As parents, we are very picky about the toys that come into our home. We also rent and live in Florida (no basements), so our storage space is limited. Any toy we buy for the kids must encourage them to use their imagination or be educational.
We also love to travel with our kids, and they are starting to become more interested in things like geography, cultures, and photography as a result of our trips. I want to encourage their enthusiasm for learning about the world around them. That means I’m going to be very mindful this Christmas about gifting them with items that fuel their fire for travel.
Whether you and your kids travel a lot, want to travel more, or are simply curious about the great big world out there, I’ve gathered my favorite toys, products, books, and experiences to give you some ideas for presents inquisitive kids will truly love to receive.
Gifts for Kids Who Love to Travel
TOYS TO ENCOURAGE TRAVEL
SHIFU ORBOOT GLOBE
With the Shifu Orboot kids receive a globe, passport booklet, a stamp, and country flag stickers. They can scan pictures on the globe to learn fun facts and solve mysteries about culture, cuisine, animals, and famous landmarks around the world.
You will need a device (iPhone, Kindle, Android, iPad) for them to complete the activities. This is recommended for kids ages 5-10.
LITTLE PASSPORTS SUBSCRIPTION
Little Passports is a monthly subscription box designed for kids to learn about a different country or state each month. There are boxes designed for kids of all ages, and they come with activities to help kids discover and learn about a new place in the world. This gift is definitely educational with a focus on travel, and it’s so fun for kids to get their own mail each month!
A Little Passports subscription box is a perfect gift idea for your budding explorers of any age.
When I flew by myself with my three kids (ages 5, 3, and 1 at the time), I relied heavily on educational apps and some movies and shows on my husband’s and my Kindle. The kids don’t normally get to play with tablets at home, so it was a special treat for them.
The downside is that I now have heaps of children’s apps and movies taking up space on my Kindle. We decided that with all the traveling we are doing, it would make sense to get the kids their own Kindle Fire Kids Editions for travel only (and maybe a half hour on the weekends).
The Kids Edition comes with excellent parental controls, a kid-proof case, free kids apps and games for the first year, and a kid-safe browser. We also have a new reader in our family, and we thought it would be nice to start downloading ebooks for her on road trips and flights instead of lugging a stack of chapter books.
We got my daughter this camera 2 years ago for Christmas, and she absolutely loves it. She always sees me whipping out my camera to record special moments during our family travels and explorations, and it’s exciting for her to get in on the fun.
It comes with a USB cord so you can upload your child’s photographs to your computer and save, display, or print them if you want. The camera also comes with easy children’s games, and seems almost impossible to break (we’ve had a LOT of drops over the past 2 years).
USA MAP PUZZLE BY MELISSA AND DOUG
The Melissa and Doug USA Map Floor Puzzle has been a staple in our house for years. While putting together the puzzle it has inspired conversations about which family members live where, helping to give kids perspective on what we mean when we say we don’t live in the same state as their grandparents.
As they get older, we are having more discussions about the landmarks or industry pictured on each state, as well as quizzing each other on the capitals. It’s fun for the kids to learn, and I’ll admit, a great geography refresher for me.
BOOKS FOR KIDS WHO TRAVEL
LONELY PLANET - NOT FOR PARENTS SERIES
These Lonely Planet books are just for kids and help them discover fun facts and stories about the places they didn’t know they wanted to visit - all from a child’s perspective.
BABIES AROUND THE WORLD (BOARD BOOK)
Babies from different cities around the world share greetings in their own language surrounded by beautiful pictures of their home city. Kids will love the bright colors, and this book is a fun way to introduce other cultures.
THE 50 STATES: EXPLORE THE USA WITH 50 FACT-FILLED MAPS
I don’t know why, but for some reason I’ve always been drawn to maps. I love sharing that fascination with my kids through kid-friendly atlases like this one. There is so much information packed into each page of the 50 States book.
THE MAGIC TREEHOUSE SERIES
When my daughter was finally old enough for me to read chapter books aloud to her I started with the Magic Treehouse books. They are short, exciting, and informative for kids. Jack and Annie, a brother and sister duo, time travel to different destinations throughout history. It will inspire kids to learn more about places like the rainforest, the desert, islands, and more.
MOLLY AND THE MAGIC SUITCASE SERIES
A series of books about Molly and her brother Michael who travel the world with the help of their magic suitcase meeting other children and learning about other cultures along the way. Though we haven’t read these books yet, I can’t help but think my 5-year-old daughter would be excited to read these!
SEEK AND FIND NATIONAL PARKS
A colorful picture book set in different U.S. National Parks, kids of any age will have fun finding the hidden objects and dreaming about traveling to these beautiful destinations.
TRAVEL GEAR FOR KIDS
Perhaps you’re planning for a trip or vacation, and you want your gifts to help build excitement. Getting kids their own travel gear will not only give them something tangible to think about where they’re going, but it will also spark their imagination. I can’t tell you how many times my kids have dug their suitcases out of the closet to play “going on an airplane.”
THEIR OWN SUITCASE
Whether it’s a fun character suitcase or a chic and sensible one they can use for years to come, giving them their own suitcase will give kids a sense of independence and responsibility. My 5-year-old even picks out her own clothes to pack whenever we travel (which I later refold and organize when she’s at school).
My two older kids each have a small backpack they only use for travel which they are responsible for packing with toys or activities they want to use in the car or on the plane. Usually I make sure they have Crayola Color Wonder markers and coloring books and snacks, but other than that, they get to pick whatever toys they think they can carry!
My daughter has a cat backpack from Gap Kids that she got years ago (we call it Kitty Backpack). This one is similar, but the one she has is soft and grey. My son has a little fox backpack similar to this one.
My passport holder has been a lifesaver on multiple occasions, keeping my documents organized while dealing with kids at the airport. How fun would it be to let your child have their own passport holder to carry through the airport? Even if you’re not leaving the country they could carry their own boarding pass and feel very responsible and grown-up. This one holds everything (and comes in tons of colors). This one is only a passport cover, but it’s so cute I had to include it.
When I was a kid, my mom would give us a simple notebook and pen to journal about our travels, and the habit carried into early adulthood for me. Now that I have kids, I find I don’t have the energy to journal about my travels at the end of a long day, but I guess that’s why I write this blog!
I think writing about your experiences is an excellent practice to teach your kids, and gifting them with a beautiful notebook or a guided journal will help them form the habit.
Go! A Kids’ Interactive Travel Diary and Journal is PERFECT for preschool through about first grade. There are lots of pictures for kids who can’t read yet, prompts to write and draw, and the pictures are bright and colorful. Highly recommend if you want to keep your kids busy and engaged on a trip.
This Travel Journal for Kids looked perfect for elementary-age kids with the hard cover and large spiral binding. There are prompts and questions to answer which can make the overwhelming task of journaling about a trip much more manageable.
For teenage kids, any beautiful notebook will do the trick. They probably don’t need prompts at this point, so gifting them somewhere special to record their thoughts and experiences is easy. I love this leather-bound Traveler’s Notebook because it comes with three types of paper (lined, Kraft, and it’s small enough to throw in their bag.
TRAVEL NECK PILLOW
If you fly a lot or have a very long or overnight flight coming up, consider giving them their very own travel neck pillow for comfortable on-the-go sleep.
These actually look really silly, but I can see the practicality. The Seat Pets are stuffed animals that you velcro over the seatbelt so a child can snuggle and sleep on the animal during long road trips (without falling over).
EXPERIENCES FOR KIDS WHO LOVE TO TRAVEL
If you’re tired of things clogging up space on your shelves, or you (or a family member) would rather give the gift of time, and experience is always a lovely thing to give kids.
MUSEUM or ZOO PASSES
Is there a children’s museum nearby? A science museum? Art museum? Zoo? Aquarium? Getting kids a museum, zoo, or aquarium pass provides you with a year’s worth of experiences to enjoy together as a family.
Along the same lines, if you live near a CityPASS destination, consider buying your kids a CityPass and save it up for a family staycation. It will get you into top tourist attractions, museums, and experiences. We used the CityPASS for our trip to Tampa Bay and got into ZooTampa, 2 aquariums, a children’s museum, and Busch Gardens.
RELATED: How to Be a Tourist in Your Own City
TICKETS TO A PLAY OR SHOW
Introduce your kids to the joy of a live performance from community theater to broadway. The options are endless, and who knows what imagination it will spark in your child.
Give your child the gift of a second language. Sometimes you can find local classes to enroll your child in, or find an online program to guide them through their learning.
How fun for your child to receive a magazine in the mail each month! Think National Geographic Kids or Highlights.
A NIGHT IN HOTEL
Find a resort or hotel nearby and give your kids some quality time as a family. Is there a local city you’ve been wanting to explore? A waterpark your kids have been begging you to visit? Book a night at a hotel and pamper your kids for a night or two.
RELATED: Where to Stay in Tampa Bay with Kids
A CULTURAL EXPERIENCE
Take your kids to high tea or find a cooking class nearby where they can learn about other cuisines.