With summer quickly approaching, making sure your family is prepared can save you a lot of time and headache.
Having traveled to over 23 countries and 8 states with my three and four-year-old, I’ve been there and done that when it comes to testing kid-friendly travel items, and now I’m passing that knowledge on to you.
So grab a pen and a pad, and take notes, because I’m about to provide you with intel on everything you’ll need to prepare for easy, breezy family summer travel.
Stay Hands Free with a Carrier
If I could only recommend one travel must-have it would definitely be a carrier. From getting through the airport quickly, to easily walking through crowded streets, carriers are a lifesaver. They also serve as the perfect place for your little one to nap so you can keep the adventure going. There are carriers for both infants and toddlers. My favorite infant carrier is the Ergobaby 360 and for toddlers, I like the Deuter Kid Comfort line.
Sunscreen Made For Us By Us
Contrary to popular belief, our melanin does not protect us from the sun’s harmful rays. It’s imperative that we wear sunscreen when globetrotting (always) but especially during the blazing summer months. While traditional sunscreens tend to have our brown skin looking ashy, Black Girl Sunscreen has no white residue. Even better, it’s a Black-owned company!
Black-Owned Swim Caps
I don’t know about you but I have two daughters and the thought of washing the three of our heads each time we jump in the pool or swim in the ocean is enough to make me not want to go anywhere. Thankfully, swim caps make pool and beach days more bearable and there are swim caps made specifically for our natural hairstyles. Both Swimmie Caps and Swimma Caps are Black-owned and have sizes large enough to fit any natural hairstyle.
Travel Car Seat
Having two children who use car seats, I know what a pain it is to travel with them once your child moves out of the lighter weight infant car seat. If you travel frequently, I recommend purchasing a lightweight car seat or car seat alternative. One of the most popular travel car seats is the Cosco Scenera NEXT while the most compact option is the mifold grab-and-go booster seat.
Car Seat Transporter
If purchasing a lightweight car seat solely for travel doesn’t work for you, a car seat transporter will make it much easier to lug your convertible car seat through the airport. Added bonus: many of these basically turn your car seat into a stroller, allowing your child to stay put and preventing them running off or getting lost in a crowded airport. I like the Brica Smart Move.
Car Seat and Stroller Protector Bags
Whether you are checking your car seat and/or stroller at the ticket counter or gate, you’ll want to protect it once it leaves your sight. I can only imagine the amount germs under the plane, not to mention the way these airlines throw things around. A bag specifically made to protect your car seat and stroller from tears, stains, and germs is the perfect way to have your expensive baby items last as long as possible. There are very economical options such as the J.L. Childress Gate Check Stroller or Car Seat bags to higher end protectors like the Zohzo Car Seat Travel Bag.
Traveling with a family can mean you have a lot of things to bring. Reduce the amount of space your clothing takes up with packing cubes. Packing cubes have allowed me to pack seven days worth of clothes in a personal bag when flying on Spirit Airlines. Trust, these cubes are magic! There are many brands to choose from and options include clear see-through cubes like those from EzPacking or more flexible bags like eBags Packing Cubes. You can even take it a step further by vacuum sealing your clothes with these travel bags (perfect for winter travel).
Whether you are flying or taking a road trip no one wants to hear “are we there yet” over and over. Kids tablets have many ways to keep children busy with digital coloring books, movies, audio books, educational apps and more. You don’t have to break the bank on an iPad for your little one, the Kindle Fire Kids Edition with the protective case is perfect for children.
Volume-Controlled Kid Headphones
Earplugs won’t quite fit your little ones ears and adult size over-the-ear headphones usually fall down, even on the tightest setting. You won’t be able to keep track of the volume on your child’s device, especially if you’re driving and focused on the road, so volume-controlled headphones are your best bet. They have a maximum volume safe for their little ear drums. We like, Puro Sound Labs Volume Limited Kids’ Bluetooth Headphones.
If you are traveling with infants and your hotel or vacation home doesn’t provide a crib, or you don’t trust it to be clean, bring your own! Long gone are the days of heavy pack n’ plays, today there are multiple travel crib options under fifteen pounds including the KidCo PeaPod Plus Infant Travel Bed (3.5 lbs).
Monet Hambrick is the mom and writer behind The Traveling Child blog where she shares tips on traveling with kids and how to afford travel as a family. Follow along with her family adventures on Instagram and Facebook.