So, we’re ahead a bit ahead this year which is well,… atypical for our crew, BUT we are going to embrace it by publishing this year’s holiday gift guide! Last year, Dom and I decided to put out a guide for holiday shoppers (albeit it was a smidge last minute) and it was well-received (check it out here). So, this year we figured we would go ahead and put another post together filled with helpful ideas for our adventure-loving travel friends! We try to emphasize items that actually make travel with kids easier and/or items that we keep coming back to over and over again because they are genuinely useful. Not everything is terribly expensive, but we promise every single one of these items has been battle tested and survived with flying colors.
If you are interested in getting any of these items for YOUR friends or family, we would really appreciate if you use our links to click through. We are an Amazon affiliate and although it won’t cost you anything, your support will help us continue working on Nowboardingwithkids. Thanks!
Enter, 2019 Holiday Gift Giving Guide!
After pursing the list below, if you aren’t keen on any of the ideas we encourage you to check out our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide for more merry goodness!
Like last year, we continue to emphasize experiences over physical gifts, however, it’s impossible not to recognize that sometimes physical items make travel easier. We won’t drag on about this topic, but if you’re thinking about putting more time and energy into an experiential gift and just purchasing a little something to open under this year’s tree, well, we get it. To read more about our thoughts on this topic check out our blog post,”Why Experiences Are The Best Gifts.”
So, full disclosure, these little beauties made the list last year, too! When you are packing multiple people into one suitcase, these are essential in keeping things somewhat organized when on the road. Whether it’s a quick weekend trip or a 2-week extravaganza, these are an essential piece of our travel kit. We figure not everyone is going to check out our 2018 Holiday Gift Guide, so we better include them on this year’s list! Yup, they’re that good.
One of the keys to enjoyable travel as a family is packing light! We try to do most trips with two backpacks and two rolling suitcases (Briggs and Riley bags for most locations, or Osprey rolling duffles for more off-the beaten-path destinations. We made the switch to Osprey duffles after our trip to Cambodia – photo below.). This might change as our kids get older and are better able to carry their own stuff, but for now that means that multiple people need to be packed into one suitcase…behold the genius of packing cubes.
What’s to love? 1. They let us stay organized and easily locate items in suitcases that may have clothes for a 3 or a 35 year old in the same space. 2. They’re light, 3. There are a million styles to choose from. Many companies make them (the ones pictured we got for free with a suitcase purchase from eBags), but Amazon Basics make some solid bags for a very reasonable price. How the heck we ever travelled without them we have no idea??!!
Buy them here.
When it comes to most of our city travel we lean towards our Briggs Riley rolling suitcases (hello, lifetime guarantee!), however, not every destination is made for soft-sided bags with tiny wheels. For example, the muddy streets of Sapa, Vietnam, an overnight train through southeast Asia, or the cluttered, broken sidewalks of Kathmandu, Nepal. These destinations would have been difficult to navigate with kids AND “city bags”, so we made the decision to spring for some Osprey rolling duffels this year and well, we haven’t looked back. Yup, they’re that good.
To be honest, Britt didn’t quite see the need when we first ordered them as she thought it would just be one. more. thing. to store and we try to lead a somewhat minimalist lifestyle. However, I think it’s safe to say she is a convert. They have bigger wheels and a higher chassis that makes rolling over uneasy terrain much easier. Additionally, they have tons of handles and holds that are great when loading the bag onto vehicle roof racks or when carrying it over your head through the surf to shore (both actual examples from last year).
Get yours here.
We still have a long awaited post coming regarding some of our camera gear/setup, but the Peak Design Travel Bag is the cornerstone of it all. Yes, it’s fairly large, but it allows us to carry camera gear, jackets for all of us, bib/diapers, spare batteries, snacks, and pretty much anything else we need while on the go in one fairly good looking package. The straps fold away to make more of a duffel bag provide if you are stashing it in an overhead bin, and there are multiple ways to increase or decrease the inner volume depending on how much you need to carry.
With kids in tow, the theory of one bag travel is very much a dream. However, if you are like us and use a rolling bag for your clothes, Peak is a camera bag company at heart and has some really nice customizable inserts to safely hold all of your expensive camera gear.
We won’t go into too much detail, as there are literally hour long reviews of this bag online, but if you are looking for an excellent do-it-all bag which is very customizable, this is it. As a bonus, Peak Design is a U.S. company that goes above and beyond in ensuring sustainability and is a leader in carbon neutral companies.
Buy yours here.
Dishwasher safe, BPA free and made of durable stainless steel. Virtually indestructible. Haha! In all seriousness though we have a bit of a tough time getting our kids to drink enough water throughout the day. So having something fun, that is all theirs, in their fav color, that keeps cold for a long time is really useful. We are big fans of the spout as well as can honestly say no leaks to-date!
Without fail, the moment you get in that security line or get buckled into that plane seat someone is about to die of thirst and needs water immediately. Having dedicated bottles for the kids has proven extremely useful in stopping meltdowns and generally improving morale on trips both short + long. Sure they’re slightly more expensive than the Thermos containers we had been using, but they are bombproof. Both the vessel itself as well as the plastic flip top are extremely well built. Our only complaint? With only a 12 oz. capacity, they do need fairly frequent refills.
Get yours here.
The Deuter Kids Carrier is yet another example of something we bought and prayed that we would eventually use enough to justify the expense. We actually splurged for the carrier when Miles was 2 years old so that our family of three at the time could hike Mt. Washington in beautiful New Hampshire! Flash forward 4 years and this carrier has been hiking all over New England, to the Macy*s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, hiking all over Japan, trekking in the rice terraces of Northern Vietnam, multi-day trekking in Nepal…the list goes on.
Both of our kids love(d) it for: 1. The additional space that it affords them when we travel, 2. The comfortable built-in pillow, 3. The great sun-shade that is easily stored when not in use, 4. The extra-storage and water bottle holders. Overall, us parents have found the carrier comfortable. SO comfortable in fact that for our Nepal multi-day trek Britt carried all the essentials for our family of four on her back and Dom carried Penelope and all the rain gear in the Deuter Carrier! Yup, you read that right, a family 4-day trek in the Annapurna Conservation area completely self-supported! *Full write up coming sometime in the next are months!
Buy yours here.
Yes, it’s another baby carrier. However, this soft carrier has been one of our most used kid items for years now. Unlike the Deuter carrier above, this doesn’t have a solid frame and therefore is much easier to pack down. Even though it’s not as comfortable for long distances or nearly as secure for serious hikes, the convenience of having it nearly always available is huge. It allows us to move faster and keep two hands-free when moving through the airport switching between modes of transportation.
***Slipping into work mode here for a second*** Another reason we really like the Tula carriers is that they offer a hip friendly design. Baby’s hips like to be in flexion, abduction, and external rotation for proper development of the femoral head and acetabulum (the ball and socket of the hip). Whether you go for a Tula carrier or not, make sure your carrier doesn’t keep your child’s hips extended or internally rotated.
Buy yours here.
These aren’t as expensive as similar Patagonia branded jackets, but oh. my. gosh. we have used them WAY more than we initially thought we would. We bought these beauties on discount before our trip to Nepal, but they have turned into our go to jackets even for chilly Southern California nights.
They collapse down into one of the front pockets making them easy to stow away and are EXTREMELY warm for being so light. The hood is also perfect, as it zips high and has several adjustable pulls to keep that cold wind off your head and neck. The jacket works equally well inside that freezing airplane cabin at 30,000 feet as it does trekking in Nepal or inside a tent camping at Joshua Tree National Park. You won’t be disappointed.
Buy them here.
Keens are another purchase that we somewhat “splurged” for before our trip to Cambodia and hoped we would get a bit more use out of them before the kids got too big. The expense was worth it 100x over. We bought them a little big and because of it these shoes have found their way to Cambodia, Vietnam x2, Nepal, Maine, and all over Southern California. They are great for beach days, hiking days, regular we-don’t-know-what-adventures-the-day-holds days…yup, basically #allthedays.
We like these enough that we dedicated an entire review to them! Check out our full-review for more details. Stay tuned for more reviews as we continue to try and get that section of the blog off the ground.
Get yours here.
High capacity, easy to carry, virtually leak proof, and ridiculously durable. Essentially, they’re kid-proof. Oh and they’re BPA free, come with a lifetime guarantee (if you can somehow figure a way to break yours), inexpensive and made in the good ‘ol U.S. of A. We prefer the widemouth simply for the fact that its easier to fill and makes putting in large ice-cubes a breeze.
We bought ours before our trip to Nepal and used them in tandem with tap water and chlorine drops in order to purify the water and make it safe for drinking. This saved us $$ in bottled water and was a much more environmentally friendly option. As a plus, they are also way lighter and way more dent proof than many other metal based options.
Buy yours here.
Car seats are one of the biggest pains about air travel in the United States, yes? Keeping track of regular bags and your screaming (i.e. lovely) children is enough, but then thrown in huge car seats and suddenly things start to get a little overwhelming. With really little kids, unfortunately, there really isn’t another option except to spend the money to rent a car seat at your destination.
Fortunately, as your kids graduate into booster seats you suddenly have better options! Enter the Mi Fold Travel seat. This thing folds down to a size which easily fits in a regular bag but still positions the chest and waist straps in a position that is safe for your kids. No, it’s not as good as a real booster seat, but for quick trips we’ve found it extremely useful.
Buy yours here.
So the American Academy of Pediatrics most recent recommendations are fairly limiting for screen time. There have been numerous studies that link excessive time in front of a screen to slowed or reduced cognitive development in kids. We do everything we can to minimize the amount of time our kids spend with electronic devices. However, the reality of modern day parenting is that phones and/or tablets are incredibly powerful and useful devices to help both kids and parents get through big trips.
We went through a few different headphones for our kids to use on flights or long car trips, and settled on the Puro Junior Jams for several different reasons: they fit the kids well, limit the maximum volume allowed, are bluetooth (so no worries about yet another tangled wire), and had an option to connect two pairs to allow both kids to watch a movie together. Overall, we haven’t been disappointed.
Buy yours here.
We try to be a pretty minimalistic family and that includes kids’ stuff, too. So when we decided to get Miles a night light we knew we wanted it to pull double-duty. Before big trips we talk fairly extensively about where we are and then where we’re flying to next. Going through this night after night has spurred lots of conversations over: what ocean is this? How long is the flight? What areas are we traveling to once inside country? It seems like a little thing, but this light has helped give Miles an even better grasp of were we are and where we are going than any other method.
The one we ended up picking was quite a bit more expensive than some of the other options, but it was the only one with a somewhat understated style that was also dimmable. Miles uses it as his main nightlight and it is really nice to be able to dim it down to a soft glow at night or dial it up to full brightness when we are reading bedtime stories. In short, we think it was worth the extra cost.
Buy yours here.
Full disclosure we act as an affiliate for sites such as amazon.com, so clicking through and purchasing products via our links does make us a little money and allows us to continue to put out (hopefully) useful content.