I sometimes watch those single travelers at the airport slide their suitcase into the overhead bin, all their travel needs contained in one neat little case. Meanwhile I’m arm wrestling 6 bags, 2 kids, and a 400 lb car seat/stroller combo.
Yeah, traveling with kids isn’t easy and you certainly need a lot more stuff, but let’s face it; sometimes that stuff is really helpful in having a great trip.
Sure, you’ve probably already thought about clothes, toothbrushes, and even the baby’s favorite toy but here are a few things you might not have thought to pack.
These are some of my favorite travel items that have found their way onto our regular packing list. They are hard-working products that make our trips more comfortable and that have held up well on many, many adventures.
They might take up a little bit more room but when you’re hauling a semi truck’s worth of stuff already, you might as well make room for some really useful things.
Family Travel Gear for a Comfortable Trip
Our family has been using essential oils for several years to help with sleep and boost immune systems. They’re even more helpful when we travel so we’ve started packing a small portable diffuser when we’re on the go. It uses a USB cord so it can be plugged into the car and an inexpensive wall adapter can be popped on for in the hotel room.
I can purify the air of any yucky smells and also make sure my kids are getting a good night sleep. This one is about the size of a soda can so it won’t take up much space. Even if you don’t include the essential oils, the humidifier adds some moisture to a dry hotel room.
After watching my son repeatedly try and suck on the cord of some wired headphones (kids are so weird!), I promptly switched him to wireless headphones. No tangles or worrying about if the cord will be long enough. The headphones can connect to car DVD players, iPads, Kindle Fires, etc. and they’re easy to fold away for storage. Plus, I love the noise control level that products his ears.
Headphones are game changer on a long trip. No more blaring Paw Patrol from the back seat or the ping, ping noise of a game system on the airplane. Now my husband and I can listen to our own podcasts or music and my kids are happy too.
Ever try to let your kids eat a Happy Meal in the car? Then you know the spilled french fries and dripping ketchup nightmare that eating in the car can be. But with this little caddy, your kids can have their whole meal without any mess.
I got my caddies at the Dollar Store and they’ve held up great. I can fit a drink, fries and sandwich in them and the kids are able to hold everything on their laps. We’ve even braved chicken nuggets and dip in these and they’ve held up great. You can really use any size shower caddy that you want, just double check that it’s wide enough to hold a drink and the sides are deep enough to keep food from tipping over.
Twin Air Mattress
If we’re driving anywhere we almost always throw our air mattress into the back of the van. Our boys still don’t share a bed very well and it’s nice to be prepared in case the sleeping arrangements turn on differently than we planned. We have the Areobed twin mattress that has an electric pump. It inflates in under a minute and I’ve been very impressed with the quality.
The mattress is at least 8 years old and has been walked on, jumped on, etc. without a single leak. This version with a small lip is for younger kids if you’re worried about them rolling off the mattress. For frequent road trip families, it’s a worthwhile investment that doubles as extra guest space when you’re at home.
Kid-Proof Case for iPad
Different families have different feelings about electronic for kids but I’m going to be honest and say we love our iPads for the kids when we travel.To keep ours safe we use this kid-proof case.
It does make it a bit bulkier but it protects the iPad from my crazy kids and so far we’ve not had any damage to ours. Well worth it to protect an expensive piece of electronics.
For more suggestions on what to pack, see my Road Trips for Families Series and Best Family Travel Games.
Of course, you can’t take it all with you when you and it will be a while before you’re hoisting just that elegant roller bag into the overhead compartment but hopefully this list of family travel gear helps make the trip you are taking easier and a bit more comfortable. These products are a worthwhile investment for families would find themselves hitting the road or taking to the skies.
What are your favorite pieces of travel gear? Anything unexpected that always finds its way into your suitcase? I’d love to hear what you recommend!
PS. Get even more great advice about traveling with your family. Sign up for my newsletter and receive your FREE One Hour Vacation Planning Guide!
Emily Hines says
A travel diffuser is genius! I need one of these.
Emily – We love ours and use it all the time. My biggest suggestion is to look for one that you can turn the light out on if you like to sleep in the dark. Ours doesn’t have that it is pretty bright at night. Happy travels!
For the kids? I need the diffuser, wireless headphones and the kid proof iPad case. (I’m clumsy) 😉
Good list and it doesn’t look like it takes up too much space.
Haha! I’m glad it inspired some ideas in for grown-ups too 🙂 And you’re right….nothing takes up too much space.
A travel diffuser is a great idea!
I love mine and love that it let’s me take my oils on the road!