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During our trips we've discovered some great travel gear and accessories for our daughter that have definitely made our treks easier! (And when traveling with kids, you need to simplify and work smart as much as you can.) Here are 5 of our tried and true items that we don't leave the house without:
1. Durable Travel Backpack
Rayna has owned, packed and carried her own backpack since she was about 4 years old. Whether we are embarking on a quick road trip or flying internationally, our daughter has been helpful by carrying her own things, as well as entertained by the items packed. We recommend the Junior Original Book Pack by L.L. Bean- Rayna's bag is currently going on 5 years of travel and it still looks great. (For older kids, get the regular size, not Junior.)
<<Trip Tip>> Find backpack packing tips and more on My Top 5 Family Vacay Planning Tips post.
I always recommend getting headphones (NOT ear buds) for kids since no one wants to spend every 5 minutes re-inserting adult-size ear buds into tiny ears on an airplane. (Yeah, got experience with that- it was so bad that we bought regular <over-priced> headphones for Rayna at the airport for the return flight.)
But the BEST headphones options we have found are Cozy Phones. These headphones deliver what they advertise and are made of soft fleece and fit around the head like a headband. For kids, this means that they don't constantly fall off and that they can even nap comfortably in them as they listen to a relaxing ocean sound (or, let's be real, these things stay on even as kids bounce, squirm, twist or all the other ridiculous movements kids do in their 2 cubic feet of travel space.) And bonus! They come in adorable, kid-friendly animals and colors. Guess what my girl chose? Yep, the unicorn! :) BUY THEM HERE.
3. Travel Guides
This is not travel gear but is definitely on our list every time we travel: kid-friendly travel guides. If you've read our travel blog intro, you know that one of our top travel priorities is education and kid travel books provide a trove of historical and cultural gems in fun, entertaining ways.
Two of our favorite series have been The Kids' Travel Guide by Flying Kids and The Kid's Guide books by Eileen Ogintz. Both offer multiple destinations by country or US City. The Kids' Travel Guide also allows space to record favorite activities or sketch pictures of things seen so they become great travel keepsakes!
4. Car Caddy
Long road trips often leave your car in a ridiculous mess- scattered fast food toys, open markers, leaky juice boxes- but there is one little purchase you can make that will eliminate (or at least contain) the chaos. A car caddy in the backseat is a sanity saver for us. With multiple compartments and slots, caddy's can neatly hold all the toys and art supplies, as well as snacks and drinks.
Rayna is not the neatest person but even she enjoys the caddy and appreciates the east of finding what she needs. Since it is open and has so many compartments most kids will naturally want to replace items back in their spot (theoretically, anyways). I was unable to find the exact version of the one we purchased a few years back but this High Road Car Seat Organizer is pretty close. And for those of you with two kids, there are two compartments. :)
5. Inflatable Footrest
This is primarily for airplane trips, but we had great success with the inflatable footrest on our daughter's first overnight flight to Tokyo. During long flights, this is a lifesaver for when kid's legs can't reach the floor (at 4'10", I almost need one!)
We purchased the Wandering Tot's version on an Amazon flash sale and it has two level options. One is like a regular footrest and the second puts it even with the seat, creating a chaise-like lounging area (this *almost* makes economy seating sound luxurious!) To easily inflate. just hold the wide-mouth opening up to your AC vent!
<<Trip Tip>> If possible, have your child use this at the window seat (or aisle if your family takes up the whole row and can exit out the other side) since it is quite cumbersome to step over if you, as the adult, need to get out. (This is why travel blogs are so helpful....we figure things out the hard way and then share those experiences so you don't have to awkwardly fall into the aisle!)
Originally made for airlines, you could also use this in the car to ease little dangling legs on long road trips!
So those are our favorite travel items that we have used and had success with! Share your family's favorites below so we can know if we are missing out on other accessories to make traveling easier with kids!