Looking for some travel gift ideas for young kids? Wondering what gear you need to set off on your next family adventure? This list of twenty-five of the best travel gifts and gear for young kids has you covered!
In just a few short years, I went from being someone who could spend three months living out of a backpack to someone who was worried that the trunk of a Hyundai Palisade wasn’t big enough for all the stuff we would need for our vacation.
What in the world happened to me?!
Children. Two children happened.
E was still a couple months shy of three years old, and S was just over five months. It was our first time undertaking a big vacation as a family, and one of the most stressful parts was just figuring out what we did and did not need to lug around for our week-long trip.
Since then, I’ve been fascinated by all the great gear that’s available for family travel, as well as the wide array of fun travel gifts out there for young kids. There are so many ingenious inventions, clever and educational books and games, and kid-friendly versions of grown-up travel goodies! Today’s post lists 25 of my favorites: my coolest and most interesting finds, my most helpful travel products, and my favorite travel gift ideas that young kids will love. I hope this list is helpful for you as you plan your own family vacation or seek out that perfect gift!
A quick note, however, before you scroll: you don’t need these things to have an amazing family vacation. These products are helpful tools that can make your child more comfortable, mitigate messes, teach kids about the world around them, keep them busy during long flights and drives, and more. But many of them also represent one more thing you’ll need to find space for in your luggage or vehicle. So please feel the freedom to do what works best for your family, your child, and your vacation! What matters most is that you’re traveling together, exploring new places and stepping outside of your comfort zones. And if that involves your kid sleeping on a floor rather than a blow-up toddler bed, feeding baby on your lap rather than lugging around a clip-on high chair, or everyone doing without technology for a week… so much the better!
Practical Gear and Gifts
The first time I realized that there were strollers that could fold down compactly enough to fit into a backpack, I was dumbfounded. What in the world was I doing hauling our full-size stroller all over New England?!
While certainly pricey, this travel stroller is so lightweight and convenient that it will soon pay for itself in terms of convenience. Even though it weighs less than eleven pounds itself, it’s suitable for kids all the way from age six months to fifty-five pounds. Plus, you’ll never have to worry about gate-checking a stroller again (and the possible resulting damage)… this one can go right in the overhead bin!
A travel bag with shoulder straps would also be invaluable for ease of transport (and those overhead bins).
Inflatable Toddler Bed
When I was a kid, we threw a sleeping bag on the floor and called it a day. Nowadays, though, kids can sleep in the lap of luxury no matter in which corner of a hotel, Airbnb, or family member’s floor they find themselves!
We first bought this inflatable toddler bed for E in the hopes that it would keep him contained at night and from rubbing his face on any questionable Airbnb floors, but we still use it ALL THE TIME. Grandparents’ houses, vacations to the beach, our road trip through New England, a weekend at a friend’s family lakehouse… We’ve practically worn it out!
Travel Potty or Potty Seat
Ah, potty training. Who among us hasn’t had a toddler decide he suddenly needs the bathroom RIGHT NOW… when there’s absolutely no bathroom in sight? Or perhaps you’ve endured the pain of trying to cajole your toddler into going to the bathroom while automatic toilets, jet-engine-loud hand dryers, and other bathroom noises conspire to terrify her away from ever leaving diapers? Or perhaps your biceps are still hurting from holding your child steady over a wide toilet bowl while he took his sweet time deciding whether or not to pee?
Thankfully, there’s gear that can help in each of these situations. Investing in a portable training toilet means that you’ll never be without a potty when you need one. I also really like these foldable seat covers that fit over most standard toilet seats and create a more comfortable (and hygienic!) throne for your little one.
Cost: $12 – $40
Inflatable Airplane Bed
This is one of the coolest travel inventions, and my only gripe is that I’m too big to use it myself! This handy product inflates to fill the space between airplane seats, creating a bed where kids either can lie down flat to sleep or prop up their feet on long flights. It’s like giving your child a business class experience right where you’re sitting.
Note: Some airlines do not allow this product, so check before packing.
Cost: $20 (on sale)
Reusable Water Bottle
A reusable water bottle is one of the best pieces of travel gear for anyone, and kids are no exception. Make sure your child stays hydrated on the road with a sturdy, kid-friendly water bottle. Not only will it help keep your little traveler healthy, but you’ll save money (and plastic) by not having to purchase bottled water or other drinks along the way.
Cost: $10 – $25
This is one of those pieces of travel gear for kids that you’ll not only use while on the road but in everyday life, as well. Wet/dry bags are perfect for transporting soiled or wet clothing, swimsuits, used diapers, and more. They’re indispensable for on-the-go families.
Cost: $10 – 15
Mealtime Gear and Gifts
Clip-On High Chair
Whether you’re traveling cross-country with an infant or just making frequent trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, this clip-on high chair is a godsend. Buckle your little one in and enjoy a family meal where everyone has a place at the table! It folds up into its own carrying bag for easy packing.
We received ours as a hand-me-down and have used it constantly ourselves; other than some mealtime mess, it’s still in awesome shape!
Roll-Up Long Sleeve Bibs
This is one of those additional, off-registry gifts I give to new parents, because I can’t tell you the number of outfits that have been saved by ours! Rather than just covering a child’s chest, these lightweight, smock-like bibs protect their entire front and arms from mealtime mess. They’re ideal for travel because they roll up and snap closed to contain any food debris, and you can move on with your day without a wardrobe change! There are plenty of colors and styles available.
Cost: $10 – $15
For little hands that are not quite ready for adult-size cutlery, a set or two of toddler-size utensils will make a world of difference in your restaurant experiences while on the road. I like that these come with a convenient (and mess-containing) carrying case, making it easy and quick to pack up after a meal.
An International Cookbook
Introduce your child to a world of flavors with a cookbook that features simple, healthy recipes from across the world. In addition to the recipes, there are plenty of maps and historical and cultural information to help your child not only appreciate new cuisines but also the cultures from which they come.
Kids' Travel Entertainment
This piece of kid-friendly travel gear is almost as old as the road trip itself, though nowadays there are a lot more bells and whistles! Keep your front-facing children occupied for hours with a lap tray stocked with books, activities, snacks, and other goodies. There are tons of options, including some with dry-erase surfaces or printed racetracks for backseat grand prixes. Many also have a sleeve to hold a tablet in place.
Cost: $20 – $30
Wooden Geography Memory Game
Compact enough for travel, this fun and colorful little memory game helps your child build cognitive skills as well as geographical awareness. The ten matching pairs include all seven continents in addition to a world map, compass, and globe.
Please note that due to the size of the pieces this game is only suitable for children three and up.
Cost: $19.50 – $21
Send your child off on her next adventure with a backpack full of books… that weigh almost nothing at all! Beloved e-reader Kindle has two versions specifically for children: the Kindle Kids at $120 or the waterproof Kindle Paperwhite Kids at $160. Both include a case and a one-year subscription to Amazon Kids+, where your reader will have access to thousands of books at no cost to you.
Cost: $120 – $160
A Personalized Search-and-Find Book
Make your child the start of his or her own around-the-world adventure! Start by personalizing the book with your child’s name and by creating a character that looks just like him or her. You can customize everything from hair length to skin color to clothing. Your child will spend hours searching for him- or herself as well as hundreds of hidden items and even a secret message from you!
Cost: $35 for softcover, $47 for hardcover
Give yourself (and your fellow passengers) the gift of silence as your child enjoys music, games, movies, and other entertainment with his or her own headphones. Borderline essential on planes, trains, and other public transportation, headphones cut ambient noise and allow your kid stay entertained without distracting others.
Cost: $15 – $30+
The Travel Book
Take your child on a journey through every country in the world… from the comfort of the couch! The Travel Book, from renowned travel publisher Lonely Planet, dedicates a full page to each independent country in the world (as well as some territories), with lots of fun facts about each.
Lonely Planet has a bunch of other great books geared toward kids, as well.
Buy it on Amazon or at your favorite independent bookstore
DIY Activity Kit
No matter where you’re headed, one of the best things you can bring along for your child is some sort of activity kit to keep him or her occupied on the journey. The kit can vary in size and composition depending on your mode of transportation, the age of your child, and his or her interests. Here are some of my favorite things to include in a travel activity kit:
- Lightweight books
- Magazines (we like National Geographic Kids and High Five/Highlights)
- Playing cards and other card-based games such as Uno
- Sensory/busy boards
- Small puzzles
- Travel-size board games
- Magnetic games, such as puzzles or drawing boards
- Coloring books and crayons, twistable crayons, or colored pencils (don’t forget a sharpener!)
- Sticker books, including Paint by Sticker books, Colorforms, and other reusable sets
- Water Wow booklets
- Small cars, trucks, and action figures
- Glow sticks, for night drives
Pro tip: one of the best places to put together an activity kit is your local dollar store. You get a lot of bang for your buck, and you don’t have to worry about losing or breaking anything that set you back a lot of money.
Making and Keeping Memories
Help kids chronicle their adventures with a fun travel journal! While any blank notebook or bound diary will do, I personally like journals that give kids lots of prompts and spaces to record different destinations, activities, impressions, and events. I love the prompts in this journal and that this one includes time-passing activities like scavenger hunts and word searches.
Cost: $7 – $20
What better way for your child to remember his travels than by documenting them with his own camera? There are lots of sturdy, kid-friendly cameras out there that will allow your child to photograph the most interesting and memorable parts of your trip.
Depending on the age of your child, you could gift a fun, themed camera like this one that’s shaped like a dinosaur or decorated with unicorns or stick to something a little more grown-up and traditional.
Cost: $20 – $50+
USA Push Pin Map for Kids
I love the push pin map I received from Holy Cow Canvas last year, and I was excited to find out that they have kids’ maps as well! This is one of those travel gifts not only for young kids, but for the whole family to enjoy.
Help your child keep track of his or her travels with a colorful map and push pins, and watch the excitement as the map fills up with adventures! There are multiple sizes available, and you can customize the map title or legend.
Packing Gear and Gifts
We bought E the suitcase pictured above for his second Christmas, and it has become one of the most-used gifts we’ve ever given him. (He also loved it so much on Christmas morning that he spent at least a half hour just rolling it around the house.) We’ve packed him up for our family road trip to New England, for weekends at the beach, and even for a day at his grandparents’ house. And we recently bought S her own, as well.
Keep bathroom goodies organized AND help your kid feel like a grown-up all at once! Whether it’s a simple zippered toiletry kit like the one above or a handy hanging one that will save precious bathroom counter space, your child will love using it to pack his or her own toothbrush, toothpaste, hair accessories, and more. You can even add some fun, refillable travel containers for liquids like shampoo, body wash, and lotion.
Cost: $12 – $30
I hope that this list has been helpful for you as you seek out the perfect gear for your next family vacation or travel gift for a young kid! And if there’s anything I missed, I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments!
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