All our favourite family travel gear from electronics, backpacks, luggage and camping gear, you won’t want to leave home without. All travel gear has been extensively tested out by our family or are products we would buy ourselves. We only recommend what we love and use.
We love to travel. With a family anything that can make our trip run smoother is high on our list of priorities. Because let’s face it, while travelling is awesome, and expansive on so many levels, it can also be challenging, especially when adventuring with kids.
I really enjoy spending time researching products, reading others experiences and choosing travel gear that works for our family and yours too. So if you don’t have the time, or it’s not your thing, I got you covered.
We are always happy to receive your recommendations if you think we’ve missed the next best thing, or a long time favourite item, you can’t leave home without.
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PACKING GEAR FOR FAMILIES
To me packing is when the reality of the trip really starts to sink in. Up until that point it is this nebulous thing on the horizon that may or may not ever come. I make my lists and check them twice. I pack, unpack then repack, as I try my best to be a minimalist.
Here are a few things we don’t leave home without.
My daughter and I typically share a medium sized suitcase (size up from carry-on). The one thing that makes this possible is packing cubes. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out, but my number one recommendation for easier packing is packing cubes.
The Gonex Packing Cubes we bought from Amazon work amazingly well, are reasonably priced, and come in bundles of various sizes. We bought two different coloured sets, so it was easier to tell our clothes apart.
The small sizes are ideal for kids clothes, and socks, underwear and bathing suits. The medium sized cubes work well for rolled or folded adult clothes such as shirts, pants, shorts, light sweaters etc. Large and extra large sizes would work for bigger suitcases or bulkier clothing items.
TRAVEL BACKPACKS AND LUGGAGE
A comfortable way to carry all your gear for day trips to the city or to the beach is an important consideration. Our daughter is eight, so we are thankfully out of the diaper bag stage. If you are still there – solidarity!
Before our Cuba trip we discovered the Outlander Ultra Lightweight Hiking Backpack.
- What we loved: We loved that the Outlander Backpack was water resistant, light weight and folded down quite small into its own pocket. The multiple compartments allowed us to keep our sunscreen separate from our other gear, and there is a zippered inside security compartment to hold your phone or money. We used the Outlander Backpack as one of our carry-ons, for day trips to the beach and for wandering around town.
If you are heading out on a trip, backpacks really are an essential item for all members of the family. Keep snacks, a change of clothes, a water bottle handy for your days adventures whether on a hike, or in the city.
Here are our top travel backpack recommendations:
Eagle Creek Luggage and Organizers are a perennial favourite with travelers for their quality, versatility and warranty.
They have an awesome Custom Packing System Tool which helps you choose what luggage and accessories you need. (I may have spent the better part of half an hour recently trying out all the options, as we are heading to Thailand next year and need a new luggage system)
You input the size of bag you want, and where you are going (beach, city, camping, mountains etc,) and it brings up appropriate items.
SAFETY TRAVEL GEAR
Let’s talk safety. Safety is a big concern for most travellers. While no one wants to think about all the potential negative what-ifs that could happen while on vacation, I think it is important to be prepared as possible. There are a few items that can help keep your family, money and possessions safer while out in the wild world.
First Aid Kit
A basic First Aid Kit is a must for any family trip. Finding first aid items is relatively easy in a lot of destinations, so the basics are usually all you need; bandaids, antibiotic wipes and cream, tweezers etc.
For some destinations (like Cuba) it may be more difficult to find items, so a fully stocked first aid kit is preferable. I have a small first aid kit that I re-stock with my favourite items, because who really needs so many large guaze pads.
Band-aids! If you have kids, you know one can never have too many band-aids in all shapes and sizes. So stock up.
Money Belts & Anti-Theft Travel Accessories
You work hard for your money. (Now I have that song in my head). Money belts, and anti-theft accessories will help keep your credit cards, cell phones and all that fun travel money you worked so hard to save, a lot safer.
Money Belts are the first line of defense against theft, as long as you wear them under your clothes.
I really like my Eagle Creek Silk Undercover Travel Money Belt. The silk is cooler against my skin in hotter climates and the two compartments allow for organizing my money and passport/documents separately. It also has a low profile, so there is no big bulge under clothes.
A hidden bra wallet is my favourite day trip option, for when you only need a small amount of money and/or one credit card for the day. The money pouch can be worn tucked in the front of your bra, or under your arm. I prefer to tuck it up under my bra strap when wearing it under my arm, for more security.
Derek prefers his Flip Belt, a sport waist belt with multiple compartments, suitable for carrying his phone, money and cards all day. As a bonus it can also be used for sports (running, biking, hiking etc.) at home or abroad.
Anti-Theft Bags & Anti-Theft Back Packs
An Anti-Theft Shoulder Bag or backpack has certain built in features that will help protect against theft, and keep your special belongings with you, not a thief.
My favourite purchase before my Cuba trip was the Travelon Anti-Theft Signature Slim Day Bag. It is super comfortable to wear cross body all day and I feel confident my belongings are safe inside. Plus I use it when I am not traveling as well, so it is multi-purpose. I love a good bargain.
The anti-theft bag has slash resistant straps / body, inside zipper pocket and locking compartments. There is also an RFID section for cards and an RFID compartment for your passport. What I also love is it’s big enough to store a water bottle, sunscreen, my kindle and anything else I need for the day in one compact bag.
We have a whole article on our top 12 recommendations for anti theft backpacks plus tips to keeping your valuables safer. Check out our #1 recommendation here.
SUN & UV SAFE PRODUCTS aND BEACH VACATION ESSENTIALS
I can feel the sun on my face, sand beneath my feet and hear the waves crashing right now. You want to make sure you have all the essentials for your next family beach vacation.
When travelling to warm destinations, sun and UV safe products to protect your babies (young & old) are a no brainer. Our current favourites are listed below.
Wallaroo Sun Hats are stylish, packable and great for the sun with their UPF-50 rating. Wallaroo has styles for the whole family and they work just as well at home as they do on vacation.
My daughter loves her rainbow Petite Nantucket Hat which still fits her at 8 yrs old (it’s for 2-5 yr olds). For older kids the Petit Scrunchie Hat is a sweet option (the adult version is my fav – see below).
The Wallaroo Women’s Scrunchie Sun Hat and the Naomi Hat are my two favourites. The crown size is adjustable with a strap, so they don’t blow away.
If you are travelling somewhere super windy, I recommend skipping the women’s scrunchie sun hat as it’s lightweight fabric brim blows around too much in the wind, making it hard to see. Instead choose something a little sturdier, like the Naomi Hat, or save it for a night out on the town.
Rashguards are perfect for when you want sun protection, but don’t want to reapply full body sunscreen every 30 to 60 minutes. They come in various lengths and styles, up to full body suits for the littles. Like a bathing suit, only better.
My daughter and I both wear long sleeved Kanu Surf rashguards. They are quick drying, UPF-50, and soft on the skin. No rash with this rashguard. Some styles also go up to size 3XL. I like a bit looser fit I can throw over a bikini top, and pair with some swim shorts for a day at the beach.
Kanu has rashguards and swimwear for the whole family. Unfortunately they do use gendered language in all their descriptions.
- For Women: The Kanu Surf Women’s Solid Long Sleeve Rashguard has more of a t-shirt fit, but isn’t so loose it floats around in the water. I found their swim shorts were sized quite small and didn’t work for my slightly larger body (didn’t fit by belly or hips), so something to keep in mind.
- For Men: Kanu Surf also has multiple rashguard styles for men
- For Girls: Little miss wears the Kanu Surf Girls Keri Rashguard, usually without a bathing suit underneath, and a pair of fun matching swim shorts.
- For Boys: Plenty of rashguard options to choose from, as well as matching swim trunks in solids and fun patterns.
Beach Gear & Ideas for Beach Lovers ( Of all Ages)
CAMPING AND RV GEAR
Camping and the RV lifestyle require some specific gear, especially when traveling with kids. Here are some fun ideas you can give as gifts, or pick up for your family for your next camping or RV trip.
FAMILY TRAVEL TECH GEAR AND ENTERTAINMENT
Truth be told, I am not much of a techie so I rely on my partner to bolster up this part of our travel gear, do the research and make the best recommendations for travel tech gear and products.
Universal Travel Adapter
You likely want to be able to charge your devices and keep connected while travelling so a universal travel adapter is a must for any trip outside your home country.
While your electronics may work and charge just fine at home, there is no guarantee this will be the case wherever you travel. Different countries use different types of outlets and electrical voltage. Some countries use a higher voltage which could fry your devices if you plug them in.
Typically a travel adapter doesn’t convert voltage. A lot of devices such as laptops and smartphones are designed to be used around the world, so you may not need a converter. Check the details of your gadgets to be sure.
- TRAVEL ADAPTER / CHARGER: Our pick is the Unidapt Travel Adapter. I like this one because it can handle everything from laptops to tablets, phones and hair dryers. It works in 160 countries, comes with 4 USB and 1 US-C sockets, meaning you can charge more devices at one time, and it can handle higher power appliances. The USB outputs will let you charge a couple of tablets or phones at high speed, or up to five lower power devices such as a kindles or headphones. This is in addition to charging a laptop in the AC socket.
You will need to purchase a voltage converter if you are heading to a country with different power voltage than home, and your devices can’t handle the difference on their own. You can save time and money by getting a top rated dual adapter / converter like the BESTEK Universal Travel Adapter / Voltage Converter.
Portable Chargers For Travel
With so many travel gadgets requiring charging now a days, having a back up power bank is essential. Especially for countries with frequent power outages, or for those long travel days by plane, train or automobile. We also like to bring our portable charger along on day trips, beach days and tours.
We have an ancient generic solar battery pack (5 years is ancient in tech speak, right?). It has done well in charging our phones and tablets for camping, and for our adventures overseas, and in Canada. If you have a charger at home and have minimal charging needs awesome, continue using what works for you.
However, we are aiming to upgrade our portable charger next trip, as our needs have changed slightly. I’ve taken a look at the best portable power banks around, and come up with our top choice:
Lightweight and Compact: INIU 10000mAh Portable Charger. lt’s lightweight, and the charging times and speeds are fast. Can charge up to three devices at once. The INIU can charge an iPhone 3x, iPad Air once and also works on Air Pods, Samsung devices and smart watches.
Five things to consider before buying a portable battery bank:
- Power: Power is measured in milliamp hours (mAH), so the more mAH a power bank has, the more times you can charge your devices. 6000mAH and lower allow cell phones to be charged once or twice.
- Portability: Generally smaller devices that fit in your pocket, hold less power and have fewer ports. They may only be good for one or two phone charges.
- Ports: Ports determine the compatibility of your devices with the battery and in some cases the speed of charging. Also more ports allow for more than one device to be charged at a time.
- Charging Time: How fast the battery charges your devices. For “fast charging”, three things need to have compatible standards; your phone or device, battery and cable.
- Pass Through Charging: Allows for devices to be charged at the same time the battery is plugged in and charging.
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