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We have some fun travel plans coming up, and I’m so looking forward to exploring new destinations with my family! There’s something so magical about being able to share travel experiences with your children. I love seeing the world through their eyes… The way they light up when they see the ocean; how they get so enamored with nature on walks and hikes in new places; the big proud smiles on their faces when they get to try something new, like skiing or boogie boarding. It makes this mama’s heart so happy to see them enjoy our amazing, beautiful world!
You know what doesn’t make me happy, though? The actual traveling with kids. Let’s be honest, long plane and car rides are a bit more challenging with children in tow. Their little busy bodies don’t like sitting still for long periods of time, and it seems like they whine for a new snack, like, every 30 minutes. Oh, and they have so much stuff!! Strollers, car seats, changes of clothes, toys, books, ahhh!!
My husband and I have been determined to make traveling with our kids as simple as possible. Some parents will buy every hot travel gadget, toy or stroller they’ve been influenced on Instagram to feel prepared for long travel days, but take it from me (someone who’s experienced in traveling alone with two young children and also worked in the travel industry for 10+ years), you don’t need more STUFF to lug through the airport to make travel easy. What you need are the easy basics — items that will help keep your luggage at a minimum, things that are simple for kids to carry and will help keep them occupied. So, while I doesn’t necessarily look forward to the travel days with kids, I believe we’ve found ways to make it very tolerable… and sometimes even pleasurable! Heck, sometimes I actually get to take a nap or sip on a glass of champagne! And when that happens, I arrive to our destination cheerful and ready for our family adventure!
Want to know my essential travel items for kids? I shared 5 must-have products with KTLA Morning News, and you can watch by clicking play, below! I also linked all the products we use to make our flights and road trips with kids simple and painless below the video.
Essential Travel Products for Kids:
Packing and unpacking your family is so easy with this four-tier packing cube that acts as a carry-on closet to keep your belongings organized and in plain view. You will no longer have to dig in your suitcase to locate your 2-year-old’s tiny socks! What makes this luggage organizer stand out among other packing cubes out there is the fact that it has four compartments — three shelves to store folded clothes and one zip-up container at the bottom that’s great for stashing toiletries, shoes or dirty laundry — and two hooks so that it can hang, making it easy to unpack and repack at your destination. This packing cube is durable and lightweight, in addition to coming in two different sizes and multiple different colors. I purchased the large and extra large in grey earlier this year, and it has been such a game changer to keep mine and my children’s belongings organized. I typically put pajamas, socks and underwear in the top compartment, my son’s clothes in the middle compartment and my daughter’s clothes in the third compartment. I’ll put shoes in the bottom zip-up compartment. In the large size, I was able to pack 4 days worth of clothes for the kids, who are ages 4 and 2 as I’m writing this. I love that I simply hang it up in the closet when we arrive, so we’re no longer living out of disorganized suitcases or accidentally leaving a shirt or sock behind in a hotel drawer! Do yourself a favor and get this portable hanging organizer before your next trip!
Car seats are a huge pain to schlep through the airport, especially if you have more than one child, like me! I also dislike taking them with us to a destination where we’re not renting a car. Constantly installing the car seat in Ubers then carrying it into a restaurant or museum can be really annoying. Enter: The RideSafer Vest!!! This is a safe, legal and convenient device that makes it easy to travel in taxis or ride shares when you get to your family’s destination. The vest lightweight (less than 2 pounds) and comes with a small backpack that children can easily carry themselves. Most importantly, it’s crash tested and safety certified – it meets or exceeds Federal safety standards! The RideSafer Vest features a unique, 3-clip design that positions the car’s seat belt comfortably and correctly on your child. Just slip it on like an article of clothing, fasten in the front and place the seat belt through the metal belt guides. Most children can do all of that themselves if you teach them and practice a few times. It also comes with a shoulder tether for a consistent sitting position and increased security. The tether also makes it possible for kids to ride safely in the middle seat without a shoulder strap! RideSafer offers four different sizes of the Vest, so this device is an option for parents with children ages 2 and up.
The same company that makes the RideSafer Travel Vest also makes an extremely lightweight TravelSmarter Booster Seat. This seat can be used with the vest, and they both fit into a backpack weighing less than 3 pounds. My kids have no trouble carrying it! The TravelSmarter Booster Seat is great for smaller children who may enjoy looking out the window, but it is not required to use with the vest. You can use the booster alone or with the vest or you can use the vest without the booster.
Puro Sound Labs Volume Limiting Kids Headphones
There’s a growing concern over the rise of noise-induced hearing loss from headphones and earphones, leaving parents alarmed and looking for solutions to protect their children’s ears. Thankfully, I found Puro Sound Labs Junior Jams bluetooth headphones, which help keep little ones entertained on long flights while limiting volume to 85 decibels (the recommended listening level). What sets these volume-limiting headphones apart is their 22 hours of battery life, superior sound quality and fold-up feature, making them easy to store in little kids backpacks. These headphones also boast a sophisticated design, bright color options and durability. We have gone through a couple of headphones in the last 3 years that simply couldn’t hold up to travel or stopped working shortly after purchasing, but Puro Sound Labs creates quality headphones with a 1-year warranty! These headphones are perfect for children ages 3 to tween.
Puro Sound Labs also has developed PuroQuiet, which features active noise cancelling for little ones to tune out the loud world around them without having to increase their headphones volume. PuroQuiet bluetooth headphones have a volume limit of 85 decibels, 35 hours of battery life without the active noise canceling on, and 23 hours with it, and blocks out 78% of background noise. The PuroQuiets cost a bit more than the Junior Jams, but they’re so worth it for the active noise cancelling feature!
Melissa & Doug Take Along Activities
Our favorite toy brand Melissa & Doug is fantastic at developing toys and activities to keep babies and toddlers engaged through screen-free open-ended play. The Water Wow! reusable travel painting sets have been a staple in our house since my firstborn was around 18 months old. I love to throw these in my diaper bag and surprise the kids with them once we get on the plane or when they need to keep busy at a restaurant. Simply fill the pen with water, and your kids can paint the pages in the book to reveal colorful, educational scenes. The color disappears when the pages dry, so kids can paint them again and again. The best is that there’s no mess (besides maybe a little bit of water)!
For babies under 1 year old, Melissa & Doug just launched the Take Along Ice Cream Toy that clips to strollers, diaper bags, high chairs, car seats, and more to keep the fun close to little hands. Babies love pulling the cone to reveal four adorable ice cream scoops with friendly faces. When expanded, the toy vibrates and plays chiming sounds as it shrinks again. This toy helps kids develop fine motor and sensory skills with its multi-textured features, vibration and sounds. If I had a baby again, I’d definitely bring this cute little toy with me! Make sure you check out all of Melissa & Doug’s awesome travel-friendly toys on their website!
One of the best things a family can do when traveling together is have each person responsible for their own stuff! Traveling got so much easier once my toddlers were able to wear a backpack filled with their favorite snacks and toys. Plus, it’s fun for them! They love the sense of purpose and responsibility, and my kids enjoy packing their own backpack, too! The North Face has been a trusted brand for family adventures for years and makes three different sized backpacks to fit your child’s travel needs at every age. The Mini Explorer is perfect for preschoolers, the Youth Mini Recon is great for elementary school age children and the Youth Court Jester is a solid choice for tweens and high schoolers. I love The North Face, you get a lifetime guarantee with free returns, durability and high functionality. These are high quality backpacks that your kids can use for everything!
I’m always on the lookout for great products, so let me know if you have any favorite travel items we should try in the comments below!
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