The Essential Travel Gear Your Family Needs on Vacation

There is a lot of planning involved with a family trip and a lot of essential travel gear. With frequent travel, you learn to bring only the necessities and leave the rest at home. Over the years we have realized the essentials we never leave home without. These aren’t the usual toiletries, medicine, and clothes. These are the items that seem to get left behind but you really need to have them. Before your next trip, throw these in for good measure.

This is not a packing list. Instead this is the essential travel gear families shouldn't leave home without. Our best tips from over a decade of travel with kids. - Kids Are A Trip13 Essential Items to Pack for Your Family Vacation

*This post contains affiliate links, but recommendations are 100% my own.

1. Chargers

In this age of all things technology, it is hard to go anywhere without a gadget of some sort. The battery life of my phone is so short, I carry this lipstick charger with me. Very lightweight, and it charges a phone quickly. There’s also a multi-port charger that saves us from carrying charger cords for everyone.

Essential Travel Gear for Families Anker Lipstick Charger-Kids Are A Trip
I don’t go anywhere without a portable charger!

2. Headphones

Small earbud headphones are perfect for travel because they take up no room. Kids might prefer over the ear headphones for watching movies or playing video games. Parents might want to look into volume control headphones for sensitive little ears.

3. Bubble Bums

Years ago I was desperate for a car seat alternative. Rental car agencies charge too much to rent them for an extended period of time. The thought of bringing three bulky booster seats overseas was overwhelming, so I started researching options. That’s when I discovered the Bubble Bum.

At the time, it was only approved for use in the EU, so I reached out to their headquarters in Ireland and asked if they would ship to the U.S. They would, and they did, and the rest is history. If you don’t have a Bubble Bum, what are you waiting for? They barely weigh anything and if your child can ride in a booster seat, they can ride in a Bubble Bum!

Essential Travel Gear for Families Bubble Bum Booster-Kids Are a Trip

4. Bubble gum, lollipops, and snacks

You can never have too many of any of these. The gum and lollipops are perfect on the plane when ears start to hurt. The snacks help when kids get cranky and tired. Having an ample supply of these at your disposal at any given time is a sure fire way to prevent many melt downs. (Need snack ideas? Don’t miss these posts: 25 Easy to Pack Travel Snacks, Nut Free Snacks, and Easy to Make Snacks).

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This is the essential travel gear you don't want to forget on your next trip. Not clothes, but the things that you always wish you had but forgot to pack. - Kids Are A Trip
Make sure you have everything before takeoff!

5. Travel wallet

You can never be too safe, so I always carry a neck travel wallet with me instead of a purse. It easily hides under clothes and it’s easy to reach. It allows for security when in a big crowd which is helpful when chasing after kids.

6. Inflatable travel bed

It might seem like this is only for road trips, but we actually took a bed overseas when our youngest was a toddler. It was very handy in hotel rooms that only had beds for four people. This is small enough to fit in checked luggage and easy to set up. The kids used to fight over who would sleep in this bed!

Essential Travel Gear for Your Next Family Trip Inflatable Bed - Kids Are A Trip
Easy to inflate, a great extra bed!

7. Swiss Army Knife

This little gadget has more tools than I can name. Scissors, cork screw, knife, tweezers, the list goes on! This is super helpful to have in times of need and it weighs next to nothing. Just be sure to pack it in your checked bag.

8. A deck of cards (regular or Uno)

Over the years card have been a great way to pass the time in hotel rooms without television, on long train/airplane rides, or while waiting in line. They’re easy to pack and quick to pick up, so it makes sense to bring some along.

9. Hand wipes, plastic bags, and Ziploc bags

Hand wipes for us have been a life save in more situations than I can count. We bring both baby wipes and the hand sanitizing ones. Plastic bags and Ziploc bags have been useful for many things, from carsick kids to wet swimsuits. Pack them because odds are you’ll need them at some point.

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10. A good backpack

By good I mean secure and doesn’t hurt your back. Our favorite is a Pacsafe anti-theft backpack. Zippers can be securely tucked and locked to keep would be thieves out. It’s the perfect pack for taking out during the day and wearing on a crowded bus or train. It’s an added level of security.

Essential Travel Gear for Families Pacsafe Backpack-Kids Are A Trip

11. Packing cubes

We never travel without packing cubes because they keep our luggage sorted. We can move easily from one hotel to the next because the kids keep their clothes in their cube and we just zip them up when it is time to go. Each child has their own color cubes which makes it very easy when trying to find things. I cannot say enough about packing cubes!

12. Reading light

Not only do I bring a reading light along to read in bed once everyone is asleep, it can be very useful for other things. Find things in your carry on when the airplane is dark or even use it to find your way to the bathroom in a dark hotel room. A reading light can even serve as a night light in a desperate situation.

13. Clothes line

A travel clothes line can come in very handy when traveling without a laundry facility. This clothes line serves as clothes pins as well which means less to pack. It can secure from any post to post which makes it highly functional and save a trip to the laundromat.

Space is at a premium when packing for a vacation. These items have proven to be indispensable and we would hate to leave any of them behind. Before your next trip, take stock of your needs and make sure you pack smart for your next trip.

Are there any items you never leave home without?