The holidays are just around the corner, and if you’re not sure what to get a traveling parent, you may be in luck. Family travel writer Kerri Zane examined 14 travel gifts under $100 for parents who claim to save the day at home or on the road. Some worked. Others didn’t. Her report:
For the Travel Gear Fan
These days no one makes a move without a smartphone. Those little pieces of techno-brilliance are a necessity, and the Clipstic PRO case has made using the smartphone safer and simpler. It’s got a car mount, so you can see your Waze directions on the phone while driving with the kids. The kickstand feature also allows the phone to stand upright. The grip feature allows you to be hands-free, and the protective lip on the case prevents the phone from shattering when dropped. This is a super smart case. I was able to slip the kickstand into the air-conditioning vent in my car (my car is old so it doesn’t have navigation) and easily follow the directions on my Waze app. The case starts at $39.99.
Small packages of necessities can be a great gift for the super busy traveler, and there is a brand new line of handy individual accessories called Savvy Travelers. They are designed to keep you clean and tidy. The product line includes everything from deodorant wipes and surface wipe sanitizers, to breath freshening wipes. There are even disposable foot covers, so no one has to step through the security line barefoot and unprotected. I loaded several of these packets in my carry-on for a recent trip and they definitely came in handy. I’m obsessed with having fresh breath so I found the speak eazy mouthwash wipes especially helpful. These clever stocking stuffers start at $9.99 and are conveniently packaged in single-use, eco-friendly disposable packs.
Parents often end up being sherpas, as they carry everything for their offspring. It is inevitable that something important is going to get buried in the bottom of the bag. The Go Caddy Multiple Compartment Water Bottle Holder is a multi-compartment tote that will hold a 1.5 liter bottle of water, passes, license, money, charge card, keys, camera, cell phone, maps, and passport, making everything easily accessible. When you arrive at your destination, this bag is the perfect carry-all for visits to theme parks, outdoor concerts, or the beach. As a mom I liked the caddy because it made it easy to find and access important necessities. The bag is $19.99 (plus shipping and handling).
Missing luggage happens. It is a travel inevitable and a traveler’s worst nightmare. HomingPIN has been created to help alleviate stress when this occurs. It is a tracking system of baggage loops with tags, key rings, and stickers that have a unique number on them. The numbers are activated online through your mobile phone number(s) and email address(es). When an item is lost or misplaced, the finder can connect to the owner by going online to homingpin.com, inputting the unique PIN number(s) on the tag, and a text message is sent to the owner. My suitcases, computer, and phone are all now HomingPIN tagged. Fortunately, nothing has been lost so I didn’t have to use the service. It does provide peace of mind in the event of a mishap. Starter sets begin at $10.00, which includes a 12-month subscription, and after that it’s $8.00 a year.
Parents are so busy multi-tasking that misplacing stuff like keys, a tablet, or glasses seems unavoidable. If this sounds like you, check out the XY Find It, which is a finder app solution. XY broadcasts Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0 signals in iBeacon format, which sounds an alarm to help you locate misplaced items quickly. While I think this product is smart, when I received it, the installation directions were vague, and not helpful. I abandoned the product without installing it. 1-pack: $24.95; 3-pack: $59.95
For the Fashionista
If you are a shoe switcher (one pair of shoes for the street and another for the office), check out the Shag Shoe Bag. You can tuck your shoes into the zip sanitary handle bag, then tuck the bagged shoes into your tote. No more exposing everything in your purse to everything stuck on the bottom of your soles. Made of cleanable polyester, one bag will fit two pairs of your flats or flip-flops, one pair of heels, or multiple pairs of children’s shoes. I felt very smart throwing my shoes into these bags and the bag into my tote. No more putting my shoes in ugly plastic grocery bags. A two-pack costs $19.95.
Families take loads of pictures while on vacation, and they always wants to look their best for those special moments. But since you have to be economical about suitcase space, it’s not easy to bring along all the items you need. Click n Curl is a an all-in-one tool that allows you to dry, curl, and set your hair in one step. The detachable round brush can also be used as a conventional round brush. The brush attachment and curlers worked okay, but I found myself finishing off my hair drying and styling with my everyday round brush anyway. A full set is $35.99 and add-on sets are $25.99.
Sun and swimming can wreak havoc on a hairdo. If you’re the active type who wants to participate in fun water sports but still look put together for an evening out, check out the Hadry hair accessory. The head scarf uses an innovative fabric that locks out humidity, is breathable, and water resistant. You’ll be able to keep your hair dry and protect it from harmful UV rays. The models in the pictures on the website look beautiful. I thought I would too. I found the instructions unclear, and when I attempted to wrap product around my head, the fabric didn’t lay right. I ended up looking more like a dunce than a glamour girl. Cost is $79.00.
For women who aren’t the full headscarf type, check out Violet Love Headbands. They’re cool headbands made in a variety of prints and bright colors. They’re washable and reusable, which makes them great for hotel gym workouts. They are simple and pretty. A great buy. The headband costs between $15 and $17.
For the Kid-Centric Traveler
It is always a challenge identifying one’s luggage on the airport carousel. That’s why SwaggerTags are so helpful. They’re brightly colored identification tags that will not only reflect your personality, but your picture as well. You can customize the tags with a photo, image, or logo. You decide what personal information to include and the tag reveals the information only if it is opened. They’re water, weather, and impact resistant, and available in six colors. These are cute, colorful, clever, and easy to use. One pack is $5.99, a 3-pack is $14.99 and a 6-pack is $25.99.
Developed by a mom, spbangs are unique, durable, and environmentally-friendly snack bags. They come in bright colors and are crafted with food safe material that contain no lead, BPA, or phthalates. The ‘notes’ version of the bags allows you to write on them, or you can color using non-permanent markers. They’re also totally washable on the bottom rack of your dishwasher. They’re perfect for taking snacks, crayons, or toys on your flight. I’m big on traveling with my own healthy snacks, so I found these bags to be a great benefit. Each reusable bag is $9.99.
Insect stings or bites are a hazard of traveling, particularly when visiting an eco-adventure destination.The Therapik is a practical gift option for anyone who suffers from allergic reactions. It provides relief from the pain and itch of a bite using heat. The product is based on a scientifically proven principle that most insect venom is thermolabile (sensitive to heat). It delivers heat in the specific temperature range necessary to neutralize the venom from over 20,000 different species of insects and sea creatures. I am highly allergic to insect bites so I had high hopes for this product. I brought it with me to Belize where mosquitoes are a huge issue. I was bitten like crazy, so I had plenty of opportunities to test the Therapik. It didn’t alleviate my itching at all. Cost is $12.95 each.
It is inevitable when traveling with family that someone is going to get messy. The baby will spit up or a little one will get a huge ketchup stain on his/her new ivory sweater. Check out the Dreft Pretreater Portable Stain Pen, which is small enough to be allowed in a carry-on, but powerful enough to be used on tough stains. One cannot go wrong carrying this nifty little goody in a carry-on. The product takes out stains in a snap. At $3.99 it makes for a smart travel savvy stocking stuffer.
A mom of two with a heavy travel schedule was inspired to create the World Village Playset. It’s a product designed to help kids share in a parent’s overseas cultural experiences even when they’re not together. The playsets showcase day-to-day life in other countries. The product was awarded Dr. Toy’s Top 10 Socially Responsible Toys of 2015 and 100 Best Toys of the Year. The first in this series is about China. This is a very smart toy for smart parents and kids, but it’s limiting in its scope, as China is the only playset in the current product lineup. I look forward to the company creating more playsets for other destinations. A full set starts at $59.99.
Looking for more travel gift ideas? Check out:
- The Best Carry-On Luggage of 2015
- New Travel Gear You Can Use on Your Next Trip
- Gear That Will Keep Your Money Safe
By Kerri Zane for PeterGreenberg.com. Kerri Zane is a family travel expert and author of It Takes All 5: A Single Mom’s Guide to Finding the REAL One. For more advice on health, parenting or Kerri’s exclusive MomEscapes, visit her at KerriZane.com.