1. Sanitizing Wipes
I love traveling with Wet Ones. Any brand of antibacterial wipes would do just fine. These are multi-purpose, especially when traveling with younger kids. I used to travel with sanitizer and baby wipes, tissues, napkins, etc. But, I quickly realized you can use them to wipe sticky, little hands, wipe down and sanitize items on the plane, pick up spills and more–cutting down on all the miscellaneous tissues you need to pack.
2. Offline Maps for your Smartphone
This is a lifesaver when you don’t want to lug your big guidebook or map around town, especially when you are traveling internationally with kids and you did not get an international data plan for your smartphone.
You can choose the city or country you are going to and download the map for offline use while traveling. It has saved me in many countries and lets you blend in with the locals.
3. A blanket or Stuffed Animal
I always bring blanket or stuffed animal–kid’s choice. When traveling, especially for long-haul flights or car rides, I find that letting your child take a stuffed animal, blanket or another object of their choice, just makes everything feel a bit more like home. Seemingly simple, but not to be forgotten!
(Alternatively, if you’ve forgotten a stuffy or just didn’t want to pack it, you can make it a tradition or a special treat to buy a favorite stuffed animal in your destination.)
4. A Good Book
I save one good book exclusively for bedtimes. That’s part of our bedtime routine at home, and I try to keep our bedtime routine the same when traveling. It just seems to make everything that much more smooth.
Of course, I love a good book and always bring my Kindle with a few new titles borrowed from the library just for about any trip. But I also encourage my kids to each pick a book too. (They usually bring several.)
I save one good book, however, exclusively for bedtimes. That’s part of our bedtime routine at home, and I try to keep our bedtime routine the same when traveling. It just seems to make everything that much more smooth. Brush teeth, pajamas, read a book and lights out.
5. Notebook and Pencil
This is a lifesaver when you need something for a child to do and you just cannot lug around a bunch of toys, devices and big books. I stash a good, old-fashioned, tiny notebook or even a few pieces of paper and a pen or pencil.
This is great for restaurants or getting stuck waiting in line somewhere. Kids can play squares, tic-tac-toe, hangman or just draw or write about their experiences!