After spending three months of traveling from coast to coast in the USA, Kid Allergy Travel has put together a list of nine favorite travel gear items. We traveled with kids ages four and nine years old and have the scoop on which items our family valued the most by age group: Parent, Elementary School-Aged Kid and Toddler. *Updated Feb 2020
Products include: light weight car seat, diaper bag/travel tote, facial cleanser, portable reading light, thought provoking puzzles, wireless headphones, handheld electronic game, kid sized luggage, and a craft for on the go.
Detailed product reviews can be found below.
(Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which means Kid Allergy Travel will receive a small commission if you make a purchase using the links. This comes at no cost to you. #affiliatelinks)
3 Parent Travel Favorites:
It feels like after nine years of child travel, the Kid Allergy Travel family has purchased nearly every brand under the sun when it comes to car seats. This particular Safety 1st product is the updated version of my original Alpha Omega Elite purchased specifically because we were tired of lugging our other much beloved brands around (like our Diono Radian RXT that weighs just under 28 lbs, Chicco NextFit weighing in at just over 25 lbs., and the Diono Rainier All-in-One which comes in just under 30 lbs!). This Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite car seat, however, weighs under 20lbs at only 14 lbs (whew!). And, it basically ticked all the boxes: 1) light weight for easy in and out while traveling 2) easy buckling and unbuckling for independence when the car is stopped 3) sturdy enough to be man-handled at various airports. If you are wondering about longevity and quality from this particular brand, we didn't rely on our Safety 1st carseat everyday but did use the previous version of this light weight carseat steadily for roughly three months straight. It took quite a beating and came out in great shape. We happily deemed it our official travel car seat up until we retired it a few months ago.
I am notorious for carrying a diaper bag for travel even though I am way beyond that phase of child rearing. And, here I am again, falling in love with another so-called "diaper bag" this season. Ya see, I don't like just a plain bucket bag. I want a little style to go with my functionality. This particular Kate Spade Stevie Baby Bag works great: 1) carries everything under the sun 2) is made of durable and lightweight nylon material 3) can be flat packed if I want to use it to carry back souvenirs 4) has a zippered closure which is a necessity to ward against theft and to make sure nothing falls out in transit. But, if you can't get past the diaper bag thing, don't worry. Kate Spade has plenty of other great bag options I recommend for travel too like the Watson Lane Maya, Lucie Cross Body, Cameron Street Harmony or Lane Duffel Bag.
I became officially obsessed with this beauty product over the summer. After attending the Neiman Marcus Fashion Show for Spring 2018, I started to wonder about this beauty line heavily marketed in the gluten free space. I have a friend who happens to be a Beauty & Fashion Blogger and highly regards the product. So, I decided to give some of these products a try. I purchased only three to begin with: this Oil Cleanser, Creme Riche Moisturizer and Boosted Contouring Serum. Like with any beauty product, I couldn't honestly tell you if I saw drastic results right away or ever really. But, I did visit my dermatologist after I started use and she said that my rosacea was not irritated by their ingredients in the slightest so continue use. The feeling is rich when removing makeup at the end of a long day sightseeing, sweating or traveling, and I have had zero issues with blemishes post use even though I have a bit of an oily t-zone. I like the price point of this item and think that for someone starting out using the line for the first time, it is a great way to put only one foot in to simply test the waters. In the end, after living out of a suitcase for three months, I found comfort in finishing my crazy unstructured day with the ritual of using this oil cleanser. So, for me, I am happy with it even if it hasn't made me look 10 years younger (because really, what beauty product really does?) My only caution would be for those with gluten sensitivities or allergies. Although it is marketed gluten free, I did find there is a slight disclaimer re: the actual 100% gluten free nature on the Tata Harper website. I know the gluten free community sees that type of legalese all the time but still--my advice here is to use at your own discretion. You have to be your own judge about your comfort level with this.
3 Elementary School-Aged Travel Favorites:
The summer before the 4th grade something happened to Kid Allergy. It was like some sort of a switch was triggered and almost immediately my nine year old son fell in love with reading. So much so, that he couldn't seem to get his nose out of a book the whole summer. My little one still needs his sleep after long days of walking and adventure tours in a new place. But not Kid Allergy. He couldn't wait to dive in to his imagination through a book. He faithfully used this clip on reading light in the a.m. and the p.m. so as not to disturb his brother.
The hubby and I made a big push this summer to limit electronics. This is the age Kid Allergy sees his peers starting to become gaming console and iPad obsessed. While whining about how life without an electric device is boring, however, my nine year old got an opportunity to discover some pretty fantastic past times outside of sticking his nose in to a screen. The hubby got in to it too! Sudoku puzzles really created a bonding opportunity for father and son. This is now a favorite go to when eating out, waiting in the line to board an airplane or even just taking a road trip.
Remember how I said little to no electronics this summer? Well, we did give in a bit on this one. Third grade is the year Kid Allergy started to get in to music. So, before we headed out on our adventurous three months of travel, we gifted him some Bose around the ear Wireless Headphones. It helped him get lost in his own world whenever he needed a break from the family dynamic but less so than playing an actual video game. Why Bose you ask? I know Beats Wireless Headphones are an insanely popular brand but we went the Bose route for two main reasons 1) price point: Bose is slightly more cost effective than Beats. 2) brand loyalty: I happen to own a pair of Bose Noise Cancelling Wired Headphones that I love. My fear was sinking a bunch of cash in to a product he may not really enjoy or use often. Now, in hindsight, I see that Kid Allergy totally got in to it and he loves his wireless headphones so much that he even wears them around the house.
Toddler Travel Favorites:
When our Scholastic Rapid Math Electronic Game finally took its last breath, we found this little gadget to take its place. It is incredibly compact and runs off batteries so it works great to take on the go. My son seriously never wants to let this thing out of his hands!
Independence is important at four years of age and this adorable animal themed rolling small carry-on suitcase and toddler sized matching backpack combo is a great way to begin traveling like a big kid. The zippers can be a bit stubborn to close at times and might require adult assistance, however, the cute factor is worth having to offer up some help. I love that the capacity is just large enough to hold a weeks worth of toddler clothing but is strategically just small enough to ensure that the weight of the bag won't bog your little bundle of energy down.
We discovered the magic of these individually wrapped 1 oz. pouches when we visited the Crayola Experience in DFW area/Plano, Texas. My four year old has begged to carry a packet with him ever since. The beauty of this crafting material is that it is squishy and moldable for a few hours after you open the package. You can shape and reshape a thousand times. When you are done for the evening just let it sit overnight. The next morning you have a hardened masterpiece. The travel pouches make it easy to transport and the small size doesn't take up much room. I recommend buying in bulk on this one as the Model Magic only lasts a day. You will find yourself needing to have access to more than just 8 or 12 because this is one of those activities everyone in the whole family will want to take part in. Plus, for those who have an allergy to gluten or wheat, the Crayola brand Model Magic does not contain wheat like Crayola Dough. If you are severely allergic, however, please note that the facility itself is not gluten free so cross contamination is possible. Please read their disclaimer here and judge accordingly.