This contest is now closed. We will announce the winners soon.
The countdown is on and there’s shopping to be done.The good news is many companies have finally figured out traveling families can mean big business, so more and more products that make parents (and kids) lives a little easier on the road are showing up every day. We’ve broken down the gift list by age group. Nancy Solomon covers gifts for babies, toddlers, and school age kids and Dana Rebmann covers gifts for tweens and teens.
And, to cheer you up if you’re feeling stressed by all the shopping to be done, we’ve combined our gift list with a giveaway since you just might need a family getaway to decompress after the holidays.
Omni Mount Washington Resort sleigh ride. Photo courtesy of Omni Hotels
Thanks to our friends at Omni Hotels and Resorts we’re giving two of our readers a free weekend night at any Omni hotel in the US or Canada. Omni’s Sensational Kids program offers traveling kids a special welcome gift upon arrival. Plus kids have access to suitcases filled with games and books to enjoy during their stay.For the ultimate family getaway, the new Kids’ Fantasy Suite with bunk beds and bean bag chairs is available at select locations.
Two lucky readers will win. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment before 11:59pm PST on Thursday, December 16, 2010 and tell us the name of a favorite gift idea. Feel free to include notes about the age-appropriateness of the gift as well.
Our comment form will ask you for your email — be sure to include it! Your email will not be shared outside of Ciao Bambino and we will only contact you if you win. On Friday, December 17th we will have a random drawing for everyone that leaves a valid comment. The winners will be announced on Ciao Bambino when they are confirmed.
Get more Prize and Contest details at the end of this post.
Here’s my list of the best gifts for kids to keep them well-equipped, happy and busy during your travels. – Nancy
Let’s start with the basics, suitcases. Now, let me clarify upfront … I’m a gear person. Before I had my fourth child, I actually had to stop and think if it was just all that new and improved baby gear that I was really craving. Suitcases in our house need to be rugged and light. My favorite ones are the L.L. Bean Duffel bags. They are light and help in avoiding those nasty airline weight requirements.
However, it’s always fun to pick up a cute suitcase for the little ones to help them gear up of the trip.Here a few more interesting options.
Trunki: Ride-on suitcase in many different designs.
Disney suitcase: Boy and girl options with a sturdy frame
Land of Nod suitcase: Like Pottery Barn, Land of Nod has a selection of luggage that pop with their fresh designs.
Kids travel neck pillow by Noodle Head. Photo courtesy of Noodle Head
Comfort is Key
To keep those kids at peace and hopefully asleep, being comfortable is important.Here are a few items to help keep kids cozy.
Travel pillow 3 piece set: This set also comes with a stuffed animal and blanket.
Lug Pillow and Blanket Combo: We have used these non-stop both in the car and on the plane.Now that the airlines don’t offer blankets, this has become a necessity.They clip on bags so you can save space for other items in your carry-on.
David Fussengger Blankets: Adorable, funky, thick blankets, but best of all for traveling is that they are compact when folded up.
Electronics can save your sanity. One can only play with toys for so long.If your little one likes TV shows or movies, it gives everyone a nice break.That said, comfortable headphones are critical (I’ve learned that the hard way on a 6-hour flight).
iFrogz Tadpole iPod holder: This was one of my best finds.This adds sippy cup handles onto your ipod.The protective case is also invaluable.
Speaker pillow: We used this so much that I’m now ordering my second one.By combining speakers on a neck pillow it allows my toddler to listen to music without having headphones on.She loves this for the stroller.
Volume Limiting Headphones: Take care of those eardrums.
Travel Kiddy bag for ages 6-9. Photo courtesy of Travel Kiddy
The number of creative toys that kids can use to keep themselves busy has increased this year. Gift options range from basic toys to pre-packaged kits.For more ideas, you can see my post on Entertaining Kids on the plane but here are some of my favorites.
Chalkboard Mat: This is similar to a placemat and comes with vibrant chalk markers.
Magnatiles: Although these are a little heavy, all my kids love them and play for hours stacking and un-stacking them. They are a savior in hotel rooms when kids need something to do.
Giant Pipe Cleaners: Both the big version and little versions of these can be used in many ways.Bring pasta, cheerios to lace onto them.
Travel Kiddy Bags: Pre-packaged for kids of any age.
Eco-friendly Play Dough: Similar to the original stuff, but without any dies or preservatives.
Kiddywampus: I felt like I hit the mother load when I landed on this site.They have the easiest and best selection of random little travel toys.
Exposures kids travel journal. Photo courtesy of ExposureOnline.com
Travel journals are a creative way to document your adventures.
Barefoot Books: Dedicated to offering a wide selection of global stories, Barefoot Books has this creative journal.
Exposures Kids Travel Journal: Kids sticker-based travel journals are available in many colors and certainly are making it to our house this holiday season! They have the perfect ratio of prompts to open space.
Beautiful travel journals: Leather-bound journals make gorgeous gifts.
What’s better than keeping the learning going on the road?
Little Passports: This incredible service sends you interactive learning material each month covering a different country.
Tales2go: This iPhone app offers an unlimited selection of kid stories and music spanning all ages.This brings peace to my back seat! Like Pandora for kids.
Calliope Magazine: A world history magazine just for kids.
The older your kids get the cooler it can be to shop for them, because the things on their wish lists just might be on yours too. -Dana
For good or for bad, high-tech electronics have made things like magnetic travel games obsolete.The plus, there’s less to carry and no more little pieces to lose.The downside:electronics have a much bigger price tag than a magnetic checkers set.But while games can sit in a closet collecting dust when your family’s not on the road, I’ve found when I’ve made the investment in high end gadgets, they become something that gets used regularly, so in the end, the price tag may be higher, but you get so much more.
iPad by Apple. iPad photo courtesy of 3Gstore.de on Flickr
iPad Tops the List
When your kids hit school age, gifts often shift from cute and cuddly to practical and entertaining.The days of doing crazy things to get ahold of Tickle Me Elmos and Cabbage Patch kids are over. Whether you’re a kid or all grown-up, the hottest travel gift this year is the iPad.Once again, Apple has caught the world’s attention with its slim tablet that lets you do just about anything you or your kids can think of.Watch movies, listen to music, read books and magazines, surf the web, email and even write that school history paper. (Hopefully not necessary over break, but you get the idea.)Hit Best Kids Apps to read reviews and get recommendations on high quality apps that your kids won’t lose interest in after just a few plays.
The only downsize to the iPad is its $500 price tag.
iTouch A Good Alternative
If the sticker shock has your head spinning, consider the iTouch.For about $200, the iTouch offers many of the same great options as the iPad, just in a much smaller package.The iTouch easily fits into a pocket or purse and with wireless signals popping up on street corners and restaurants around the globe, accessing information like directions to good paella in Spain, is just a touch away.A warning of sorts, because the iTouch is smaller, I think it’s also easier for kids to lose or misplace.But the smaller price tag will hopefully prevent you from going into cardiac arrest the first time your kid leaves it on the plane, at the restaurant, or in the pocket of their favorite sweatshirt that just got thrown in the washer.Take a deep breathe now, it’ll happen, you know it will.
Noise Canceling Headphones
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I made a big mistake on a family trip to Jamaica last summer.At one point on the flight from San Francisco to Miami, I handed my 12-year-old my noise cancelling headphones.She noticed right away how much nicer they were, so guess what’s on her list this year?I also have a theory that they also provide a good excuse “not to hear” anyone trying to get her attention like her sister or myself.Bose is the industry leader, but pricey at around $300.Shop and compare reviews, there are cheaper options out there to be found.Regardless, my daughter knows I’m not willing to share them, so she’s pretty confident she’ll find them under the tree.
Digital Underwater Camera
It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the Jersey Shore or in Paris. Kids love to take pictures—hundreds of pictures of great things, and lots of fingers and feet. Now that film and the cost of developing film is a thing of the past, there’s no good reason not to give your kids a digital camera and let them go for it. Along with being designed to take the bumps that come along with young photographers, more and more cameras are waterproof.So places once off limits to kids and cameras, like the beach, now offer thousands of shots to choose from.At the end of the day, just delete most of the toe pictures and keep any award winners that sneak in.When we’re traveling, my kids love to upload their shots to the family iPad and pick out pictures for their travel journal.
Nice Travel Journal
My kids have been keeping travel journals since they learned how to write.It’s a fabulous travel tradition.I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found them lying on their beds, reading about and remembering the trips we’ve taken.I have some pretty specific criteria when it comes to finding good travel journals for kids, but when my girls were younger, I made a point not to spend a fortune.Now that my oldest daughter is 12, I will admit, I’ve upgraded her journals.Yes, leather is an expensive perk that can get beat up on a trip through Northern Ireland, but that’s kind of the point.When she pulls it off the shelf, it makes her smile before she even gets it open.I have a feeling those journals are going to be around for a long time, so the upgrade costs are worth it.
Cash is King
The most obvious of great travel gifts is one of the easiest to forget. Money.Kids love to buy trinkets for friends and souvenirs to remember their trip.
“Teens and tweens want independence when traveling,” says Mary Turner, Publisher of Travel with Teens and Tweens. “Give them some spending money in the form of a prepaid debit or charge card—then make sure you let them use it on whatever they want, even if mom and dad think it is tacky!”
Many prepaid debit cards can be replaced if lost or stolen, which is perfect for younger shoppers who aren’t the best at keeping track of cash.But check before you buy, some prepaid debit cards are not accepted outside the U.S.You don’t want your daughter to head out on a Paris shopping spree only to find out her card won’t work in France.
If your kids are headed to a place like China, or even much of Mexico, cash, especially small bills might be the way to go.In places where bargaining and shopping go hand in hand, having exact change is a must.
What are your favorite travel gifts for kids? Let us know in the comments section of this post to enter our Omni giveaway!
Omni Kids’ Fantasy Suites. Photo courtesy of Omni Hotels
Two readers will receive a gift certificate for one free weekend night at any Omni Hotel in the US or Canada.Weekend nights are Friday and Saturday. Certificate is redeemable for one night only, including taxes.Parking and resort fees where applicable are not included.
The certificate is valid for 2 adults and in most locations, 2 children, 17 years old and under.(In New York City children are 12 years old and under).Black-out dates and booking conditions vary by hotel location. The certificate expires November 30, 2011.
This contest is now closed. We will announce the winners soon.
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