Wrestling car seats and strollers onto planes, trains and automobiles is part and parcel of traveling with kids. And while summer vacations make beautiful memories, they also make parents tired! We’ve rounded up a collection of travel-friendly gear to make it all go more smoothly. From ultra-lightweight strollers that fold down to the size of a handbag to a booster seat that can fit in your back pocket, we’ve got you covered this summer!
1. Stay organized on the road.
Tired of water bottles and snack containers rolling all over the car? An organizer like this one will help make road trips easier. This Forby car organizer comes with a front seat and backseat organizer with moveable dividers. It has plenty of pockets for stashing wipes, cups, snacks, and even your electronics and travel games.
2. Keep the kids entertained.
When you’ve heard “Are we there yet?” for the one-hundredth time, pull out this beloved bingo game. The Auto and Interstate Travel Bingo Set is a simple but fun card game that is recommended for kids ages 5 and older, but even younger kids can get involved. The game comes with reusable bingo cards featuring items seen on a road trip. When your kids spot the item, they just need to slide the finger-tip shutter slide window. This game is ideal to keep them busy during long road trips.
3. Keep track of everything.
When headed to camp or a family reunion, it’s good to label your stuff. Name Bubbles labels are waterproof and sun-proof, making them perfect for everything from water bottles to life jackets. They are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, so you can get just your name or more detailed contact information imprinted right on the sticker.
4. Bring a stroller that won’t break your back.
This is the world’s smallest folding stroller. (Really! It says so in the "Guinness Book of World Records.") At just 11 pounds, this ultra-lightweight buggy is perfect for travel. When folded, it fits into the overhead compartment on planes and under most airline seats. Holding kids up to 55 pounds, the harness is adjustable; the stroller even has a storage basket and sun shade. (A backpack to carry the folded stroller is also available.)
5. Bring a suitcase the kids can carry.
Kids want their own suitcase and Trunki is just about the cutest one out there. This hard plastic case can be carried, pulled or ridden by kids up to 75 pounds. The Trunki comes in 11 different styles and is small enough to qualify as a piece of carry-on luggage, but roomy enough to contain a child’s belongings.
6. Take a light booster seat with you.
Necessity is the mother (or father) of invention. The Mifold was invented by a dad of four who wanted a small, portable booster seat for his kids to carry with them so that they would have the correct seat no matter whose car they rode in. It works like this: Instead of bringing the child up to a height to fit a shoulder lap belt, this booster brings the seat belt down to the correct level for the child. The Mifold is even small enough to fit in a back pocket or backpack.
7. Bring some useful hats.
On sunny summer days, parents worry about protecting little ones from sunburn. The Sunday Afternoons child play hat offers top coverage for kids ages 2–5, with its neck veil for shielding the back of the neck and sun-protective fabric. The mesh sides offer ventilation while the chin strap has a breakaway feature to prevent tangling. Plus, reviewers say the hat dries quickly when wet, and the brim stays up when damp.
8. Keep everything cool.
When traveling to a particularly sunny clime, bring along this insulated tote. With a 10-gallon capacity, the insulated bag still folds flat so you can put it into a carry-on. The lining is also food-safe, and made without phthalates, PVC, BPA or lead. Reviewers love that the bag features a convertible strap so it can be carried either vertically or horizontally. It’s perfect for keeping lunch, drinks or baby’s formula cold on a hot day!
More travel tips for families:
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2017 and updated in 2022.