What's it going to be this summer? Will your family brave airport security or pull off an all-American road trip? No matter what sort of vacation you're planning with your kids, the savviest traveling parents are always on the lookout for the latest and greatest kids gadgets and products to keep everyone smiling and build convenience and comfort when you're away from home. Here are some of our picks for cool stuff for you to pack (besides the iPad) this season:
Must-Have for Traveling with Baby: Cool Wazoo
We're all about multifunctional products for kids that not only save space but are practical for every day use. The Cool Wazoo baby pad combines 5 different products into one simple, compact, and stylish product. Originally designed to reflect heat from hot surfaces like swing sets and car seats, the Cool Wazoo features a large round pad that works great as a changing station, or can be folded up to protect your baby from hot surfaces or germy spaces. No matter how you use it the pad can be wiped down or even thrown in the wash so that you've always got a clean and safe space for your baby.
Must-Have for Weekend Getaways: GoCrib
Pass the Pack-n-Play along to someone else-GoCrib is the ultimate in away-from-home comfort for little ones, all in a 10.5 pound backpack! Developed by Scott Crumrine for his Stanford MBA project, Guava Family's GoCrib is a lightweight, sturdy, comfortable inflatable crib/playpen that kids love (call it a "fort," and they'll never fight getting in it). Parents love that it's as easy to pack as a sleeping bag, and the rigid inflation technology means that babies to preschoolers sleep on a padded surface that's still safe. For extra summer sun protection: The GoCrib Sunshadenot only turns your GoCrib into a shady oasis, but also provides 55+ UPF protection. The additional zip-top grants you easy access to get your baby in and out of the crib without having to remove the cover.
Must-Have for Outdoor Adventures: Bucket HatsPatag-66015-PinkProper summer sun protection begins with sunscreen and a stylish hat to cover those heads and faces. Bucket hats from Patagonia and Columbia (we love Axl's Closet for this sweet head gear) are 100% Nylon construction. fast drying, and lightweight. Their 360 degree brim provides complete sun protection while the fabric itself boasts up to 50 UPF. Fold up these hats when your kids aren't wearing them and stuff them into a pocket...try doing that with a baseball cap.
Must-Have for Airline Travel: Moby Wrap
The Moby Wrap isn't just great for summer, it's ideal for carrying your baby anywhere you go. Unlike other baby carries, this wide stretch fabric wraps over both your shoulders so you don't feel like you're off balance. It's free from buckles and straps so you don't need to fuss with trying to get your baby to fit, just wrap them up and go. Perfect for carrying your little one through airport security--no metal means you can wear it as you walk through the metal detectors.
Must-Have for Hotel Stays: Stop Bugging Me
stop-bugging-meFeeling paranoid about letting your little darlings crash out in that hotel bed? We've all felt a shudder as we've had to stay in a place that "doesn't look anything like the pictures," and the bedbug epidemic has infiltrated even some of the poshest hotels. Blogger Stacy DeBroff confronted the problem head-on by developing Stop Bugging Me, an all-natural, nontoxic spray to rid mattresses, couches, and more of the pesky critters. A good spritz kills bedbugs in about 15 minutes, and leaves behind a pleasant, botanical scent (eau de musty mattress, begone!). It's a great idea to pack one in your kid's rucksack for camp, too.
Must-Have for Sunny Days: Julbo Sunglasses
Eye protection for your kids might not be something that immediately comes to mind when you're struggling to put on their hats and sunscreen. Julbo Sunglasses are designed specifically for kids with flexible frames, impact resistant lenses, bright colors, and 100% protection from UVA/B/C rays. Their infant sunglasses models are hingeless and have a flat elastic strap so they stay affixed to those little noggins without pinching. These are a summer necessity for any outdoor family trip.
Must-Have for Rainy Destinations: My Blue Bumbershoot
Going sightseeing in a city with unpredictable weather? We're big fans of My Blue Bumbershoot, a hands-free stroller umbrella. Just clamp it onto your stroller's handle, and you stay dry while maneuvering with ease (assuming you've got a rain shield for the little one, too). Its clear design makes it a cinch to see through, so you won't even miss out on looking up at architecture, nature, whatever you want to see.
Must-Have for Swimming: SwimZip
Say goodbye to the days of wrestling with your kids to put on their suits. SwimZipswimsuits combine UV protection and quick full-length zipper access so putting on and taking off your little one's swimsuit is a breeze. With built in liners and chlorine resistant fabric, these suits are comfortable and tough (and they're stylish too). Kids love the feel and parents love the Ultraviolet Protection Factor of 50+, so you don't need to worry about protecting your kids from UVA & UVB rays.
Must-Have for Noisy Destinations and Travel: Earplanes
ear-plane-plugsDoes your little darling dread takeoffs and landings? Try children's Earplanes, earplugs which act to slow down the changes in pressure in the Eustachian tubes. The patented technology keeps sensitive ears from being in pain, and the plugs can be used to reduce noise in hotels, campgrounds, etc.
Must Have for the Pool: JuJu Roo
jujurooWhile the JuJu Roo makes the perfect shower carrier for both mom and baby, the JuJu Roo also works great when swimming with your kiddo. The hands-free carrier makes it easy to hold onto your baby and keeps them close to your body. Your little ones have range of motion too, so they can splash around in the water without venturing away from mom.
Must-Have for Road Trips: Fun on the Run
Ok, so it's not brand-new, but before the iPhone and the iPad, there were silly games that kept families distracted for hours. 324 of them are laid out in Fun on the Run: 324 Instant Family Activities. This tiny book fits easily in a purse, and makes waiting in an airport or sitting in a car an opportunity to interact and share in some laughter.
Must-Have for Surf and Sand Play: Rashguards
It's all fun and games at the beach until that dreaded moment when a sand rash puts a damper on the day's fun. Avoid that irritation this summer with some hip and protective rashguards for the kids. Full length sleeves mean they're covering up those little arms from sun burns and their lightweight nylon fabric makes them easy to wear all day long. These rashguards have UPF 50 rated fabric too so your kids are getting the maximum protection from the summer sun.
Here are some other summer must-haves submitted by our awesome Red Tricycle readers: nook, white noise machine, clean well hand sanitizer, and ziplock bags to store treasures, wet clothes, and anything else you might encounter on your summer vacation!
What's got a special reserved spot in your suitcase this summer? Let us know your traveling must-haves in the comments below!