Jack’s birthday is comiiiiiiiiing!!! (*cough* I’m looking at you, dear husband 😀 … and anyone else who needs some unique travel gifts for the adventurous kiddos in your lives!)
The thing I’ve been giddiest about ever since our son, Jack, came along has been the opportunity to take him on some pretty cool trips (‘cause I was sooooo scared my travel days would be over when I had kids – but, luckily, that worry was unfounded!). And it’s been fascinating seeing his fascination as we’ve introduced him to a life of travel… flying, hiking, and eating our way across the US — and other countries, too!
We’ve gotten some of the best travel gifts for kids that’ve made those long road trips and multi-hour flights doable (on that note, see what we recommend for flying with a baby here!). Now, with another year of travel on the horizon, we’re looking for more travel themed gifts to continue inspiring his young wanderlust.
I have older kids to shop for this year, too, so needed help choosing gifts for travel lovers of all ages. Enter my crew of travel mamas, with kids from newborns to teens! Together, we compiled our wish list errrrrr, our kids’ wish lists of travel-inspired gifts.
(Thank you Matilda from The Travel Sisters, LeAnna from The Well-Traveled Nebraskan, Rim from Curious and Geeks, Emma from Little House Lovely Home, Suewan Kemp at RTW Families, Nitha from The Trailing Mom, Bron from Smiths Holiday Road, Mikhailla from Wholeheartedly, Lisa from Flip Flop Globetrotters, Melissa from The Family Voyage, and Ingrid from Fabulous and Fun Life for contributing to this post!)
Babies: Osprey Hiking Carrier // Infantino Newborn Carrier // Guzzie + Gus Hanging High Chair // Pea Pod Foldable Travel Bed // Baby Merlin Sleepsuit
Toddlers: Nat Geo Little Kids Magazine Subscription // Datomarry Toddler Backpack // Ourlife Kids Waterproof Camera // Amazon Fire Kids Tablet // Etch A Sketch // Diggin Bear Inflatable Toddler Bed
Young Kids: Little Passports Subscription // Kids Destination Guides // Speedo Kids Snorkel Set // ChromeWheels Foldable Scooter // POLDR Compact Binoculars // Junior Swiss Army Knife
Tweens and Teens: Under Armour Travel Backpack // JOKHOO Passport Scarf // NELOMO Smartphone Lenses // EVO Gimbal Smartphone Stabilizer // GoPro HERO5 Session
Travel Gifts for Kids — Baby Travel Gifts
Okay, let’s be honest… these are really travel gifts for parents. ‘Cause, with babies, whatever keeps them comfortable and entertained during trips is what we – I mean they – want! Babies are slightly too young to have all the cool sights they’re seeing keep their attention… something that was made painfully evident to me when we took our infant on a kick-ass helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon. A tour he fell asleep halfway through!
Hiking Kid Carrier
For outdoor travel (the kind we like best!) my favorite of all the baby travel products out there is Jack’s hiking kid carrier. It’s made all the difference in us being able to bring him along on some epic hikes at several state and national parks – like our trip to the Grand Canyon.
It’s so cozy for him, he’s fallen asleep in it dozens of times. Ours is the Osprey Poco, and it’s the first thing I recommend to all parents-to-be:
For any travel, whether close to home or far away, an everyday baby carrier is great for getting around hands-free. It’s especially handy at airports and bus/train stations. My favorite is the Infantino newborn carrier. It’s all cloth and doesn’t have the weight or bulk of carriers with a frame, so it folds compact enough to slide into my diaper bag:
Hanging High Chair
For eating out (or in a hotel room, or at a picnic table, or really anywhere – you name it), a hanging travel high chair is where it’s at! This Guzzie and Gus chair was one of our most used items throughout Jack’s infant days – both at home and on-the-road.
I could throw it over my shoulder with my diaper bag to take to a restaurant, and it folded small enough to fit right into a checked airplane bag, so didn’t add to our luggage limit:
Foldable Travel Bed
We usually take our Pack ‘n Play on trips, but it’s an extra piece of luggage, so kind of a drag. My friend Heather recently got a Pea Pod travel bed, and loves it. It folds into it’s own carrying case, and is small enough that it can fit into a larger piece of luggage!
Bonus: it’s got mesh sides and UV protection, making it outdoor compatible. It easily transitions from beach to park and anywhere in between. Why didn’t I know about this sooner??
My friend LeAnna recommends the Baby Merlin Magic sleepsuit because it helps her little one snooze anywhere. Planes, trains, hotel rooms, you name it… she credits this with keeping everyone on some semblance of a recognizable sleep schedule:
Travel Gifts for Kids — Toddler Travel Gifts
Toddler Magazine Subscription
This is when the travel themed gifts start to actually be for the kids rather than the parents! At about 2-and-a-half, Jack started to become fascinated with all things travel – from helping to pack to taking pictures at our destination. He gets especially excited if we’re going anywhere that includes animals, which makes this biologist mama’s heart swell!
I credit National Geographic Kids with helping to inspire this. I had purchased their streaming service and let him watch episodes of “Are We There Yet? World Adventure,” a show that features young siblings traveling the world, and their encounters with culture and nature. He loooooooved it, and the 7-minute episodes were perfect for his short attention span.
They’ve since canceled their kid’s streaming service (why, Nat Geo, WHY?!?!), but not their kid’s magazine subscription! In all honesty, the lines are a bit blurred about whether or not this next gift is for him or me, since I’m such a huge Nat Geo fan. But since he loved their shows, I think he’ll love the mag, too.
And these days, they not only publish a Nat Geo Kids, but a Nat Geo Little Kids – for toddlers and pre-schoolers! So, he’ll be getting a subscription this year:
Jack’s becoming interested in trip prep, too. While he used to just get in the way when we were trying to pack a suitcase, now he not only wants to help, but he wants to pack his own. So, we’ve gotten him his own toddler backpack to fill and be responsible for on flights. It’s cute how proud he feels carrying his own bag!
Jack also loves taking photos with my phone, so I see a toddler camera being one of our future travel presents. My fellow blogger, Rim, got her daughter an Ourlife Kids Waterproof Camera, since she was always asking to take pictures with a “real” camera. She loves it and has been swimming and snapping pics ever since. And Rim loves seeing her immortalize her favorite moments:
Matilda got her kiddo an Amazon Fire tablet for long-haul flights (let’s face it, it’s hard to keep a kid comfy and entertained for hours and hours in the air… tablets are kiiiiiiinda where it’s at). And it can be loaded with travel related shows and games to get them excited about the trip ahead. Think Dora the Explorer (yah, that little gem is still going strong!) and travel-themed games. Matilda recommends “Trains, Planes and Sea Vehicles.”
Magnetic Drawing Board
For those who aren’t doing the screen thing just yet, try my trick instead – an Etch A Sketch! Jack loves his, and will play with it for hours… so I’m gonna ride that train as long as possible! Plus, I love that he can draw without me having to bring along a bunch of droppable, losable crayons. Just get one with an attached stylus, and you’re golden:
Inflatable Toddler Bed
Sleeping is sometimes still pretty tricky at the toddler age. So, Mikhailla recommends a portable travel cot. But not one that’ll add another item of gear to lug around – one that fits into a suitcase!
Bringing a bed her kids are familiar with helps a lot in getting them to sleep comfortably in unfamiliar places. This Diggin Ready Bed is a 3-in-1… bed, pillow and blanket! And it folds into a small carrier that can be thrown into a suitcase:
Travel Gifts for Kids – Young Children
Little Passports Subscription
I’ve been coveting Little Passports since I found out I was pregnant. I love the premise: monthly packages arrive in the mail featuring different travel experiences each month, and include travel themed games and activities relating to that experience. It’s complete with a “little passport” that gets stamped with each new adventure.
It’s one of the travel gifts for children that keeps on giving, and I love that each subscription will provide year-long fun and learning. I love connecting with my kiddo over some faux travel experiences, until we can explore different countries together, in-the-flesh!
When my in-laws requested some travel gift ideas for kids, this topped the list. They went for it, and Jack’s gotten 3 deliveries so far… we’ve explored space, the ocean’s, and even gone on a safari!!! This gift has been a huge hit!
Kids Destination Guides
Y’all, Lonely Planet publishes “Not For Parents” Travel Books! What a cool idea, right? My friend Ingrid thinks they’re great for her kids – and she enjoys reading them, too. They’re written in a kid-friendly style and have loads of illustrations. Her kids especially love reading the occasional gross tidbits of information LP throws in there – like hideous food from around the world!
They have some books that include general info on every country, 6 continent-specific books, and several country-specific books:
Living in Monterey, the kelp forest capital of the world, I’ve been dying to get Jack some snorkeling gear. A mask on his face, though? Ha! Not happening. Some kiddos are down, I’m sure, but not mine. So we’ll give it another year.
My friend Emma’s kids asked for some snorkel gear and reef shoes after they tried (and LOVED!) snorkeling. They used Speedo snorkeling gear and it did great for them, so Emma is sticking with what worked. They’ll be thrilled when they open these this year:
Suewan is getting her kiddo a folding scooter that fits into a suitcase for easy transport. I’ve seen this before and love it! Another friend of mine recently took her 7-year-old to Paris and was able to walk to all the sights she wanted without having to plan a lot of breaks for her son – he never got winded because he just scooted alongside her! So, this will be on our list for Jack in the near future, too:
Melissa’s 4 and 7 year-olds love binoculars. As a trained wildlife biologist, those are kids after my own heart! Jack hasn’t quite gotten the hang of them yet, but still loves trying to look through mine. Melissa found that kid-specific binoculars didn’t live up to the quality of her pocket-sized adult version, so she got the compact adult ones for her kids instead:
Kids Pocket Knife
What kid doesn’t love a knife?! My pint-sized Swiss Army was my prized possession when I was little, and was eventually worn dull on too many camping and fishing trips to count. I can’t wait to watch Jack whittle down his first marshmallow-roasting stick!
This is the age they really start becoming interested in things other than “things.” And experiences can be had both during travels, and at home. If you can’t hit the road for a while, here are some adventure themed gifts for travelling kids that will entertain them in the meantime…
A local excursion, like a visit to the children’s museum (better yet, an annual pass) or something similar. Got botanical gardens near you? A sanctuary for rescued animals? Outings like these make great experiential gifts. For the outdoor adventurer, something like kayaking lessons (yes, even for littles – I’ve taught them as young as 6!) or a week at an awesome summer camp. You get the idea, here… the sky is the frikkin’ limit!!!
Travel Gifts for Tweens and Teens
I legit can’t wait until Jack carries his own stuff! I mean, sure, he uses a toddler carry-on now, but let’s be honest – it only holds the bare essentials and I end up carrying it half the time, anyway. It’s a good little training tool to get him used to lugging his own stuff, but it’s nothing compared to the real carry-on that’s in our future.
My friend Nitha’s kids use Under Armour travel backpacks and love them:
When I was young, all that was available to keep your passport safe were those weird money belts that went under your clothes. Why wasn’t there a trendy option like a passport scarf?! It’s the ultimate kill-two-birds-with-one-stone.
This year, when you’re getting gifts for world travelers in your life, go ahead and pick up an extra one of these and send it my way, ‘kay?
These are great for teens, or teens at heart (aka. ME… so, Steev, pay particular attention to this section!). As much as it makes me cringe to think about now, I’m sure a smartphone request is somewhere in my future. And, at some point in Jack’s teen years, I’ll no doubt give in.
I’ll do my very best to keep his social media interaction as limited as possible, but I’ll likely encourage everything else. After all, my iPhone has become my go-to recently for pics and videos, especially since I upgraded to a photo-worthy version. I’ll never let my Nikon DSLR go, but my phone is just so damn convenient! So much less to lug around, and so easy to get great photos with all today’s upgraded features.
What I’m in the market for teens are in the market for these days are smartphone lenses and phone stabilizers for video. My fellow travel blogger, Bron’s, teens love these gimbals and lens kits for their iPhones:
iPhone Headphone Adapter
Yes, I just got done saying how much I love my iPhone. But I don’t love that they did away with the headphone jack with the release of the 7. I’m just not down with wireless headphones yet, especially the small ones. I can just see one falling out. My luck, I’d be standing over a sidewalk grate or somewhere weird, and never get it back!
Plus, they’re expensive. So, I got a Lightning headphone adapter for a hell of a lot less, and it works perfectly. If you or your kids are as unlucky as me, this is a great alternative to still listen to headphones without breaking the bank on something super loseable!
Tiny video cameras are just fun. I love playing around with my GoPro (thanks, honey!), and it’s a cool piece of electronica to give your kids. I mean, if they’re gonna be doing the screen-time thing anyway, it might as well be watching/editing footage they created! Feed that passion… it might even result in some income one day:
Last, and most importantly, gotta mention experiences again. Nothing beats it. For older kids, align your travel presents with their interests.
Do they like eating food from around the world? Boom – cooking classes. Do they like being on the water? Hello, sailing lessons! Do they like adventure in the woods? Take them camping, or on a day hike, or do a rock climbing excursion, or… anything!
Experiences like these boost confidence, make memories, and provide well-needed breaks from being “plugged in.” (Bonus: they don’t add to the clutter in your house!)
What Am I Missing?
This is just a taste of the travel related gifts that are out there for kids. Obvi, I picked these because they align with my family’s interests, and the list is somewhat limited because we prefer doing things over having things. But if I’ve missed something that you think is a must-have, comment with your suggestions!
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