The Ultimate Family Travel Gear Roundup

Find the best travel gear for families

Planning for family travel can sometimes feel overwhelming. From booking the destinations, planning the trip, booking excursions, planning meals or restaurants, packing and more. We go through these steps many, many times a year as we prepare for our family trips locally and around the world. I’ve written this post to help take some of the stress out of your planning by helping sort out what the best family travel gear is that you need to take on your next trip. So whether you are looking for gear for yourself, or looking for great gifts for travelers, look no further!

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The Best Family Travel Gear

We aren’t into gimmicks and latest trends here at Wandering Wagars. We focus on practicality and what will help give you the best family travel experience. Whether you’re traveling near or far these are the items we recommend when taking a family trip.

Packing

Best Travel Luggage for Check-In

The key to picking the best travel luggage for check-in is finding the right combination of practicality, weight, and convenience. A good suitcase for international travel or road trips will help keep your clothes and family travel gear organized while standing up to the bruising that road trips or airport crews will dish out.

Rollers vs. Spinners

Check-in luggage wheels can be divided into two sets of two categories, Rollers (travel luggage with two wheels) and Spinners (travel luggage with 4 wheels). Rollers tend to be lighter and have slightly recessed wheels that make packing the bag into the car more convenient. Spinners have 4 wheels that all move independently so they can spin (hence the name). They are more convenient for moving around, and you don’t have to hold the weight of the luggage while you’re traipsing through the airport. This convenience comes at the price of size, as the luggage tends to be taller.

Delsey Helium Aero 29″ Expandable SpinnerFeatures:

  • Lightweight and durable
  • Excellent maneuverability
  • Integrated TSA lock
  • Recessed handle

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Victorinox Spectra 2.0 29″ Spinner

Features:

  • 100% Bayer Polycarbonate
  • Global 10-year-limited warranty
  • 8.8 lbs

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Samsonite Centric Hardside Luggage, Blue Slate, Checked-Large

Features:

  • Polyester
  • Full interior lining
  • Padded handles

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Best Travel Luggage for Carry-On

Many frequent travelers choose to travel only with carry-on luggage. Traveling with only a carry-on removes the sometimes agonizing wait time when you’ve arrived at a destination, and it simplifies all of your luggage. But for those who travel with children, it can be tough to get all that travel gear into a small package. Nevertheless, a good carry-on is still a perfect place to store your essential travel gear when you are flying. Important items can be kept nearby for when you need them most.

Picking the best carry-on luggage for travel follows most of the same rules as full-size luggage. We look for durability, ease-of-use, comfort, and weight. Here are some of our favorite carry-on luggage for family travel.

Delsey Helium Aero Expandable Spinner

Features

  • 100% Polycarbonate
  • Expandable up to 2 inches for additional packing space
  • Large easy access front compartment with an integrated padded sleeve for a laptop

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Travelpro Maxlite 4 21″ Spinner

Features:

  • 360-degree spinners for easy movement in any direction
  • Telescoping handle adds length and strength
  • Limited lifetime warranty

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Best Kids Suitcases

When you’re traveling with a toddler or a young child it helps if they can handle some of the luggage duties themselves. It helps teach them responsibility and also takes some of the weight off of the parents. The best children’s suitcases are tough, fun, lightweight and easy to manage. A kid’s luggage set must also be affordable, as these have limited lifespans before a child outgrows them. Here are our favorite suitcases for kids.

Melissa and Doug Trunki


Parents either have a love or hate relationship with the Melissa and Doug Trunki. Personally, we love it. At 4 & 6, our boys are starting to outgrow it, but as a suitcase for toddlers, it fit all of our needs. You can read our review of it here.

Features:

  • Lightweight
  • Can be used as a ride-on with a pull-strap
  • Lots of accessories to personalize and add convenience

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Zinc Flyte Kids Luggage Scooter 18″

As you can probably tell from our previous suggestion, we love anything that will help keep our kids entertained, and more importantly, moving while we are at the airport. What better way to do that than to combine luggage and a scooter in one. Unfortunately, the Zinc Flyte luggage is only available in the US for now. We’ll update if that changes.

Features

  • Compact luggage case
  • Fold-out scooter deck

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Heys Disney Spinners

If scooter riding or pulling your kids around the airport aren’t your bag, then a good spinner is the perfect luggage for young children. Heys spinners are tried, tested, and come in a size that is perfect for young kids who travel.

Features:

  • Polycarbonate
  • Fun design
  • Lots of style options available

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Packing Cubes

Packing cubes have become an absolute lifesaver for us. Packing cubes allow travelers to keep their belongings organized. This is especially helpful if you are moving from location to location. The best packing cubes are durable and have an excellent zipper system. A good packing cube system comes in a variety of sizes to fit everything from your electronics, to clothes and more. Once you start using a packing system, you’ll never go back.

Shacke Pak – 4 Set Packing Cubes

Features:

  • Made From High-Quality Water Resistant Nylon Material to Withstand the Wear and Tear of Traveling
  • 4 Packing Cubes – Extra Large( 17.5″ x 12.75″ x 4″) Large (13.75″ x 12.75″ x 4″) Medium (13.75×9.75×4) Small (11″ x 6.75″ x 4″)
  • Laundry Bag Included to Help Separate your Dirty Clothes At The End of The Trip

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eBags Travel Organizers

Features:

  • Made of high-quality Nylon with YKK zipper
  • Mesh top panel for easy identification of contents and ventilation
  • 4 piece set fits like a glove into most airline carry-on suitcases, tote, weekender, backpacks and duffel bags
  • Laundry Bag Included to Help Separate your Dirty Clothes At The End of The Trip

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Luggage Scale

Nothing is worse than getting to the luggage drop off at the airport and finding out that your luggage is overweight. Then you are forced to do the luggage shuffle of shame, moving things back and forth between your luggage and your carry-on. Having a lightweight and accurate luggage scale is essential for frequent travelers or those who love to shop.

Tariss Jetsetter Digital Luggage Scale


Features:

  • Clear and reliable digital LCD display
  • Auto-off saves batteries
  • Lightweight and durable

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Victorinox Digital Luggage Scale

Features:

  • High quality, durable material
  • Backlight LCD
  • High precision

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Best Adult Backpacks for Travel

A good backpack can make all the difference for travelers who like to venture off-the-beaten-path. The best travel backpacks are durable, lightweight and most importantly, comfortable. While everyone’s needs for the best backpack for travel are always highly specific to the person using it, but here are our favorite travel backpacks. You can check out our ultimate daypack roundup here.

Best Kids Backpacks for Travel

One constant about kids is that they get bigger. Sometimes way faster than we want them to. To keep things easy, we’ll lay out our favorite backpack for each age group from toddler to tweens. Like backpacks for adults, the best travel backpacks for kids need to be durable, easy to manage and lightweight. For young kids, fun is a factor, but as they get older, practicality in a travel backpack becomes much more important.

Best Travel Backpack for Toddlers – Deuter Kikki 5L

The Deuter Kikki is our go-to backpack for children between two and six-years-old. It has enough packing space for all of their necessities, but not so much that it is too much for them to carry. You can read our full review of the Deuter Kikki backpack here.

Features

  • Deuter Super-Polytex BS
  • Spacious main compartment
  • Reflective detail at the front and sides

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Best Travel Backpack for Young Children- Deuter Speedlite 12L

The Deuter Speedlite backpack offers the style and convenience of an adult backpack in a size thats perfect for kids. The extra storage is good for kids that like to carry all their stuff with them, or, like our kids, pick up a lot of stuff along the way. It also includes a water reservoir so you can free your hands from water bottles. You can read our review of the Deuter Kikki children’s backpack here.

Features:

  • Front panel access to the main compartment provides an easy to pack and unpack gear
  • Front panel bungee provides extra storage for items that need to be accessible like extra layers
  • External reservoir sleeve includes a 1.5L water reservoir

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Best Travel Backpack for Pre-Teens and Tweens- Deuter Climber Kid’s Hiking Backpack

Features:

  • Comfortable soft padded back
  • New S-shaped shoulder straps with Soft-Edge edges
  • Chest strap
  • Two mesh side pockets

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Getting Around

Best Travel Car Seat

Car seats can be a challenge for many people who travel with kids. Rules and laws for car seats can change from country to country and region to region. And for some parents, it can be a shock to arrive somewhere and learn that car seats for kids just aren’t a thing there. In some countries it’s easy to rent a car seat locally, however for others, bringing a portable toddler car seat is the best option. The best travel car seats should be lightweight, portable and easy to set up. Here are our favorite travel car seats.

Best Travel Car Seat for Front and Rear Facing – Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat

The Cosco Scenera is a no-nonsense, bare-bones car-seat. While it may skip the luxury that some travel car seats offer, it makes up for it by being one of the lightest car seats for travel on the market.

Features:

  • 7.6 lbs
  • Maximum weight recommendation 40 lbs
  • Can be used front or rear-facing

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Best Travel Booster Seat – MiFold Micro Booster Seat

The MiFold compact car booster seat is a great option for families that are on the go. The compact size means the MiFold can fit easily into a small bag or purse. But the unique design approach means that they are among the highest-rated for safety. You can read our complete review of the MiFold car seat here.

Features:

  • For children ages 4 – 11
  • Rated for 40 – 100 pounds
  • Compact, foldable and portable – great for travel, car rentals, taxis, tight “3 across” fits, carpools, and caregivers.

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Best Travel Stroller

Little legs sometimes need a break, especially if kids still have a nap-time. Finding the best travel stroller can be a challenge. A good stroller for travel needs to be compact, lightweight, durable and easy to use. There are a lot of great umbrella strollers our there, but these are our favorite strollers for travel.

Uppababy G-Lite

The Uppababy G-Lite was our go-to travel stroller when our kids were younger. It is super light, very durable, and can be packed into a small area.

Features:

  • New mesh sling seat for breathability and comfort without adding weight
  • Easy-open, removable height adjustable canopy
  • Extendable SPF 50+ sunshade

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GB Pockit Stroller

If you’re looking for a travel stroller that can fit right into an overhead compartment, or under the seat in front of you, the GB Pockit Stroller is the one for you.

Features:

  • A secure, adjustable harness system
  • Strong and light – can hold a child up to 55 lbs PLUS 11 lbs of gear
  • Most compact stroller in the world.

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Best Kid Carrier

We love to get into nature and ruins. And when you travel outside of the city (and sometimes even in it, when visiting cobblestone or dirt road towns), you can quickly hit the limits of what even the best travel strollers can handle. That’s why most of our travel includes a kid carrier. The best child carriers keep children up high where they can see the world, but also keep them comfortable and secure for both the person carrying them and the child. Kid carriers should be lightweight, easy to carry, comfortable and offer room to stow your gear, as it also doubles as a backpack. You can read our review of the best child carriers for travel here.

At the Hotel

Best Baby Travel Bed

A night of great night sleep is crucial to an amazing family travel experience. Having your kids get a good night’s sleep on the road is even more important. Some locations don’t include sleeping options for young children. Whether you are booking an Airbnb or a hotel that has run out of cribs, it’s sometimes essential to bring a pack and play or travel bed with you for the little one to sleep in. The best baby travel bed needs to be lightweight and portable, comfortable and easy to set up and transport. Here are our favorite travel beds for kids. You can check out our post on the best ways to find nap time on the road here.

Shrunks Travel Bed

The Shrunks Travel Bed is a simple and effective inflatable toddler travel bed. The benefit of having an inflatable bed means less valuable storage space is required.

Features:

  • Intelligent design means no more squeaky inflatable mattress noises
  • Inflates in 30 seconds
  • Trademarked security rails

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BabyBjörn Travel Crib Light

Baby Bjorn makes another mark on our list with the Travel Crib Light. I can’t stress enough just how crazy light the best pack and play for travel is.

Features:

  • Easy to take along with you on all types of adventures – weighs only 13 lbs
  • Simple to set up and fold up with no loose parts to attach
  • Removable and washable travel crib material for easy cleaning
  • Can be used for babies and children aged 0-3 years

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Best Travel Towels

We always carry our own towels with us when we travel. Whether we plan on hitting the beach, or camping, the pool, or if it’s just a hot day. Having a travel towel is crucial for us. And it’s amazing how many times that we’ve arrived places that didn’t have towels, or the towels that they do have aren’t towels that you want to use. The best travel towel should be lightweight, quick-to-dry, big enough to be useful, but small enough that it doesn’t take much room in your bag.

Travelon Anti-Bacterial Travel Towel

Features:

  • Safe and permanent silver ion anti-bacterial treatment
  • Soft and super absorbent. Absorbs up to 3 times its weight
  • Dry quickly and is 3X lighter than a traditional towel

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Electronics

Bringing electronics for travel is impossible to escape these days. We have chosen to embrace them rather than fight them. We use electronics on the road for learning, reading, entertainment, and information. Our children are learning to use and respect everything from tablets to cameras to GPS units and more.

Headphones

A good set of headphones is so important for family travel. Whether you are watching a movie, listening to music, or audiobooks, a good set of headphones helps to give you your own piece of sanity for a short period of time. Even kids that travel need a break from the noise from time to time. And a set of kids headphones also helps to make sure that their entertainment isn’t being heard by everyone else on the plane.

Best Kids Headphones

JLab JBuddies Folding Headphones

Features:

  • Neon Pink/Jet-Black, Neon Blue/Graphite, or Black
  • Headband with Hinge Adjusts to Perfect Kid-Right Fit, Designed for Ages 2 and Older/li>
  • Folds Down to Portable 5.5- x 4-Inch Size with Pinch-Free Hinges

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Puro Sounds Volume Limited Kids’ Bluetooth Headphones

Features:

  • Healthy ears hearing protection: volume limiting ear protection (85 dba). volume limits over 85 dba are known to cause hearing loss over time
  • Puro balanced response studio-grade audio: crafted with 40 mm custom dynamic drivers, we recreate the best sound you have ever heard into a headphone experience.
  • Up to 18 hours of battery life: listen to music for hours and hours, not worrying about having to recharge. 200 hours standby means even greater convenience.

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Best Adult Headphones for Travel

I always like to travel with a great set of headphones. It helps drown out the noise on a red-eye flight and gives me a bit of sanctuary when I need a break to collect myself. Plus, I’m a bit of a music nut, so I love to carry my music around with me. A great set of travel headphones need to be compact, lightweight, durable and sound amazing.  Here are my favorite travel headphones.

Jabra Sport Pace Wireless Earbud Headphones

Features:

  • Premium wireless sound and inline buttons to control music or phone calls
  • Secure and comfortable fit with behind the ear wearing style and multiple sized ear gels
  • Built toward US Military standards for rain, sweat, shock and dust resistance (IP54 rated)
  • Rapid charge feature to provide an hour’s worth of battery life in only 15 minutes of charging. Reflective cable for early morning or nighttime usage.

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Bose QuietComfort 35

Features:

  • Industry-leading noise cancellation makes quiet sound quieter and music sound better
  • Wireless connectivity to your devices through Bluetooth and NFC pairing
  • Up to 20 hours of wireless listening per charge, and 40 hours when wired
  • Premium materials make them lightweight and comfortable for all-day listening

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Best PowerCore For Travel

When you travel with electronics, battery life is always a concern. Carrying around a good backup battery system, or PowerCore can take a lot of the stress off. Especially when you are traveling to places with spotty electricity, camping has a lack of outlets and many more concerns. These are our favorite battery backup systems.

Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit with Nomad 7 Solar Panel

The Goal Zero is our go-to power core for travel. The benefit of the Goal Zero system is that not only is it incredibly high quality, but it includes a solar power that allows you to charge units when you no access to power at all. And all this in a very compact and easy to carry package

Features:

  • Built-in Micro USB Tip Tangle-free charging for phones and tablets; Certified cables for efficient charging
  • Solar ready built-in charging tip, no extra cables to lose; Charge up in 4 hours from USB – in 9 hours of full sun from the Nomad 7
  • Waterproof while active: dunk it, spray it, use it in the rain; power that handles whatever Mother Nature can throw at you
  • 30 Wh, 7,800mAh power pack can power phones (2-3x), tablets (1x) and more; Lightweight and packable from the airport to the trail
  • High-speed USB 4.8A across dual ports; Two high-speed ports capable of dishing out the fastest charge possible, at the same time; Power two devices at once or share with a buddy; Integrated Flood Charge optimizes your charging time

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Anker 20000mAh Portable Charger PowerCore 20100

When it comes to battery and charging systems, Anker is becoming one of the biggest names. Their designs are thoughtful, convenient and smart while their products are powerful and easy-to-use.

Features:

  • High-Speed Charging: PowerIQ and VoltageBoost
  • Anker’s MultiProtect safety system ensures complete protection for you and your devices
  • Includes Anker PowerCore 20100 Portable Charger, Micro USB cable, travel pouch

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The Best International Power Adapters

If you travel internationally there is a good chance that you may travel to a country that uses a different electrical system than the one that you’re used to. Some countries use different plug systems, while others use a completely different electrical frequency. Trying to use these without a proper international power adaptor could have disastrous consequences for your electronics. Before you travel internationally you should check on the electrical system used by the country you are visiting and compare it against what you currently use.

Voltage Converters vs. Plug Adapters

Because the electrical system varies from country, matching up your current plugs with those of the host country is incredibly important. By knowing the voltage of the host country you can check your power adaptors to see if they fit within the range that the country you are visiting offers. You can usually check this in the fine print written on the side of the power adaptor that you are using. It will generally offer a range (eg. 110-240 hz). If the host country uses a voltage that falls within that range, then you only need a plug adaptor. If your electronics don’t list the range or the range doesn’t fall within the range of your host country than you will need a voltage converter. A voltage converter adjusts the voltage sent to your electronics to one that is native to what you need. International voltage converters are generally larger and more expensive than International plug adaptors.

Best International Travel Adapter

JOOMFEEN Worldwide All in One Universal Power Converters

Features:

  • This Travel Adapter covers more than 150 Countries with US/EU/UK/AU plugs
  • World Adapter Plug compatible with almost all USB Devices
  • The World Adapter Plug allows the simultaneous use of the AC Power Socket and Dual USB Ports.

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Best Cameras for Travel

Having a good camera is crucial to capture your family travel adventures. But choosing the best camera for travel can be tough. There are point and shoots, DSLRs and Mirrorless. You want a camera that shoots great photos, is easy to use, and of course, up to the wear and tear of family travel.

The Best Point and Shoot Camera for Travel

Point and shoot cameras are go-to for most family travelers. They are usually lightweight, easy to use, and can shoot both photos and video. But there is a huge range of quality and features in point and shoot cameras for travel that many people don’t think about. A good point and shoot should be intuitive, have a great autofocus system, and be durable enough that even the kids can use it.

Olympus TG-6 Tough

The Olympus TG-6 Tough is a beast of a point and shoot. Its greatest feature is written right into its name “Tough”. The Olympus Tough series is shatter resistant, waterproof and freeze-proof. The TG-6 also shoots in RAW, which is important for those who like to post-process their photography. We have been using a TG-4 Tough for a number of years, you can read our review of that here.

Features:

  • New 12MP Hi-Speed Image Sensor for improved low light performance and noise reduction
  • Bright F2.0 high-speed Lens
  • Dual Quad-Core TruePic VIII Image Processor
  • Field sensor system with GPS, Manometer, Compass, and temperature sensors
  • Waterproof to 50 feet, F, Dustproof, Crushproof to 220 lbf, Shockproof from 7 feet, Freezeproof to 14 degrees, Anti-Fog lens

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Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II

The Canon G7X might be the most powerful point-and-shoot camera for travel. I’s large, 1 inch sensor is excellent at capturing all available light. And it shoots both RAW and HD video. It also features an LCD with a 180-degree hinge for capturing the perfect family selfie.

Features:

  • 1.0-inch, 20.1 Megapixel* CMOS sensor with Canon’s new DIGIC 7 Image Processor helps deliver exceptional image quality even in low light.
  • Bright f/1.8 (W) – f/2.8 (T), 4.2x (24-100mm), 9-blade iris diaphragm and Battery IS-equipped lens.
  • Capture impressively high-resolution images with high-speed continuous shooting up to 8 fps in both RAW mode / JPEG mode.
  • Multi-angle capacitive 3.0″ touch panel LCD with a screen resolution of 1.04 million dots and tilt option of 180 Degree up and 45 Degree down.

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Best DSLR Camera for Travel

Where point and shoot cameras are light, easy to use and nimble, DSLRs are generally bulky, complicated and unwieldy. The multi-lens capabilities and manual shooting options are what drive the value of a good DSLR camera for travel. They allow the photographer to dictate almost completely how a photo turns out, and DSLR cameras usually feature large sensors that capture tremendous amounts of light. This means that the shooter can control their travel photography in order to have long or short shutter speeds and capture more artistic imagery.

Canon EOS R

If you’re looking for a great DSLR, I highly recommend the Canon EOS R Mirrorless system. It’s basically the pro-level 5D MK IV, but in a smaller, lighter mirrorless package. This full-frame camera offers excellent low-light capabilities. It’s what I’ll be using for most of my travel photos in 2020.

Features:

  • 26.2 Megapixel Full-frame CMOS Sensor.
  • Optical Viewfinder with a 45-point All Cross-type AF System.
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF with Phase-detection & Full HD 60p.
  • DIGIC 7 Image Processor, ISO 100-40000.
  • Vary-angle Touch Screen, 3.0-inch LCD.

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So there you have it. Our recommendations for the best family travel gear. Whatever your travel plans, we are confident that these items will help make the trip a little smoother, more comfortable, and maybe a tad more enjoyable. But it’s important to remember that it’s not the gear that makes the trip. It’s the company you keep.

Did we miss anything in our list of the best family travel gear? Is there a product or category that we didn’t think to add that you would like to know more about? Send us an email here, or send us a note in the comment section below and we will look into it for you.

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Best Family Travel Gear

About the Author

Kevin Wagar is a professional traveler and family travel expert living in the Greater Toronto Area. His beautiful wife Christina impressed on him her love of travel and they have made exploring the world an integral part of their life. With the birth of their two boys, Kevin and Christina have made it their mission to show others that traveling with children isn't as scary as it sounds and that kids can benefit from experiencing the world outside of their front door and beyond.

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12 Comments

  1. Wow, so many useful items for all ages on this very comprehensive list. I must say that I am hearing nothing but positive things about packing cubes. Absolute life saver you say? I might have to look at using them myself…thanks for this great info 🙂

  2. Kevin, this is one of the most useful posts I have come across in recent times. For a person who absolutely hates packing this post is a boon. Love the smart options you have given. Those organisers look extremely high on utility. I particularly liked the noise cancelling earphones and the Magic pro digital scale! 🙂 the Disney stroller and that scooter looks super cute !

  3. Travel planning with family can definitely be overwhelming at times. I like the way you have included almost everything here that one needs to keep in mind while doing a family travel. Good trolley bags, backpacks and separate kids bags are a must for us when we travel. Also, I swear by those travel organizers. They have made life so much easier

  4. Quite a comprehensive list. I think one can find most of the important travel gear here. For suitcases we prefer the spinners, especially for international travel where we need to flit from airport to airport and lugging suitcases, can be strenuous. Packing cubes are something we have not tried yet but would love to.

  5. I’ve been wanting to step up my photography game and get a new camera so this list is perfect! I think I’m going to go with Cannon since I’ve used that brand before and really liked it. Will wait though and see what the black Friday sales bring!

  6. I like the Osprey backpack. Have been eyeing that for a while, I even love the kids range of luggage cases. This is a lovely collection of things that make great gifts for a traveler. Thanks for this

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