20 Gifts for Families that Travel

I’ve talked about this before, but we’ve really tried to shy away from the “stuff” gifts the last few years and move toward more experiences. But sometimes it’s still fun to have something to open on Christmas morning! So we’ll usually try to wrap up something useful that connects to whatever the experience is. Then it takes care of travel needs, plus makes the experience feel a little more tangible.But what I DON’T want is the “functional” gift to turn into another thing to keep around. I want it to be actually functional. So here’s a list of 10 great traveler gifts that you or your giftee will actually use and won’t just create clutter.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you click my link but does not change your price. See my affiliate policy here.

Here’s a list of 20 gifts that I think would be terrific for any family that likes to get out and explore near or far. Stay tuned for a list of books that are perfect for little travelers!

1. Folding Backpack: I mentioned recently on my Instagram that we’ll usually throw one or two of these in our checked luggage just in case we need to reorganize stuff or quickly redistribute luggage weight. They were so useful on the way home from Asia because we didn’t have to carry them on the way there, where lightweight enough that we could carry them on while we were traveling around Asia, and then could check them in on our long-hauls home when we didn’t have to pay for checked luggage.

We gave these to our kids last year for Christmas as part of their Disneyland experience gift since none of them had any travel luggage. They each took their own on that trip and it made things so easy.

Outdoor 35L Sport waterproof Lightweight Packable backpack Durable folding Travel Hiking Trekking Camping Cycling Foldable backpack Ultralight Daypack collapsible Backpack (Lime Green)

2. Click a Brick Travel Set: This is one of the best travel toys in my opinion. I shared recently how we don’t do a lot of toys, but the ones we do have tend to be creative, building, open-ended toys. These fit all of those requirements and have the added bonus of coming with a small carry bag that makes them easy to tote along. And they tend to get lost less than LEGO pieces while moving around since they hook into each other very sturdily. All my 3 older kids love using these for extended periods of time. I think these would be great to put in a big box to surprise kids with an experience gift to take these along.

Click-A-Brick Animal Kingdom 30pc Building Blocks Set | Best STEM Toys for Boys & Girls Age 4 5 6 Year Old | Fun Kids 3D Construction Puzzle | Top Educational Learning Gift For Children Ages 4-10

3. Hanging toiletries case: We used to have one of those terrible tri-fold toiletries cases and recently got one like this that zips up the front and has side zippers, too. I love it maybe a little more than is reasonable. (And how pretty is that palm print?)

FOREGOER Travel Hanging Toiletry Bag Bathroom Organizer

4. Packing Cubes: Do you know anyone out there who doesn’t own a set of packing cubes? Because if so, you should buy them a set. Or two. Seriously, everyone should travel with these.

Shacke Pak - 4 Set Packing Cubes - Travel Organizers with Laundry Bag (Aqua Teal)

5. Kidco Peapod: Have I talked about this thing enough?! We love the Peapod so much that I believe it’s traveled to 5 continents with us. So much smaller and more lightweight than a pack n play, and currently on a great sale. It’s perfect if you know someone with a baby or young toddler who is interested in traveling, even to grandma’s house or the beach.

KidCo Peapod, Cranberry

6. Lightweight Luggage: We love this Delsey suitcase because it keeps everything well-protected while still being really lightweight. It only weighed a couple pounds more than our soft-sided one, but was SO MUCH more durable.

DELSEY Paris Delsey Luggage Helium Aero  Large Checked Luggage  Hard Case Spinner Suitcase  Titanium

7. Warm Sleeping Bags: This is one we’ve considered gifting our kids for a while. We have several other sleeping bags, but none that is super warm, and no kid-sized ones. I think they’d get the biggest kick out of taking their own bags camping. One of our dear friends gave us a double sleeping bag when we got married, and that was also such a fun travel-themed gift!

8. Personalized luggage tags: My kids think anything with their names or initials is so fun. And, to be honest, so do I. I love this leather one.

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9. Folding water bottles: These are so useful to throw in a bag without taking much space, but then holding water when you need them to. There are also these collapsible silicone ones that seem very cool. Or if you want a sturdier water bottle, I love this one that keeps things so cold and from which you can drink one-handed (essential with kids). I love that it doesn’t have a straw like a lot of similar bottles, but has a spout instead.


10. Steripen: I actually really wish we’d purchased this before going to Asia. It would’ve made the water situation a whole lot easier.

11. Propane Stove: We have a similar model and it’s so nice for car camping so we don’t have to worry about building a fire to cook every night. Perfect for when you get back to the campsite late and the kids are hangry. Also great for picnics, the beach, or other local adventures.

Coleman Fold N Go Propane Stove, 2-Burner

12. Pack of carabiners. Seriously, this is the BEST stocking stuffer for anyone who loves travel, being outside, or just going to the park with kids. I have my keys on a carabiner that I attach to the diaper bag or even my belt loop so I’m not hunting for them when I get to the car, we attach water bottles to backpacks, and a million other uses.


13. External battery charger: We love having an external charger while on the go.

Anker PowerCore 10000, One of The Smallest and Lightest 10000mAh External Batteries, Ultra-Compact, High-Speed Charging Technology Power Bank for iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and More

14. Inflatable travel leg rest/kid bed: We bought 4 of these right before heading to Asia and they were SO helpful on our long-haul flights. The kids could lay their legs out and slept so much better. I was in the bulkhead row with A (to have the baby bassinet) and it was also really nice to prop my legs up there. I could also see them being useful in the car on long road trips.


15. Car basket or trunk organizer. We love having one of these either in the trunk or even in the car on road trips to organize books, snacks, etc. It would be a great present to fill it with those things before gifting!

FORTEM Car Trunk Organizer for SUV Truck | Auto Durable Collapsible Cargo Storage | Non Slip Bottom Strips to Prevent Sliding

16. Audible membership: So useful for families that drive or travel a lot. There are tons of options for both adults and kids.

17. Brain Flakes: This is another STEAM-oriented toy similar to Click a Bricks. It’s great to grab a handful of these to throw in a ziplock to take along. They can be put together in all kinds of different ways and shapes so it buys a decent amount of engagement time.


18. Kids Kindle Fire: We don’t do many screens while traveling (and even more rarely at home), but the kids Kindle Fire is great for downloading kindle books through the library and reading on long trips. Or emergency games/shows in a pinch.

19. Mini Wet Brush: A perfect stocking stuffer to take along on trips.

Wet Brush Squirt Mini Pocket Detangling Hair Brush,Colors May Vary

20. GoPro: Awesome for obvious reasons. And if you’re looking for someone to whom to gift this, we’re happy to step in. 😉


AND BONUS 21! Zoom lens for DSLR. We’ve had our Nikon DSLR for several years, but decided to get this lens just before we went to Europe. I typically shot with a 35mm portrait lens prior to our trip, which I LOVE, but isn’t great for big buildings and landscapes (which we knew we’d see a lot in Europe). So we decided to invest in this lens and it is fantastic. Such good quality, excellent photo quality, and very little lag (great with kids). We purchased a very slightly used one to lower the sticker shock a bit and it’s been great. This one is a certified refurbished one that is several hundred dollars cheaper than new. Even without a top-of-the-line camera body, having a great lens really made the biggest difference in our photo quality.

On the note of camera equipment, a lightweight tripod can also be useful, or a small one to wrap around a tree or pole (although this one is tricky with a DSLR, but great with a small camera).

B013D1BMFEThis post contains affiliate links, which means that while it’s the same price for you, I may earn enough to maybe purchase another carabiner. 😉 All opinions are my own.

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