Traveling with kids? Check out this fantastic list of travel items for families that help make trips with kids successful. These travel items range in use from the baby/toddler years through the big kid travel years. It’s a list with something for every traveler.
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.
My favorites to take on vacation with kids
This list is not exhaustive.
I know there are lots of things that can make vacations with kids successful.
But there are a few items (and some of them may seem a little random) that help my family on vacation and set things up to keep life running vacation-smooth (which is always different than “home-smooth”).
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.
The best travel items for families
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The Zipper Pouches
MVP of vacation: the zipper pouches. These pack easy, hold a ton, and come in different sizes. We use these to pack: kid toiletries, sun screen, goggles, snacks, first aid, electronic cords, 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.
Double Umbrella Stroller
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) or will be visiting a hotel pool daily, this is the better option than a stroller. You can pull it through the airport, check it or gate check it (talk to your airline), and then use it on vacation to haul gear. My kids are currently 10, 8, and 6. We still bring this wagon on vacation.
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.
Wake-Up Clock for Kids
We always travel 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. I love this one for travel because it doesn’t take up much space in a suitcase.
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. Read more about them in this post on clocks for kids.
Portable Sound Machine
If your child is used to a sound machine at home, bring it with when you travel. Hotels are loud. Rentals aren’t home. Grandma’s house is still a different house. 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 using them. Don’t let the airplane or middle of the road trip be the first try with headphones.
This allows two headphones to be connected and listen to the same device. This is so helpful for sharing screens with kids on vacation. My kids can plug in together and often do.
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 (think ages 5+) and frankly, I like this as an adult, too.
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 under age 5. There are many colors and styles.
Kid Water Bottles
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 Water Bottles
Super random travel item but my kids LOVE to bring these on vacation. For kids who have a concept of large numbers (think 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.
Portable Cell Phone Charger
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). I’m constantly taking pictures, videos, and getting us directions – it drains my battery fast and this keeps us up and running.
This one is a great size when traveling compared to the old “brick” style that needed a separate cord to attach to the phone.
Especially on road trip vacations or camping trips, I always bring a separate laundry bag. This makes coming home and unpacking so much easier (and makes it more likely I unpack us and get clothing rewashed sooner).
Love having this portable safe for beach and pool trips on vacation. It’s easy to use, and I feel a lot safer about my phone, wallet, and car keys.
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s about finding a middle ground between not taking everything and not taking enough/wishing you had something. For me, I sit down and think about our current day or how we behave in a current space (we don’t live near a beach so I have to think about what we look like there). I walk through our day. What we use at home is what we will on vacation. If we don’t use it at home, I don’t waste my time bringing it on vacation.
I have a whole list of travel toys for kids that I’d love to share with you. These are my tried-and-true list, and these toys have served me well.
Sure do! Here are my favorite activities to take for toddlers and preschoolers on airplanes.