Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you need to delay your travel bucket list until graduation. Yes, traveling with kids can be stressful, but it’s also an amazing way to build memories as a family.
One of the things that make traveling overwhelming is just how much stuff kids and babies need. But with the right gear, you can have a much smoother trip altogether. We’ve gathered the top travel must-haves for parents, all for less than $100.
Kid Gear for Sleeping Away From Home
All parents have experienced the aftermath of a child not getting a full night’s rest in. Adequate sleep is essential for keeping meltdowns at bay, but snoozing on the go isn’t always comfortable. That’s where an Inflatable Travel Foot Rest Pillow comes in.
There are many inflatable footrests that cost less than $20, and the best part is that these pillows aren’t just for your feet. Wedge them between an airplane or bus seat to use as a quick bed for young children. Just note that not all airlines, including Hawaiian Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, allow these items, so it’s best to inquire with your airline before your trip.
Air mattresses aren’t a safe option for babies and toddlers. Instead, look for hotel chains that offer Pack ‘n Plays or cribs to travelers. Alternatively, consider a travel cot like the Regalo My Cot Portable Toddler Bed. It’s a safe and compact option for older toddlers and preschoolers, plus it only costs about $25.
A portable white noise machine helps children and adults alike. Not only can a sound machine drown out outside noise if you’re staying in a busy hotel, but it helps busy minds settle down quicker. Try using the sound machine for two to three weeks before your trip to acclimate your children to the particular machine’s sound.
A travel blackout curtain can help make naps in a bright hotel and Airbnb rooms easier. The SnoozeShade Pack N Play Crib Canopy and Tent is also a viable choice for helping little ones get the sleep they need if you travel with a Pack ‘n Play.
Best Bags and Luggage for Kids
It’s often best to use a large suitcase for the whole family instead of having a bag just for your child. And finding a huge bag for less than $100 isn’t impossible when you turn to Amazon’s Basics line. The AmazonBasics Ripstop Rolling Travel Luggage Duffle Bag With Wheels – 37 Inch is just $89 and has enough room in it for your family’s essentials. It comes with wheels, but can also be carried as a duffle bag.
However, if you don’t plan on checking any bags, then look for a ride-on suitcase like the Trunki Original Kids Ride-On Suitcase and Carry-On Luggage. This makes it easy to pull your child — and their stuff — through the airport. It’s only $50 and comes in a variety of adorable colors and patterns.
Keeping all of your child’s items in one place for the plane or train ride is a good idea. Using a cute bag, like the Skip Hop Kids Luggage with Wheels, will help your child get excited about their trip. This small $35 bag will also fit perfectly underneath their seat, and getting to their snacks, activities and extra change of clothes will be easier.
Best Car Seats and Strollers for Traveling
If you need to bring a car seat, it’s worth buying a lightweight seat convenient for travel. The Cosco Scenera Next Convertible Car Seat with Cup Holder is usually less than $60 and works with babies and children between five and 40 pounds. Don’t forget to bring a car seat travel bag, usually less than $20, to keep your seat clean and easier to carry through the airport.
You can convert your car seat and luggage into an airport car seat stroller with the use of a heavy-duty travel car seat belt for less than $13. This setup isn’t meant to replace your stroller, but it is handy for navigating the airport hands-free.
For children that have outgrown a car seat, the mifold grab-and-go car booster seat is an easy option for car travel. The booster folds down to wallet size and is designed for kids aged 4 and up, 40 to 100 pounds, and 40 to 57 inches tall.
Don’t attempt to enjoy your trip without a stroller, even if your child is old enough to walk. The Summer 3Dlite Convenience Stroller is 13 pounds and compact. It holds up to 50 pounds, making it ideal for babies and 7-year-olds alike. And if you need a double stroller, the Delta Children LX Side by Side Tandem Umbrella Stroller is travel-friendly and lightweight at 19 pounds.
Keep ‘em Entertained: Best Travel Tech for Kids
When it comes to kid tech and traveling, you want affordable quality. I don’t think the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet is better than an iPad, but I do think it gets the job of entertaining kids done while you are traveling. The Fire Tablet retails for $129.99, but is regularly on sale for less than $80. Better yet, it comes with a kid-proof case, a two-year worry-free warranty and a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited.
One word of caution about headphones and kids. If you skimp and get a cheap pair of headphones, there’s a good chance your child will complain about how uncomfortable they are, get the wires tangled too many times to count and even break them before your trip is over. Ask me how I know.
Instead, pay a little more for comfortable headphones like these $50 LilGadgets Untangled PRO Kids Premium Wireless Bluetooth Headphones with SharePort. Not only can you skip buying a splitter because these headphones come with a SharePort built-in, but the max volume is reduced while still offering passive noise cancellation. In other words, your kid can hear their movie without going deaf.
Other Travel Necessities for Kids
Traveling with kids means you have to learn how to be flexible. Don’t try to recreate the comforts of home while you’re on the road. You’ll simply have to do without some items during your trip.
A high chair is one of those things that isn’t necessary for all traveling families. However, for babies under one or for camping, the hiccapop Omniboost Travel Booster Seat with Tray for Baby is an ideal portable high chair. While useful for dining, the real benefit of this seat is its ability to keep young ones happy in one place.
If you plan on swimming, boating or relaxing on the beach during your trip, the Full Throttle Child Rapid Dry life vest is slim enough to fit into a suitcase.
Now that you have the right gear to make your next family trip memorable, let us help you find travel discounts. Set a Deal Alert for your favorite airlines and hotels to be notified when there is a sale. Or visit our Travel Deals page for all the latest offers.