Whether you’re flying or driving, we know that traveling with kids (whether one or more!) can be a daring adventure. Been there. Done that. We know that every parent needs a few tricks in their back pocket (and up their sleeves) to make that adventure just a *little* easier. Heck, a lot easier is welcome too, right?! Because we like to make your lives easier by sharing the things we love and that we know work, we’ve put together this list of finds that do just that. And because they’re from Amazon, you can order them practically last minute — or even once you’ve reached your destination and decided that maybe you need some help on that return trip.
These trays serve as a play space (hello, Matchbox cars!) as easily as an eating space (chicken nuggets, anyone?) and are ideal for car travel as well as air travel. They have a side pocket for snack or toy storage and a cup holder. True story: my kid spilled a Sonic blast (road trip treat!) on this tray, and we were able to pull over at the next exit and rinse it off in a rest stop bathroom. Crisis averted! They come in a variety of colors, and the cover zips off easily and is MACHINE WASHABLE. It’s like they know you!
Need an easily portable coloring or writing activity that’s low-maintenance and minimally messy? We’ve got you. These activity pads from Melissa & Doug come in a variety of options, and only use a couple of ounces of water (so it’s easy to refill from a water bottle or a rest stop sink). These keep our kids busy for hours, don’t take up much room in the travel bag, and when we’re lucky? The kids can trade them to add some variety to their car time activities.
Another perfect activity for minimizing mess but allowing maximum creativity, these markers ONLY create color on the designated pages. No more purple and orange hands (and faces) or unwanted marks on the car or carseat. There are also coloring books available that work with these markers, and the markers work interchangeably with all the formats. Please note that the markers will NOT work on plain paper.
I swore I’d never be this mom. As a kid my siblings and I made it through HOURS of roadtrips with nary a video. But, y’all. When you need an hour of so of relative silence with no bickering or begging? Turns out that DVD players can be the answer. We have actually purchased one for each kid. (We only use them on long roadtrips, but we won’t judge!) Mama can listen to her podcast in peace! These hold about a five hour charge, and come with a wall charger, car charger, and a mini remote! They support SD Card/USB/CD/DVD and work well with most headrest mounts. Which brings us to . . .
We love this headrest because it’s multi-purpose. It can hold snacks, shoes, toys, activities, wipes, tissues, a variety of electronics (it’s touchscreen sensitive and water proof), and it can double as a stroller organizer. WINNING!
Have you tried to put a set of headphones on a child’s head? Seriously. They need padding and adjustable straps and — if you have kids like mine — they need to be fairly sturdy and stand up to some mild chewing. We love these for DVD Players, Playaways from the library (AMAZING little gadgets!), and occasionally they aid in getting a kid to nap by setting them up with a sleep story from mom’s Calm app. We use them just as much at home as for travel, truth be told. (Seriously, those Playaways!)
Are you mid-potty training? Or maybe they’re all potty-trained, and you really, REALLY don’t want to risk the gas station bathroom. (Seriously, are those EVER cleaned?) Or perhaps you’re of the Always Be Prepared crowd, and you know that your travel route has some seriously long gaps in rest stop options. Regardless of the situation, this travel potty is a winner. We suggest carrying some plastic grocery bags or crock pot liners and a roll of toilet paper to deal with the inevitable “situation.” Also, we’ve heard it recommended that you lay a paper towel in the bottom of the seat to prevent splashing — you sure don’t want your kiddo jumping up in surprise midstream!
This sucker folds up into a convenient carrying case, and — get this — it self inflates! Whether you just want to be sure of the cleanliness of your kids seat, you’re unsure of the availability of a highchair or booster seat along the way, or you’re visiting family/friends without such amenities, this is the perfect and easy solution when it comes to feeding the little one.
We know that there are other portable cribs that usually make the baby registry. But THIS ONE, y’all. It sets up and folds up WAY more easily. It packs up into a BACKPACK carrier. (WHAT?! Yes, please.) And, it has a zip open side so that you don’t have to do that lean over the edge thing while trying not to drop your sleeping kid. (And the zip has a clasp on the outside so your babes don’t let themselves out. HA.)
So your kid outgrew the travel crib stage. And, for one reason or another, you still need some additional sleep space? Problem solved. This travel cot is lightweight, comes with it’s own carrying case, and is low to the ground. (Ideal, for those of us with active sleepers liable to roll out of the bed at night.)
My kids sleep best with some ambient white noise. It lulls them as well as helping to block out the sounds of an unfamiliar sleeping space when we travel. We used to have one that ran on batteries. NO ONE wants the batteries to die in the night, y’all. True story. This little baby is inexpensive and PLUGS IN. Super lightweight, I actually slip it into my kiddo’s backpack when we travel! In addition to the standard white noise, sound options include ocean, brook, summer night, rain, and thunder. Something for everyone.
If you’re traveling with a little one, odds are that a baby carrier (or an easy travel stroller — or BOTH) are going to come in really handy. And there are definitely places where too many stairs, or uneven ground makes a stroller untenable. We love this K’Tan so much — it combines the comfort of a baby wrap with the ease of putting on a t-shirt.
If you’ve got that stroller though, consider picking up one of these fans. We all know what summer feels like — and how much strangers like to give you advice about the comfort of your child. The clip attaches easily to strollers, high chairs, and that portable crib, and the blades have a cover to protect those precious little fingers.
If you’re a prepared for anything kind of traveler, you might want to pick up a box of these to pack with your baby thermometer and Tylenol. They come in handy. Trust me.