We decided to make a list of 10 sanity saving products for traveling with our children. We personally use every item in the post to improve our travel experiences and do not travel without them. Hopefully this list can help your family spend less time stressing and more time enjoying your trip! – OTA
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1. A Children’s Travel Journal
This item is essential to us. It’s so easy for your child to spend the entire trip with their head buried in an electronic device, but then your child will miss the entire trip! If I have enough advanced notice, I like to make a journal that’s tailored to our specific trip, like the one on the left that I made for our daughter. I personally use the book publishing website, Blurb.com, to make travel books as well as our family photo books. Creating your child’s travel book could be as simple as a 3 ring binder with print outs of your itinerary, questions to answer along the way, and games. However, if you’re pressed for time, below are some great options that include guided prompts, highlights, new discoveries, plus fun activities like fill-in the blanks and crosswords for endless entertainment. As of February 2020, the Ultimate Travel Journal for Kids retails for $6.79, My Travel Journal (Lonely Planet Kids) retails for $11.28 and the Kids’ Interactive Travel Diary retails for $13.49.
This item is really important if you have small children and are going to be going somewhere that can become very crowded. With our trip to Japan coming up, I had custom wristbands pre-printed with our phone number as well as a translation into Japanese. However, you can always buy a pack of blank ones and write your name and phone number with a permanent marker. We worked with our children at an early age to memorize our phone numbers, but in a stressful situation, like being lost, it’s very easy for children to become flustered and not remember numbers in the correct order. As of February 2020, the 500 count Variety Pack retails for $13.99, the 500 count Neon Green retails for $9.99, and the 500 count Neon Blue & Red retails for $10.95.
3. Pop-up Laundry Hamper
Add this to the top of your packing list! We purchased this exact pop up laundry hamper for a family trip we took last year. It worked out so well that we bought a second one! It’s ultra convenient and folds down to a very compact size. It comes with handle straps so you can easily carry it with you to a hotel’s laundry room. When full, the hamper is also the perfect size to throw in a medium to large suitcase. It’s incredibly time saving to unpack by simply taking the hamper out of your suitcase and placing it in your laundry room! As of February 2020, the Handy Laundry Mesh Popup Hamper retails for $6.99, the House Again Reinforced Strong Mesh Pop-up Laundry Hamper retails for $7.99, and the Simplized 2 Pack Popup Laundry Hamper retails for $10.99.
4. Airplane Backpack
While any backpack will work, we love this airplane themed one from Stephen Joseph because it really helps get our youngest kiddo into the traveling mode (and it’s a hit with the flight crews!). To save money, you can re-purpose school backpacks. Regardless of what backpack you go with, it’s very helpful for each child to have a small bag to carry their belongings. It helps to reinforce personal responsibility, as they are in charge of packing their backpack and ensuring that nothing get’s left behind. Just make sure they don’t over pack it, as later in the day, Dad will end up carrying it! As of February 2020, the Stephen Joseph Sidekick Backpack retails for $22.50, the Stephen Joseph Quilted Vintage Airplane Backpack retails for $23.99, and the Take Flight Airplanes Blue & Orange retails for $33.71.
5. Pop-up Storage Cube
If your children are anything like ours, no matter how well you organized your luggage, your hotel room quickly becomes a mess of STUFF: toys, books, cords, brochures, etc. That’s where these awesome pop up storage cubes come in. They take up practically no space in your luggage as they fold flat. But in the hotel room, they are a life saver for keeping all the clutter in one place. When it comes time to pack up to go home, everything is already in one place. As of February 2020, the wuliLINL Mesh Popup Storage Cube retails for $12.99, the Smart Design Kids Popup Organizer retails for $5.97, and the Strong Mesh Pop-up Organizer retails for $6.99.
6. Retractable Charger Cables
Don’t you hate it when you unpack your charging cords and they come out in one big knot? We’re the same way, which is why we take these retractable charger cables on every trip. With all of the different devices we use on a daily basis, like cellphones, tablets, headphones, etc., we found ourselves having to take multiple cables. By getting these retractable ones, we eliminated the dreaded cable knot while also keeping everything orderly and compact. To eliminate fighting among siblings, we label a cord for each kid. As of February 2020, the 3 pack USB-C cables retail for $8.99, the 2 pack micro-USB cables retail for $7.99, and the Apple Lightning cable retails for $12.99.
7. Portable Charging
If you’re anything like me, you take A LOT of photos and videos during your trip. If your kids are anything like mine, they love to play games on their phones. Our constant use of our electronic devices were often draining the batteries quickly. With a portable battery charger, you can easily recharge while on the go. No more waiting by a outlet for something to charge. The pack we use (the Omars pack) usually gives us 4 full phone charges off of one pack charge. This gives us a peace of mind knowing that our phone will always be available. As of February 2020, the Omars Battery Pack 10,000 mAh retails for $15.99, the Bextoo 30,000 mAh retails for $36.69, and the INIU 20,000 mAh retails for $24.99.
8. Compression Packing Cubes
These are indispensable for longer trips. They help save space in your suitcase by compacting and containing your clothes into the different size cubes. No more opening a suitcase and having everything mixed together from the baggage handlers or TSA! To add to our trip organization, we purchased 5 different colors so that each family member has their own. This way there’s no more mixing up who’s socks are whose. Another added bonus from these is they will help save you baggage fees by taking fewer suitcases. This is very helpful for a family of 5, where the savings can be from $50 to $100 on a round trip! As of February 2020, a set of 4 compression packing cubes in various colors retail for $24.99.
9. Multi-Port USB
While most hotel rooms have a few USB ports on their nightstands, we’ve stayed in some older rooms where we end up unplugging a lamp or alarm clock in order to charge our devices. This handy gadget eliminates the need for that by offering 6 ports to charge everything. Put this on the desk or dressers and you have a convenient location to charge all of your devices in one place. As an added bonus, when we’re not traveling, we keep this on our side table in our family room for charging needs. As of February 2020, the seenda USB 6 port charger retails for $17.98, the RAVPower 6 port charger retails for $23.99, and the LYFNLOVE 7 port charger retails for $25.88
10. Drawstring Bag
How many gift shops have you visited and Dad ends up having to carry the multiple shopping bags around? These drawstring bags are great in that they are easily stored in a purse, and, after making a purchase, your goodies can be stored and you’re still able to use your hands. These are also eco-friendly as you’re not using a plastic bag from the store. As of February 2020, the Super Z 12 pack retails for $9.99, the Mesh Bag with Carabiner Clip 4 pack retails for $10.95, and the Waterproof 10 pack retails for $11.99.