Our selection of travel gift ideas for families always on the go! These gifts won’t take up much space and are perfect for the friends who ‘collect memories, not things’, but still enjoy getting something under the tree at Christmas.
Christmas can be a wonderful time at any age, but it is probably never as magical as in the eyes of young children.
The Rabbit and the Bear are now, respectively,
3 and 5 (4 and 6, time has passed!) and their enthusiasm about the imminent Christmas period is contagious: they sing songs, draw Christmas cards and of course they compile their wish list for presents, in the form of a letter to Santa.
Even if not exactly in the same form, I have been busy compiling a wish list myself.
This might come as a surprise to people who know me.
I am a minimalist at heart and very much live by the mantra ‘collect moments, not things’. I am known for having a slight obsession with space and I periodically go around my house getting rid of ‘clutter’.
My definition of clutter being quite broad, most things we own have been labelled as clutter at some stage and yes, this include toys, clothes and the occasional piece of furniture!
I know I am a bit OCD about this but I am not alone: most families I know have a (first world)-problem with clutter, so I figured that if I compiled a list of things that are actually useful, I could make choosing a present for clutter oppressed families a little bit easier.
Useful travel gifts for parents
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Kindle and Kindle Fire
I used to be a book snob but it took me a minute with a kindle in my hands to become an e-reader covert. I LOVE my kindle paperwhite, I read everything on it now and when travelling is when it really comes into its own. Before going abroad I load it up with all the books I need and they can come with me everywhere, occupying a tiny tiny space.
The kindle is excellent for my reading habits and also has a good selection of children books, available also on kindle unlimited.
Another great Kindle is Kindle Fire which is a table both adults and kids can use.
When buying a kindle, I love to accompany it with a kindle cover: it doesn’t cost much, it looks lovely and make the kindle look cuter!
Packing Cubes and quick-dry towels
Families with very young children tend to travel with a lot of stuff so why not give them a present that will help them organise their belongings while travelling? I am particularly fond of two products: packing cubes and quick-drying towels, perfect as two separate presents or as a ‘travel light’ kit.
Packing cubes are a great thing. They are useful when you travel but they are also great for storing things at home. A clutter-phobic best friend and a great one for parents who are, more than many, juggling several sets of clothes at every given time
Quick dry towels are, for me, the ultimate travel accessory. I have one of these towels and I love it: it travelled with me to central America, China and Japan, it’s my towel for the gym and I often used it with children. It’s so compact, absorbent and lightweight I used to keep it in the buggy for emergencies or in hot weather, as an extra layer between baby and stroller.
The ergo baby carrier is a product most parents lust over: I believe it is one of the best carriers on the market and I have used it extensively both at home and when travelling. I highly recommend it so if you know a friend is looking at carriers, I believe this would be a great choice.
You can adjust the straps to suit all sizes and the wide range of colours means both mums and dads can use it.
Carry-On Travel backpacks
We have two of them and they are the best purchase we ever made: my favourite is the Osprey Travel Backpack which I find comfortable and stylish.
The Osprey packs come in several colours and sizes: depending on the type of travellers you are buying for, you may want to choose a smaller or bigger one – you can also look at my guide to the best luggage for families here to see other luggage options
No matter how tech-oriented your friends are, if they love to travel they are likely to love paper travel books! These are some series I use often.
If you can’t help your friends getting rid of their clutter, you can still help them tame it! When travelling, I find travel wallet really useful as they save me from obsessively checking that I have every piece I need.
Useful at home as well as travelling, I feel tiles are exceptionally useful when you are travelling and changing accommodation often and the risk of leaving something behind is high!
Travel size bottles and pouches
A small gift but really cute and useful: small bottles and bags! They are the perfect stocking filler and they are super handy especially if travelling with kids when cleaning products come handy even on the plane!
Best Travel Gifts for kids
Trunki: The Original Ride-On Suitcase
As well as being super cute, this is kids’ rolling luggage with a difference: instead of just pulling it around, the kids can ride on it, meaning daddy’s shoulder can occasionally have a bit of a rest.
While its plastic case may seem the opposite of a space saving, no-clutter object trunki is great for minimalist families as it doubles up as a good toy storage box. You can read my full review here to check why I love it so much and if it may suit your friends.
Kikki Deuter Backpack
My kids are in love with the Kikki backpack and have used them almost every day since the day we bought them: during the year, they are excellent school bags (they are suitable for pre-schoolers and young kids) and we have used them as backpacks for hikes and holidays too.
The are very cute and very comfortable and they have a super handy chest strap that allows them so sit properly on the kids’ backs without falling off. You can read my full review here
A Scratch Map of the World
A scratch map does exactly what its name suggests: it’s a map and every time you go to a new country you can ‘scratch it off’, making it a keepsake with your personal travel adventures.
I think it’s a fun, non-bulky object and a great way to teach geography to children and take a moment to recall places seen together. We have one on the wall in the children’s wall as we scratch open one countries every time we travel.
It is a fun activity, it teaches geography and it makes a lovely wall decoration. Maps are available for the whole globe or for specific countries, so they are perfect also for local explorers.
Kids’ Travel Journal
Another fun way to keep memories is a travel journal: if you are crafty, you can make one yourself or you can buy one built with children in mind.
Amazon has a large selection of journals, from the simplest to the most elaborate with stickers and pockets for memorabilia. A very good one is by Lonely Planet, which also has a wonderful series of ‘not for parents’ books that children of reading age are sure to enjoy.
Self-explanatory and a great way to get little hands away from your precious DSLR (well, they will probably want your DSLR anyway, but maybe not as often!). Kids cameras come in all shape and sizes and they are not built in such a way that they can get decent quality photos and resist the somehow rough handling from little hands.
Kids sleeping bags
One more multi-purpose object: sleeping bags! They are useful when we travel (on planes, trains or in case we have emergency sleeping arrangements) and they can, of course, be used camping or at home. These are the characters my children are obsessed with at the moment.
Kids headphones are a very handy travel accessory and one that we also often use at home. I have a full article on why we love them and some of the best on the market are for sale on Amazon
Kids don’t have to love the outdoors to enjoy binoculars: my two have a cheap pair of kids binoculars each and use if for everything, including staring into each other’e eyes thought the lenses and marvelat how near they look! This is an inexpensive options kids may really enjoy.
But the best Christmas present idea for families who hate clutter is this: money (to charity)!
If you are buying for someone who really cherishes moments over anything else, why not give to a charity in their name?
Many families who love to travel have encountered, on the way, charities or causes that stole their hearts: so what could be more special to them than to feel that you listen to their travel stories and decided to help? That would make for a wonderful, clutter free and truly meaningful Christmas present!
These are my choices, what are yours?