19 Products That Will Make Traveling With Kids Easier
Alone in the darkness, we waited for a shuttle to the car rental center that never came. By the time I realized that everything had closed and my plan to drive four hours to the reservation was not going to happen, my cell phone died. As a travel writer, gear tester, and mother of four, high-quality, smart products have come to my rescue more than once.
That night, it was my Raden suitcase, with two charging ports, that powered my cell phone so I could book a hotel and call a cab. Here’s the latest in well-designed, ingenious gear that my entire family, which includes four kids under 11, have put to the test.
4mom Moxi Stroller
Ever wondered how much of a work out you’re getting while pushing a baby around all day? 4mom’s innovative Moxi stroller reimagines this parenting necessity. The wheels generate power for a USB port, while a LCD screen tells you the time and tracks distance traveled, speed, and temperature. And the accompanying app tracks how many calories you’ve burned.
To buy: amazon.com, $700
Beats by Dre Solo3 Wireless
The on-ear Solo3 Wireless headphones have 40 hours of battery life, while the new in-ear BeatsX can play music for eight hours. I love the flexibility of being able to move from my kitchen to my office to my kids’ playroom without ever taking off my headphones. A five-minute charge juices up three hours for Solo3 and two hours for BeatsX. Need something that can handle any situation? Try the on-ear Beats EP, which has stainless-steel reinforcement and has survived all my kids’ rough handling, including baby teething.
To buy: apple.com, $300
Allergy Translation Card
My three-year-old has six allergies. I’m usually already at the airport when I realize I need to figure out how to ask restaurants in a foreign country what she can eat. Fortunately, Allergy Translation founder Kyle Dine has a solution: instant downloadable cards for 200 allergens in more than 43 languages, which you can print or store on your mobile device.
To buy: allergytranslation.com, $8
Diono Radian rXT
My infant, toddler, and grade-school children fall asleep on the road because the Diono car seats are so cushy, you’d never know it has a steel alloy frame and aluminum reinforced side walls. The Radian rXT can accommodate all four of my kids, thanks to its multiple modes. When the chair is rear-facing, it can support a child up to 45 pounds. When the chair is forward-facing with a harness, it can support up to 80 pounds. And finally, there’s the booster mode, for children weighing up to 120 pounds. Best of all, it folds flat, packs into a carrying case, and fits three across in most mid-size vehicles and on airline seats too.
To buy: kohls.com, $300
Mifold Grab-and-go Booster Car Seat
Hoka One One Challenger ATR3 Sneakers
When I was pregnant, I could only wear Hoka One One shoes. But now that I’m not, the new Challenger ATR3 is still the most versatile, cushioned shoe I own, with features like a new 3D Puff Print frame on the upper and four-millimeter lugs for traction and grip on any terrain: gravel, puddles, trails, or roads.
To buy: zappos.com, $130
Bogs Classic Scale Kids' Boots
I buy Bogs Classic Scales for my oldest, which serves as both her rain and winter boot, then pass it on to my other kids when she outgrows them. When they’re late to catch the bus, this is the shoe my kids pull on by the handles. It is 100 percent waterproof and keeps their feet fresh and warm.
Glerups Unisex Slippers
Parents and kids love these moisture-wicking, easy-to-wash slippers. Glerups is introducing a slip-resistant, natural rubber sole in August, which will provide traction for activities like walking to and from a hot tub or pool. They will also expand their kids’ collection in September.
To buy: amazon.com, from $95
Guaranteed for life, Icebreaker’s merino wool enhances muscular performance and recovery while regulating temperature (heat retention and heat dumping) and breathability. True to its design principles of simplicity, longevity, versatility, and purpose, these socks have passed from kid to kid and remain stink- and itch-free.
To buy: zappos.com, $14
Light & Motion Solite 250 EX
My kids nickname this versatile lighting system the “transformer.” It’s a headlamp, but can also be mounted on a bike or helmet, used as a flashlight, or set on a flat surface. It can run as long as 30 hours (or 4 hours at its brightest setting) and be charged using solar, 12-volt car adapters, or backup power supplies.
To buy: amazon.com, $170
MiiR Food Canister
This canister keeps food cold or hot longer than any other product I tested. The medical-grade stainless steel does not transfer flavors, which has survived (when other canisters have not) food decaying inside the canister because the kids left it in their lunch box over the weekend.
To buy: miir.com, $35
Snow Peak 350 Kanpai Bottle
Nikwax Cleaning Products
Parents at the bus stop often wonder why my kids aren’t miserable in awful weather. My answer: Nikwax and their 40 years of innovation. Conventional laundry detergent compromises the water repellency and breathability of your gear, so we use the Tech Wash because it removes anything (dirt, oil, campfire smoke, detergent residues) that attracts water. Basewash deodorizes our next-to-skin long underwear and wicking layers while enhancing the fabric’s ability to dry, control moisture, and regulate body temperature. It’s well-worth the investment to protect expensive gear — a single waterproof jacket has now been passed down through my four kids.
To buy: backcountry.com, $10 each
The North Face Hyper Kazoo
The North Face’s new sleeping bag features a new technique of constructing baffles, which trap down feathers in chambers so it doesn’t shift. Because it uses a single piece of fabric and no seams, heat doesn’t escape, making these sleeping bags stronger, more efficient, and lighter.
To buy: backcountry.com, from $359
Osprey’s POCO AG Plus Child Carrier
My husband and I are gear freaks because we love understanding the science and technology that develops performance materials in outdoor gear and activewear. Osprey Packs has used anti-gravity technology to develop a child carrier that allows you to move as if you don’t have a pack on. A seamless, suspended mesh maps to your body and ventilates. The aluminum frame and hip belt disperses the weight and balances the load. The pack easily adjusts between my husband and I while we’re traveling and the adjustable rapid deploy sunshade and raincover protects a napping toddler.
To buy: ebags.com, $290
Patagonia Lightweight Black Hole Duffel 30L
This 30-liter Patagonia bag only weighs 16 ounces. We always pack it compressed inside its own pocket in case we need an extra bag to take home souvenirs. My youngest can't crawl yet, but she's been practicing standing on her two feet against this bag. The bomber nylon ripstop fabric makes the bag especially resistant to weather, abuse, and baby slobber.
To buy: amazon.com, $109
Designed aerodynamically to match luxury sports cars, Yakima’s new cargo box is sleek and easy to install, load, and unload on top of your car. The quick-release mounting and oversized push button latch on both sides of the box made it easy for me to load four snowboards in my Showcase and take the kids snowboarding on my own.
To buy: amazon.com, $679
Yeti Tundra 105
Tired of cheap coolers that don’t keep your stuff cold enough or lids that cave in? Yeti’s founders pride themselves on product innovation that comes from firsthand experience rather than market research. My husband loves that this cooler is impact resistant and indestructible and great for tailgating. You’ll also want their accessories, like the Yeti Ice that really does stay cold longer and freeze faster.
To buy: amazon.com, $480
Raden A22 Carry
Back to the Albuquerque airport: while I charged my phone with my Raden and my hands were occupied with finding us a hotel that night, my baby rolled it for me on its four double-spinning Japanese wheel bases and polyurethane tires. Some of my other favorite features include the removable battery, which charges a mobile phone up to four times, and the companion app with current weather conditions, traffic alerts, suitcase proximity, and flight details. There’s a 10,000-deep waitlist for some colors, like light pink.