Children's Finds

Travel Gear for Families.

By: Jen Shoop

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One of the things I’ve learned to do the past few trips — create a packing list using the iPhones Notes function as soon as we set travel plans. Then I add items I want to make sure I bring the minute they cross my mind. (I might be in bed at 11 p.m. and think “I need to remember their goggles!” — then I can deposit that item to the list and move on with my life in peace.) I’ve been saving all of these lists because most of the time, they’re a good blueprint/starting point for future trips, and just need a little customization (e.g., now I have Ski Trip list, a Beach list, a Lake list).

I’ve already detailed some great car and travel activities for children here and here, but today focusing on the gear and schlep side of things. I am in the market for some of these myself as my children get older and our needs change. (For example, we’ll be traveling for over a week in Colorado this summer, and I know I’ll need to find them carry on bags!)

01. For kids duffels/totes, I like the look of these patterned, personalizable ones from M&G, but backpacks are probably the easiest way to ensure they can carry them for some portion of the trip. The State Bags ones are so fun. For something that will grow with them (into teen years), these Calpaks do it all. I like the shoe compartment! And I have friends who swear by the Patagonia Black Hole bags for family travel — they come in a range of sizes and are virtually indestructible, but weigh nothing on their own. Cotopaxi makes similar styles in fun colors.

02. For car travel, I still love these enormous Lands End bags in the XXL size. I have one for each child. My son still sits in a carseat, and this fits comfortably beneath his feet. I like that they’re open top so I can reach back and get whatever I need! I fill them with packing cubes!

03. Speaking of packing cubes: each family member has a different color set so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. I have these inexpensive ones for the kids. We also have a set of compression cubes if we’re short on space for slightly bulkier items. And purely for aesthetics, how cute is this set of floral patterned ones?

04. Never without a pouch of snacks. Handy to then throw wrappers back inside the pouch.

05. For car travel, blankets are a must! I also find this makes bedtime cozier/easier for them.

06. When they were younger, I’d put them in little ribbed pajama-like sets like these for travel days. Nowadays, I find that’s less important — just make sure they’re wearing layers/something comfortable.

07. Travel white noise machine! Another must. I find the more I can make their new sleeping arrangements feel familiar (the white noise they hear at home, the blankets and stuffies they sleep with) the better. Hatch also has a tiny traveling white noise machine they just released that would have been great for babies still in infant carseats / strollers at all times.

08. These Speck iPhone cases are the best. Super rubbery and thick — and the handle is easy for the kids to hold but can also be used to prop it up at an angle on a table.

09. These small hard-sided suitcases (currently on sale) are cute for little ones! You can personalize with these vinyl stickers.

10. For mama on travel day: a backpack (<<I own and love this, still!) and/or belt bag are so handy for a hands-free life, although this Dagne Dover has a great crossbody strap that would make for easier schlepping. The XL does fit under an airplane seat. And this gender-neutral Cotopaxi would be a good option if you want to be able to share the backpack carrying duties with a spouse.

P.S. The magic and mayhem of traveling with young children.

P.P.S. Four nights at Deep Creek Lake with little kids in tow, and three nights in Calistoga, CA without them!

P.P.P.S. Still sifting through all your thoughtful comments on how to plan a great vacation.

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4 thoughts on “Travel Gear for Families.

  1. One of my girlfriends gifted me a monogrammed Lands End tote when I was pregnant with my daughter -she filled it with baby essentials and other monogramed goodies. It was the best! Anyway, I ended up using it as my hospital bag (it was perfect for this!) My daughter now uses it when we travel. Three years later, I’m pregnant with our second, a boy! I just ordered this tote to use as my hospital bag, monogramed with his name! One of the best gifts I received!

    1. Truly the best – I actually had a similar experience receiving an LL Bean tote as a bride-to-be with my new last name on the front and it has been THE most handy thing over the years! Great for picnics, schlepping gear, travel, etc!

      A classic and very useful gift!


  2. I had a mom of 3 little ones tell me that when they went on plane trips, she would dress them in matching outfits and people thought it was so cute- the theory being other passengers would be more tolerant of the kiddos shenanigans, ha! Couldn’t hurt right! 🙂

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