Top travel gear for families

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While there is no mysterious gadget that makes traveling with children a breeze, there are items that can make the journey more manageable and safer. TPG previously covered the top items to bring in your carry-on for young children here and addressed in-flight seat extenders here. This article covers how to move your children and their things around hassle-free while you travel.

(Photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen / The Points Guy)
Bringing my Babyzen YOYO onboard Ryanair. (Photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen/The Points Guy)

Strollers and carriers

The top accessory for young children is a way to comfortably hold them during long immigration lines, through the airport and essentially any time you want to give your arms or shoulders a break. Whether a foldable stroller, such as the Babyzen YOYO, a ride-on suitcase such as the JetKids BedBox or a carrier like the Ergo 360, you will want a way to get them around.

Some airports, such as Gatwick, offer free strollers when you land, but you never know where they will be available. For tiny children, a carrier or click-in car seat or stroller (see below) is usually best.

We tend to use the ride-on JetKids BedBox bag because it solves having a double stroller and can be used as a seat extender. If you don’t want a dedicated ride-on bag for your child because it is not the most efficient use of a carry-on, Micro Scooters now make a carry-on that can hold a child from age 18 months up to a child that weighs 44 lbs. (approximately age 5 depending on the weight of the child).

photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen/The Points Guy
Pulling my 3-year-old on a JetKids BedBox. (Photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen/The Points Guy)

Children’s luggage

Children love having some control over their own items. From small backpacks to child-sized suitcases, they can carry a few things themselves from age 2, depending on the child. The key ingredients for children’s luggage are that it be durable, OK with spills and that you’re prepared to carry and look after it when they get tired. We use small Fjällraven backpacks that were a gift from family. We find it the size perfect for small backs because it can’t be overloaded and fits a few toys and tech.

(Photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen/The Points Guy)
My then 3-year-old wearing his backpack across the tarmac. (Photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen/The Points Guy)

If you have the patience to wait for your child moving through an airport, children aged 4 and up can handle their own carry-on from brands such as Away. If you have two children, ideally wait until the youngest can also manage his or her child suitcase, or else fights over the suitcase may ensue.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
TPG Mommy Point’s youngest daughter with an Away kids’ carry-on. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

You will want to put your children’s luggage on a credit card with purchase protection to ensure it can stand up to your child’s wear and tear.

Car seats and booster seats

Car seats

When traveling with an infant, we brought an infant seat similar to a Maxi-Cosi Pebble but many TPG parents swear by the Doona car seat and travel stroller in one. Infant car seats like the Maxi-Cosi Pebble or Doona are suitable for children from newborns up to kids that weigh 28 lbs.

Fresh air naps for two baby cousins (Photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen)
We brought the “bucket seat” style car seats on our travels with tiny ones that could click into a pram. (Photo by Kathleen Porter Kristiansen/The Points Guy)

Fellow travel parents told me about their pleasant experience with the Urban Kanga travel car seat that suits children from 20 to 40 lbs. in weight. It weighs just 7 lbs. and comes with a carry bag. Previously for parents who travel, this size was the most difficult because there were not many products for children between 20 lbs. in weight and the booster seat size. Luckily, the Urban Kanga now fits in that gap.

diamond medallion sky club baby car seat doona lga
The Doona infant car seat folded up. (Photo by Darren Murph/The Points Guy)

Booster seats

Our family used the mifold grab-and-go booster seat while traveling in Asia where booster seats are hard to come by. The grab-and-go is for children aged 4 and up, between 33 to 79 lbs., and up to 59 inches in height. It is so compact that we left it somewhere in our travels. We have also used the blowup booster seat called BubbleBum that serves a similar lightweight travel option and is a great option to have tucked away. For parents used to a high-back booster seat, the mifold and Bubblebum will feel flimsy, although they are certified and compliant. 

The brand mifold is soon releasing a new product called the hifold, which addresses some of the concerns that parents had around the original mifold’s slim design. It still folds up but is a full-sized booster seat rather than one that can fit in your handbag. The hifold is designed for children aged 4 to 12, weighing between 33 and 99 lbs. and up to 59 inches in height and is currently available for pre-order. 

(Photo courtesy of MiFold UK)
The new foldable hifold travel booster seat. (Photo courtesy of mifold U.K.)

Bottom line

While you may not need car seats to get around, you will typically need travel strollers, carriers, car seats, child luggage and booster seats when taking your little ones abroad. It’s a good idea to test all products before your first trip together so you aren’t faced with its instructions for the first time after a long travel day. Remember to check the regulations where you are visiting, as safety standards can differ for car seats.

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