“Vacation.” Sometimes that means you and your significant other jetting off to an exotic island for a week. Sometimes it’s a rowdy road trip with your best friends, full of fast food, adventures and cheap motels.
And sometimes it means a trip with your family.
Your whole family.
Traveling with children, cousins, aunts, uncles and whoever else it is that you’re related to – and having a good time – can be a real challenge. Read on for some Gear Junkie essentials that will make your family vacations a little bit easier to bear.
For the road trip:
Car organizers help keep the car less cluttered, the kids more occupied and you more sane. There are a lot of options: from seatback hanging organizers to stand-alone versions, there’s sure to be something that fits your needs (and your vehicle). A few of our favorites:
Thule 7036 Trunk Locker Car Organizer
The Thule brand is known for its roof storage and luggage racks, but hey, they’re willing to help you store your gear inside the car too. With a rigid bottom, exterior pockets and handles for easy carrying (from the house to the car to the hotel room to the beach), their car organizer is like a purse for you kid’s snacks, toys, random articles of clothing and security blankets. Great for the trunk, the floor or the backseat.
Spanning two seats, and equipped with 8 pockets, the backseat valet not only gives children easy access to the books/games/food/ammunition they’ve stored there, but it also creates somewhat of a barrier between the front seats and the rest of the car. Yes, it’s mostly nylon fabric and mesh, so it’s similar to the boundary line of pillows they’ll make later down the middle of the hotel bed, but it’s still kind of nice.
For the plane:
If you have a little one, consider the Trunki Ride-on suitcase. This awesome little bag functions as a suitcase, carry-on, seat and… scooter! Small enough for them to bring on the plane, but study enough for active little bodies to scoot around on, it’ll help entertain todllers at the airport. It also has a carrying handle, an internal pouch, a lock and key, straps for toys and the potential to really annoy your fellow airport travelers.
Kids tend to be more sensitive to pressure changes in the cabin than we are. Outfit them with a pair of EarPlanes to help relieve the pressure. Heck, put in a pair yourself and pretend to be a family of traveling aliens from Mars.
For the… anywhere else:
Walkie Talkies have slipped out of mass-usage now that cell phones are so sophisticated. However, a set of walkie talkies can be invaluable when you need to keep track of multiple groups in an area with poor network coverage (hiking, skiing, boating), or somewhere you don’t want to take your cell phone (hiking, skiing, boating). They’re also infinitely entertaining to kids, who can use them during involved games of make-believe or capture the flag. We recommend the Motorola MR350 for its 35 mile range, 27 hour battery life and emergency alert button. If you’re lucky, another group nearby will be using the same channel and you can eavesdrop on them while they discuss where to meet for lunch.
Another great buy is Disappearing-color Suncreen. Kids’ll have fun with it, and it will show you all the spots they missed. Avon makes some that’s also water-resistant and bug-repellent. Check out Family Travel Gear for more kid-friendly, organizing stuff than you know what to do with.
Any must-take pieces of gear for family vacations we left off the list?