Kids are travelers – as are their parents – and sometimes a little safety, education, or entertainment for little ones on the road can be a great choice when you are looking for travel-appropriate gifts. Here are a few picks of gifts for traveling kids from HI Travel Tales and our traveling friends.
Safety, food and health gifts
Bubble Bums portable child car seats are one thing avid traveling families shouldn’t do without when on road trips, especially when they’re not in our own vehicle — such as taxis, rental cars and even Uber rides. According to Jane Higgins of thetravelword.com, they provide convenient, lightweight child car seat safety for 4-year-olds and up. Bubble Bums are inflatable, so they are smaller to pack, but also have a foam core for added comfort My son’s report: “They are soo much more comfortable than our plastic boosters.” Even when it isn’t legally required, these boosters make for a safer, more comfortable ride. Since they can easily be rolled up and slipped in a backpack, it’s a simple choice.
Vapur portable water bottles are a traveler’s dream. And the ones for kids aren’t just smaller adult ones. The Quenchers kids line is a collection of adorable foldable, packable 0.4L bottles that come in great colors. Plus, each one comes with a page of stickers so the new owner can personalize as he or she choses. An individualized bottle is much more likely to mean more water goes down the hatch too! One beautiful thing about all Vapur bottles, both adult’s and kid’s, is the ability to roll them up and hold the small rolled package in place with the carabiner at the top.
Sea to Summit X Seal & Go food carriers are a line of portable carriers that fold totally flat when not in use. Made of lightweight food-grade silicone, these carriers in several different sizes with airtight lids are also dishwasher safe. For those times when you need something more than a plastic baggie but don’t want to waste your traveling real estate, these collapsible little containers could be your best friend for kid-friendly snacks (or maybe adult snacks too).
Fashionable, functional gifts for traveling kids
Sarongs are a lightweight multi-purpose friend for travelers of all ages, but Chez Chesak, executive director of the Family Travel Association, says their girls love them for more than just swimsuit wraps. They serve as shawls in restaurants, blankets on planes, or maybe just a coolio fashion statement. They come in a plethora of lengths and patterns, so your gift recipient will rejoice with what you find.
Entertainment for traveling kids (and sometimes relief for their parents) can mean videos, movies or games on planes, in hotels or in the back seat. Which means headphones. ANiMALZ headphones let a traveling kid choose their favorite furry creature to cover their ears. And not only is the cord retractable, Chesak says, but there is a volume limiter to protect young ears. Can you say adorable?? We can. Choose from Biker Bearz, Jam Bunneez and the rest of the menagerie.
You may have your neck pillow for traveling comfort, but what about the kids? They don’t want your boring ol’ thing. Enter cuuuuuute animal travel pillows by Critter Piller just for traveling kids. Hypoallergenic, washable, soft and cuddly too. Me, I lean toward the Blue Dog, but your gift for a traveling kid could be a Red Dog, Alligator, Raccoon, Panda or one of many others.
Gifts that are educational fun (and distraction) for children
Travel is fun for kids but education and curiosity is part of the adventure too. So a gift that looks like fun for a traveling kid on your list while hiding all the learning part is a win-win. Try The Lonely Planet travel journals for kids. These offer space to write, draw or doodle, but also have suggestions for writing topics, lists and fill-ins to get the traveling kid in your life to log what they’ve seen and enjoyed.
“I’m bored!” so goes the refrain from the back seat or wherever else. Enter BrainQuest books, one outstanding product, says Chesak, of the Family Travel Association, for kids traveling who need a little brain stimulation or simple distraction. Various versions are geared toward different age groups so each traveling kid in your life can find one that’s just right.
Magnetic Fun games can entertain for hours when a kid is on the road. The tin comes filled with 55 magnetic pieces of trains, planes, cars and scenes that can be arranged any which way using (or note) the play scene printed inside the tin.
Bound Round is a free, interactive children’s travel iOS app that’s designed to get the kids involved in planning your next family getaway, says Australian travel writer Tash Keller (Full disclosure: She works for this company). Before you go or when you’re on the road, the kids can watch videos, play games and read fun facts about the destination you’re traveling to, and have a say in the activities you do once you arrive. It’s productive screen time that’s both educational and fun, which is a win for the kids and a win for parents. So “trick” the traveling kids in your life on your gift list with an app download that will keep them entertained too.
A fantastic game for older kids is Rory’s Story Cubes (Keller says her personal favorite is one called Voyages). A dynamic story telling game where the tales the kids (and parents too!) tell are wildly creative. Every story is driven by the quirky and creative image dice you toss when it’s your turn. This may be great for the traveling kids on your list, but will keep the whole family entertained and interacting. Try it on road trips, in hotel rooms or around the campsite.
Gifts for carrying kids and stuff on the road
Piggyback Rider is a pretty cool product – OK, it’s more for the traveling parents than the kids. It allows an adult to carry along a child standing behind his or her back, Chesak says. The child gets to see over the adult’s head while keeping little feet in the straps. A safety harness keeps the traveling child from deciding to go for a flying leap. Extend your walks when you are traveling by letting your traveling kid rest a bit along the way. Extend your days too at festivals, parks or exploring cities.
What kid doesn’t want his or her own traveling roller suitcase “just like mom’s” (or dad’s). Could be Nintendo, Little Princesses or maybe Minnie Mouse? And makes them feel a part of the trip too. With a dash of traveling kid fun.
Another awesome thing is an original Trunki ride-on suitcase for traveling tots. These are a hit with the younger ones (and parents too!), Keller in Australia says. Simply plop your youngster on the top and you can make your way through the airport terminal or along the footpath fuss free. Added to the collection are the Trunki Paddlepaks, which are ideal for family adventures near the water. These backpacks are waterproof and lightweight so the kids can carry their own belongings and you don’t have to worry about the packs falling in the water or being too heavy..