Traveling with young children can be daunting, but a lot of it is managing expectations and preparing for success. As a parent and avid traveler myself, there’s no denying it: our days of “winging it” are over. Family travel may require more preparation, but it is certainly one the best things you can do for your family. Your kids will make invaluable connections and become more aware of the world around them, growing to be good global citizens.
Here are a few of our favorite family travel essentials:
*This post may include affiliate links, which means if you buy one of the items, OWV may get some money. Thanks!
The Ergobaby carrier is probably the item I miss the most from my days of traveling with babies and toddlers!
It is comfortable for both the parent and the baby and can be used on the front, back or on the hip. With an infant insert, you can start using your Ergo at 7 pounds and all the way up to 45 pounds. We’ve taken it on plenty of hikes when the girls were older.
This is also a lifesaver when you have two kids under 3. I highly recommend the Ergo! I almost wish I had another baby just to use it again.
These versatile and highly-absorbent blankets are a must when traveling with babies, but will be great for many, many years to come. They can be used as a cover-up for nursing, a towel, a light blanket, to block the sun in the stroller, you name it.
We love the ones by Aden & Anais. They are super soft, breathable and have lasted forever. My girls are now 8 and 6 years old and I still bring them as a backup for when we need towels
If you’re flying internationally with your kids, odds are the in-flight entertainment system will have plenty of children’s movies. Be sure to bring a good pair of kid headphones!
A must for any traveling woman, mother or not. It should be something lightweight and large enough to wear over the shoulders as a shawl, as a scarf around your neck or on your head.
Apart from being a great fashion accessory, adding a pop of color to your outfits, they are great for:
- Warmth, whenever you need an extra layer. The pashmina is made of cashmere wool, so even better for cooler climates.
- Covering your shoulders to be respectful of the local culture or when visiting sacred sites and temples
- The beach, as a cover up
- The plane, as a blanket
For those moms with infants, sarongs can also be used as a baby sling or breastfeeding cover.
Our Bubble Bum inflatable car seats have traveled the globe. This seat is super compact and can be easily folded up and stored away in a bag or backpack. It is great for any travel, but especially handy when you’re traveling abroad with your children and the last thing you need is to lug a bulky car seat.
As a side note, you can easily put three of them across the back seat of almost any car, which makes them handy for carpools back home.
This seat is designed for children ages 4 years to 11 years old (from 40 pounds to 100 pounds).
I was skeptical of e-readers before, especially after having tried reading e-books on an ipad, but fell in love with the Kindle. My Kindle Paperwhite has been traveling with me since. I actually like the Paperwhite better than the Oasis. It’s narrower and fits nicely in one hand.
As my children get older I’m sure they’ll enjoy having their own, but for now the Kindle is my personal travel essential. The best part? The battery lasts forever. It can be used for weeks before it needs to be recharged.
One for each child, these packing cubes makes packing and organization so much easier, especially when kids are older and staying in a different hotel room.
Any packing cube is great, but what I love about Eagle Creek in particular is that they’re extremely lightweight and not bulky as others. And the compression cubes are ideal when you have limited space.
DEET-free Bug Spray:
My daughters are very allergic. Mosquitos have been a concern for us way before Zika. I’ve gone through every brand imaginable and have resorted to DEET a number of times (which I hate with a passion). That is, until I found these two products that are deet-free and actually work!
This repellent has a strong smell, but that of six different essential oils and not of a toxic pesticide! Best of all, it really works well against mosquitoes, gnats, flies and other creatures you might come across in your travels.
Most importantly it’s safe to use on your children.
Cutter is another DEET free insect repellent that is made with all natural ingredients including lemon and eucalyptus. It will keep mosquitos away from you for at least six hours before you have to reapply it. I love this product. Highly recommend it!
Unless you’re traveling to a place where it is not advisable to drink tap water, carrying a re-usable water bottle is simple way to travel more responsibly. We got a couple of these Vapur bottles at the Family Travel Association summit. My daughters loved the bright colors and I love them because they don’t take up any room!
No matter where we travel, there’s no getting away from bringing some of our electronics. This is especially true when it comes to traveling abroad with children. Ban or not, we’re still bringing our phones and ipads with us. Hotels can normally lend you an adapter, but you never know. Besides, you might be staying at an airbnb. A travel adapter eliminates the guessing game. This one is fairly compact and has two USB ports
Games are always a great way to keep the kids happy (and away from electronics?). The classic Uno or one of those Travel Tins games can be super fun. Charades is one of our favorites to play with the kids. And it works well when more than one language is spoken. Fun and educational!
You love photography, but are not a fan of carrying a big and heavy DSLR when you travel with kids? I hear you!
I was beside myself happy when I found the Sony Alpha. It is nothing short of amazing. I’ve had mine for over 6 years and love it. It’s lightweight and super practical for traveling. And the mirrorless technology is great when taking picture of active kids.
OK, so it’s not so essential, but it is a lot of fun. It’s really great for watching movies on your laptop when you’re back at the hotel and it’s time for everyone to unwind (or have a dance party…) It just makes everything sound so much better. You can use it anywhere, and I mean anywhere. This little speaker can withstand just about anything from a rainstorm to a sandstorm. It’s also extremely small and takes up very little room, so even if it’s not something essential for traveling, it won’t be in the way.