As a mom of 5 that has traveled (quite a lot) with kids of ALL ages, I've learned a few things about making travel easier and as pleasant as possible. After all, it's often the 'getting there' that is most stressful part of any trip or vacation! That's why I decided to put together my absolute MUST HAVE travel items & kids travel essentials!
These items come from our own family world travel experiences through the baby, toddler, tween, and teen stages- plus many wise suggestions of other moms traveling long before me, and hopefully will make your next family trip easier and less stressful.
I'm going to be adding more posts that list some of our must have travel items by age, so you can see what applies directly to your family, but since that takes lots of time (and research) to put together, I wanted to get this general list posted first. 😉
So let me give you a few of my absolute must have items for travelling to add to ANY family packing list - and some of these are travel life-savers even if you are a single traveler or don't have kids!
And that brings us to our 5 Must Have Travel Items For Travelers Of All Ages!
Must Have Travel Item #1:
Travel BACKPACK suitcases (instead of traditional suitcases)
Okay hear me out with this one.... I know rolling suitcases are fun and trendy with hard tops and lots of color choices.
But when we decided to change to suitcases that can be carried backpack style, our travel life was forever altered. We will NEVER go back to any other type of suitcases!
The ability to pack everything you need into a bag (strategic packing hack coming in a sec), throw your bag on your back, and still have your hands free IS EVERYTHING travel should be!
I can't tell you how often we've held little hands while getting places in a hurry and needed our hands free.
And no more shuffling suitcases while triple-checking the phone for gate numbers or matching passports to little faces for boarding check!
HANDS FREE luggage is a game changer. Full stop.
This is our #1 must have for our travel items list for the hand-free perk alone. 😜
I have a separate post about the many perks of these bags here, but let me just give you a quick rundown:
Carry on sizes = no more checked bag fees.
Also no more lost luggage at baggage claim.
Easier maneuvering around airports, train stations, etc.
Sizes for men, women & even kids!
We prefer Osprey bags, and not only do they have a lifetime warranty, but their customer service is AMAZING. A very comparable brand with the same lifetime warranty and great customer service is the Deuter brand. In fact, we have a couple of their products also (more on that in the baby/toddler section). Plus, Deuter has some styles that are specifically geared towards children, which is nice.
In general, backpack luggage are must have items for travelling no matter what age you are! We started using these bags when first moving abroad with children, and haven't used anything since!
It's now been over 5 years of traveling Europe with kids, and our bags have made our travels so much easier and they STILL look brand new!
Out of ALL of the family vacation tips I've ever gotten, switching to these backpacks really was the ultimate family travel hack of all time. 😎
Must Have Kids Travel Item #2:
Electrolyte Tablets For Staying Hydrated While Traveling
Here's an off-the-wall travel items list suggestion! Hydration tablets or powder is a MUST HAVE that we have learned to bring the hard way. In fact, this is at the very top of our list of kids travel essentials!
Traveling often means sight-seeing. Sight-seeing means walking. A LOT.
There's a lot of time spent outdoors, in the sun, and even walking around museums and stuff. And with kids, we often work a playground visit or two into the itinerary so they can burn off energy.
While we try to bring water bottles for everyone and stay hydrated throughout the day, it can actually be quite a challenge to drink enough liquids to compensate for our higher activity levels. (Especially when kids are busy running and playing!)
Popping an electrolyte tablet is so easy, even the little ones can drop one into their bottle!
There's also self-serve packets that you can toss into your bag or your purse. (We go for the tubes with tablets, because it's less plastic- and often repurpose the tubes for packing small items like q-tips, kids hair ties, etc!)
With plenty of flavors to choose from, getting dehydrated on a trip is a thing of the past!
(Here's another of my all-time fave family travel hacks- the flavored ones help keep your kids drinking WATER instead of asking for soda or juice!)
We actually buy this multiple flavor pack of electrolyte tablets (in the first pic above) so everyone has something they like to drink and it doesn't get boring drinking the same flavor.
These ended up being invaluable during our European road trip this past summer, because we had a variety of flavors to keep things interesting and our kids' water consumption up during our many days in the car. 😉
In fact, I brag about these tablets in my Family Holidays in South France: Tips For Planning Vacations in Southern France post (and a few other France posts also!) because I just love them so much.
I work really hard to keep our kids properly hydrated, since dydration causes tummy problems (like constipation!) and headaches. When kids don't feel good, they get cranky, and that makes our whole trip miserable. So yeah, these are probably my favorite of all of our travel accessories for kids. (Sorry, I'm obsessed, I know...)
Be sure to add this to your packing list with kids (or without!) and never get dehydrated again!
Must Have Travel Item #3:
Organizer for electronic cords, chargers, etc. (for all those devices!)
When traveling, we often arrive at our hotel or Airbnb with our batteries depleted- and kids digging for charging cords usually results in a messy bag that mom has to clean up later.
It didn't take me long to discover these nifty cases that easily keep our cords and chargers organized!
We simply fill it up, zip it closed, and toss it right on top of our suitcase for easy grabbing once we've gotten settled and need to recharge our devices. No more digging through bags! (Woohoo!)
We personally use this one (above)
from BagSmart, because it has lots of different little storage spaces so there's room for everyone's stuff without getting bulky.
There's also this colorful one with several bigger compartments instead of having many smaller sections, which is a little cheaper. And BOTH of them have amazing reviews on Amazon! (Which is important for choosing must have travel items that actually last!)
I'm also a believer that this case helps us cut down on broken and twisted cords, so that's always a perk as well! Replacing cords all the time gets expensive, and since we try to keep our family travel on a budget, this case really pays for itself in cord savings. 😉
When it comes to must have items for making travel easier, this is always on our family packing list!
Must Have Travel Item For Families #4:
We are a BIG family, which means LOTS of clothes, and when we're halfway through our trip and some clothes are clean, but others are dirty, it can get chaotic trying to find what we need.
Cue packing cubes, to the rescue! We bought a few sets of these and NEVER travel without them! There's tons of styles to choose from!
The mesh fronts allow you to see what's inside quickly without opening, so you can just grab the cube you need and zip it back closed when you're done. Easy peasy, no more messy luggage!
Plus, you get less wrinkles in your clothes, because you can strategically fold or roll them and they don't shuffle around in the suitcase. They are remarkably affordable, and will last you for YEARS!
In fact, we bought a set of these cubes from Bagail way back in 2017 when planning our move abroad with family= and they are still flawless!
We now use them on every trip to pack more while keeping our stuff organized!
I especially like like the Bagail set because they have a few long, skinny cubes, which are perfect for pjs, socks and undergarments!
These cubes are definitely part of our kids travel essentials, they fit into any bag and save us so much stress!
Bonus travel hack- have the kids toss all dirty clothes in a pile until the end of the trip, then pack the dirties in one or two specific cubes so you don't get stuck washing everything when you get back home! 😜
If you've been looking for things to make travel easier, these packing cubes are an affordable (and durable) great start!
Must Have Travel Item #5:
Okay circling back to the electronics conversation- let me tell you about another MUST HAVE travel item- a convertible adapter that charges multiple devices and plugs into any outlet in the world. 🤯🤯🤯
Sticking one (or two) of these into your bag is a must if you like travel to various countries, because the plugs are different in the various regions of the world!
No one wants to be stuck unable to charge a phone because you've got the wrong plug!
We invested in these because they not only work everywhere you go, but you can plug multiple things into each one, cutting down the number of plugs we need for our large family. (Hotel rooms often have limited plug space, so that used to be quite an issue.)
In fact, I often suggest getting a universal converter whenever I'm giving family vacation tips because they are so handy to have and easy to toss into any bag.
We like the white adapter above because it has two smart usb chargers and space for two US plugs.
The blue cube is also a handy choice because it has 4 usb chargers and a universal plug outlet, making it perfect for the kids' tablets and the teenagers' phones. We have this cube on our list of kids packing essentials simply because of the ability to charge all their devices at once.
NOTE: It's worth it to spend an extra 10 bucks or so on a good converter that lasts, but they do come in a variety of price ranges and with different features to suit your traveling needs. We went through a couple of cheap ones before spending a few bucks more on a better quality converter.
That's my list of must-have travel items for making travel easier for our family- hopefully you like these suggestions!
Also be sure to check out our post for 5 Must Have Travel Essentials For Toddlers (That Really DO Make Traveling Easier) for more can't-miss travel accessories for kids of a younger age!
(I'll also be working on making age-specific kids travel essentials in separate posts to cover teens, tweens, babies, and more!)
Bonus family travel gear suggestion:
As a quick bonus item: I also wanted to include a link to a great product that I've recently come to love- a flying camera drone!
The DJI Mini 2 drone kit is a great one for beginners, and is in the mid price range for drones and doesn't need any special licenses to fly it.
It's super handy on vacations because it can be used to take pictures of our WHOLE family and get those memorable shots that are just so lovely!
A drone isn't your typical must-have family travel gear, but it's become more popular for avid travelers to have them in recent years.
It is a bit of a SPLURGE purchase, which is why I'm just dropping it in as a bonus (and NOT a must-have!), because it helps us capture our wonderful vacation memories better than our mobile phone cameras and selfie sticks. 🥰
Plus, I love the idea of having pictures of our whole family and sometimes hiring a photographer for big bucket-list trips just isn't practical when keeping our fmaily travel on a budget.
So this drone ended up being a bit of a compromise- I can use it to take more professional pictures of our whole family while traveling, and it's a one-time purchase instead of constantly hiring photographers.
The only downside to this plan, however, is that you cannot fly a drone in a lot of super touristy places, so we couldn't use it at the Eiffel Tower, but it was GREAT to have when we went to the lavender fields in Provence, France! (See our best travel with kids tips for the Provence Lavender fields here in this post!)
In general, a drone is great to have, and although it's not really qualified as things that make traveling easier, it has made our own family's world travel more enjoyable (at least for me, anyways!) and I love having more photos that feature our WHOLE family!
And that's really the end of my family-specific must have travel gear. I've tried to include items that can really be used by the whole family or that the whole family benefits from having.
I hope you like these family-based suggestions for things that make traveling easier, and I hope some of these will be useful for you!
Sign up for our newsletter to be notified when the age-specific family travel gear posts come out -OR- check out our other blog posts for great family travel hacks and other tips on things that make traveling easier! 😉
Liked this post? Check out more of our similar tips, tricks & info! 👇👇👇
Thanks for reading our blog!
We love sharing our adventures with you and hope you learn lots of great tips for making moving overseas with kids &/or your family world travel easier!
Don't forget to check out our SHOP for helpful organization tools, and follow us social media! (Links are below!)
P.S.- You can help support our blog for FREE, just by shopping for your favorite travel gear & other cool stuff through Amazon, using our referral link here!
Thank you so much! 🥰
Click HERE to jump back to top of page.