Sure, traveling with kids can be hard. After all, the last place you want to be entertaining a 2-year-old is on an international flight. Yet, according to the 2022 “U.S. Family Travel Survey,” 85% of families intend to travel with their children in 2023. Since remote work blurred the lines a bit further between home and work, some parents may choose to take their kids on work trips, capitalizing on the opportunity to spend more time with them while also taking care of business. Other parents, however, need amenities when traveling without their kids, such as breast-feeding parents navigating confusing rules about taking pumped breast milk through airport security.
Here are 12 products and services trying to lighten the load for parents, with an eye on convenience whether you are traveling with kids for work or pleasure.
A vending machine for kid necessities
Forget to pack extra wipes? Are all of your extra diapers in checked luggage? Baby Vend has your back; it’s a vending machine stocked with baby essentials such as food, diapers and wipes. Jasmin Smith, a mom of twins from Anchorage, Alaska, founded Baby Vend after facing the challenge of finding basic baby necessities while stuck at the mall. It’s a major upgrade from the sad coloring books and lack of sippy cups in airport stores.
Rent gear when traveling with kids
Catherine Churchman used the international baby gear rental service BabyQuip when she traveled with her kids. “It was incredible to walk into our rental house and already have somewhere safe to put my baby down so that we could unpack and wrangle our toddler. We had all the comforts of home for the kids without having to travel with it ourselves.” Available in over 1,000 cities across the globe, BabyQuip collaborates with over 1,500 independent “quality providers” that clean and deliver gear to families.
Scooters in… hotels?
Hang on to your luggage racks. You might soon see kids zipping by on kid-powered Micro Kickboard scooters at a hotel near you. The scooter brand is collaborating with Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants to create a more kid-friendly experience for travelers. Kids can use the scooters while sightseeing around town. “As parents who often travel with family, we know and love Kimpton boutique hotels that are cool yet offer family-friendly perks like welcome gifts, Micro Kickboard scooter rentals and kid-style dining, to name a few,” says Julie Hawksworth, CEO and founder of Micro Kickboard. This is just one of Kimpton’s steps towards increasing accessibility for families—they recently started offering an On Demand Family Fridge Program for breast-feeding parents and, in 2021, partnered with 4moms to provide baby seats, baby bathtubs and baby seats to guests as needed.
Outsource the planning when traveling with kids
What if someone planned a trip for your family that actually led to bonding and relaxation? Evan Freed, an entrepreneur and founder of The Family Journey, does just that. He arranges camps for the kids during the days, calming and relaxing activities for adults and adventures for the whole family. He offers two options: A private guided retreat, which he can lead virtually or in-person, and a group guided retreat, in which your family joins Freed’s.
His business was inspired by his own family’s month-long trip to Costa Rica in 2021. “Our family experienced a new way of life, had more fun than we had in a long time and were closer and more connected than when we arrived. As an entrepreneur and meditation teacher, I realized I could combine my skills to bring this incredible, life-changing experience to other families.” The Family Journey also helps travelers connect with local communities, engaging in service and learning opportunities.
Don’t fight over charging ports
Kids and their devices can take up all the plugs in the car. But the Shell Portable Power Station can keep all of your devices running to ensure you don’t miss a Zoom call while your kid’s iPad is also dying. It can power up “most of your essential devices and small appliances such as a mini refrigerator, fan, camera, projector, lamp light, TV, CPAP and more,” according to its Amazon description. It’s especially useful if you are working or traveling off the grid, and it can be used as an emergency backup generator.
A stroller built for traveling with kids
Sure, your old stroller can make the journey. But strollers specifically meant for traveling with kids offer convenient features you won’t want to give up when you get home. The Bombi Bēbee Stroller is only 16 pounds, folds with one hand and has an XXL canopy with a zip-out extension for sunny days. If you’re carting a whole brood and need a bit more room, look into the Veer All-Terrain Cruiser XL, with a 250-pound cargo capacity. It is a wagon that doubles as a stroller, and can serve as a beach or amusement park wagon at your location. Looking for something a little more compact? The Colugo Compact stroller folds up easily into an overhead bin.
Pack and ship breast milk home
Being away from your baby can be tough, but transporting the pumped milk back doesn’t have to be. Milk Stork, a breast milk shipping company, is the answer for busy moms who need to travel for work. They offer a convenient cooler kit that has everything you need to pack and ship breast milk safely home. Feeding your baby while traveling is also easier with self-warming bottle holders, like Ember—especially when you don’t know what you will have access to in order to warm a bottle on the go.
Banish boredom when traveling with kids
Many parents know the travel hack of packing a bag of tricks for kids to check out, exchanging activities every once in a while depending on age. Keke bags (which stands for “keep every kid engaged”) is a modular, grab-and-go bag with pouches full of educational and fun activities, plus extra storage for other essential items to keep kids busy during travel. Built for ages 3-6, there is an additional subscription option that lets you swap out pouches every three months for new activities.
Slim down the diaper bag
Just because you are traveling with kids doesn’t mean you need a massive diaper bag weighing you down. Lately, people have been opting for fanny packs, which are being worn in different ways, including like a sling. As such, the Citymini Sling Diaper Bag is on trend and perfect for on-the-go parents. Its inner pouches are designed to accommodate diapers, wipes and a baby or toddler cup. Plus, it has a large one-handed zipper design, a key lanyard and a changing sheet, among other benefits. Bonus: The fabric is water- and stain-resistant and washable. This bag is also helpful if you will be with your kids some of the time but need your own bag for essentials during other parts of the trip.
Work while they nap
So you made it to the hotel, where you need to get some work done—but your kid needs to nap. How can you do this in the same room, where your baby can see you? SlumberPod solves this problem, saving serious money that you’d spend investing in multiple adjoined hotel rooms while traveling with kids.
Katy S. Joyce, a freelance writer from Omaha, Nebraska, says the SlumberPod is her “go-to to ensure that my baby sleeps on the road.” The SlumberPod is a blackout tent that fits over “most standard playards, mini-cribs, select toddler cots and mattresses,” according to the website. She says she “can work or hang in the room while he naps, which would be far more difficult without that blackout barrier.” She also says it has helped keep her son on his schedule and transition to new time zones. “Baby Bob has been to Puerto Rico, the [U.S. Virgin Islands], Chicago, Costa Rica and the [Dominican Republic] already,” she says. “It also helps because then we aren’t shoving the crib into a bathroom or closet for Bob to sleep, which is what we had to do before we got the pod.”
Send the bags ahead when traveling with kids
There’s nothing worse than waiting around at the baggage claim after a long flight with tired and hungry kids. So, skip it! Luggage shipping service LugLess is helpful to parents, who may want to just travel with their stroller.
Shelby Solomon, a Chicago mom to a 2-year-old boy and currently pregnant with her second child, tried LugLess in her extensive traveling to Boston to see her family. “The first few times we flew with my son as a newborn, we tried to juggle it all… but while it seemed great in theory to have all of our belongings on hand, it only made our entire experience even more chaotic.”
She says LugLess simplified travel for her. “Using a service like this allows us to be present, focus on keeping my son calm and happy so travel is a positive experience for all of us. Plus, now being pregnant again, I can’t drag a clunky suitcase through the terminal or load a heavy bag into the overhead bin, so it saves me from needing airport assistance.”
If you do decide you want to keep your bags with you, pay a little extra attention to the luggage you select, and how it might do double duty for you along your journey. Atlantic® partnered with 4ocean and recently released a family luggage line with conveniences like a 2-in-1 tote and cooler for keeping drinks and snacks cold without lugging a full cooler around to or at your destination. Smart.
Look for airlines that care a bit extra for families
Some airlines are meant to get you to and from that business trip with the fewest frills and extras. Others have an eye on customer service for families, which can make or break your traveling experience with kids. From flight attendants who make an extra effort with fussy kids, to airlines that offer families priority boarding, you can prioritize these airlines when you buy your next ticket. And keep an eye out for family-friendly seating policies, where you won’t get split up from your kids.
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