Ten family travel essentials

Here are 10 things we learnt, the hard way, are essential when traveling with kids. Click on the pictures to go right to the best offers we found online.
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Table of Contents

Car seats 

Get ones you can pack or carry.

When Keri and I Travelled solo or as a couple, we’d walk miles, hitch in the back of trucks and even ride on top of trains.

Things we’d never do with the kids who quite often just fall off a stationary bench. 

Where you might catch a train or a bus jumping on with a backpack whilst solo. With children, it’s often cheaper and a lot more convenient  to get a taxi.

If you’re renting or buying a car any car seat will do. You can usually take them on a plane for free.

If you’re moving from one place to another and using Taxi’s trust us, get something like the travel seat we suggest below.

In our first year, we lugged car seats around it making even the simplest move a nightmare. It also meant we could never use cars for simple day trips.

Most travel seats are only suitable for ages 4+ so you may need something like the Urban Kanaga if you have younger children

Luggage

Pack so one person can manage it all

When we first travelled as a family we let the plane allowances dictated how we packed. We ALL had one large bag and one carry-on. The kids had a wheelie bag and a back pack each.

It looked very cute getting airplane pics. It was bloody nightmare moving from one place to another. The hubris that our 3 and 5-year-old would look after their own stuff evaporated pretty quickly.

Trying to carry and keep track of 8 separate bags is a nightmare. You will lose things and the feeling in your fingers. Pack for the ability for all your luggage to be carried by one individual while the other wrangles children. 

The child wangler should have a day bag with all the things that need access quickly during the day.

Our system is now reduced to two luggage bags and a day bag.

Parent 1=

Luggage 1:One massive solid suitcase that can take a beating. This means you are not taking the weight and less used things stay locked away unless you’re staying somewhere for a week.Then

Luggage 2: A backpack with a couple of sets of clothes that you can carry on your back. Separate these using the waterproof liners we discuss later.

Parent 2=

 has Waterproof day pack and both hands-free to wrangle children.

Waterproof day pack

Get something you can wipe off at the end of the day

The waterproof day bag mentioned above is something we’re designing and selling ourselves,

(More on how we sell our own products whilst travelling)

 We’ve been testing prototypes, in the meantime below are some alternatives.

A waterproof bag is probably my favourite bit of travel kit.

We use it for everything from shopping to going to the beach. Having a change of clothes that stay dry or being able to put swim stuff in and not have it leak through. 

We’ve even been able to hire a canoe on a whim. It’s the bag that’s getting stuffed under restaurant tables and rummaged through on benches and filled with snacks and drinks.

Being able to wipe all the travel detritus off and not worry about a change in weather. Trust us it makes life so much easier and less gross.

Because they roll down they can carry as much as a big backpack but still, be practical just carrying day-to-day bits and bobs.

Multi-purpose shoes

One shoe to rule them all

If you chase the sun you’ll probably live in flip-flops.

But you’ll need a little more if you’re doing any adventures.

 Keri and I used to have shoes for every activity; running, walking, climbing, and water sports. I had about 5 pairs of running shoes for every kind of terrain and race.

If we brought them now would take up most of our luggage space.

When you are travelling you want something:

  • Multi-purpose
  • Lightweight
  • Quick drying
  • Doesn’t look too dirty
  • Casual enough for a cafe
  • Can handle a muddy trail or two

I like barefoot shoes. Inov8 and Vivo barefoot are brilliant, but they are expensive because strip down on weight and have technical elements and designs that make them look a bit OTT for everyday use.

We are developing a more affordable alternative better suited to the everyday needs of a travelling family that might walk to a cafe and squeeze or a run in once a month. 

These are what we’d recommend in the meantime, hit all the above and so light you can use them as watershoes.

Flip flops

Something for the weekend

A good pair of flip-flops will save on socks and washing.

Invest in some slightly posher ones so you don’t have to go out for sunset Pina Coladas or nicer restaurants wearing the all-purpose shoe mentioned above.

Getting some for the kids makes getting out the door with the kids quick and simple.

 

Waterproof socks.

Because you can’t pack wellies

A bit of a running joke at ALMO at my expense, but I stick by this: waterproof socks really are a must if you’re going anywhere wet and potentially cold.

You will not want to lug around multiple pairs of waterproof shoes let alone try and dry them off with limited space

These turn the shoes we recommend above, into a functional pair of waterproof walking shoes (worn inside not outside). It’s a lot easier to wash and dry socks than a pair of walking boots and a lot lighter.
Seal Skinz are the market leader but there’s some new strong contenders with smaller ecomm companies coming on the scene.

 Tablets and electronics

 

Because some days you can’t get a little more outdoor

Getting kids off tablets is the kind of thing you might associate with a brand called “A Little More Outdoor”.

However, a tiny portable portal to every known piece of information is a tool that’s really worth having when it comes to education on the move. Knowing how to work electronics is always going to be a vital skill.

Gamification of learning that rewards trial and error is a really good way of sneaking in learning without kids labelling themselves as good or bad at a subject. 

Most of the apps will adapt to kids as they progress at their own rate. 

Our kids are usually pretty chuffed to have a “school day”. It usually means they are doing self-guided learning as opposed to our usual MO of dragging them around in all weathers. 

It’s a chance to explore their interests and develop core maths and English skills because admittedly tend to focus on outdoor learning and science.

That said even when your travelling and living your best life there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a films and games etc. It’s a great common ground when meeting new families.

You’ve probably got some old phones and old tablets around the house. Do a hard reset on them. 

We’ve heard from friends that the Amazon tablets (RRP £100) are a bit of a pain. You can pick up a refurbished Apple one for around the same price. 

The tablets or phone doesn’t need to be anything special, just make sure you’ve got a sturdy case and plenty of chargers. 

Stock up on your destination’s socket adapters. We only took two adapters so trying to keep laptops and phones topped up presented quite a logistical challenge.

If you don’t have any around the house, high street shops like Game and Cex have some great deals on second-hand ones.

Here are some apps we’d recommend for younger travelling learners:

Simple water bottle & purifier

Make sure you can always access safe drinking water

Don’t get sports tops! they break and pick up bacteria and leak. 
You don’t need vacuum seals they just burst and take up unnecessary space that could be filled with water.
I don’t have any recommendations for this as Amazon and other online retailers add so many unnecessary gimmicks to drive the price above £10 (enough to make it profitable when covering postage etc).

A straightforward metal water bottle with a screw top is fine and you can pour hot water in to clean or simply have purified water.

 

That said some places don’t always have the best tap water and encourage you to buy bottled water which gets expensive and wasteful.

Purifier straws work by microfiltration, holes big enough to let h20 through but not bacteria. YOu can get sets that you can pump water through to fill up bottles for the family or bottles like the one below for quick drinks on the go.

Kids’ hats.

Putting sunscreen on all the time is a pain.

A hat that covers the shoulders is a massive time saver and doesn’t get lost or broken as quickly as sunglasses.





Waterproof pack bags/compression bags.

Adapt and survive

As we mentioned above, you ideally want to get everything into three bags so you can move easily and efficiently. 

When you get places having things easy to separate and manage is important. 

These compression packers are great

Pack for each person/each activity.

Almost everything can be put in one suitcase and dished out when you arrive places. 

You can also organise things as they get dirty to save everything from being jumbled together.

It’s also a great way to make use of carry on weight. 

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