Travel gear is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s designed to make vacations easier and family trips more comfortable. Especially when you’re toting kids. On the other, every extra piece of travel gear packed into your bag or car necessitates extra luggage. Or, at least until it’s forgotten in the hotel room or restaurant.
Every this-will-make-the-trip-a-cinch travel accessory ⏤ be it a foldable stroller, a pair of headphones, or a portable airplane toddler bed ⏤ has to be worth its weight in utility. It’s got to work, and it’s got to work better than not bringing it. And the only way to ensure it does is to ask folks who’ve already traveled with it. In this case, real dads.
We asked a group of nine battle-tested fathers which products made traveling with their kids easier. Maybe not a total breeze, but at least easier. Their choices were inspired, including everything from a mechanical white noise machine (no batteries) to an airplane hook that keeps tiny beverages away from tinier hands. Here is the essential travel gear for kids that our dads wouldn’t board a plane or pull out of the driveway without.
Potette Plus 2-in-1
“Small butts can’t fit on adult toilet seats, which makes it tricky to potty train on the road. When our kids were first learning, we brought this portable seat with us on vacation. Not only did help keep them from falling into some disgusting gas station bathrooms, but it also has legs so it can be used as a potty chair. Honestly, our kids are three and four, and we still bring it with us.”
—Chris, father of two, San Francisco, CA
Belkin Rockstar 5-Jack Headphone Splitter
“One: Yes, I let my kids watch cartoons when we’re on the road. Come at me. Two: While I love the transfixing effect it has on my kids, I don’t want to hear Paw Patrol for the hundredth time; nor do I want to let only one kid watch the iPad because there’s only one headphone jack. That leads to a lot of arguments. This splitter can connect up to five pairs of headphones, so both kids can listen. And when they fall asleep on the plane, my wife and I can listen to downloaded movies or shows. It doesn’t prevent them from fighting over who can hold the screen, but it does help.”
—Kenny, father of two, Tempe,…