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Whether your family only travels during the holidays OR your family seemingly has gypsy blood, having the right tools for your family’s travel is essential for a happy holiday. Our family travels ALOT. Our kids have both taken multiple cross-Pacific flights in their short little lifetimes. So we know a little something about family travel. From our family to yours, here’s what we consider to be the 20 Ultimate Travel Gifts for Families.
If you’re planning holiday travel this year, you might find early an early Christmas present on this list to make your flight, road trip, or train ride, a little more civil.
Family Gifts for Everyone’s Use
These are gifts that everyone will benefit from using. They are the ultimate family travel essentials.
Adapters + Converters
If your family likes to take trips abroad, having power adapters and converters is key. For unknown reasons the plugs all over the world are different. The US has one type. The UK another. Europe still has another and all of Asia, India, Australia, New Zealand can be different. To add to the confusion, the voltages are also different. So not only do you need an adaptor but you may also need a converter. If you travel frequently, all of the adapting and converting can be a constant headache. Save yourself a headache and buy a universal adapter and a converter. These automatically change to whatever country you’re in. It’s pretty genius, actually.
This adapter just helps you adapt the plug to fit your device. It does not do any power converting.
This is an adapter and a converter combination. It adapts to whatever region you’re in and it helps you convert the power voltage so you don’t fry your devices. Don’t ever use blowdryers or other high wattage devices in this, and just be careful. Killing your laptop on the first night of your stay in a new country is a big buzz kill.
Family packing for air travel can be a bit chaotic. And overweight luggage fees can set you back $50 to $200. Having a handy, light, easy-to-pack luggage scale can save you hundreds in excess luggage fees. If you travel individually or with your family, even once in a blue moon, this is a handy little tool to keep in your toolbag.
I doubt I’m the only person who likes to keep a neat suitcase and know where everything is without digging through everything and creating a chaotic mess.
Enter these packing cubes. With this 4-piece set, you can use a cube for undies, one for pants, one for shirts, and one for toiletries. That’s how I pack for myself and the kids. It makes hunting for clothes a breeze, and it could keep you from overpacking. Plus, these packing cubes come with a little laundry bag. So when you get home, you just dump the dirty clothes in the wash. Easy travel.
This is new to me. Since the September 11th attacks in the US changed our sense of security and consquently the face of airline travel forever, I really never thought to lock my luggage. But I’ve been increasingly seeing locked suitcases on the baggage claim carousels. Curious, I thought I’d check it out. Evidently, you can still lock your luggage when you fly. (Gasp! I know, crazy!)
To lock your bags, you need TSA recognized (or approved) locks. So, locking your luggage still comes with a certain amount of risk. Namely, TSA may need to enter your bag. If you don’t use these TSA approved locks, your lock will be cut off. However, with the TSA approved locks, TSA has skeleton keys that unlock them.
The good news is: if you really want to lock your luggage, you can. The increasingly bad news (from my perspective), is first if you’re running late for a flight and TSA needs to enter your bag, the process of unlocking your bag, searching it, and then relocking it, could be the few seconds you needed to make sure your bag makes your flight. Second, if you’re traveling internationally with multiple stops, I just wouldn’t do it.
I have a love-hate relationship with travel pillows. In my family, having four travel pillows is a bit of a hassel. Even when you fly alone, hauling a travel pillow is a bit of a pain. That said, I love the comfort a travel pillow offers during a flight or in the car.
I recently found the Travelrest. It fully deflates. So it folds down really small and inflates into a tube that you can comfortably sleep against. What’s even better is that, since it’s inflatable, you can control the firmness and softness of your pillow. Did I mention that you can deflate it?
I never realized how important a passport holder was until my husband told me people have RFID handheld scanners that skim and copy your passport and some credit cards fitted with an RFID chip. Some of these RFID scanners have been known to skim your name, passport number, and country of origin and in some cases, these scanners have been able to steal entire credit card numbers.
Due to our frequent travel, out of precaution, we got RFID sleeves for our passports. This ACdream Leather Passport Holder with stylus, serves multiple purposes. It holds and protects your passports, credit cards, boarding passes, and it contains a pen. It’s a good buy.
Gifts for Parents Traveling With Kiddos
No matter how much you prepare, traveling with kids is never the same as traveling without kids. But you can still find a little peace when you travel with your kiddos without overpacking, never getting a quiet moment, or feeling like a petri dish of travel germs. Parents, this list is for you.
When you have kids, be they young or order, it’s always a great idea to have a little first aid, a few snacks, and maybe a bottle or two of water. Plus, I always travel with a few Clorox wipes, but that’s just me (I may be slightly OCD). The problem with backpacks is that it’s not easy to pack them. So you end up carrying it on the flight, even if you’d rather take another carry-on bag.
This ZOMAKE backpack is perfect for anyone who likes to have a backpack at the destination but doesn’t want to haul it around during their travel. It’s foldable and packs down into a small little pouch that squishes into your suitcase. I love it, and it comes in all of these great colors.
Before kids, I only used noise-canceling headphones to drown out the sound of other people’s kids. Now, I use them to take a break from travel (and to drown out other people’s children). My husband and I take turns getting a little “me-time” during a long trip to take a nap, zone out, or just go to the bathroom uninterrupted.
During my breaks, I use my noise-canceling headphones to decompress. I don’t suggest you wear them to drown out the sounds of your own kids (however much you may want to), but once you get them settled, these headphones are nice to create a quiet space for yourself.
Ok, so there are a ton of choices for e-readers. All of them are excellent, but (in my opinion) the Kindle is the superior e-reader. I know you could get Kindle for ipad or a Nook, but none of them can do what the Kindle can do.
I have Kindle on my iPad, but when I really just want to sit down and read a good book, I pick up my actual Kindle because there are no distractions. It’s just like reading a book (but it’s thinner, lighter, and there are no pages). The backlight makes it easy to read in the sun, and this new Oasis Kindle has automatic backlight adjustments, which allows it to adjust the backlight to your environment’s natural light, giving your eyes an opportunity to rest.
Whatever your mode of transportation, traveling can make you feel a bit grimy. Being in any place for 14-hours is rough. I love this little toiletry kid though. It has everything you need freshen up when you arrive at your destination AND to last you for a few days of your trip.
Generally, I take the liquid items (toothpaste, body wash, one lotion, etc) and stuff them in a clear ziplock bad to get through security screening. I keep a toothbrush, the deodorant, and the facial cleansing cloths in my carry on. Everything else generally goes in my checked baggage. Seriously though, it feels so amazing to brush my teeth, wash my face, and reapply deodorant before I greet the world at my next destination.
Dads also need to feel fresh. Traveling can make you feel depleted and worse than that, you could stink. Ha! And generally, once you reach your destination you either meet with family or friends or you’re taking a taxi to check into a hotel. You’re going to interact with people. Why feel (and smell) like you’ve just traveled for a full day? This kit has more than you’d ever need for a short trip.
This gift is for the family that travels extensively OR families who travel extensively or just live really far from extended family could give this gift to their relatives. It’s a great way to keep family and friends current on all of your family’s adventures.
What I love about this frame is that it’s wifi compatible, and it syncs with a free online photo storage system that allows you share up to 10GB on photos. It’s the perfect gift for families and friends spread out all over the world.
So for as much traveling as my family does, we don’t ever travel with a camera. Crazy right? We use our smartphones to take pictures. This little smartphone accessory bundle works with iPhones (what we have), but it’s supposed to also work on Android phones.
It’s easy to pack. It helps you take more “professional” looking photos, and it’s a lot cheaper than keeping up with all of the cameras out there. The only negative about this bundle is that the LED lighting doesn’t work with the iPhone 8 because there’s no earphone jack. But for the price and the ease of use, it’s still worth it.
For Young Travelers
Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be sooo stressful. It’s always going to be slightly stressful but you can minimize your stress level by keeping them entertained and keeping the germs at bay (as much as possible).
This is a cute little marker set for creating and coloring on-the-go. The markers are washable (with a bit of scrubbing) off of little hands. When it comes to planning activities during long trips, this market and free draw paper set, when coupled with a coloring book, will buy a few minutes of happy silence from your youngest travelers.
My 3-year-old LOVES these puzzles! There are seven magnets and a little book of puzzles to create with your seven magnets. My husband and I have literally spent an hour playing puzzles with our daughter. She really enjoyed it. At three, she’s not quite old enough to do the puzzles on her own, but we use the game to practice identifying shapes and colors. We work on big, bigger, and biggest, and we get to create cool pictures with our daugther—even our one-year-old likes to play with the pieces and watch us put the puzzles together. This is the perfect family travel game.
There are a bazillion tables on the market, so feel free to choose any of those. We love the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition. Our daughter can access her favorite pre-downloaded shoes, movies, and games. She has her own little headphones (gift idea # 19), and as long as she likes the movie, she can be a happy little camper for about an hour.
I absolutely hate public toilets (Remember: I mentioned the whole OCD thing earlier… ) I never thought I’d hate public toilets more, but then I had potty trained kids (even the one year goes #2 on the potty…I’m proud). Why do kids hold on to toilets? It’s so gross. I really dislike it. So, when I found these toilet liners I think I said a little prayer of gratitude and did a happy dance. These liners cover the toilet and have a little over hang so that when your little one inevitably puts their hands on the toilet, they don’t touch the toilet. (Do you hear the angels or is it just me?)
I learned the hard way that little kids can’t use earbuds. Most probably know this intuitively. I didn’t. But after the 100th time, I was asked to fix the earbuds, I had learned this lesson. Kids need headphones. You know, the kind that fit over their little ears. We like these.
We like to make traveling fun for our kids. To be fun, they have to be involved. So, we let them pack cheap replaceable things in their little backpacks. They put coloring books, crayons, or markers in their backpacks. Sometimes we let them put their tablet in there if we’re about to board our flights. But they don’t carry anything heavy or irreplaceable.
Generally, their dad or I hold onto their lovey and other little important articles that would end the world, if lost.
Our kids like their little backpacks. Their backpacks are about this size and have about the same amount of space.
If you’re a frequent traveling family, a friend or relative of a highly mobile family, whether they’re in the military and move frequently; the family take frequent road trips, or travels internationally on vacation or with a parent’s work… these items are essentials in our travel arsenal. I hope they help you with your family travel.
If I missed a great product this year, leave a comment with a link and I’ll try it out to include next year.