Christmas Gifts For Kids and Families Who Travel

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If you are keen world travellers or you know a travelling family, you’ll like our ideas for Christmas travel gifts for kids and families. In this post we include travel-related gifts, often educational, as well as small gifts to pack in a suitcase or backpack for children and families on the road. We have practical, fun and useful gifts for kids who travel or love to travel. We’ve included gifts for kids of all ages, as well as family gifts for your favourite family.

Best travel gifts for kids and families from a family that's been travelling 3 years. Gifts to take on the road and gifts to keep at home to inspire wanderlust.
I miss those long lazy lunches on Ko Phangan with our favourite book. If you find our book in Thailand, let us know, we left our name inside. See it, and others in the series, further down this page.

Buying travel gifts for kids on the move is tricky, will they take their gift with them, or leave it at home through lack of space? And what gifts will please a whole family? We know what gifts have worked for our kids and which we’ve gladly received as a family, from expensive main presents to stocking fillers, from toddlers to tweens and teens.

We’ve been given some gifts that have made it and plenty that have had to be culled as we’ve been on the road for over 4 years . You could buy practical travel gifts that will earn their place in a child’s luggage, or travel toys, games, books and novelties that will stay at home and enhance the child’s wanderlust or education.

Here are our best travel gifts for kids like ours and travellers like us.

Books! Travel Books for Travel Lovers or Educational Gift Lovers

Explore the most dangerous journeys of all time kids favourite travel book great gift
My kids loved this book and still talk about it today. History, geography and travel adventures in Explore! The Most Dangerous Journeys, link below.

OK, I admit it, we’re those weird homeschoolers and worldschoolers that you read about. We love books and anything educational and a huge chunk of the kids’ education comes from amazing books such as these. Books are great travel gifts.

Explore! The Most Dangerous Journeys of All Time

We Loved This Book. The only book that made it into our pack when we left was this one “Explore!: The Most Dangerous Journeys of All Time” because it was a truly exceptional book.

It covered a lot of educational bases and was great fun to read. Even if the book doesn’t travel it was great preparation for, and introduction to, our amazing and exciting world. If you stop by Haad Salad villas you will find ours there, it was too heavy after Chef’s surgery, or you could just buy your own. If you’re shopping online in Australia click here for the Explore! book. For the UK, USA and most of the world, just click here.

There are now two more books in this series, Eureka! The Most Amazing Scientific Discoveries of All Time and Genius! The Most Astonishing Inventions of All Time . If you click through on the link above you should be able to buy the set.

National Geographic Kids Infopedia

A highly recommended stocking filler, this National Geographic Kids Infopedia magazine-style book rocked my kids’ world for weeks. They both read it cover to cover and not only was it fun, but it was also educational. The book had useful facts and snippets on just about every topic, photosynthesis, time zones, animal classification, volcanoes, you name it, it’s in there. It was cheap at under 7 pounds and small enough to pop in your day pack. See it here.

Lonely Planet ( not-For-Parents) Kids Travel Books

The Lonely Planet Not For Parents Travel Book (Lonely Planet Not for Parents). See it here. It’s a hardback, a nice present around the $30 mark.

Lonely Planet Kids Series, City Guides and Trails

This one, on London, is in our library at our home base in Romania, it covers some not-so-usual topics and ones kids will enjoy, along with the usual history. We like this book a lot. The Lonely Planet Kids series includes a whole range of destinations, buy them all and build up a travel library. See this one here. These are less costly than the hardback above, nice little stocking fillers or gifts for a child who is due to visit a particular destination. See the London guide here.

Best Travel Games and Card Games as Travel Gifts

gits for travelling families and kids card games

Of all the travel gifts my children received before we started travelling, the small card games are the most used and loved. They are educational gifts, young kids pick up numbers and reading through playing card games like these.

We were given travel Monopoly, travel Scrabble and travel chess, they were too small and fiddly and had too many tiny pieces to blow away or fall. I’d recommend avoiding those, go with the best travel card games instead, perfect low cost, simple, family gift ideas or stocking fillers.

UNO, Skip Bo, Top Trumps and Monopoly Deal

  • UNO! In our family Uno is the ultimate travel Card Game. It’s always in my day pack for quiet moments in airports and bus stops. It’s great for all ages and it’s how little Boo originally learned his numbers. We’ve worn out our first pack, a lovely friend just bought us a new one. Big thumbs up for UNO!
  • Skip Bo. Had enough of UNO? Try Skip Bo , we haven’t got this one yet but everyone tells me how great it is
  • Top Trumps. Another compact card game, but one with a surprisingly educational twist. Playing Top Trumps Doctor Who really helped both my boys when they were learning to read and understand decimals, now I look for packs that help with history or general knowledge. This is the one we’re playing at the moment, London, they love it! Have a look here for more Top Trumps games, pick a subject to suit their interests.
  • Monopoly Deal Card Game ( buy in UK, USA, Europe by clicking here)  is our latest favourite. We play this one almost every day. It’s like regular Monopoly, without the huge box or the time commitment. It’s purely a card game, no other pieces involved, ideal for travel. You can buy Monopoly deal in Australia here. A Monopoly Deal travel case is also available. You’ll find it if you look on Amazon.

A Scratch Off Travel Map, Leave it at Home or Take This Travel Gift on the Road

These work for adults and kids and come in various sizes and colours. Some show the whole world, others are more detailed and focus on one country or region. The smaller travel version can go on the road with you in its own tube. The Luckies of London Scratch Map Travel Edition claims to be the original but many other versions now exist. A Large Size, Deluxe, Personalized Scratch-off World Map Poster is great to keep at home. I love these and we have 2 about to be delivered, one black one white, one each for the kids. Photo coming soon! See the original travel sized map here, click around to see the big ones.

Electronic Gifts for Kids and Families Who Travel

It’s no use buying your travelling family a nice new vacuum cleaner or a gaming console, (travel hairdryers, travel kettles etc could be a possibility – we don’t carry either) but what electronics will they need and want on the road, from preschoolers to teens and their parents. These are some of the devices we love and have loved over the years. The standout, of course, our Kindles. They’re not too expensive and ours have lasted years.

A Portable Charger or Power Pack

These are absolute essentials for family travel where the list of devices is long. I would suggest you buy at least two per family, for any style of travel. These make good gifts for power-hungry teens and are super practical. You can get cute ones in various colours, but a good quality, small, compact, power-heavy one is our best pick. Try this one.

The Best Drone for Travellers

Flying a drone is a great family thing to do.Is a drone a good gift for a family going travelling
Flying a drone is a great family thing to do if you have older kids and teens. We’ve had loads of fun with ours. But is it a good gift for a travelling family? Yes, so long as they can get it into the countries they’re visiting. See below. You can see our drone just above the mountain there.

We love our drone but it’s heavy to carry and some countries won’t allow you to use it, maybe not even take it into the country. That said, we’ve not even had anyone want to look at ours yet and if we think we may be overweight at check-in I simply put it in a coat pocket. Our teen has really enjoyed flying our drone and he edits the videos afterward. Getting out with the drone is a really good family activity and everyone wants to get involved. More a gift for a family, or a teen who is keen. They’re easy to fly and pretty hard to crash. Full post on drones for travel here, including information on the one we eventually chose, and why.

Kindle Paperwhite. An Absolute Essential

Kindles the ultimate travel gift for kids and adults who travel
You can probably tell this is a London bus, top deck and as always the kids are reading. D has his trusty Kindle, Boo had found a stack of Warrior Cats books at a flea market. But in countries that don’t speak English – you’re going to need those Kindles! They really are the ultimate gift for kids, families and adults who travel. Anywhere you can connect to a wifi signal, you can buy a new book, and plenty are free.

If you know a child who loves books a Kindle is essential travel gear. I preloaded ours with kids’ books before we left, picture story books for little Boo (6), reading books for D (8) including the whole Harry Potter series ( books or book vouchers for Kindle make a great gift, too), it has seen a lot of use, particularly on buses and trains.

We have a Kindle Paperwhite, 6 inch( click through to see latest special offers, this version is often on sale) because it’s easier on the children’s eyes than other reading devices, I love being able to enlarge the text for my elderly eyes too.

The battery life is amazing, it’s small, light and easy to carry.  I want a reading device that’s purely for reading, if it plays games too, there would be a whole lot less reading going on.

There are book exchange shops in most backpacker towns but the range of children’s books is always tiny and it’s not a cheap option. We wouldn’t travel without at least one Kindle, at the moment we have three. Be sure to buy them a Kindle case or cover too, to keep their Kindles drop-proof. They are remarkably robust, but it helps. See Kindles here, they’re not massively expensive and now they can come waterproof too.

Just incidentally Warrior Cats were Boo’s all-time childhood favourite book, he must have read dozens in this series, over and over again. See them here.

Tablet, Laptop or Phone?

It’s a tough call. I prefer my kids to have laptops because they’re not as portable. I want them to read, so the Kindles were the only electronic devices in our day-packs and the laptops stayed at home base ( hotel). It helps reduce the gaming and increase the book loving.

The problem is, as they get older the handheld devices become more and more useful to them. A phone is all the camera you need these days and kids can make their own YouTube videos with ease.

Also, of course, they want to play Pokemon Go around the world, this game really enhances their travel experience and interest, so don’t dismiss it as any sort of waste of time.

These days we have laptops as well as phones for our teens. It depends on the child and what they need. As they get older their laptop requirements change too and we’ve found that the kids need better laptops than we do.

It’s all about a dedicated graphics card, this will have it’s own separate memory to handle the large amount of RAM that games require without this they won’t have a decent gaming experience and will be totally unable to play some games. The computer CPU also needs at least 8 GB of RAM, minimum.

Of course, they need a laptop for all things “school” too. My aspiring YouTuber also needs a laptop of decent quality to handle all of our video editing. His blogger mum has a very old, battered Acer that still handles my relatively simple needs quite well.  We’ve not fans of tablets, we’ve bought them and we were glad when they broke, which happened very quickly.

A Phone, For Photography, Video, Skype and Pokemon Go

You could really pick anything here, we tend to go for cheaper phones for the boys but just think about what they’ll use it for.

The average phone has a 2-year lifespan, if your 13-year-old is interested in photography or video making, maybe spend more to get better features in that department so that the phone will still be suitable for your 15-year-old.

After days of research, this is the phone I chose for myself, the new Moto. It was the only phone I could find that was waterproof, had gorilla glass and had a top-notch camera.  It absolutely has to be tough and waterproof to travel with us. The 2 cameras to the front give depth ( similar to low aperture shooting) and a wide angle effect. I’ve ditched my DSLR  and the phone is handling all of our video and photography now.

Action Cameras and Go Pro

Now we’re onto the toys of dreams, Go Pro action cameras and drones, these will be our next investment as technology marches onward and our children grow into teens. The model below is the latest, greatest Go Pro Hero 6. I’d be tempted to buy the best as we are a family that makes YouTube videos with a child that loves to edit them.

A Surprise Entry, The Nintendo 3 DS as a Useful, Fun, Gift

I’m very anti-hand-held-gadget but I bought one of these for D ( then 10 ) after months of begging. It was travel-sized and it surprised me, it did things I never imagined, beside play games.

He took 3D photos and made his own movies and stop/start animations, listened to music and used some nifty built-in image and audio manipulation tools.

Because games have to be bought individually it’s never been such a time sucker as tablets or online games, so overall, I was pretty pleased with this. We got D a black one but the pink is cool!

Head Torches and Flashlights for Kids

Kids love playing with head torches and flashlights, sometimes they use them for reading in bed, other times playing outside in the dark, they’re very handy for power cuts too. You could get them a sensible one, or you could get them a super cool LEGO Darth Vader Head Lamp I want one.

A more powerful head torch is a great piece of kit for older children who spend a lot of time in the great outdoors. The older the kids get, the more they like having top-notch gear of their own. We’ve always used Petzel head torches.

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

We don’t use these and don’t want them, but if you have a child or adult who is sensitive to noise on long flights or bus journeys, maybe in busy, bustling streets (although I think this could be dangerous), noise-cancelling headphones are all the rage. They’d also be really bulky to carry. We prefer a simple pair of earplugs, as are required on small plane flights.

Buy Them The Gift of An Experience Anywhere in the World

Tickets to the zoo, a cultural attraction, theme park or entertainment venue. You can buy an experience gift for just about anywhere in the world using resources like this one. Click through and get some ideas on what’s available for kids and families.

We recently enjoyed the gift of a visit to an attraction followed by lunch, as a family, it was a lovely way to spend the day. The site above has many more experiences all over the world.

Travel Gifts for Kids to Take Travelling

A Travel Journal

A travel journal can be a whole-family project, or something for each child to complete themselves. Either buy a lovely travel-resistant journal, or a dedicated travelogue. This Lonely Planet Kids Travel Journal is always popular.

To buy the travel journal in Australia click here.

I’ll warn you here that a lot of kids, mine included, hate the idea of journaling, my boys would be very unhappy if I forced them into it. Know your audience!

Cute Passport Holders

Protect their passport, help them identify it in a pile and help them be the cool kid with an envy-worthy passport holder. It should also keep that precious passport holder clean and protected from messes.

A Travel Pillow

We’ve not had much luck with travel pillows. The bulky U-shaped ones you can buy at most airports have never been easy to travel with, they’re too bulky, and a lot don’t work. For road trips we’ve always given our kids a normal pillow and a blanket, that works great, for experiences such as touring the National Parks, crossing Europe by road and so on.

Taking a regular pillow on a plane is way too bulky. The only type of travel pillow I’ve travelled with successfully was like this one. I enjoyed using it and found it useful. It was small enough to pack when not in use and lightweight. I used it for camping and on buses around the world. There are plenty of patterns and designs here, one each for every family member.

While we’re talking sleep and comfort, I’ve never found eye masks useful. Some people do. Know who you’re buying for is best.

Special Luggage for Special Kids Can Make a Great Gift

  • Trunkies for Toddlers and Young Children. The beauty of these trunki bags isn’t just in their wheels and the way little ones can pull them along behind them. They also make a perfect seat for tired legs in check in queues. They come in many colours and characters, see above. I wouldn”t say these were suitable for long term travel, they’re more a novelty item.
  • A Perfect Backpack for Tweens to Teens. This is the bag my 11-year-old now has. It’s a bag for life with an incredible lifetime guarantee and will fit him right into adulthood. It has a laptop sleeve and plenty of room for his toys and clothes in an abundance of organiser pockets. It’s from Osprey, they are a great brand, seriously good quality and this bag is perfect carry on size for European airlines. You can also use it for your main hold luggage. We’ve used it on Air Malaysia and Air Asia multiple times with no difficulty desite their smaller carry-on size. We can’t recommend this bag highly enough for kids or adults. I’d love to receive one as a gift, but be sure you know the person well and what they want or need.

Pen Knives, Head Torches and Binoculars

These sorts of gear gifts are very “explorer” and could be well received while being practical. We have a full post on head torches for travel and why and how you may need one.

Binoculars we bought for the boys, they were rarely used but we did get a good pair that will last a lifetime. Small travel sizes are available but they tend to be quite heavy.

What boy ( and often girl, I love mine) doesn’t want a pen-knife? If you’re going to get one why not get an iconic Swiss Army knife?  We have 3 Swiss Army knives with us, my husband says both of his are essential and of course, mine is, it has the cork-screw! You can find a very ladylike Swiss Army knife with a corkscrew here. Shame it’s not pink.

Practical Travel Items, Packing Cubes and Organisers as Gifts

Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a traveller’s best friend and help us stay organised, we have multiple sets and the Ebags range are our best. They are certainly a great gift for adult travellers and kids who like to organise would dig them too. Maybe fill one with little toys, sweets and travel toiletries to make a cool going away gift.

We organise clothes, toys and electronic leads in our cubes and I love that they are tough enough to cope with the pointy metal bits.  My boys have little pouches for their toys, Boo, in particular, loves his, he’s an organiser. A small packing cube with something nice inside could be just the thing.

Travel Organisers, for Leads, Passports, Toiletries and Personal Items

I absolutely LOVE travel organisers, from the above model for leads, passports, personal items, USB sticks, you name it, to the new generation of flat travel wash bags.

Brands like BUBM and Ebags are creating stylish, light, genuinely useful products for today’s traveller.. Mine go everywhere with me, on planes, trains, buses and in my handbag every time I leave the house. An easy purchase, and one that is sure to be well-received, is this set of three organisers in various sizes and colours. Most travellers know the E Bags brand to be reliable and of good quality. I’ve had mine for over a decade, used them well, and they’re still in perfect condition. A family can enjoy travel more when packing is simplified.

We have a full post on travel organisers here, including storage for toiletries, electronics, i pads, documents and passports, or you can click the image above to go to Amazon.

Give an Experience Gift Rather Than a Thing #2

If you don’t know exactly what a child or family have or haven’t got already, you could be throwing your money away on stuff that will never make it into their suitcase or backpack.

A gift we received recently, which we loved, was a half-day experience from Tinggly. Tinggly can provide your friends and loved ones with a ready-made excursion, activity or meal, anywhere in the world. We had a morning at London’s Shard ( famous in my boys’ eyes from Doctor Who) followed by lunch. It was a fantastic treat and we’d love to receive more of these gifts, it was great to have a break from organising everything ourselves.

Check out Tinggly’s gift experiences on their website or click through to read more about our Shard day out.

Was that any help? I hope so. This is the sixth or seventh Christmas that I’ve had this headache. What to buy kids and adults who never stay put and simply love travel. Christmas on the road can be challenging and this list is evolving over time. Shall I tell you what I’m buying the kids? Better not. If you want to know what I’d like for Christmas, see here.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

40 thoughts on “Christmas Gifts For Kids and Families Who Travel”

  1. My parents had already promised them a Kindle each for Christmas. My boys are huge readers, so they will soon work their way through the kindle vouchers. I’ll have to get that Skip-Bo game for Christmas, I’m onto Amazon right now. The magic tricks set is a good idea, we’re still carrying around the magic trick that the guy on the Khao San Rd.

  2. All the products are amazing but I like the drone which we can take with us on any trip. Easy to carry and its compatibility makes it more function loaded.

  3. These are some great suggestions! I added a few to our Christmas list! 🙂 We’re heading to Southeast Asia next month with our toddler and have enjoyed reading your blog for tips.

  4. Nice and cool ideas to give gift and this travelling is like adventure.
    Good article

  5. Great list! I didn’t think my little guy would be ready for Uno, but he knows his number so I’ll give it a try. I like the rubix snakes too.

    • We had them on Uno before they knew numbers, on card games with reading befotre they could read, it’s all part of the learning process Renee 😉 Those Rubick’s snakes went everywhere with us for years, very backpack friendly.

  6. Great ideas. So many similarities between our sea-travelin’ boat kids and the land-travelin’ backpack kids. Big fans of the dedicated e-ink readers like Kindle Paperwhite here.

  7. Some great ideas here Alyson. Funny enough we have quite a few of these already – Uno, pen knives, torches & Skip Bo (good by the way). Like the idea of the minecraft homeschool (we are big fans of minecraft already) & will have to check out the most dangerous journeys book – ripleys of course is already in our library 😉

  8. Our “boys” are now 30 and 27, so we did most of our travel with them before electric gadgetry..We took them to see the Grand Canyon when they were about 14 and 10. We drove a rental car from Las Vegas. We had one tape of music, something like the best of the 1980’s or something like that. We were reminiscing about the songs on it just the other day. (We played it a lot of times). We took them to Italy when they were 19 and 15. I think they both had I-pods or something for listening to music by them which was nice to have for the long plane rides. One of my favorite memories of that trip is that they both agreed to play Boggle (a word game) with me on the train from Venice to Florence. We still consider it our little secret.;-) BTW, were you able to fly with your pen knives in your carry ons in the US.?

  9. I am not a big gift giver. I think people have way too much stuff and one more thing is just going to gather dust in some closet. For Christmas my husband is the one who can’t go by without getting something for the kids. We usually do something they have been asking for for months and it will be used for months. We stay way under $150 total for all 4 kids. I always tell my kids they have everything they need. We like to do Christmas Child Shoe Box every year. It brings reality close home. Some kids around the world don’t have the bare minimum like a tooth brush or a pencil for school. My kids enjoy painting the shoe boxes and filling them with gifts and everyday necessities. Another thing I did one year was wrap Christmas books from the library and put them under the tree. Every day, the kids would open one and we would read them. It was Christmas morning every day in December! 🙂 And it didn’t cost a dime! I used old Christmas wrapping paper from the year before. 🙂

  10. My problem isn’t the gifts (we pick little things up along the way), it’s the wrapping paper. I don’t want to buy a whole roll or even a sheet of wrapping paper. Every gift would be wrapped in the same paper. So I scrounge for interesting paper (basically I repurpose trash) along our travels: a concert notice, a small shopping bag with an interesting print, the comics from a local paper, anything interesting. My kiddo was baffled by it and I told her if was for her scrapbook later. I keep a miniature tape dispenser in my miniature office supply kit and purchased a bag of miniature bows. She was charmed and delighted by the five tiny gifts.

    • That’s such a cute idea Donna! I don’t see much point in wrapping presents but Boo told me this week that the thing he likes best about Christmas is ripping all the wrapping off, so I’d better get my hands on some from somewhere.

  11. We love games – and our kids enjoy it when we play together. Thanks for the tips! Do you know Phase 10 ? We love it!

  12. Fantastic ideas! while we are not travelling at the moment I am trying to get away from ‘stuff’ for gifts that is going to be a five minute wonder and forgotten about. My girls have so much ‘stuff’ that is not touched and just sits and gathers dust, I am slowly clearing it out and downsizing. We purchased a game of uno a few months ago and it has been a hit. Skipbo is also another good one that we taught our then 5 year old to play.
    I have also been through for you and clicked all your links 😉 good luck with the camera!

    • Thanks Kath, but it only works if you buy something, it doesn’t matter what, just anything from Amazon. But o be honest it’s pretty pointless, in 2 years I’ve made $100, which they pay by cheque, so currency conversion fees eat half of it. But every little helps 🙂

  13. We are really debating between a kindle Fire and something like the Google Nexus 7 Tablet for our kids. Do you see an advantage of the Fire over a general tablet? We have a 6 and a 4 year old, and I don’t want them on it all the time, but our 6 year old loves to read. I am wondering if the Kindle would be better or if we should get both. Again I am scared to bring to much “tech” into their lives as I am afraid it will distract from the real world, but wanted to get your advice. Thanks so much, for your time and your wonderful blog… My wife says it is her favorite 🙂

    • Hi Stephen. My boys had tablets for a while, they both broke within 12 months ( dropped, repeatedly) one was the Nexus and they drove me, and them, batty. The kids just wanted the tablets all the time and constantly claimed boredom if they were denied. We’re all a lot happier now they’re gone. although they do have access t our laptops, we share. You can’t drop a laptop and you can’t use it in many situations, ie. only when we’re in our accommodation, which suits us better. So I’m not the person to ask sorry, I’m anti-kid-gadget. We have paperwhite Kindles because I read that the Kindle fire was hard on the eyes, D, 9, reads all the time. If he had the Kindle fire I can guarantee he wouldn’t be reading! But good luck to you and I hope you make a great choice for your family.

      • You 100% answered my questions and it looks like you were definitely the person to ask! I am going to ditch the gadgets as well. We are leaving on a RTW trip but here in the states our kids have no gadgets and on road trips we claim to be more Von Trapp (i.e singing annoying songs and playing road games) than “Von Tech”. In fact my wife has flat out refused to buy any type of tablet or video player for road trips so up to this point they have only had real books and cards/board games. This has made for much more adventurous and enjoyable road trips and family time. You confirmed what I was afraid would happen – batty kids wanting gadgets and grumpy parents fighting them away. So thank you very much for your quick and thoughtful response, you probably just saved us from quite a bit of misery 🙂

        Thanks again,


        • Wonderful Stephen! They really don’yt need them and personally, I like my kids, I don’t want to shut them up. We’re making family memories aren’t we, not plugging them into the grid. Good on ya!

  14. Packing cubes are so useful, especially for all the cables and adaptors. Kindle too, downloaded free classics by Austen and Dickens that I read on long bus journeys in SE Asia. And adaptor wraps were my way to check we had unplugged and packed every adaptor before we left accomodation.

  15. Here is our post from last Christmas in Bali on the road.

    I didn’t put in there what the gifts in the sacks were but my 10 year old loved lego men..I collected a bunch of the little packets. He loved opening each one. It kept him busy for hours. After we carried them in ziplock bag with ten lego men … it was a huge gift but took very little room. My daughter loved flavored chapstick, fluffy socks for plane rides, and an iTunes gift card.

  16. Hi Alyson! Thanks for the post! We are finally on the countdown – leaving December 28th! A few of your items reassure what we were thinking (who doesn’t love UNO) and gave me some new ideas as well for great Christmas presents this year! Haven’t seen the packing cubes before and love them!
    Keep the posts coming!!! Their fantastic!

    Cheers – Kari

  17. Thanks for the list! We love many of the same essentials :). I want to check out the book you recommend.

    I’ve had a few Olympus p&s cameras, and two water/tough cameras. I think the next one we buy will be a different brand. They get the job done, and I LOVE having something the kids can use without me worrying about breakage. The photo quality in lower or indoor light isn’t that good. And the seals need to be replaced (if you’re using it in beaches, in my experience) once a year. It’s costly and almost makes the camera “disposable.” That said- if live anyone who bought me one :). Amazon has some affordable floating wrist straps that I’d recommend if you have space. An ocean wave or river rapid can easily take a camera from you or the kids.

    Packing cubes: I am currently obsessed with the ones you linked <3. We use smalls and slims for my 6 and 9 y/I clothes, medium for mine, large for my husband's man-clothes. They are on my gift giving list this year too! 🙂

    Merry Christmas 🙂

  18. We have had even more fun since moving on from UNO and now playing SKIP BO.
    So just a thought from me if you’re after another really good card game. It has more strategy and more to think about. You can play it backwards and forwards and someone recently was telling me they play it with only odd numbers and then only even numbers. It requires a lot more concentration and is so much more exciting for the adults to join in if (like me) you start to get sick of UNO.

    There is another game called SETS. This really gives your brain a work out. You have to match colour, number, shape and shading all the same or all different to gain a set.

    We always travel with a very small pack of about 6 different sets of cards. We also have a memory game called RAT-A-TAT-CAT and we have a great set of cards for learning how to tell the time (matching up digital clock, with clock face with 24hr clock with written word time).

    We also have a set of animal cards with so much information to learn and of course we have the everyday playing cards. We also have a magician set to learn magic tricks.

    So much easier to carry cards than board games and the travel games I find are so flimsy and fiddly.

    Anyway, that’s just my two cents worth and another suggestion is no gifts, just entry fees to special places as you travel. Or some new clothes.

    Merry Xmas

    • Hi Kym! I’ll have to get that Skip Bo game for Christmas, I’m onto Amazon right now. The magic tricks set is a good idea, we’re still carrying around the magic trick that the guy on the Khao San Rd. taught us, just string and a plastic bangle. It comes out now and again and the string doubles for cat’s cradle, which D thinks is also a magic trick, bless him 🙂

  19. We’re having the same conundrum at the moment with our girls. Its going to be strange enough being away at Christmas without not having presents to open. But we can hardly lift our backpacks as it is so we’ve been wracking our brains. So far we’ve got them:

    * penknives
    * little torches
    * sporks
    * some new card games (pirate fluxx, falling and gloom… All neat, small games. You can read about them all on
    * iPod shuffles
    * lego Harry Potter key rings
    * some girly hair things

    Plus of course some virtual presents. Ebooks for their Kindles,some extras for our favourite iPad board games and some audiobooks.

    • Fergus, you have triplets, how fantastic! Yep, we got mini music player things too, but ours only cost $2 each on ebay and do the same thing just fine. ( don’t tell the kids!) Headphones and double jack things so they can listen together, to music, audio books or a movie, was a winner too ( again ebay) and combination padlocks, they love those! All stuff that you actually use, but still cool enough to make them smile on Christmas morning.

  20. Thanks Alyson, a headache for us at the moment, as we head off just after Christmas, and the kids had birthdays not long ago – just after we’d told everyone we were going travelling for a year!
    My two definitely want something to open, I couldn’t do no physical presents either.

    For their birthdays they mostly got Kindle vouchers from family and friends. My parents had already promised them a Kindle each for Christmas. My boys are huge readers, so they will soon work their way through the kindle vouchers.
    Unos coming with us, (as are these card games – Phase 10, Loot, and someone bought one of mine a card game version of battleships, which is good – and much easier than fiddling with little pegs) and a couple of packs of cards as we love card games.
    My boys have stockings from Father Christmas, so I’m on the look out for little things that they can take – a torch, a compass, little notebook etc.
    They were talking about a waterproof camera, so I’ll look at the one you mentioned, thank you.

    • I love the Olympus tough, it’s not a bad price, either. My boys had things like carabiners (?sp) in their stockings, the head torches, a little bag for toys and a wallet. We use the caibiners all the time. A few body shop toiletries, they love smelly things, a new toothbrush, just lots of bits and pieces. Plus single use things, so I’ve just bought a fingerprint kit, for instance, it’ll be used, enjoyed and finished with and then I can chuck it out. Somebody bought us travel Monopoly and travel scrabble, but they’re so little and fiddly we just couldn’t be bothered. I usually find that if you Google you can find all the ebooks you’ll ever need for free, so I don’t bother with things like vouchers. I’m getting a new camera and a new watch, both bought on ebay because it’s so much cheaper, even that anything we saw on the ground in Thailand.

  21. I prefer to skip the objects entirely and go for non-tangible gifts. My twenty-four suggestions (plus a bonus suggestion) are not purely aimed at kids, but there’s a few there to suit all ages. We find we really get the most value out of experiences and activities – and I daresay most travel-hungry families are of a similar mindset.

    That said, we might look into the camera (but I’ll be choosing that carefully so it meets our exact needs – when you’re travelling light things need to be just right and not something hastily bought and foisted onto the unsuspecting!)

    • My kids would be terribly upset if they didn’t have something to open and play with on Christmas morning Bronwyn. I couldn’t do that to them, poor little materially deprived creatures that they are!

      • It hasn’t been a problem – someone always can’t bear it and gets them something. 😉

        But in reality I think that’s what needs changing! I’ve found people are reluctant not to have that thing to open at first and then after you buy them a few experience gifts they realise they actually like it and they start changing over. But they need the practice first.

        I admit it’s a cultural shift, but I feel we need to take better stock of what’s actually valuable when it comes to gift-giving. Note that not everything on the list is completely intangible (there’s a short category under “consumable”, which I think is much more proportionate).


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