The Essential 2011 Summer Family Travel Guide

Earlier this year, we drove across the country for a few days, packed in a minivan and destined for the Poconos.  As part of being a review blogger, traveling to conferences is a must.  We decided to take the whole family on this trip, skipping plane rides, TSA checkpoints, and extra baggage fees to experience a long, 20-hour drive complete with train museums, funky motel rooms, and family sing-alongs.  Here are our favorite products we took along with us.  As there are still a few hot weeks left to sneak a family trip in, we recommend them to any family traveling this summer!

Elmo's Travel Songs and Games DVD

With all the movies we let the kids watch on this trip, it was comforting to have a familiar friend in Elmo.  In addition to cute clips on buckling up and my favorite from my childhood, “The Twiddlebugs”, there are activities designed to sneak in a little education.  The younger scene will love this low-energy, engaging way to learn some ABC's, and it can help them feel a little less anxious about being away from home.  (We liked that Elmo's Travel Songs and Games DVD was a bit less hyper than some of the other movies we brought.  It was perfect for the pre-nap hours.) 

Sunbow Sun Protection Products

We use a lot of sunscreen in our family.  Applying it can be difficult, however, as the little ones generally want no part of it.  Since I'm not above using famous cartoon characters as a sort of “bribe” for better health, we loved that the Sunbow line not only smelled really great (scents include bubble gum), but they featured the faces of Dora the Explorer and Spongebob on the packaging and containers.  Two great choices are the SPF 30 Zinc Oxide Sunscreen in pink – it sports Dora on the tube, and goes from color to clear – and the SpongeBob Squarepants SPF 45 Sunscreen stick.   The stick twists up like a deodorant and glides on the hard-to-reach areas like the tops of the ears and under the eyes.  I loved how well they protected, and the stick is just half an ounce – perfect for stashing in a purse!

Kiddy Catch-all

I love that some carseats come with slide out cup holders and places to stash stuff.  Even if yours doesn't come with one (or you find you need another for crayons, juice boxes, or a best stuffed friend), the Kiddie Catch-all lets you affix a handy pocket to any seat in a jiffy.  Remove it when you don't need it, or when you need to cleaned it out.  These Mom-invented caddies are convenient, and require no hardware to install!  Made from durable plastic and mesh, they stand up to excessive moisture and grime – helping kids to keep their stuff to themselves.


This is a baby food with a twist.  Instead of just being packaged in handy travel-sized portions, it’s actually dried into a fine powder!  You can sneak it onto you carry-on for a flight, or stash a few into your purse to whip up a quick baby meal from the hotel bathroom.  The end result is a fresh-tasting food that has all the flavor and nutrition of just-made apples, peas, or squash – but without the bulky, messy, containers.  We love mixing these foods into mac and cheese for added nutrition, too!  NuturMe comes in several varieties, including peas, squash, sweet potato, and apples!

Colgate Wisp Icy Bubble

I'll admit that, despite my best intentions, sometimes we skipped a few regular brushings on our trip.  Whether the kids fell asleep in the car at night, leaving us to tuck them in without a good oral care session, or we "lost" a tooth brush, I was happy to have an ample supply of the new Colgate Wisp in kid-friendly Icy Bubble flavor.  Working just like the original Colgate Wisp, these had a funky bubble gum flavor that the kids went crazy over.  We kept a few in the glove compartment and my purse to keep the kids free of dragon breath between brushings.  (These would also be perfect for stashing into a lunch box come school season!)

Do you have a "can't live without" travel product that made your family vacay more bearable?  We'd love to hear about it!