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Travel Gear for Families.

By: Jen Shoop

Despite the fact that we have generally opted out of a dense travel schedule while our children are young and during this full-on-the-vine time of our lives (more thoughts on that here, and an interesting related conversation in the comments section of this post), we still find ourselves hitting the road a few times a year, and have a couple of trips on tap this summer. I feel spirited along by a comment a Magpie shared recently:

“I think traveling WITH or FOR other people is nearly impossible with younger kids. There are misalignments in schedules and needs (yes we need to be home from 1-4 for a nap, no we cannot do dinner at 8, everyone in this rented house will be awake by 630am sorry). But the captains of small families are also necessarily focused on tending to our ship only, with no time to explain the complex navigation systems. I have found that traveling with only my husband and children to be a truly life-giving experience.” – Elizabeth

I had never realized that we’ve not once taken a trip just the four of us. We have always contoured our schedules and plans around those of the family/friends we are traveling with. Of course, it is magical to spend time with people we love, but perhaps it was the slight tension of trying to accommodate later dinner times for those with older children, or no children, or wedging in naps while everyone else was interested in beach/adventures, that contributed to my general feeling of stress during these travels. Anyhow, I’m encouraged. This summer, we are planning our first trip as a family of four and I am encouraged by Elizabeth’s note.

On to the gear.

Packing cubes really changed the game for me. I have a few sets, all in different colors, so I easily know where my son’s stuff is, where my daughter’s stuff is, etc. I love the ones from Paravel and have been eyeing the colorful ones from State, but I also have a few sets from Amazon that are cheap and get the job done, too. I actually really like that the Amazon ones have a mesh front so you can easily see what’s inside — “oh, that cube has her clothes / this one has her underwear and pajamas.” Pouches in general have been a huge help to me as a mother — wet/dry pouch (don’t always love the patterns PBK has, but I do love these particular wet/dry bags…super insulated, heavy-duty liner; perfect size; monogram options) for each child in my diaper/outing bag, pouch for snacks, pouch for my own stuff. Makes finding items so easy.

I also must extol the virtues of Land’s End XXL totes (currently on sale) — they are ENORMOUS and my favorite way to travel by car. I have one for each child labeled with initials / different colors and keep everything organized that way. The open top makes it easy to reach back and grab what you need. My kids are still small enough that I can wedge these underneath their feet/in front of their seats so everything is handy and proximal to them.

travel gear for little girls

01. LANDS END TOTE // 02. STATE BAGS PACKING CUBES // 03. TRVL DESIGN BACKPACK* // 04. LAUNDRY BAGS (GREAT FOR CORRALLING DIRTY LAUNDRY) // 05. CRAYOLA X STATE ARTFOLIO** // 06. TRAVEL TUBES FOR SHAMPOO, LOTION, ETC // 07. USBORNE STICKER BOOK // 08. BOOGIE BOARD TABLET // 09. POLLY POCKET SET // 10. LOL SURPRISE DOLL // 11. MIAMILY RIDE-ON SUITCASE // 12. LUGGAGE TAG // 13. PACKING CUBES // 14. QUILTED DUFFEL // 15. QUILTED COSMETIC BAG

*If this boutique is sold out of the style linked, check out the others available / inquire after a restock. This boutique does REALLY beautiful monograms. Her attention to detail is incredible.

**I bought this for my daughter and this one for my son and they have been true MVPs. I pack them for Church every Sunday and bring them on any long trek / restaurant pit stop. My kids love having their own little space to draw, a fresh stack of paper with their own crayons (I try to rotate in fresh/sharpened crayons when I remember), and everything packs up so nicely.

travel gear for little kids

01. PARAVEL PACKING CUBES // 02. LETTERFOLK KIDS PASSPORT // 03. STATE BAGS ROLLING SUITCASE // 04. ARTFOLIO // 05. CLEAR PVC POUCHES* // 06. BACKPACK TAG // 07. USBORNE TRAVEL STICKER BOOK // 08. BOOGIE BOARD // 09. MARKER SET IN CASE // 11. VINYL MONOGRAM STICKER // 12. STOKKE RIDE ON SUITCASE // 14. MATCHBOX CARS, ALSO GREAT WITH CAR TAPE

*Good for so much — corralling snacks, small toys, cars, paper, crayons, etc.

**Not included above: 1) travel stroller — we loved our Yoyo (<< currently a tiny bit ON SALE here!), but when I was on the hunt, I also heard really good things about the less expensive GB Pockit Air, which I thought was a good buy if you only use your folding stroller for travel. We used ours A LOT in NYC with two kids — easy to fold up while going up/down stairs, in a restaurant, etc.); 2) travel carseat — don’t mess with anything but the $59 Cosco Scenera. Inexpensive, well-reviewed from a safety standpoint, but most importantly, very lightweight. We would carry ours through the airport in this case, which afforded some (minimal) protection from nicks while on jet bridge / being schlepped, but mainly made it easier to carry over one shoulder. Carseats are so hard to carry!

Finally, a few things for us mamas…

BEST TRAVEL GEAR

01. LAPTOP SLEEVE // 02. TSA-APPROVED TRAVEL POUCH // 03. PORTABLE CHARGER // 04. DAGNE DOVER FANNY PACK // 05. MINI ORGANIZERS // 06. PARAVEL CABANA TOTE // 07. APPLE AIRTAGS (PUT IN LUGGAGE!) // 08. ARLO TECH ORGANIZER // 09. TRAVEL WALLET // 10. ANYA HINDMARCH COSMETIC CASE // 11. LUGGAGE TAG // 12. AWAY CARRY ON

P.S. Some more great travel/car activities for children here.

P.P.S. Motherhood is a lopsided, but elegant, dance.

P.P.P.S. In case you’re in the phase of new motherhood and are burrowing into your home life, feeling very much like a butterfly in cocoon — I see you.

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6 thoughts on “Travel Gear for Families.

  1. This post is yet again so topical as we have our trip upcoming this autumn down in Brissy. As I myself am an only-child and it was just my Mom and I when I met FHM his family loves to do reunions and the first I attended was overwhelming to say the least. All 4 brothers, the Dad and lady friend (partner of 20-some years) and the Aunt and her wife and her daughter and Aunt’s granddaughter all in 1 rented house. With baby humans and meeting the wives when they are half-naked breast pumping; what an experience. anyways thank you for continuing to share and for your kindness, great shopping recommendations, and the sense of balance your posts add to my life.
    I don’t know what it is like to be a Mom yet or travel with kiddos but I did appreciate our last flight to AUS the family who was traveling with the newborn giving all of us on the flight a little bag of earplugs, candy, and a note saying they apologies for any noise and discomfort their baby will bring as well babies do cry and not everyone likes to be near them on flights. SO my hope in sharing this is that parents can make little bags of this for flights for those of us DINKS and those without kiddos because not all of us are as patient or as kind as we should be. and I myself tend to sit near the women and kids when flying solo only because I feel safer near them as a woman traveling alone.

    1. I’m so glad this gave some thoughts/ideas for your upcoming travel!! Such an interesting point about feeling more comfortable sitting near women/kids while traveling solo. That’s lovely!

      xx

  2. Land’s End makes really nice packing cubes as well. They’re part mesh so you can see what’s in them and they can be monogrammed which is nice.

  3. As a twist on the theme, my #1 tip for traveling with folks with young children as someone who does not have my own young children is to always have a pen and a piece of paper in my purse. Seems elementary, but pulling it out and asking a child for a specific drawing or to play a word game with me has saved the day many times. It even helped get a 6 and 9 year old through a wine tasting (!) in Spain recently!

    1. Yes – so clever! We’ve recently gotten to this phase in our home where my children just ask us for drawing prompts — “a penguin in a bath!” “a lion getting a hair cut!” “a snake eating a lollipop!” — and they’ll scribble, giggling, for a long, long time.

      xx

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