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Stuff We Like: For Traveling with Kids

Planning a family vacation? Got an antsy kid? Here, we've picked the best products to stash in your bag when traveling with children:


The Lifesaver

kids tray kit for travel

They call this the TrayKit(ages 3 and older; $39.95) we call it a lifesaver. This all-in-one kid’s carry-on functions as a backpack in which your child can stash her travel essentials (how grown-up she’ll feel being responsible for her own stuff!)—and onboard, it transforms into an extendable play surface that straps onto the plane’s tray table—genius! The portable pack has raised sides—so no more chasing that loose blue crayon down the aisle or annoying fellow passengers with every dropped action hero—as well as built-in pockets to keep items in place. Bonus: It works in a car, too.  

Baby's First Tablet

abc touch pad

For younger tots who want to feel like a big kid, the B Kids ABC Touch Pad(ages 6 months and older; $25) is a good first tablet. With no delicate screen or electronics that will be damaged by getting chewed or dropped, this lightweight toy will keep your little one’s attention—plus help him learn letters and shapes and develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It even plays music, so he can chill out after takeoff with some quiet tunes (does not accommodate headphones).  

Apps, Books, and Music Galore

innotab 3

Baby is armed with her Touch Pad (see above) while mom and dad wield their high-priced tablets (read: hands off, kids). Don’t leave your 7-year-old in the digital dust! VTech’s new InnoTab 3 Learning App Tablet (ages 3-9; $99) has a multi-function touch screen that’s easy to use and nearly impossible to break, but most importantly, its wide array of apps and e-books are aimed squarely at your school-aged child. The 180-degree rotating camera and video recorder make this a great travel option, too. Apps, books, music, and games can be downloaded from VTech’s proprietary library, Learning Lodge.  

Language Learning On-the-Go

little pim spanish

Want to mix a little educational fun into your vacation? Using the “entertainment immersion method,” Little Pim language DVDs(ages 1-6; $39.99 for Discovery Set, which includes three DVD or digital download videos, a plush toy, and postercover a particular theme (common activities such as waking up, brushing teeth, mealtime, and playtime) while introducing approximately 60 words and phrases in the foreign tongue of your choice. Traveling to China? Little Pim’s got you covered—and music CDs are available in each of the nine languages on offer, too, ensuring the process is fun and can be carried along with you on your travels. With patience and practice, your preschooler could learn enough to play tour guide on your next overseas trip—or at least order her own milk.  

From Fidgety to Focused

geoform puzzle

Who but the Museum of Modern Art stocks such a wide array of toys that appeal to kids as well as their parents? This portable GeoForm puzzle(ages 4 and older; $48) opens a world of creative possibility for on-the-go preschoolers, who can carry the sleek case on any trip—or you can pull it out when you hope to replace their fidgeting with focus (imagine that!). A deck of 24 cards offers inspiration with shapes to create on the magnetic playing surface.  

Pack It Up!

pack backpack

Let’s admit it: We carry around a fair share of tech gear these days. A good option when traveling together as a family? Put one member of your brood in charge of all the electronic equipment you’re taking on your trip, and pack it safely in the Pack Backpack ($99.99), which has quite a few pockets and padded stowaways (including a secret strap pocket to secure a phone, batteries, or MP3 player). And, thanks to well-placed magnets, the gravity-defying front flap stays open while you look for your stuff.  

Fold 'n Go Crib

journey bee crib Lightweight (really—it’s less than 12 lbs.), waterproof, and machine-washable—can you believe we’re describing a travel crib? JourneyBee cribs(for children up to 35 inches tall; $169) from ParentLab fold up easily—no tools or constant referring to a product manual to figure it out!—and fits into a carrying bag with two strap options, so it can be carted to and from the car in one trip. There’s even an iPhone pocket for lulling baby to sleep with mobile lullabies.  

A Doll of a Distraction

travel doll from nenuco

Your real-life doll will feel a lot more independent when she’s playing “mommy” to her own little ward. She’ll buckle the My Little Nenuco Travel with Me (ages 3 and older; $24.99) baby into her car seat, which secures in your car just like the real thing and keeps baby safe with Velcro. If your child gets fidgety during an extended trip, remind her that baby needs tending—feeding and changing her (or his) dolly will surely help pass the time.  

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Kaitlin Ahern

Author: Kaitlin Ahern has a degree in magazine journalism from Syracuse University. See More

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