It will come as no surprise that one of our favourite gifts to give and receive are travel themed ones.
I think in general we over-do holidays and birthdays in our consumer culture and I try to be thoughtful about the gifts I give. I like to choose quality over quantity; useful and practical over frivolous; and experiences over “things” when possible.
I have put together a list of travel gift for kids and families. I hope this helps you when you are stumped and wondering what to get your travel loving friends. Many of these items we love and use regularly. I am going to start with experience-based and charitable gifts, then share some great travel gifts for kids and finally some travel gifts for parents.
- 1 Experiences & Charitable Gifts
- 2 Travel Gifts for Kids
- 2.1 Travel Journal – Lonely Planet My Travel Journal
- 2.2 Activity Books – Lonely Planet Boredom Buster
- 2.3 Card Games – Rat-a-Tat Cat
- 2.4 Ride-on Suitcase – Trunki
- 2.5 Books for all-ages
- 2.6 Camera
- 2.7 Global Guardian Project – monthly interactive e-magazine
- 2.8 Penny Press or Coin Collection Organizer
- 2.9 Keens Travel Shoes
- 2.10 Backpack – The North Face Youth
- 2.11 Travel Games – Smart Games Magnetic Travel Puzzles
- 2.12 Headphones – Premium Kids Bluetooth Headphones
- 3 Travel Gifts for Parents
- 3.1 Packing Cubes
- 3.2 Travel Underwear – ExOfficio
- 3.3 Books
- 3.4 Globe Ornament
- 3.5 T-shirt – Eat, Sleep, Travel, Repeat
- 3.6 Electronics Organizer – BUMB Organizer
- 3.7 External Battery
- 3.8 Travel Map – Scratch the World
- 3.9 Travel Bag – Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler
- 3.10 Smart Phone Camera Lenses
- 3.11 Some Other Ideas
Experiences & Charitable Gifts
We all already have too many things in our lives and I know some of the most precious gifts I have received are experiences that I have done with my loved ones. Some great ones we have given or received are family passes to do a high ropes course, tickets to a musical or sporting event and date nights out.
We like using the Klook website for discounted tickets, tours and attractions. Sometimes deal sites like Groupon will have good specials in your hometown. There are so many great attractions and shows that the whole family can enjoy together, making for a great gift for the whole family. Check your local magazines and newspapers for visiting events and attractions happening in January or February.
Here are some ideas for experience gifts:
- sporting event tickets
- musical, theatre or concert tickets
- restaurant or hotel gift card
- Paint evenings
- Make or paint your own pottery
- movie passes
- admission to a theme park
- adventure sports activities like high ropes courses, ziplines, segway tours
- escape rooms are all the rage these days and many cater to kids as well
- tickets to a trampoline park, indoor playground or museum/science centre/zoo
- cooking courses
- spa services for some pampering
- a photo shoot with a professional photographer – great for extended families
Worried you won’t have something to unwrap, print off the info or ask for a brochure to include with the gift.
We think the best travel gifts for kids and families are charitable gifts that help others less fortunate. We love the idea of supporting charitable organization by buying a gift for a person, family or community who really needs it. We have bought chickens for my aunt through organizations like World Vision where all the proceeds go to the charity and our gift recipients feel good knowing that a gift was made in their honour. These gifts last long after Christmas and you can find a gift that matches your donor in a variety of price points. These gifts are wonderful at teaching children about the joys of giving and helping others in need.
Here are some ideas:
- A newborn checkup ($30) – Plan Canada
- Seeds and training for a veggie garden ($28) – Oxfam Australia
- 15 mosquito nets for malaria prevention ($41) – UNICEF USA
- 100 water purification tablets (16 pounds) – World Vision UK
We also love making purchases from Ten Thousand Villages which has an online shop and physical locations throughout North America as well. They feature beautiful hand-made products from disadvantaged communities around the world. Every purchase improves the lives of the makers with fair-trade prices. They have a great Gift Giving guide where you can find something for every one on your list from fashionistas to musicians.
Travel Gifts for Kids
Travel Journal – Lonely Planet My Travel Journal
If you are thinking this is just a glorified notebook, think again. With many different page layouts and lots of options for writing and drawing, this is a great way for kids to document their travels. Recommended for ages 5-8.
Activity Books – Lonely Planet Boredom Buster
We love the whole Lonely Planet range and I don’t think you can go wrong buying any of their products. We do use electronics while traveling, but I like to minimize our reliance on them. When the kids say “we’re bored” whip out this book with lots of great activities to keep them entertained. Recommended for ages 5-12. For younger kids, the Lonely Planet Travel Sticker books are a great option.
Card Games – Rat-a-Tat Cat
We love our card games and we have a whole post on some of our favorite card games to play together as a family. Rat-a-tat continues to be one of the kids’ favorites that we play over and over again. Best of all, the parents actually enjoy it too and it teaches some wicked math skills. Recommended for ages 6+, but our youngest has been playing it since he was 4.
Ride-on Suitcase – Trunki
We had one of these when the kids were younger and it was fantastic. Obviously the kids loved the colourful, animal patterns of these sturdy suitcases. But best of all, it made getting through airports so much easier. They could ride on them and we just pulled them along. Recommended for ages 3+.
We love reading books set in places we have traveled or that inspire us to travel. This year our strong 10-year old reader has loved The Lion, Young Reader’s Edition (set in India and Australia) and the Percy Jackson series (still about Greek mythology). Both of these are recommended for 10+. F0r younger readers, our kids loved the Magic Treehouse series where Jack and Annie have adventures all over the world (recommended 6-9 years old). For preschoolers, we love the Hello World books set in various travel destinations.
When they were younger we had a kids camera that they could bring on our travels. Now that they are older, this is the camera we have our eye on for them. It is such a great creative outlet for kids and a great way for them to be engaged in our travels.
Global Guardian Project – monthly interactive e-magazine
We heard about this from another family travel blogger and it looks like an amazing gift to give kids (or the whole family). It is a subscription-based e-magazine that teaches how to respect and protect our planet through articles, videos, art projects, recipes and challenges.
I know this one looks funny, but it is cheap and has two uses. Our 8 year old son got one of these a few years ago at Disney because he loved to collect the souvenir penny presses. He has almost all the Disney ones, but he also has pennies from all over the world at various attractions. These can also be used to start a coin collection from your travels.
Remember I said that I like giving practical gifts and we have found that Keens are the best shoes for travel. They are worth their weight in gold and you really don’t need any others shoes for many travel destinations. They provide the support of a running shoe with the style of a sandal and are perfect for toddlers right up to adults.
Backpack – The North Face Youth
We like our kids to have a really good-quality backpack that is the right size for them and provides support. Our kids currently use their MEC Book Bags, but we also have our eyes on this North Face youth backpack.
Travel Games – Smart Games Magnetic Travel Puzzles
This is a great game that kids can play on their own when traveling. We have a couple of these and they are great mind puzzlers that engage the kids. Recommended ages 5+ (it says 7+, but our youngest had been playing this since he was 4). Another great puzzle by the same company is the IQ Link travel puzzles (recommended for ages 8+)
Headphones – Premium Kids Bluetooth Headphones
We have had lots of headphones over the year and many have ended up in the bin broken. If you invest in a good pair of headphones, you will have them for a long time. Our kids often listen to podcasts and e-books while we are traveling and what we love about these is that they are cordless and they have a shareport, so two kids can listen to the same device.
Travel Gifts for Parents
I am going to start with a really practical gift and one that has transformed how we pack when we travel. I bought a few sets of these a year and half ago before we went to India and I remember wondering why I was spending money on them. But, they are amazing! It is so easy to pack, the kids can find their own clothes in our suitcases (we have colour-coded ones) and our luggage stays organized. Never again will we travel without packing cubes!
Travel Underwear – ExOfficio
New to our list for 2018, Paul has discovered these underwear that men are going crazy for. Originally called “My Package” these underwear have a pouch for their stuff and come in soft, quick drying fabrics. For women, check out ExOfficio travel underwear.
Travel books are definitely one of my favourite types of books to read. “Wide-Open World” is a great book about a family that travels the world for a year, volunteering in various locations. Another one to inspire wanderlust for full-time family travel is “360 Degree Longitude”. If you are buying for someone about to go on a trip, a fiction or non-fiction book set in the location can be really enjoyable. I loved reading “Shantaram” which made me so excited for our trip to India.
We have this exact same one and it is one of my favourites on our Christmas tree. I am obsessed with maps and globes and any traveler would appreciate one of these. We try to collect ornaments from our travels too, which make great souvenirs.
T-shirt – Eat, Sleep, Travel, Repeat
We love funny T-shirts and there are lots of good travel themed ones out there. Cafe Press also has a nice range.
Electronics Organizer – BUMB Organizer
Each year we seem to travel with more and more electronics and it gets tricky to make sure we bring all the cords. We love this organizer that keeps everything tidy in our bags when we travel. Best of all, they are incredibly inexpensive! Another thing we have used for years is a hanging toiletry bag. We like this one that fits a lot because when you travel with kids you have medicine for just in case and all sorts of things.
When we travel we rely on our smart phones so much these days and an external battery is a lifesaver by the end of the day. Since we use our phones as our primary cameras, we can’t risk them dying on us while we are touring around. Paul always has an external battery charged and ready in our backpack. Best of all, these are getting more inexpensive recently.
Travel Map – Scratch the World
We have given these a couple of times and it is a great way for traveling families to keep track of where they have visited. Simply visit a destination, then come home and scratch it off your map.
Travel Bag – Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler
We have quite the travel bag selection at our house. Our most used bags are our travel backpacks and our duffel bags, but we have our eyes on this hybrid style. It’s a backpack and duffel bag together and some models even come with wheels!
These clip on to your smart phone and will take your travel photography to another level. Make sure you choose the ones that are compatible to your phone.
Some Other Ideas
- Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker – we love setting this up in hotel rooms when we travel
- Luggage Scale – our bags are always close to the maximum, so this is essential for us. I prefer the manual scales to the digital.
- Travel Size Beauty Set – we love Bert’s Bees and at under $10, this is a great small gift.
- Travel Water Bottle – we like the Camelbak range of products. If you want to go really high end, treat them with a S’well Stainless Steel water bottle.
- Parachute Hammock – lightweight, these can go everywhere you do.
- Glass on the Grass wineglass holders – perfect for picnics and camping, never knock your glass over again
We hope you have found some great ideas for Christmas travel gifts for kids and families. This post has reminded me that I better get started with my shopping!
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