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Travel Paraphernalia ~ Gadgets and Tools for Traveling with Young Kids

Updated July 2018

Traveling anywhere with young kids can be stressful (and, let’s be real, sometimes downright dreadful), but you’ll never forget the adventure that makes visiting somewhere new or returning home to see the grandparents so special.

You can definitely do this, dear parents, but don’t go unprepared!

travel accessories

Here are our must-have travel accessories to help you survive that dreaded cross-country flight or stuffed-in-a-car-for-hours dream (or obligatory) road trip. Note: these items are better suited to the 2+ crowd; for the tiny ones, check out our eBook, Flying with Baby.

Favorite Travel Accessories

Note: for your major travel gear (stroller, Pack N Play, etc.), please read Best Travel Gear.

Tablets and DVD Players

For long trips, a tablet or DVD player is your best friend (outside of your flask, that is). Assuming you don’t already have one, here is a quick and dirty list of our favorites for kids 

travel accessories

It’s true, you should limit screen time for young children (and all children, for that matter) in your normal day-to-day life. But for travel? All bets are off, people. So go crazy and watch Frozen 17 times if it keeps the peace 😉

$ – Sylvania 7-inch Portable DVD ~ $50

Do you still own (and buy) DVDs? Adorable. We dig this 7″ wide LCD display that swivels up to 180 degrees and comes with a remote control (no more leaning over the back seat!). Includes a rechargeable battery and power adapter.

travel accessories

$ – Amazon Fire Kids ~ $99

This is our top choice for kids because of the price tag, the kid-proof rubber case, and the 2-year no-questions-asked guarantee. The Fire for Kids has a simple interface, great parental controls, and 1 year of “FreeTime Unlimited,” which is essentially a bunch of free content for kids from PBS Kids, Nickelodeon, Disney, and the like.

travel accessories

$$ – Verizon GizmoTab ~ $249

If the Android operating system is more your style, check out the Verizon GizmoTab. The GizmoTab is basically an Ellipsis 8 HD with a bright case and some child-friendly software optimizations. Also: cellular connectivity, which you don’t get with the Fire.

travel accessories

$$$ – Apple iPad Mini ~ $399

It’s easy to understand the love affair people have with Apple products. So sleek and sexy. The iPad is actually a powerful computer in a mini-sized package. There isn’t much you can’t do with it. But seriously, kids don’t need an iPad of their own. Get an iPad for you, then share it with them for travel. And be sure to protect it with a case!!

travel accessories

Kid’s Headphones & Travel Pillows

Outside of a tablet, headphones are my #1 travel accessory. Adult headphones are too big for kids’ tiny ear canals, plus… they enjoy having their own “phones.” Get a color they’ll get excited about. You can plug them into mobile phones, tablets, and even the entertainment screens found on all airlines except for Southwest (kidding!).

Pro tip: be cognizant of the relationship between watching screens and motion sickness. As you know, watching or reading anything in the hills or while making a lot of turns is a recipe for barfing; this is especially true for rear-facing kids!! Some kids (and adults, ahem) even get sick on an airplane! Dramamine for Kids is a parent’s fourth best friend (flask, tablet, headphones, Dramamine, are you keeping track??). Give this chewable, grape flavored pill to your little one an hour before travel to help ward off motion sickness. It’s non-drowsy (my apologies!! LOL).

LilGadgets ~ $17 — Editor’s Choice

These foldable, high quality headphones are our top pick for kids. No need for a splitter with these; one side plugs into your device and the other daisy-chains to a 2nd set of headphones for shared audio. Bonus: a portion of each purchase goes towards bullying prevention in schools. Available in five cool colors.

travel accessories

Cozy Phones ~ $19

Cozy phones are essentially speakers built into a headband. They are super comfortable, soft, and washable (remove the speakers!). These are a smart alternative for kids who hate earbuds, struggle with bulky headphones, or have sensory issues like SPD.

travel accessories

For entertaining two kids with the same screen, a headphone splitter is a must. Some headphones (below) have a built-in splitter, but if yours doesn’t… get these. And do not lose them!

Chin Supporting Travel Pillow by BCOZZY ~ $24

Child-friendly travel pillow for the car and plane. It has a flat back so it doesn’t push their head forward, but keeps their head propped up while snoozing. *For ages 3-10.

travel accessories

Kids’ Backpacks and Luggage

Harnessed Backpacks ~ $11+

Is it okay to have a kid on a leash? In a busy airport or a crowded shopping area: yes! Perfect for those 1-3 year olds who tend to run into busy streets or wander off like Dory. Includes a removable, adjustable parent strap and a chest clip for the smallest of adventurers.

travel accessories: Skip Hop Harnessed Backpack

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Wildkin Kids Backpacks ~ $16

Wildkin Kids makes adorable, highly-rated backpacks for little ones for a great price. The size of the bag is perfect for young toddlers (not too big!). This compact travel pack has an outside mesh pocket for a water bottle. *Coordinates with lunch box and nap mat (sold separately). Super cute.

travel accessories: olive-backpack

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Skip Hop Backpacks ~ $17

Skip Hop makes another cute and durable toddler backpack (also great for preschool!). Kids love the animal designs (my 4-year-old lost it when she saw the new unicorn backpack!).

travel accessories: Skip Hop Backpack

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Skip Hop Rolling Luggage ~ $35

If your kids are old enough to pull their own luggage, let them! Trust me, they’ll enjoy it, and it’s one less thing you’ll have to schlep. Skip Hop makes the same irresistible animal styles, but with wheels. It’s the perfect size for an airplane carry-on.

travel accessories: Skip Hop Rolling Luggage

buy-now

Stephen Joseph Rolling Suitcase ~ $39

This lightweight rolling luggage by Stephen Joseph is another parent favorite. It has plenty of space for all their gear, including a long outside pocket for colored pencils, etc.

travel accessories: Stephen Joseph Luggage

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Trunki Ride-On Suitcase ~ $49

The beloved Trunki is the classic sit-on, pull-on luggage for kids. Your wee-traveler can hop on for a ride when you need to get to Gate 41 from Gate 3 (or while flying out of Atlanta/Hartsfield, lol). Fits perfectly under airline seats. Bonus: if you carry your kid’s luggage onto the plane, you’ll have an emergency change of clothes, etc., at your fingertips. Just in case!

travel accessories: Trunki Luggage

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Pottery Barn Rolling Luggage ~ $99-$129

Moving up the hierarchy a bit, Pottery Barn kids’ luggage is super durable and totally customizable. Each weather-resistant (yay!) bag features kid-friendly handles, smooth-rolling wheels (many of them come as spinners), and easy-access compartments. The monogramming gives them a sense of ownership and “mine!”ness. 

travel accessories: Pottery Barn Luggage

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Travel Medicine Kit

Juno Childsafe Bags ~ $28

America’s poison control centers receive roughly half a million calls each year from accidental pharmaceutical exposures in children; the vast majority of these happen to children under 5. Nearly all of these are a result of unsupervised children getting into medication. Those colorful, delicious ibuprofens are so alluring! And so dangerous. Hopefully you keep your medicines in a safe place at home, but don’t get caught off guard when you travel.

Enter the Juno Childsafe Bag; kids cannot get into it! This is the perfect place to keep your meds when you travel, or even at home. Also!! In our research, we found that grandparents are four times more likely than parents to keep prescription medicine in easy-access places. Please have a convo with your parents about keeping their medicines put away when your kids are visiting— or vice versa. See also: Babyproofing for Grandparents

For me, the Juno is a no-brainer. I have one for my meds and one for the kid’s emergency travel meds, like kid’s ibuprofen, kid’s Benadryl, cough medicine, etc. I use the whole thing as a travel kit with a thermometer, Band-Aids, etc., so everything’s in one place.

travel accessories

buy-now

Travel Toys & Games

Kids love novelty, so bring a couple of new things to keep them happy on your trip. Even something like stickers will go a long way.

Airport Sticker Activity Book ~ $2

Airplanes going zoom is very apropos.

travel accessories

Wikki Stix ~ $6

Bendy, creative, and fun. It’s my favorite thing to pull out at restaurants, too.

travel accessories

Travel Scavenger Hunt Game ~ $4

Inspired by car bingo, but with way more cool things to find.

travel accessories

Crayola Color Wonder Mess-Free Coloring~ $19

These truly magical invisible markers don’t leave color on anything except the special coloring pad. Trust me: kids think it’s magic too!

travel accessories

Boogie Board LCD Writer ~ $24

For your budding artist, this drawing toy has a translucent LCD writing surface for tracing shapes or hands; the pallet grip makes it easy to hold. Includes a double-sided stylus pen for drawing thin or thick lines.

travel accessories

Mobile Apps and Games

Educational, inspirational, creative and fun— don’t leave home without some awesome new apps and games to try out.

Toca Boca Vacation ~ $2.99 ~ Top Pick

Toca Boca apps are the #1 mobile-first kid’s brand in the app store. And for good reason: they design their products from a child’s perspective and offer learning through play. They have no advertising in their apps, so you don’t have to worry about any funny business.

travel accessories

Sago Mini Travel Pack ~ $14

We like the Sago Mini “Travel Pack,” which includes six great kids’ apps.

travel accessories

Puzzingo ~ $Free

For kiddos who love puzzles.

travel accessories

Thinkrolls ~ $3

Perfect for science lovers ages 3+. Problem solve puzzles in order to get to the next level.

travel accessories

Drawing Pad ~ $1

To be honest, this app is fun for all ages ; ). Kids can create their own art using realistic-looking crayons, pencils, stickers, pens, etc.

travel accessories

Honorary mentions:

Classic Travel Games

Let’s Go Fishin’ ~ $6

Goofy and entertaining, this game board spins as the fish open and close their mouths. What a catch! Har, har. The only downside is all the pieces.

travel accessories

Tic-Tac-Toe ~ $6

All the tic-tac-toe you want and none of the wasted paper. For kids 4+, but I’ve seen 3-year-olds play it too.

travel accessories

Classic (car travel) Car bingo ~ $8 (set of 3)

Who doesn’t remember these??? It makes me feel nostalgic for the two (count ‘em) cross-country trips I took as a kid. No iPads back then (or seat belts for that matter, lol).

travel accessories


Now go forth and see the world!

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This article has 10 comments

  1. I absolutely love your survival guides! As a mom of three boys and a new one your tips are a life saver!! Thank yo for taking the time to put together all this helpful information.

    https://chelseyshawphotography.com

  2. Thank yo for taking the time to put together all this helpful information.

  3. Great list! I’ll be traveling with my 16mo old soon, so thanks! Although I did find this line a bit sexist since I’m very techy and into Apple products, not sure why I have to be married to a tech guy to get the obsession for it 😉

    “If you’re married to a tech guy, you understand the love affair they have with Apple products”

  4. These are great tips to keep in mind when traveling with my 3 month old baby. Thank you for your input, and will definitely be referring to it!

  5. I love these recommendations. We discovered Wikki Stix at a restaurant and it is my favorite for my 4 and 6-year-olds. We try not to let them have too much screen time and (luckily) this is an acceptable alternative for them. Sticker books only last so long but Wikki Stix keep them entertained for a while!! I even enjoy creating challenges for them “build a car” or “try to create a 6 legged dog” – so fun!

  6. Thank you, Lucie, this is so helpful!
    I love traveling and before I had my 5mo Sophie, I was always on the road. Unfortunately, traveling with a kid is not that simple that I imagined it to be. From my friends’ experiences, I saw that they’re always using gadgets. Even though usually they refrain from using them themselves in order for the kids not to see them, when they travel, smartphones and tablets are their best friends.
    The other toys seem interesting, too! I think I’ll go check some toys that can keep her focused and entertained at the same time. And who knows, maybe our first trip together will be sooner than I expected.
    Thank you!

    • Hello, I have an 8 month so I guess we are on a similar boat. I am wondering which toys you were thinking about…I am screening throught the list and I found most of them are for older kids. If you found anything interesting, I would love to get recos

      • Hi Barbara! Traveling with kiddos under 2 is HARD – Ugh! All they are interested in doing is moving. I find that simple stroller-type toys work. I pack a big carryon bag of toys and switch them out as my baby gets bored. I load up on dollar bin finds before the trip and don’t introduce the toy until we’re in the air. Any toy with lots of parts (rings, squeaky, crinkly, sound making, etc.) works great. Don’t worry about a little sound, you can turn the volume down. Best of luck in your travels!

  7. Hi, thanks for bringing my search to an end with the rolling luggage. My kids love it and carry their luggage bags as they are too cute to ignore. Now, I am looking for a portable travel potty seat for my car. I think it is a must accessory as I have a toddler with me. My friend suggested to purchase it from http://www.kidnomadtravel.com/best-travel-accessories-toddlers/. Do you have this? If yes, then please share the link please.

    • Hi Clinton! Glad your kids like their rolling luggage! We actually have recommendations for travel potty seats here. My personal favorite is the Potette. Best of luck in your next search!

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