Traveling with Kids
Contrary to popular belief, once we settle down and have a family, we don't suddenly lose the urge to see the world. But that doesn’t change the fact that traveling with kids is, let’s say, a challenge. From meal times to diaper changes to the torment that is your child sobbing for the entirety of a flight, every parent knows that the struggles are real.
Yet somehow, all over the internet, we see families who are making it work. How do they do it? Are they more laid-back? Lucky? Lying?
Or have they just learned essential ways to make family travel easier?
Perhaps they've discovered the magic of tried-and-true products like the ones we've rounded up here. From travel pillows to games to iPad holders, these handy items are designed to take the agony out of family travel.
At least for the most part.
Bear Travel Backpack and iPad Holder
Once upon a time, kids traveled without screens, and everyone miraculously survived. Today, it seems, the only way to make it from point A to point B is with the assistance of a blessed iPad to keep your child occupied and happy.
But there’s a problem: Little arms get tired of holding the device, and there aren't many easy ways to prop up a tablet without it continuously falling over.
To remedy the toppling iPad problem, we recommend this unique backpack, which reverses to hold a tablet or iPad, and fastens easily to an airplane tray or carseat headrest. Not only that, but the backpack stores all your kids’ other necessities, too.
Plus, when it’s time for your little ones to sleep, the stuffed bear can be used as a snuggle buddy.
Penguino Travel Plane Pal Kit
Penguino Travel; $78
If you’ve ever been on a plane with a small child, you know that getting cozy in that airplane seat is just not happening. Those little legs can’t quite reach the ground and after a few minutes, they’re kicking the seat in front of them and the captain is threatening to ground the plane and kick you off. (Either that, or you’re begging the stewardess to let you off.)
Enter Plane Pal by Penguino Travel. This blow-up travel pillow fills the space between your child’s seat and the seat in front of them, allowing them to comfortably extend their legs. The result: no more dangling, no more whines and no more squirms.
The full kit comes with a pump and carrying case as well. Chances are, it’ll make air travel so smooth, your family will never fly without it again.
Not Parent Approved Card Game
This is not your average card game — which is precisely why kids love it so much.
Made for children ages 8 and up, the game is a G-rated Cards Against Humanity, inviting kids to answer prompts (“Dear substitute teacher would you please stop ___?”; “At the science fair, I made___”) with funny answers (“Whining until you get your way”; “Vampire bunnies”).
Thoroughly delightful and silly, this travel companion is all but guaranteed to keep your kids entertained until you arrive at your destination.
Hiccapop Inflatable Toddler Travel Bed
Don’t feel like bed-sharing with your kicky toddler? Consider toting along this BYO blow-up mattress for little ones. It’s comfy as can be, has bumpers for safety, and can be easily stuffed in a suitcase to make transport easy.
It’s the perfect solution whether you’re heading to Grandma’s house, going camping or staying at a hotel. And in the latter case, it’ll save you money on having to upgrade to a bigger room.
Melissa and Doug Magic Ink Books
These activity books use magic ink that won’t cause stains during a bumpy trip, helping you to entertain the kids without having to clean up an epic mess afterward.
Easy to use for children ages 3 and up, and reasonably priced, these mess-free books come in a pack of three, with fairy, princess and sea life themes.
Travel Tray; $14.99- $19.99
Every parent knows that kids chowing down in the car is a recipe for disaster, with liquid spills or crumb-spewing dropped snacks a near inevitability. Luckily, there’s a solution available: the simply named Travel Tray.
This unique tray, featuring a flat surface for goodies and a stabilized holder for sippy cups, fits easily into a standard carseat. More time driving and less time pulling over to clean up spills? I’d say that’s money well-spent.
Magnetic Board Game Set by Gamie
This 12-in-one set of old-school games might be totally retro, but the fun still holds up. Classic diversions include chess, checkers, backgammon and Snakes & Ladders.
Handily, the boards are all travel-sized, and the magnetic pieces ensure no lost pieces en route to your destination. Get ready to eliminate those dreaded words: “I’m bored.”
Travel Aid Potty Cup
Potty-training might be a pain in the you-know-what, but it shouldn’t thwart your travel plans. You just need Travel Aid — the portable (and totally cute) potty cup for toddlers.
Available in red and yellow, this potty includes a funnel and silicone ring with a snap cap to prevent spills, leakage and less-than-desirable odor. And at just 17 ounces, it fits into most diaper bags.
Use it during a long car ride, in an airport or during a family camping trip, when your kid inexplicably becomes a clean freak and refuses to squat in the woods.
Sea-Band Child Travel Sickness Wristbands
Every family’s got one: a puker. And every family knows that dealing with vomit-drenched carseats is no fun, and that being a parent on clean-up duty can quickly turn a delightful road trip into a panicky nightmare.
If you’ve got a kid who tends to get sick on long trips, don’t leave home without these kid-sized Sea-Bands. The bracelets use acupressure to relieve nausea symptoms and get you from A to B without the mess. And despite the name, they’re not just for travel by boat; many find them useful during car trips as well.
Portable Easy-Seat by Cozy Cover
You know this picture all too well: You’ve just arrived at your destination and you’re trying to get some food in your toddler’s stomach before a meltdown occurs, but there’s nowhere to strap them in. You end up making a spectacular mess on the hotel floor while shoveling graham crackers down your kid’s throat.
This travel high chair, which can be easily strapped onto any chair, will make these woes a distant memory. A five-point safety harness will keep your little one protected, and — most importantly of all — the Easy-Seat is easy to clean.
Animal Planet Travel Pillow for Kids
Adults have all the good tools when it comes to comfort traveling. But what about the kids? Not every child can fall asleep on demand, especially without neck support.
This soft neck pillow from Animal Planet, made from 100% polyester fabric, is designed for use on plane, train or automobile, helping kids grab some rest when they need it. (While giving you a well-deserved break.)
Plus, kids can select from 23 different pillow critters, including a giraffe, monkey, leopard and bear.
Snuggwugg Diaper-Changing Interactive Pillow
Have you ever tried to change a dirty diaper in an airplane bathroom, on the floor of a hotel lobby, or in the back of your car? If you have, I’m so sorry. If you haven’t — don’t. At least not without the Snuggwugg.
This adorable pillow includes a pocket to hold smartphones or educational flashcards, as well as loops for attaching toys, pacifiers or teethers. Slide the pillow over your baby’s tummy while you change a diaper, and they’ll stay distracted and happy while you get wiping.
Leave the disaster behind…and a clean behind.