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25 Best Items for Traveling as a Family (2021)

Home > Travel Planning > 25 Best Items for Traveling as a Family (2021)

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Whether you’re taking a two-day or ten-day trip, you need the best traveling items to take with you. We are all about items that are both functional and fashionable. From the best bag for traveling to the best travel accessories, you'll be prepared to enjoy your next trip with a touch of style. 

Added bonus--all of these items make the best traveling gifts for your friends and family! So grab one for you and another for your travel-loving friend!

To avoid getting overwhelmed by all the travel things to buy, I broke down the list into 5 categories: Travel Bags, Technology, Clothing + Accessories, Baby + Kids, and Food + Drink

Just looking for the highlights? Click here to see our 5 absolute favorite items on this list. 


Travel Bags

1. Luggage

Let’s look at some of the best traveling luggage options. Hardshell suitcases are the best traveling bags for checked luggage. The hard outer shell can withstand being tossed around, while protecting your items inside. 

We fly carry-on only as much as possible, so we need a solid suitcase that rolls easily so Austin can push it around. The smaller carry-on size is easy for adults or kids to push, and it has enough room inside to fit clothes for two people (if you pack minimally like us). 

store the best laptop for traveling in this bag

2. Laptop Bag

If you travel for work or always fly with your laptop, then you need to get one of these must-have laptop bags for traveling. They are functional, fashionable, and equipped with a suitcase handle sleeve to securely sit on top of your carry-on. 

The O.G. 2 by Lo & Sons is hands down my absolute favorite bag to travel with for a day or a week. It’s classy for working moms, but also casual for day to day use. 

The variety of pockets in this bag make it an organizational dream! There is a place for your laptop, water bottle, keys, phone, passport, and even a hidden side pocket for shoes or wet clothes. No more digging through piles of junk in your bag. Easily access every item from the zipper openings on the top of the bag. 

For dads, the Tumi Alpha Bravo Aviano Laptop Slim Brief Briefcase is sleek with multiple zipped pockets that hold all your laptop accessories.

best diaper bag

3. Diaper Bag

Moms love the classy design and practical function of the vegan leather Fawn Design Original Diaper Bag. Attach the backpack straps and it instantly turns into one of the best carry-on backpacks for traveling with babies. 

The half-round zipper top opens the bag up for easy access from above (again, ideal for getting things out while it sits beside your feet on a plane). Twelve pockets organize your bottles, wipes, diapers, clothes, toys, and more. 

PRO Tip: Use the Fawn Design Original Diaper Bag as the best bag for traveling with toddlers by putting a water bottle and snacks in the pockets instead of bottles and diapers. 

4. Kids Backpack

Kids (even little ones) can carry their own bags when they travel, and these are two of the best backpacks for traveling. 

The Brica By-My-Side Backpack is perfect for young toddlers who are learning to carry a backpack. It won’t weigh them down due to its small size that can only fit a few items inside. 

PRO Tip: Pack your toddler’s snacks and a few small toys inside this bag, and attach their water bottle to the outside. 

Once your child is a little bigger, I suggest getting a Boys Chompine Backpack from Quicksilver. The 12L size and quality of the material make it the best backpack for traveling. It’s smaller than a full-size kid’s backpack but can hold a decent amount of stuff.  The fabric does not easily rip, and the zipper has never given us any problems. 

PRO Tip: Fully tighten the backpack straps for toddlers. Then use the extra cord length from the straps to tie around your child’s waist for additional stability. 

5. Backpacking Pack

If you are preparing for an adventure and need to find the best backpack for traveling to Europe or South America, then look at the Osprey Fairview 40 Women's Travel Backpack and the Osprey Farpoint 40 Men's Travel Backpack. 

It meets carry-on requirements for most airlines, making it convenient for flying. The shoulder straps and hip belt are comfortable for extended carry time. Plus the zippered rear flap covers up your straps when you need to store your bag. 

This bag’s best feature is the U-zip duffle-style access. It can open up like a suitcase from the front of the pack, making it easy to access your belongings. No more digging through piles of clothes to reach that one shirt at the very bottom of your pack. 

Bo and I used these packs on a 21-day trip, and we found them to be the best backpacks for traveling Europe. They were perfect for traveling on planes, riding on trains, hiking through hills, and walking around cities. 

6. Packing Cubes

Ready to save space while neatly packing your clothes? Get packing cubes! These are one of our top things to buy for travel anywhere because they make it easy to pack for a trip and even easier to unpack once we get home.

Shacke Pak packing cubes keep your clothing organized while helping you fit more clothes into small spaces. Added bonus--they come with a laundry bag for dirty clothes.  

PRO Tip: Get a different colored set for each person in your family. Color-coded organized clothes in your suitcase--you’ll be living the dream!


Technology

7. Headphones

Good headphones are key travel bag essentials to have on every trip. Apple Airpods and Apple Airpods Pro are our favorite ones for adults. 

Pop these wireless headphones in your ears and be instantly synced to your phone. You’ll be ready to binge-watch your favorite show or listen to hot podcasts for up to 5 hours. Recharge them over and over again for more than 24 hours in the wireless charging case. 

Active noise cancellation technology in the Airpods Pro is a game-changer when flying on airplanes. Apple’s technology picks up surrounding noise and counters it with anti-noise. 

The only time we don’t use Airpods is if we use an old pair of aux headphones to connect to the airline’s built-in screens. But other than that, wireless Airpods all the way!


Austin has used a few pairs of headphones, but for kids, a set like these are the best headphones for traveling. 

Soft cushions around the ears and on top of the head make them comfortable for kids to wear. Adjustable maximum decibel level ensures the volume is never harmful to little eardrums. 

The fabric cord does not get tangled up in knots, which is especially helpful since these headphones fold up to take up less space!

8. Camera

Wondering which is the best camera to buy for traveling? Photographers may cringe as they all debate which DSLR is the best camera for traveling, but I have found that technology has made this decision easier. An iPhone 11 Pro (or newer) is the only camera you need. 

An iPhone is already one of your essential travel accessories, so you won’t have to lug around additional camera weight in your bag. Its slim design makes it the best traveling camera to whip out of your bag or back pocket to capture that beautiful shot!

PRO Tip: We use our iPhone cameras for traveling domestically and internationally in order to capture family shots, portraits, and scenery. If you pair the capabilities of an iPhone camera with an editing app like Lightroom, your high-quality vacation photos will look stunning! 

9. Tablet

When it comes to family travel carry-on essentials, tablets are one of our most used items on flights. We have used a few different kinds, and we have found the best tablet for traveling, hands down--the Apple iPad

Whether you are looking for a tablet for your kids to watch shows or for you to do a little work, Apple has got you covered. Image quality, user-friendly interface, reliability, and compatibility with other Apple devices (we have a few) make this tablet rise above the rest. There may be a higher price tag, but it is 100% worth it! 

10. Laptop

While a tablet allows you to do some work, often a laptop is much easier. The best laptops for traveling are widely debated among bloggers and frequent fliers. 

You know we are an Apple family, so my recommendation is a Macbook. I personally use an Apple Macbook Pro for our family travel blog, and it fits great in my Lo & Sons O.G. 2 laptop bag. 

However, I think that Apple’s best laptop for traveling would be the Macbook Air. It has a lot of similar capabilities to a Macbook Pro, but it’s thinner and lighter, which is always a plus for carrying it around. 

11. Drone

Bring a drone on your trip to capture epic aerial videos of your next destination. Or use it to take family pictures from incredible angles.

One of the most popular drones amongst travel bloggers is the DJI Mavic 2 Pro. However, we think the best drone for traveling is the DJI Mavic Mini!

The drone’s compact size and weight of less than 250 grams makes it easy to toss in your carry-on. One charge gives you up to 30 min of flight time. Simply use the DJI Fly app on your smartphone and capture epic 2.7K HD video with just a few taps. 


Clothing + Accessories

best walking shoes for traveling

12. Walking Shoes

What you wear on your feet can make or break your day. The best traveling shoes have to be comfortable (we have no time for blisters) with a simplistic, stylish design that can adapt to several outfits. 

Allbirds check all the boxes. They have the best walking shoes for traveling around your city or to a foreign country. They’re lined with wool, so you don’t have to wear socks--making them perfect for minimal packers like us! 

White sneakers are major traveling essentials for women, which is why Allbirds Women's Tree Pipers are my number one choice! Bo wears the more neutral Men's Wool Runners in gray, which look great with shorts or pants. 

Afraid your fabric shoes will lose their fashion appeal once you get dirt on them? Simply toss your shoes in the washing machine and voila, they’ll look like new. Yet another reason Allbirds are the best shoes for traveling and walking around new destinations.

13. Sandals

Warm weather calls for comfortable sandals for traveling to beaches and tropical destinations. 

Moms can wear Sanuk Yoga Salty Flip Flops with yoga mat cushion comfort under your feet. Perfect for walking to and from the pool or meandering around town for a bit. 

Dads can check out Billabong Flip Flops for great waterproof sandals. Bo wears these for short walks on vacation and every time we go to the pool or the beach. 

Many will debate the best sandals for traveling around the world, but we find these ones to be perfect for the sun and sea life. 

hat accessories for traveling

14. Hats

Hats are not only stylish accessories for traveling, but they serve a functional purpose. They shield you from the sun as you play on the beach, walk downtown, or stroll through a park. Avoid sunburn with these must-have travel accessories. 

Kids will increase their cute factor by 10 the second they put on a BinkyBro hat. American dads will rock the trucker hats from Baseballism. And moms can add a little flair to their outfit with cute hats from Target or Urban Outfitters

Once you start to wear hats, you’ll discover they are one of the best things for traveling. We never travel without them. 

PRO Tip: If you are trying to find the best gift for someone traveling, get them one of these amazing hats!

15. Women's Clothes

Possibilities are endless when it comes to the best clothes for traveling. Like everything else, we want functional and fashionable clothes. 

Focus on solid color tops that layer well -- tanks, t-shirts, sweaters, button-ups, or jackets. These will pair well with neutral-colored shorts, skirts, or jeans

The best traveling pants range from comfy Lululemon leggings to good-quality Paige jeans for us moms. You want pants that are durable but comfortable to sit in for hours on a plane or walk in for hours around a city. 

Versatile dresses are major travel essentials for women all around the world. I love flowy wrap dresses that can be worn as a day dress, for a date night out, or even as a swimsuit coverup. 

PRO Tip: Nursing moms love wrap dresses as the v-neck wrap style makes it easy to breastfeed your little one on the go. 

Lastly, wherever you go, make sure you throw in a swimsuit. It hardly takes up any space, and you’ll be glad you packed it when you have the opportunity to swim in a cave or soak in a spa under the stars. 


Baby + Kids

16. Car Seat

When searching for the best car seat for traveling on an airplane or a rental car, focus on the weight and installation. Since you’ll be carrying your car seat, the lighter the better. You will also have to secure it in and out of seats multiple times, so you want something that installs easily. 

We have never flown with a car seat on an airplane (we check it), but we have traveled with a car seat in various rental cars. We love our Peg Perego Primo Viaggio 4-35 for trips with a baby, and the Peg Perego Primo Viaggio Convertible is the best car seat for traveling with a toddler. 

While these car seats are not the absolute lightest ones on the market, they are within a reasonable weight range, and they are super easy to install and uninstall. And the sleek Italian design adds a touch of style. 

17. Car Seat Travel Bag

Car seat covers for traveling by air are an absolute necessity if you plan on checking your child’s car seat. Checked luggage gets tossed around and banged up, so you want a travel bag that protects your expensive car seat from damage. 

Check out this car seat case for traveling. Either an infant car seat or a convertible car seat will fit inside with the zipper secured. A light layer of padding offers protection, and backpack straps make it easier to haul around. 

18. Stroller

Say goodbye to old-school umbrella strollers or full-size strollers you check at the gate. Say hello to the best light stroller for traveling anywhere - the Baby Jogger City Tour 2

It’s the best stroller for traveling on an airplane, and it’s perfect for walking around town too! 

Fold up the stroller using only one hand. Carry it on the plane with you and store it in the overhead carry-on space. (You can even use its bag with backpack straps for added ease.) 

Easily drive the stroller with one or two hands, and stow your child’s backpack or extra snacks in the storage space under the seat. 

At nap time, recline the seat back to almost flat and pull the shade forward to keep them out of the sun. 

All of these features make the Baby Jogger City Tour 2 one of the best strollers for traveling with a toddler! Older babies can use it too because the seat reclines back to a comfortable angle. 

19. Travel Crib

Sleeping in new hotels and vacation rentals can be tricky for little ones. We wanted to find the best portable crib for traveling...and we found it!

The BABYBJÖRN Travel Crib is lightweight with the easiest setup and tear-down process. It takes about 10 seconds to set up and 20 seconds to tear down. Beat that!

That alone would make it the most incredible baby bed for traveling, but its size is perfect. The travel crib folds in half into a carry bag that measures 19in x 23.5in x 5.5in and weighs only 13 lbs. 

PRO Tip: Put the BABYBJÖRN Travel Crib in one side of your checked luggage, pack your minimalist wardrobe in packing cubes on the other half, and you are good to go! The crib is protected, costing no extra baggage fees, and it’s ready to be quickly assembled when you arrive at your destination. 

Breathable mesh ensures safety for your little one, even if they are snuggled up against the side. And the 1.2in mattress provides a comfortable night’s sleep no matter where you are in the world. 

20. Baby Carrier

A baby carrier is one of the best items for traveling with a baby. They are cozied up close to you, while your arms are free to do other tasks. 

No carrier can compete with the Solly Baby wrap for carrying around an infant. The buttery soft fabric is light and breathable, making it comfortable to wear your baby for hours at a time (perfect for long flights). Choose from their wide selection of colors and prints that make mom (or dad) and baby look beautiful! 

PRO Tip: Nurse your baby without taking them out of the wrap. It’s ideal during travel!

Once your baby gets bigger or squirmier, the Ergo 360 is the best baby carrier for traveling. Easily switch your baby from facing you to facing the world by moving two buttons, or make a couple more adjustments to carry your baby on your back or hip. 

This comfortable carrier has breathable mesh fabric, making it cooler for you and baby. Plus the waist belt and straps are designed to distribute your baby’s weight and avoid strain on your back. 

Both you and your partner can carry your baby comfortably on long walks, flights, hikes, or just around the hotel.

21. Toys

Clip-on toys make the best toys for traveling with a baby because they have few pieces and aren’t easily dropped. 

Manhattan Toy’s Llama is easily attached to a car seat, diaper bag, baby carrier, or stroller. Ribbons, crinkle paper, and textured fabrics keep your little one’s hands and eyes engaged. Plus the rigid teethers will soothe their gums. 

PRO Tip: Attach the toy to the tray clip on the back of the airplane seat in front of you. The toy will be at a perfect playing level for your baby as they sit on your lap. 

For toddlers, clip-on toys aren’t going to cut it. Instead, find toys that promote creativity while making sure there aren’t too many pieces. 

Tegu Magnetic Wooden Block Sets are great for imaginative building on-the-go. Safe internal magnets make them “stick” together, so you won’t have to worry about them falling all over the floor. The Pocket Pouch Prism set is easy to toss in a backpack or diaper bag so you can pull them out to play with on planes, in the car, or at a restaurant. You can even get a Jet Plane Travel Pal for your next flight! 

Window clings are also some of the best toys for traveling with a toddler. Stick them on the airplane window and watch your toddler have fun moving them around, matching colors, and making scenes. 

22. Books

Interactive books are some of our family’s essential travel items on any trip. We use them in the car, on the plane, at a restaurant, or at a hotel. The best books for traveling are the ones that can be used over and over again by your child independently. 

Mess-Free Coloring Books

Clean is always best when you are on-the-go, so mess-free books make the best traveling books. 

Usborne’s Wipe-Clean books are my toddler’s absolute favorites! Once your child has done all the activities, simply wipe off the dry erase marker on each page and start over again. 

Water Wow books also offer mess-free fun with just a little water in the brush. Kids watch the picture come to life as the water brush reveals colors and hidden figures.

Interactive Books 

The best books to read while traveling for kids are interactive ones that keep them interested for long periods of time. 

Babies will enjoy Indestructible books that they can play, twist, chew, and pull on without causing any damage. Plus the skinny lightweight style makes them easy to tuck in your diaper bag. 

Older babies and toddlers will think an Usborne Lift-the-flap book is the best book for traveling. You can read them to your child, or let your child “read” and discover what’s under each flap on their own. 

Austin spent an hour reading just ONE of these books on a recent flight. Lift-the-flap Colors, Numbers, and Opposites are a few of our favorites. 

Sticker Books

Sticker books are some of the best products for travel with a wide variety for all ages. Find imaginative reusable sticker pads where kids place stickers on a backdrop scene. Or get books that practice skills like matching, shape recognition, and even addition. 

All of these books for traveling make the best gifts for someone traveling with kids! Get a couple for your child and bless the socks off your fellow travel mom with one or two for their little ones.


Food + Drink

23. Water Bottle

Hydration is extremely important while traveling! One of the best travel products to have with you at all times is a water bottle. 

Hydro Flask water bottles for kids and adults are our favorite. They keep hot things hot, cold things cold, and they withstand bumps and drops like a champ. 

Make a Hydro Flask water bottle one of your essential travel items, and you won’t be disappointed.

24. Bib

When you are traveling on the plane, in the car, on a bus, on a train, in a stroller, and everywhere in between, this bib will save your life! 

The pocket catches any crumbs that fall. Plus the pocket functions as an on-the-go snack bowl--hands-free eating at its best! 

When your child is all done eating, the top rolls up into the pouch for easy compact storage. It’s the best bib for eating on the go! 

25. Snacks

Packing the best toddler snacks for traveling can save your life. Toddlers (and all humans for that matter) love snacks! 

Focus on minimal mess foods like nuts, turkey sticks, Larabars, etc. Thrive Market has some of the best snacks for traveling. There are tons of healthy snack options and many come in travel-size packaging ready to toss in your bag. 

Don’t let your family get hangry! Order some Thrive Market snacks a week before your next trip, and you’ll be loaded up with the best food for traveling around your state or across the globe.


Our Family's Top 5 Best Items for Traveling

These five products go with us on every trip we take--no exceptions. Whether we are traveling by car, plane, or train, these are the absolute best items for traveling that we can’t live without. They are Worth (bringing on) Every Trip!

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