Oh I do love presents that get used over and over again!
With our busy travel and days out diary I’m always keen to make sure Santa brings some really practical items for the kids.
Over the year we’ve put some great gear to test and I’ve had a real pleasure compiling this list. I have ordered the list from least expensive to most expensive, finding something to fit all budgets. I can whole-heartedly recommend any of these items. They have been great value for money and proved their use over and over again.
I know! Socks! Such a cliche… almost like PJs or a sweater. 😀
Hear me out though; A decent pair of socks is often underrated, but it sure makes a big difference on colder and damper days. For us they often double up as slipper socks on longer journeys in the car or on a plane. Sleeping on a long journey with warm feet is so much more comfortable!
I love proper woolen socks! Pure wool is an amazing material, providing just the right amount of warmth autumn to spring. Kids woolen socks are remarkably hard to find or rather expensive. I’ve knitted the kids their own 100% wool socks.
If you’re not handy with the knitting needles then The Madventurer swears by his Heatholders. They have severed him well since he got them last year in his stocking. (An impulse buy at Asda, if I may admit.) This year I spotted that Heatholders have some kids’ socks and stocking too. Santa my just be bringing the Littlins some for Christmas too.
When we are away exploring, I find, it gives the kids some comfort and control. In the spring discovered these fabulous multi-funtional, yet compact torches from Decathlon. They double up as bicycle lights, are rechargeable (no wories about cost of batteries and how quickly they need to be replaced when the kids play with them) and are robust. The only caveat it these torches are super bright and the kids did need to be reminded not to beam it at each other.
We’ve used them in the caravan, car, hotel rooms, cycling and peeping into nooks on walks. Great fun!
3. Travel games
(£10 and under)
The best travel game has to be Rory’s Story Cubes. I’ve sang odes about how compact and versitile they are in my best travel game blogpost.
We also love playing cards. Themed snap is good and recently, with Hugo trying to master reading and Angelina mastering sitting, our Reading Eggs cards have travelled with us.
Another one that has given us oodles of fun is Chicken Charades. We’ve discarded the box and travel with the Chicken and the cards. OK- you space to play, not the best on the road, but the chicken is a hilarious travel companion. Just be careful, because dogs get very excited by Chicken.
(£15 and under)
Like socks, surely each child needs a book under the Christmas tree too, right?
When we aren’t travelling I love looking for inspiration and sharing that with the children or asking them where they want to explore next. The Lonely Planet (the publisher of the guidebooks that we’ve always travelled with) have a great series of kids’ books. My older 2 have learnt so much just from leafing through the World Atlas, a permanent coffee table fixture in our house. This simple book has started so many great discussions in the family.
(£30 and under)
However much I adore our trunkis, the most practical travel bag for kids are their rucksacks. LittleLife’s penguin pack had proved it’s worth in the car and as a school bag too. However, for days out, city trips, roaming in the woods I pack their three super functional backpacks for the kids:
Jack Wolfskin Kids Moab Jam– Angelina has been using and abusing hers for 9 months now and we have deemed it brilliant: great support, good capacity and lots of practical features.
LittleLife Alpine 4 Kids Daysack– This is Hugo’s and although it isn’t packed full of features like Angelina’s, as the price reflects (£20), it still functions brilliantly. The size is perfect for a 4-8 year old. I really appreciate the strong chest strap, which ensures that the whole rucksack still functions as a harness, meaning I can grab Hugo by his bag if he slips on a trail, or is about to step out onto the road. The harness will hold his weight.
Jack Wolfskin Buttercup was the best sized rucksack we found for Max (3 years old). It stores enough for the little adventurers, is a good shape and size for young children out and about be that in the woods or the city sightseeing.
For younger travellers I can’t recommend LittleLife Toddler daypacks enough. The shark used to be Max’s rucksack, and sometimes still is. We were really happy with this first rucksack for toddlers that doubles put as a set of toddler reins. The only reason we swapped at Easter, (when he was 30 months old) was to fit a full change of clothes, rain gear, snack & drink in the rucksack he was carrying.
6. Outdoor & travel clothes
(£50 and under)
There are two items in the kids wardrobe that have been extremely useful:
Their outdoor trousers. I dilly-dallied on purchasing these as they were nearly £30 each. But my goodness have they been worth it! They are splash proof, so in small showers we don’t need rain waterproofs. They are robust, the reinforced knee means I’m not constantly thinking they are going to wreck their clothes. Don’t know about you, but I think they look good, despite the reinforced knee. The kids use these in school for forest school activities, leaving me happy in the knowledge they aren’t wrecking another tracksuit bottom and are unlikely to get cold and wet.
In the sales in the spring I also bought Hugo a fabulous multi-functional coat at Decathlon- it’s a raincoat and a wintercoat. The inside padded bit zips out for warmer days. The outer coat on it’s own is not the lightest, but it makes up for the weight in toughness, yet still packs relatively small. The coat is waterproof and breathable. A functional coat is such a great investment.
(£100 and under)
Now, I never thought I’d be recommending a microscooter as a travel accessory! We’d always travelled with Trunkis, but at the beginning of the summer, I saw a family with a microscooter at the airport. Their daughter whizzed through the airport and when it came to baording the plane, they simply unclicked the handle, folded it up and it was packed away compactly.
We’ve taken our scooters with us since: Hugo loves to do the extra miles on it while we are exploring a city, Max will stand on it when he is tired, while I hook my scarf on to pull him along. It’s made wandering around a city sightseeing with young kids so much easier!
A real revelation to me: No more nagging to walk faster.