with kids?
Comment below and we’ll have a whole list of them to help other families.