Travel can be challenging - especially with kids. From trip planning and booking, to luggage and packing, these are things that help us travel better. If it doesn't provide value, we don't put it on the list. Be sure to check back often for updates before you plan your next trip.
This suitcase is the perfect carry-on size for our kids. It is lightweight, durable, and soft-sided with a frame to give it added stability. It doesn't topple over when standing upright (even with a backpack attached), and has a ton of well thought out design features, like a bright orange interior that makes finding your items easier. It rolls easily, fits in all the overhead bins, and works great with the medium packing cubes.
This backpack has the same durable and well-planned design as the suitcase. It has a sturdy 'frame' that allows the backpack to return to its shape even if it's not full so the contents don't fall over or fall out, which is great for kids. Also, like the luggage, that orange lining makes it easy to find your items. It has lots of useful pockets as well. The comfortable design is easy for our kids to wear, but the biggest selling feature for me is that it slips over the handle of the luggage, making it much easier for our kids to hurry through a busy airport. They hold all the kids' gadgets and fit well under the airplane seats.
If rollaboards aren't your thing, and you'd give up wheels and a frame for extra space, the Air Boss might be for you. I can pack 5-6 days' worth of clothes in this bag, and it fits in the overhead bins every time. Because there is no frame, it naturally expands and flexes. It's durable, the zippers are awesome with monkey fist pulls, and it has been with me everywhere. Red Oxx is made in the USA, and they have lots of other smart luggage and travel gear. Love this bag. Highly recommended.
This power strip is one of the first pieces of gear we bought right after our luggage, and it goes with us everywhere. It is smartly designed to easily fold flat so you can stuff it in a bag without taking up much space. With all the gadgets between us, this keeps everyone charged up, even if the hotel room is stingy on power outlets.
We bought these for the kids last year for Christmas, and they've been great. They work well, have good parental controls, and you can download purchased movies via Amazon Prime locally to the devices before you leave on your trip. They're also relatively cheap and the kids love them. Perfect.
This has been a surprisingly good little point and shoot camera. It's slim enough to pack anywhere, is quick to use, and is wi-fi capable, making transfers to a computer easy. It also has an app that allows you to transfer to your phone if you wish. Oh - and it takes great pictures. We especially like the zoom on this camera.
This handy adapter will plug into just about any outlet around the world and give you US/110v power on the other end. It also has built in USB ports if you just need to charge your phones and devices without the full wall plug. Very practical and we take it everywhere.
These are the guide books that we started with, and we love them. Every time I look at something else, I always go back to the LP guides for one reason or another. I think they're easy to read, the transit maps are handy, and they are well written. I especially like the 'Discover ...' series. All the info you need that's easily accessible.
These are great! They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, so each family member can keep track of things. They really help us stay organized, and are a good way to keep clean and dirty clothes separate towards the end of your trip. They work especially well with the eBags carry-on luggage, and allow you to make more clothing fit into all carry-on luggage due to the way they keep everything compact and neat. We primarily use the medium size for our clothing in the carry-on luggage, but the small size is great for socks and underwear, hair bows, or toiletry items.
All of our trips start with a visit to TripAdvisor. For family travel, it is really helpful to be able to filter hotels according to a number of things, like family hotels or hotels with pools. Since we are always looking to stay in a room together, we always check the reviews to make sure it is possible before we book (4-person occupancy). With an enormous amount of reviews and content, it is easy to get a quick feel for a place. Their apps and guides are also good.
We used AirBnB to rent an apartment in Paris over Bastille Day, and it was so much better than a hotel room. We had space to spread out, wifi, TV, and most importantly, a place to do laundry mid-trip. We were able to stay much closer to the Eiffel Tower than we would have in a hotel, and most Paris hotels in the city center can't accommodate 4 guests per room. The host was excellent, and the overall experience was good. I can't speak for other vacation rental agencies, but AirBnB came through for us, and we'd use them again.
The Man in Seat Sixty-One is an incredible resource put together by Mark Smith. If there is anything you need to know about train travel, start here. Mark covers everything - seat selection, tickets, directions, destinations, and everything in between. Highly recommended!
This is another free resource that allows you to quickly filter through schedule and pricing data for flights between two destinations. As you've come to expect from Google, there are several ways to sort and filter results, allowing you to find just the right flight.
Rome2Rio is a great resource that will calculate travel routes given any origin and destination. Their wheelhouse is train travel, and it nicely lays out the various routes with prices so you can easily select what works best for your schedule and budget. This is an excellent tool and is free to use.
London walks is a terrific tour company. We have used them twice in London (Harry Potter and Stonehenge/Salisbury) and their guides have been top notch both times. We have also used their 'sister' company in Paris, and they are equally excellent. They aren't free like some, but the value is there and we'll continue to use them.
Since we started taking ski vacations every year, we started paying closer attention to our gear. We discovered that Lands' End has some pretty ingenious bibs and jackets for kids that allow you to take out the hems and let out a few more inches of material. This gives you another year (or two) of skiing without having to buy new ski clothes. We've been fans of Lands' End for awhile, but this really adds value. Skiing is expensive, and this helps us save money, so it's a big win for us. Cadence is sporting it over here, and loves the colors.
When I needed a ski new jacket, I looked into Eddie Bauer. I was a customer of theirs anyway, and their shell jackets caught my eye this season. I ended up purchasing their Telemetry Freeride jacket and couldn't be happier. (You can see it in action here) It has lots of smart design features and is comfortable on the slopes with other layers. I'm looking forward to getting lots of use from this. Be sure to check out their other clothing and gear - I've been happy with everything from EB.
As an avid scrapbooker, yet busy mom, I find it nearly impossible to keep up with our travel pictures, and let's be honest, scrapbooks are bulky. In lieu of actual scrapbooks, I find the Shutterfly albums to be a fantastic alternative. They are quick to design, easy to create, and offer a variety of options for layouts, themes, adding your own text, and number of pages. They also take up a lot less room. Even though the hardback, custom option, with additional pages (which we needed for our trip to Europe) can get pricey, it is not nearly as expensive as creating an entire scrapbook, and Shutterfly frequently offers discounts and coupon codes.