10 Things That Will Make Your Family Trip Easier
On our last trip to London and Spain—two countries, four flights, a road trip, and four hotels or Airbnbs—I survived.
I also road-tested products big and small. Here were my favorites.
I’m Momming it, hard, with this list of suitcase staples, which is dominated by products that help you feed, clean, and stay comfortable on the road. It’s a far cry from my pre-parent packing lists, blissfully filled with bikinis and beach reads, but these items do make traveling with kids easier. And since they’re space savers, you’ll have room in your suitcase for at least one pair of date night-worthy heels.
Lots of hotels and vacation rentals have pack n’ plays or travel cribs. High chairs? Not so much. For babies and tots that can sit up (typically six months or older), this cloth high chair, which secures to any seat with a back, has a five-point harness system and washable fabric. Best of all, it comes in a bag that’s about the size of an iPhone.
2. Wash. It. Later. Bags
Blowouts. Beet puree. Grapes, harvested at sunset, on a Spanish vineyard.
Some stains are more glamorous than others, but they are all irritating, especially when your family wardrobe is limited to the dimensions of a suitcase. Enter the Wash. It. Later. bag: Stained clothes and H20 go into the bag, which has a non-scented, water soluble detergent pod. The bag seals—really well, in fact—the soap dissolves, and the stains don’t set. Bonus: Pulling one of these babies out in public makes you feel like the most put-together parent in the world.
I could write poetry to this stroller, which I have now stored in an airplane’s overhead compartment, breezed through narrow Tube turnstiles, and navigated along rocky paths en route to a harvest party. You can buy it directly from the company, or on Amazon here.
Looking for a less expensive option? The Gb Pockit is my second choice. It’s not quite as sturdy, it doesn’t recline, and it has limited sun protection, but it’s less expensive, weighs less, and fits under an airplane seat.
4. Boogie Wipes
Nothing says “Hi! I’m a mom!” like pulling these tissues out of your carry-on, but I will rave about them all day long. They’re soft and made with a saline solution, so they actually help relieve stuffed noses. As a side note, I first came across these last year among the Starbursts and Snickers in Thomas’s Halloween goodie bag, evidence that genius parents walk among us.
When I dream about living in Europe, a few things come to mind: Great cheese. Fresh bread. Pedestrian friendly streets. The only nightmare? Their terrible, terrible dryers. Even when you rent a place with a washing machine—which I highly recommend doing when traveling with kids—you can’t count on their dryers. My friend and family traveler extraordinaire Jenny Sanders brought a great solution to Spain: A suitcase-friendly clothes line. After throwing her baby clothes in the washer, she could string them in the Spanish heat and voila!, the clothes were dry and sun kissed.
6. Bottle Cleaners
Cleaning out baby bottles on the airplane—where the bathroom tap water is non potable—will make you question why you decided to become a mother. While I always bring a travel-sized bottle of dish soap, these bottle-cleaning wipes, along with a swish of water, are a great dry solution. They make the process much less tedious, and can also be used for passies and teethers. Dr. Brown’s also makes this version.
7. The Best Travel Car Seat (this year at least)
My friend and transportation guru Meg Merritt lent us the ImmiGo, a car seat that folds up into the size of a picnic basket, which she first spotted in Ubers across the country. You can check it or store it in the overhead compartment on an airplane, and it’s easy to install. Come January 2019, though, my allegiances will likely change to the Pico by WAYB, a company that includes the former CEO of Patagonia among its founders. It folds up, it’s sturdy and streamlined, and it only weighs eight pounds. If you’re interested in a pre-purchase, you can get 40% off by contributing to the seat’s Indiegogo campaign using my link here.
Sanders also packed another product that was new to me: Washing machine sheets, which replace powder or liquid laundry detergent. Don’t have a washing machine in your hotel room or vacation rental? It will also dissolve in a bucket of water for a solid hand wash.
9. A Tide Stick
These things actually work. They clean up airplane meals’ squirty salad dressing. They dominate that’s-not-a-Kleenex-that’s-my-shirt mishaps. They’re even up for an unfortunate spoonful of gazpacho nestled in the folds of a smocked dress.
This inflatable travel pillow is a great find for economy seats. You blow it up using the overhead air conditioner (yes, it’s a slightly embarrassing mom move, though not as bad as this chick), and squeeze it between your seat and the one in front of you to create a tot-sized bed. It did not work well, however, for us in the bulkhead row. There was too much space for the pillow to stay steady. Next time I’m in Australia, I plan to pick up the larger and well-designed Kooshy Kid’s version instead.
Please note: While I’ve hand picked and road tested every item I’ve reviewed here, this story contains affiliate links, meaning I might earn a commission if you click on some of these links and end up making a purchase. Affiliate programs help support Half Pint Travel, and for your support, I thank you! Happy Tripping.