When you search the internet you will find tons of kids travel accessories. From brightly colored suitcases and lightweight travel strollers to kids travel pillows and kids sunglasses. One even more expensive than the other. But we travel with a toddler who can’t carry his own luggage yet, got our stroller second hand, don’t need a travel pillow because he sleeps everywhere anyway and we’ve hardly used his sunglasses. So which travel accessories did we find useful on our big trip?
Let’s start by saying that obviously your list with most used travel accessories changes with the age of your child. Ours was 1,5 when we left and almost 2,5 when we returned. I’m sure we’ll need different travel gear as he grows older, but this top 5 is what we used during our 10-month trip across South East Asia.
How to save money on kids travel accessories
Let me give you a tip that saved us a lot of money. Travel accessories, and especially travel products for kids, are expensive. But, they are also super durable so they can easily go two or more rounds. As parents, we know all things designed for kids always cost more right? So I’m sure a lot of parents, us included, already buy a lot of second-hand stuff for their little ones, from toys and books to clothes. But you might not think about it for travel accessories. We did and bought most of our kids travel accessories from eBay and other online marketplaces, often saving us at least 50% on the retail price. Call us crazy, but we’d rather spend our money on traveling 😉
So which travel accessories for kids made it to our top 5?
1. Nomad kids travel bed
One of our most used travel accessories has to be the Nomad travel tent. We bought it second hand as with most of the kids travel gear we bought specifically for our big adventure we were not sure if we would use a travel bed much. We had no experience in traveling around with our little one and online reviews from other parents showed mixed experiences. But we thought we’d bring one just in case. And we used it A LOT. The obvious choices are either the Deryan Travel Cot or the Nomad Kids Travel Bed. We opted for the Nomad because pictures showed it standing on legs and we mistakenly thought that meant he could sleep off the ground. Turns out it doesn’t but we were still happy with our choice as it’s quite a bit lighter than the Deryan and it’s really sturdy. Like I said we bought it second hand and even though it’s been all over Asia and isn’t as shiny as it used to be, it can still easily go another round. I firmly believe that having his own travel bed and therefore a ‘safe’ place to sleep that was constantly the same, even though the environment changed, has made a huge difference for our little world traveler.
2. Manduca babycarrier
Number two on this list is our Manduca baby carrier. I can’t believe how often we’ve used it, when at first we didn’t even think to bring it. We hardly went anywhere without it! We put him in the carrier whenever he got tired or whenever it got too crowded, and we felt it would be safer for him to be on my back. I carried him on long walks, but also in the metro, while getting on and off planes or boats, when we were at crowded markets and… on motorbikes. Read all about it in our review of the Manduca baby carrier.
3. Totseat foldable travel high chair
The Totseat is a clever fabric construction that turns any seat into a child’s seat. It folds into a small package that you can easily carry in your backpack. So it’s ideal for traveling! Not many restaurants in Asia have high chairs for kids. And since our little one was very active, having the Totseat was invaluable if we wanted him to eat during dinner. I accidentally came across the Totseat while searching online and bought it second hand. Check out our review of the Totseat. By now the colors are a bit faded but the material used is still really strong. Hopefully, we can pass it on to another family traveling on a budget.
4. Diaper pouch
I’ve never seen this appear in a list of kids travel products, but it’s just so practical it had to be in our list. Might be that everyone assumes all parents of diaper wearing kids will simply have one, but I know lots of people who don’t so I’m putting it on the list just in case. We brought a really cheap plastic diaper pouch (I think it cost me €2,-) and it’s falling apart by now, but we’ve literally used it every day on our trip. Everybody who travels knows how important it is to keep your stuff organized, well… the same goes for your diapers! This way we were never without diapers and baby wipes because we always made sure the pouch was restocked. Since it was a really ugly checkered red color it was easy to spot and difficult to forget. If we’re doing a long trip again before our little one is potty trained, I think I will make one out of fabric. It might get dirty more easily, but it will be more durable too. I’ve since come across these diaper bag backpacks which look great to keep your stuff organized too.
5. Reusable plastic straw
Like the pouch, this may be incredibly obvious, but we wanted to make a complete list of items we used most for Jace, so here it is. Initially, our little one drank from a reusable BPA-free water bottle with a flip straw, but even though we brought two, somehow during our 10 months on the road we managed to lose both. Luckily we also brought a few reusable plastic straws and we always carried one in our daypack. I would recommend everyone who travels with a young child to take a few as soon as they can drink from a straw. It makes life so much easier and less messy! With the straw, our little world traveler could drink from any bottle or cup spill free. We didn’t buy a special kids bottle for him again after we lost the first two. We just bought a regular BPA free bottle and cut the straw to fit. We also used it when we ordered fresh juice on the street. This way we also didn’t use so many regular straws, which was a big plus.
Not on the list but worth mentioning
Child’s car seat
After some debate, we decided not to bring a car seat. There are some travel choices like the Bubblegum inflatable booster seat or the Trunki Boostapak, but none that were suitable for our 1,5 year old. And since we were planning to travel around a lot we didn’t want to bring a bulky car seat. To be honest, we traveled by car much more than I would have thought, from taxi’s to private transport and it would have been much safer to have a car seat. But we had so much luggage already and unless it would have been an inflatable one, it would have been almost impossible carrying it around everywhere. Now that we’re back I’m reading about Volvo creating an inflatable car seat concept, which looks great. I don’t think it’s for sale though and I wonder if it would have been suitable for a 1,5-year-old. Of course we were very fortunate not to be in any accidents.
While we didn’t take a car seat, we did buy a child’s motorbike helmet at the beginning of our time in Asia. We bought it at Hardy’s in Sanur, Bali. It felt a lot safer to have a helmet for our little one and most places where we rented a motorbike didn’t have any child’s sized helmets. So we were always happy we brought our own. Of course, we knew from our time in Bali that Jace liked being on a motorbike and the two of us love it as well. So we figured we would be driving a motorbike fairly often (and we did, in every Asian country we visited). Of course, it only makes sense to carry a helmet around if you’re somewhere where it’s easy to rent a bike and your little one is allowed to be a passenger on a motorbike without all kinds of difficult safety regulations.
There are numerous expensive lightweight travel strollers for sale, but we decided to take a cheap second hand Chico umbrella stroller that we could leave behind if it turned out we didn’t use it. We bought it via an online marketplace for €5. We hauled it around all of Asia, but only used it in the big cities and in the airport. Looking back we could have done without it, although especially in airports it did make our lives a lot easier. But the carrier might have done the trick too. So the stroller didn’t make it to the list of our most used kids travel gear.
Small and lightweight toys
Everywhere we went we always carried around a few of the small metal toy cars. Especially in restaurants they worked very well to keep him occupied until dinner arrived. Children are happy to play with anything, from paper napkins (tip: learn how to fold a few origami animals! :-)) to table mats, but somehow toys hold an extra appeal. At least for our little one. Of course, if the toys failed there was always the iPhone…
So this is our list of the travel accessories that we’ve used most for our toddler. What travel gadgets do you take for your little ones?