Planning a trip and trying to figure out what you have to bring with you and what you can leave behind? These are my 10 must have items for traveling with kids. These items are must haves for us whether we are flying or taking a road trip, and make travel much easier.
Must Have Items for Traveling with Kids
When you are traveling with kids there are things that you need to have with you to make sure there is less stress and you are fully prepared. While somethings that you use at home are needed, when traveling finding an alternative is a must so it is packable and easy to take with you. I have 4 kids ranging from young child to teen and plenty of experience packing them up and making sure we have everything we need.
I have included things that may only be needed for the younger kids, like the carseat, stroller and carseat travel bag but aside from those all the items are a must have for kids of any age.
Carseat, Carseat bag, and Stroller
The first few times that I flew with a child who would need a carseat when we arrived at our destination I flew with our Diono. Each time I did I regretted it because it was so heavy. I purchased a Safety 1st Grand 2-in-1 Booster Car Seat that is perfect for our travels. My daughter is currently in a forward facing 5 point and this seat will grow with her and turn into a booster seat as well when she gets older. If you are needing a carseat that can go forward facing and rear facing the Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat is another lightweight option.
To make life easier I also bought a carseat bag that has straps so I can hang it on the back of the stroller or wear it on my back when walking thru the airport.
You will also want to have a stroller for a child who is under the age of 6. While they may not use one when they are at home, long walks thru an airport or exploring a city can make them need one. If they are not sitting in it while at the airport the stroller can double as a cart for carrying other things if needed. I personally use a compact stroller and that is what I suggest using. You do not want to bring a big and bulky stroller.
I have always been a fan of Jansport backpacks and one of mine has held up since I was in middle school. Yes, I still use that backpack and still love it. So when searching for backpacks we tried a few different brands and styles and settled on the Jansport Big Student backpack.
This backpack is large, however, if you are not filling it to the brim it can totally work for any flight you are taking. There are multiple pockets, including one to hold a computer along with a side pocket that holds a water bottle perfectly. My kids bring their computers on most of our travels so they can keep doing their school work since we homeschool. I also wanted the backpack to be one that they can use for other times as well as just flying.
A reusable water bottle is a must when we travel. If we are flying with the kids then everyone brings their water bottle empty as we go thru security and then we fill them after. When we are at our destination we are able to fill the water bottles and bring them with us for the day before we leave our hotel room.
Headphones are a must whether we are flying or we are taking a road trip. With 4 kids listening to or watching different things on their devices it cuts down on the noise. It is also important for when we are flying because many times the headphones and earbuds the airlines offer do not fit kids very well.
I try to keep things organized when we are traveling and I try to keep things as compact as possible. For a long time, I would roll the kid’s clothing and when kids are sharing a suitcase it made things difficult to keep items separate. Now we use packing cubes. I color coordinate everyone in our house for all of our Must Have Items for Traveling with Kids. I found colored packing cubes on Amazon and so everyone got the same color packing cubes as they have water bottles and backpacks.
We each have a set of the Shacke Pak – 5 Set Packing Cubes. It comes with 5 packing cubes and while we do not each bring all 5 on each trip the different sizes make it easy to only use the sizes we need to.
Checking luggage is one thing that I hate doing. The thought of arriving at a destination and realizing they lost our luggage is something I don’t want to deal with. I avoid checking a bag at all costs unless we are heading home where we will have things we need already at home. When we fly we each fly with our personal carry-on and then a carry-on suitcase. When picking our suitcases I made sure that each one was big enough to hold adult clothing but also light enough that our youngest could pull it themselves.
We went with the American Tourister Burst Max carryon sized suitcase. While it may not be everyone’s top pick for a suitcase it works perfectly for us. The only time they have been to large for the overhead compartment was our short flight from Paris France to Basel Switzerland and they had to be checked. But then again on that flight, everyone on the flight’s stuff had to be checked because the plane was so tiny a backpack barely fit under the seat.
Every one of my kids has their own charging block that gets packed into their backpacks. Along with that are any devices they may need and the charging cords, bricks, and adapters if we are traveling to a different country. Each child has their own set of stuff that is in a small travel bag so it can all stay together neatly.
A Small bag with their toothbrush, toothpaste, and hairbrush makes things much easier. We used to keep everyone’s stuff together in one toiletry bag but found it to be easier for all of us if each kid has their own.
Tablet or other Electronic Device
Tablets or cell phones (with or without service) is something that can be extremely helpful when traveling with kids. When traveling on a plane being able to easily entertain them is also a must. At home, we limit device use, but when traveling we let go of the limits while en route to our destination whether we are on a road trip or flying.
When traveling to different countries where you might not speak the language having the ability at night to have a kiddo watch a movie is a life saver. Most of the TV shows won’t be in English, so having movies on a tablet for them to watch and relax for a bit after a long day of exploring is a must for us.
We pack small entertainment items including card games like UNO or Skipbo, travel sized board games, and coloring books. While they are a must for entertaining the kids on the travel to where we are going they always come in handy when we are at our destination. We pack our days just about nonstop go go go so we can see everything that we want to where we are at. But then at night we all need some downtime, and having calming entertainment items is helpful. It is also helpful if we end up with a day where we need to spend extra time in our hotel room because of the weather. I don’t want the kids just sitting on a device, so a card game or board game to enjoy is perfect.