Hello and welcome to this guide to the best travel gifts for kids! I'm Abi, a travel writer and blogger and, more importantly, for this present lis, I'm a mum as well.
The lovely thing about looking for the best travel gifts for kids is that there's a huge range of educational, inspirational, affordable and practical present ideas to choose from...that children will actually use.
I've split the recommendations into the best travel gifts for toddlers, the best travel gifts for school age kids (boys and girls age 5-12) and the best travel gifts for tweens and tweens.
If you're on a huge gift guide hunt, then check out the best travel gifts for adults over here and the present list for him here too. Phew!
Now, atlases at the ready. Let's talk about the best travel gifts for kids. Not a drumkit in sight...
Quick disclosure - we may earn money through these links at no extra cost to you. We only recommend gifts we'd buy ourselves, though. Otherwise, it's all a bit pointless!
The Best Travel Gifts for Kids Under 5
One of the most popular travel gifts for kids is the Trunki: a suitcase young children can carry and ride around on. This, of course, is a mixed blessing ;-)
They're hardy and sturdy and quite lightweight. They're fantastic for preschoolers but, if I'm honest, not that useful when you're flying with a toddler or a baby. Why is that? They're smaller than the max suitcase size for carry on for most airlines. So when you need to include food, nappies, toys and so on, you'll likely need all the space you can get!
Water Magic Books
Ooh, it's just like AquaDoodle without the hassle. Painting without the permanent headache. Colouring without the chaos in someone else's house/flight/hotel room.
Water magic books take the Aquadoodle principle and make it portable. They come with refillable pens and no mess whatsoever. Baby Lab swears by them!
Travel Luggage Tags for Kids
Quite honestly, this would make a great gift for older children as well but it's toddler and preschoolers who will have the most fun with it. These aeroplane-themed travel luggage tags are functional and damage-proof toys and can unclip to keep little ones entertained once they've reached their destination.
Car Seat Tray
Also, aeroplane seat tray! These nifty fold down contraptions clip provide an entertainment tray for children on long journeys (be it by car or long haul flight.) This one has a tab for a tablet and a space for a water bottle, with mesh pockets on the side for books, colouring paper, pens and so on. They're so flexible, you can have AquaDoodle and toys to stay clean, or go rogue with paint sets and sticky snacks. Whatever works for you, right? (Well, and the passengers around you.)
Travel Toys for Toddlers on Planes
Looking for what to buy to keep toddlers happy on a plane? Read this in-depth list on toddler travel toys here.
The Best Travel Gifts for Kids Under 10
The Travel Book from Lonely Planet
It's a Lonely Planet bestseller and it's easy to see why. The Travel Book takes kids through 200 countries, with photos and illustrations to delight adults too. It's aimed at children over 8 but littlies will enjoy flicking through as well.
Check prices and buy The Travel Book on Lonely Planet here.
The National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of the World
For a first glance into the yellow rectangle, flick through the pages of this National Geographic Big Book of the World. Create a rainforest in a bottle or sing a song in Spanish, talk about mountains, cities, animals and more.
Travel Pillows for Kids
I absolutely swear by travel pillows for adults in my advice on how to sleep on a plane. With kids, it's slightly different. Some children (indeed, some adults) can sleep anywhere and don't mind how contorted their neck becomes. Others, well, could benefit from this. And still others won't sleep anywhere and their parents are doomed to a decade or more of strong coffee, dry tongues and slower-than-normal reflexes.
That said, they do make for gorgeous gifts, coming as pandas, strawberries, cats and various other unidentifiable cute things. The blurb is a little off for medical geeks (they promise to "prevent cervical vertebra" which would be a disaster as that means "bone in the neck" but I may just be sleep-deprived and tetchy.)
Foam Floor Puzzle Map of the World
Easy to clean and lightweight, this map of the world floor puzzle entertains and educates. AND is kinder to the feet than discarded bits of lego. A winner!
Waterproof Kids Camera
Take the angst out of photography by buying a waterproof, smash proof camera that can survive the pool. Kids will love clicking and splashing. You will be glad you don't have to worry about the GoPro disappearing into the great mysterious box of lost toys in the sky...
Embrace their inner safari with some bash-proof binoculars to take on the road. Shop for indestructible kids' binoculars here.
Best Travel Gift Ideas for Teens (And Tweens)
Now the fun really starts and you can cross over with some of the best travel gifts for adults (for every budget.)
Travel Journal and Scratch Off Map of the World
Packaged as the perfect gift set, this brown paper travel journal and matching scratch off map of the world can serve as a record - or a dream. Lightweight and flat, it's a great travel gift for kids living far away, when presents need to be wrapped and sent by post. Shop for the travel map and journal here.
Eco-Friendly Cool Water Bottles
No-one likes plastic but a kid's still gotta drink. Enter these stainless steel, powder coated water bottles in all colours of the rainbow. Keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot. Shop for the water bottles here.
Tiny Noise-Cancelling Headphones
Perfect for travelling on a plane and taking up minimal space, these noise cancelling headphones come in at a reasonable price.
Huge Noise-Cancelling Headphones
At the other end of the scale, these wrap around noise cancelling headphones won't get lost and are reasonably priced for inevitable mishaps. Great for keeping teens and tweens entertained on planes and gathering some peace and quiet when gaming in shared accommodation. Shop for the noise cancelling headphones on Amazon here.
Waterproof Kindle Paperwhite
Load them up with books, wifi and waterproof settings. Kindles (and eReaders in general) have come a long way over the last few years. The Paperwhite is much easier on the eye than the older models, it's lightweight and will be used again and again. With all the research we have that talks about why reading is so good for us, it's worth splurging on for a teen.
Gift Ideas for Parents with Baby
Wondering what gear parents need when travelling with babies (and what they don't?!) We have all the baby travel gear you do (and don't) need covered over here.