My Favorite Travel Gear (for Traveling With and Without Kids)

My Favorite Travel Gear

My Favorite Travel Gear

Is anyone daydreaming of vacations to warmer places?  With spring breaks and summer trips on the horizon, let’s talk travel gear!

I used to travel a ton for work, so I became pretty efficient at packing.  Once we had Addie (now 4.5 years old), I was still traveling a lot and brought her with me.  Thanks to that, we became efficient at packing for traveling with kids too.  We’ve traveled a bit with Ella, too (now 11 months old), and while there is definitely more stuff to bring, thanks to already having great travel gear, the added stuff hasn’t felt crazy!

Today’s items include some of my favorite travel items and things my family and I use to make traveling as easy as possible.  Let’s get to them!

1. Packing Cubes – GAME CHANGER.  I cannot stress how important these are for a more pleasant travel experience!  Packing cubes keep clothes wonderfully organized in your suitcase AND once at your destination.  You can more easily find what you’re looking for.  I also like to keep my clothes in these, put them in drawers at our destination, and live out of them from the drawers.  When it’s time to pack up, I can quickly zip up the cubes and throw them in my suitcase.

I used these for years while traveling solo, but they became even more useful with kids.  Especially when you share suitcases.  Each person in our family gets their own color of packing cubes.  Instead of having to fish through a sea of four people’s clothes to find something, we go straight to that person’s color cubes and grab what we need.  SO. MUCH. BETTER.

These come in many different colors and sizes to fit all your needs!  The medium cubes fit half of a carry on suitcase perfectly.  I’ve had THIS brand for almost 12 years and they are still going strong!  They’re machine washable too–so convenient.

BTW you can hold more in each cube than what I showed above.  Usually I stack a few more pieces on top what’s shown above.

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grey tee jeans white sneakers travel outfit

2. Tote – This is my everyday bag that I’m sure is no stranger to you. It’s also my favorite travel tote.  Typically when I travel, in my tote I’m carrying my 15″ laptop and charger, large water bottle, small wallet, a small pouch for miscellaneous items, a few snacks, 1-2 books, and a cardigan/scarf or other light layer.  My exact tote is HERE which has held up through heavy use for several years.  But there is a lookalike for half the price HERE–I can’t speak to this one’s quality, though.

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3. GoToob Silicone Travel Bottles – Have had these for over a decade and have never needed to replace them!  These are MY FAVORITES, and well worth the price!  I used to get annoyed with cheaper ones, as either I couldn’t get all the product out, they were super hard to clean, or they leaked.  GoToobs have a wide opening, which make them very easy to clean.  The silicone allows you to squeeze products out more easily, plus the wide opening allows you to scoop out anything else with your finger.  They come in several sizes which can all be found HERE.

4. Hard Case Spinner Carry On – I use a hard case spinning carry-on when I travel alone, or when we need an extra one when traveling with family (see below for our family suitcase).  I don’t have this exact one, but I do have a hard case spinner from Costco that I love.  I’ve had carry-ons made of fabric as well, but I like how the hard case suitcases compress items to make them fit better.  Fabric carry-ons were prone to bulging out if contents were overflowing which made them difficult to squeeze into overhead compartments sometimes.

5. Mother Lode Suitcase – We use two of these when traveling with our kids.  They come in several sizes, and we have the large 29″ rolling duffel and a smaller 25″ rolling duffel.  We love these because when traveling with kids, we have to pack a lot more little things like their sound machines, baby monitor, medicine, books, etc. and these keep things more organized and protected.  It has two major compartments with additional outer pockets.  The top compartment is where we hold clothing in packing cubes.  The bottom compartment is protected by a hard case and can be separated into 3 smaller compartments which is so nice for organization!  We store baby monitors, sound machines, and all those little things there.  We’ve had these for years and love them!

Travel Jewelry Case

6. Jewelry Organizer – I’ve had jewelry organizers in the past, but for the last couple of years this has been the winner!  Mainly because the earring panel is HUGE and can hold my Nickel & Suede earrings.   Most jewelry organizers don’t have 1) as huge of a panel for earrings, 2) as many holes for earrings.  Usually it’s just a small strip with enough space for a few tiny earrings.  I also love that it is relatively flat.  It has pockets and loops for other jewelry like smaller necklaces or bracelets.  It doesn’t fit my statement necklaces, so I put those in small snack Ziplock bags and zip them up in this organizer with everything else.  I’m mostly in it for how flat it is and the big earring panel!  Comes in 3 colors HERE.  I own it in cream.

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7. Hanging Toiletry Bag – I was gifted this hanging toiletry bag 10 years ago.  It’s not the prettiest or the cutest thing ever, but dang, it’s good quality!  I’ve been using it for 10 years with heavy travel and it still looks brand new–it’s incredible!  It’s water-resistant with a removable caddy.  There are times I wish I could stand it on the counter, but most of the time I’m happier that it hangs.  Sometimes there’s no counter space to put my bag, so the ability to hang it on a towel bar or door handle is awesome.  Comes in 10 colors and 4 sizes HERE.  There is a similar one for slightly cheaper with very good reviews HERE, though I can’t speak to durability.

Travel Gear With Kids

8. Lotus Travel Crib – This is AMAZING for travel.  It is SO compact and SO much lighter compared to bulky Pack N Plays.  And it turns into a backpack, so you can carry it handsfree while traveling!  We have friends that never want to bring their Pack N Play anywhere because they’re enormous, and they always envy our Lotus Travel Crib.  Friends have also remarked how much easier this is to set up.  Plus, the mattress on this Lotus is softer than Pack N Plays because PnPs have the bars underneath–quite uncomfortable–while the Lotus mattress sits on the ground.  We’ve had this for 4.5 years and LOVE THIS.  There is also an attachment you can buy to convert this to a bassinet.

9. Inflatable Toddler Bed with Bumpers – When Addie became too big for the crib but we still needed a travel bed for her, we got this one.  We’ve only had it for less than a couple years, but it’s been awesome so far!  It comes with an electric pump and the whole thing rolls up small enough to fit into one section of the bottom of our large Motherlode suitcase.  So cool!  Bumpers on the side are helpful for kids who aren’t able to sleep without railings yet.

10. Magna Cart Dolly – You might be wondering, “WHAT the heck?”  If you ever need to fly somewhere with a carseat but without a stroller that you can roll the carseat on, LISTEN UP.  We put the carseat on this Magna Cart and secure it with two bungee cords.  Then, we roll the carseat through the airport like luggage–and yes, we’ve rolled it with Addie sitting on it.  Great for when kids are too small to walk super far, too big to carry, and you don’t have a stroller.  When we get to the gate, we fold up the Magna Cart and carry it on.  It folds up SO small and flat.  Yes, there are legit “travel carseat carts” you can buy for this exact purpose, but the Magna Cart is SOOO much cheaper!  We learned this hack from our friends long before we ever had kids and thought this was genius!

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Those are 10 of our favorite travel gear items!  I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but hopefully these help make packing for upcoming trips much more pleasant.  Are you guys going anywhere this spring or summer?  We’ve got an upcoming wedding to fly to in April, we’re planning a trip with friends in May, and then I’ll be flying to Madison, WI for a conference in June!

For more of my favorites for traveling, see this Gift Guide for People Who Travel a Lot (for Men and Women) and all my Packing Lists!


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