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Gearing Up Junior Travelers

Traveling with kids requires special preparation – and the gear to back it up

Backpacks, carry-ons and cases need to be downsized and lightened up to accommodate smaller hands and bodies. Items that comfort kids, like blankies and pillows, need to be portable and packable, comfy and cuddly. And like their adult counterparts, kids want to keep boredom at bay by bringing along their own electronics and accompanying accessory items like headphones and chargers.

But it’s not enough to simply shrink gear down; it must be livened up to appeal to the unique sensibilities of junior travelers, not just in size, but in color, shape, texture and utility. Oh, and it had better be able to speak to, in form, fashion and function, the everchanging tastes of teen travelers.

Backpacks for Growing Backs

“A backpack for kids needs to be roomy and have lots of pockets for organization,” said theme park journalist Tarah Chieffi. “I love to have spots for snacks, water bottle, coloring books and travel games, and a change of clothes.”

The Osprey Ace 38 grows with kids – both their bodies and interests. Designed for five to 11-year-olds, it is made with airspeed suspension that delivers over four inches of adjustability. Offering the same quality build and amenities as adult packs, the bag can fit everything from snacks to adventure essentials to extra layers – whatever kids need at the particular growth stage they’re in.

The downsized Paravel Mini Fold-Up Backpack is small but mighty, lightweight and compact. It folds flat and zips into a tiny pouch for storage or travel, but magically expands when ready for use. Little explorers can tuck their VIP (very important playthings) into its front and interior zip pockets and stay comfy with adjustable back straps.

Parents can chill while kids charge forth with Pacsafe’s Go 15L Anti-Theft Backpack, featuring cut-resistant materials and straps, securable zippers and an RFID-blocking pocket. Younger travelers will like the grownup look of the bag’s compact design, compartment for the all-important laptop or tablet and hidden storage pocket.

A no-nonsense backpack for serious travels, the ergonomically designed, super lightweight Mobile Edge SmartPack Backpack with water-resistant and rugged 1680D nylon exterior provides laptop and tablet protection, plus padded and moisture-wicking ventilated back panel, thick shoulder straps and comfy carrying handle. Water bottles slip into precisely sized side mesh pockets and small items stow neatly in the pockets of the bag’s organizer.

Osprey Ace38
Photo courtesy of Osprey

The Osprey Ace 38 features Airspeed™ suspension and fit adjustment for growing kids. The bag is also available in 50L, geared to eight to 14-year-olds, and 75L for those 12 to 17. MSRP: $140

Contact info: Brian Mecham, brian.mecham@osprey.com, 866-285-2797

Paravel Mini Fold-Up Backpack
Photo courtesy of Paravel

In colors that evoke adventure – bebop red, safari green, scuba navy, flatiron gray, derby black, canyon yellow – the Paravel Mini Fold-Up Backpack is ideal for every day and faraway. MSRP: $45

Contact info: Patricia Foody, patricia@tourparavel.com, 833-927-2789

Pacsafe’s Go 15L Anti-Theft Backpack
Photo courtesy of Pacsafe

In sunset pink, black and coastal blue and made from recycled plastic bottles, Pacsafe’s Go 15L Anti-Theft Backpack unlocks adventure with anti-theft security. Launched as a web exclusive, Pacsafe is accepting preorders for Q4 on a retail basis. MSRP: $89.95

Contact info: Kat Blanchard, kblanchard@pacsafe.com, 206-858-7977

Mobile Edge SmartPack Backpack
Photo courtesy of Mobile Edge

Offered in eight colors, the Mobile Edge SmartPack Backpack not only offers laptop and tablet protection, but provides ample space for the books, files and accessories young travelers may need to pack on their journeys. MSRP: $59.99.

Contact info: Paul June, pj@mobileedge.com, 310-503-1149

The Wheels on the Bag…

Kids ages four to nine will “heart” traveling with the Crckt 18” carry-on, a rolling upright in playful prints and palettes, including purple stars and pink hearts, dinosaurs and donuts. The interior features a fully lined main compartment and mesh slip pocket for clothing, toys and other items; the exterior is an organized kid’s dream, with multiple zip and mesh pockets and a bungee cord to lasso a favorite stuffed animal. Speaking of…a removable hanging plush dangle is included.

Junior fashionistas will travel in style with Stephen Joseph’s 18” rolling carry-on in leopard print. (Double the dreamy and add a matching toiletry bag or duffle.) Sturdy in 100% 600D polyester, the bag has a large outer pocket and a handle that locks in at two heights. Other patterns include rainbow, unicorn, dinosaur and shark.

Parents checking their child’s car seat can protect it from dirt and damage with J.L. Childress’ durable and water-resistant Spinner Wheelie Deluxe Car Seat Travel Bag. Featuring a combination of full padding and four 360° spinner wheels, the bag has a full-access front opening; high-quality, lockable zippers; top carry handle; ID card pocket; and a bottom base with raised edges to help keep the car seat in place while rolling.

Crckt 18” rolling upright and lunch tote
Photo courtesy of Olivet International

A well-organized softside carry-on, the Crckt 18” rolling upright features kid-pleasing patterns like dinosaurs and donuts plus a place to stash a water bottle. Pair with Crckt’s Lunch Tote for a BPA-free snack pack. MSRP: $39.99

Contact info: Jennifer DuBois, jenniferdubois@olivetintl.com, 612-345-5150

Stephen Joseph’s 18” rolling carry-on in leopard print
Photo courtesy of Stephen Joseph

Stephen Joseph’s 18” rolling carry-on in leopard print can be personalized with a child’s name or initials. MSRP: $48

Contact info: Conny Rector, connyr@stephenjosephinc.com, 806-791-2877 x-210

J.L. Childress’ Spinner Wheelie Deluxe Car Seat Travel Bag
Photo courtesy of J.L. Childress

J.L. Childress’ Spinner Wheelie Deluxe Car Seat Travel Bag was designed to fit almost all brands and styles of convertible car seats, booster seats and infant car seats. MSRP: $134.99

Contact info: Kate Childress Doti, kate@jlchildress.com, 714-939-9376

Get Comfy

“Being thrown off your routine is hard for all of us, especially kids,” said Chieffi. “I always pack something to remind them of home and help them relax at the end of the night.”

Lurera has a snuggly, huggable pillow tailor-made for road trips. With integrated heating pad and heartbeat, the Faux Fur and Soft and Shaggy pillows are created to mimic the tactile touch of a pet or another human being to reduce anxiety and provide comfort. Cuddly and calming, they are 100% cotton with vegan cushion cover with microwavable heating pad and battery-powered heartbeat simulator.

Help kids along to Nodville in a cocoon of comfort with Dēp Slēpwear’s purpose-built Long Sleeve Sleep Hoodie. This is a patented sleep solution with an ultra-comfy sleep mask built right into the hood. Plus, its stretchy, breathable fabric wicks away sweat so kids are never too hot or too cold.

Lurera Pillows
Photo courtesy of Lurera

Available in five colors, the Soft and Shaggy Lurera and Faux Fur Lurera are luxuriously soft pillows that provide comfort on road trips. A smaller travel-size pillow will be added to the line in September. MSRP: $59-$69

Contact info: Jennifer Lowthian, jennifer@lurera.com

Dēp Slēpwear’s Long Sleeve Sleep Hoodie
Photo courtesy of Dēp Slēpwear

It’s the goldilocks of sleepwear: Dēp Slēpwear’s Long Sleeve Sleep Hoodie is always just right to help kids get quality sleep, whether on the road or in the air. Simply size down for kids. MSRP: $99

Contact info: Glenn Paradise, glenn@depslepwear.com, 833-DEP-SLEP (337-7537)

Boredom Busters

“Are we there yet?”

Forestall the dreaded question by packing fun along with the clothing and toiletries. And P.S. Don’t forget the snacks!

Bumkins comes through with a multipurpose and reusable snack bag with its line of Wet Bags, featuring a colorful collection of kid faves, from Sanrio’s® Hello Kitty to Harry Potter™ Quidditch™. Made of 100% polyester with TPU coating for waterproofing, the bags are BPA-, PVC-, vinyl-, phthalate- and lead-free. And at 12” x 14”, they’re just the right size for holding a variety of snacks – or other gadgets and items, including clothes and towels.

ONANOFF has the perfect accompaniment for Junior’s stash of electronics with its range of wireless, volume-limiting headphones that protect children’s hearing. The SafeAudio BuddyPhones®+ series features three models optimized for different age ranges and uses, so whether gaming in the minivan, watching videos on the airplane or listening to music at the beach, the new Explore+, Play+ and Cosmos+ headphones provide crisp sound at safe volume levels.

J.L. Childress corrals and organizes the electronics and accessories kids bring on their travels with the Disney Baby 3-in-1 Travel Tray and Tablet Holder. The sturdy lap tray has two mesh pockets to hold crayons, toys, snacks and more, and its raised edges keep items from rolling off. A cup holder puts drinks within reach and a buckle strap secures the tray around the child’s waist. Simply turn the tray over to use the full-size tablet holder.

Bumkins Wet Bags
Photo courtesy of Bumkins

Kids will love hanging with Mickey or Mario, but Mom and Dad will appreciate being able to hand- or machine-wash Bumkins’ Wet Bags, hang them to dry and then reuse. MSRP: $9.95

Contact info: www.bumkins.com/pages/wholesale-information, 480-481-3618

ONANOFF Safe Audio BuddyPhones® series
Photo courtesy of ONANOFF

Snap to the music but save the ears with ONANOFF’s wireless Safe Audio BuddyPhones® series featuring toddler, kid and travel modes, plus patented StudyMode™. They have a 20-hour battery life and come with stickers. MSRP: $49.99

Contact info: Filippo Schiavon, filippo@onanoff.com

J.L. Childress Disney Baby 3-IN-1 Travel Tray and Tablet Holder
Photo courtesy of J.L. Childress

Made of durable, wipe-clean materials, the Disney Baby 3-IN-1 Travel Tray and Tablet Holder by J.L. Childress folds in half for compact storage. MSRP: $29.99

Contact info: Kate Childress Doti, kate@jlchildress.com

To Their Health and Safety

The bags are packed, boarding passes printed, car gassed up. A final checklist of items not to forget should include some personal germ-fighting and grooming gear for in the air or on the road.

Sprayco understands the way to a kid’s hygiene habits is through its colorful 6-piece Crayola Travel Kit. The kit includes crayon-shaped toothbrush holder and three 3-oz twist-lock bottles for favorite products, plus a travel accessory box that looks like a box of crayons. Everything is tucked in a handy quart-size zipper bag.

Protection from germs is all in the wrist with HandiGuru’s™ on-the-go refillable wristbands – so convenient for kids who tend to touch anything they can reach. Made of FDA-approved, recyclable silicone, the one-size-fits-all wristbands store hand sanitizer or other gels and lotions like bug repellent and sunscreen. When it’s time to wash up, simply squeeze the band to release the desired amount of cleanser.

Have kids create a germ-free zone with Seat Sitters’™ Healthy Airplane Travel Kit. Including reusable seat cover, tray table covers, facemasks, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer – even a “no nut” sticker (for those with allergies) and a couple of crayons – the kit helps teach the importance of practicing good hygiene even while on the go.

Sprayco Crayola Travel Kit
Photo courtesy of Sprayco

Sprayco makes dental hygiene fun with its kid-sized Crayola Travel Kit. MSRP: $10

Contact info: Carey Butler, carey@miamica.com, 203-275-6457

HandiGuru Refillable Wristband Kit
Photo courtesy of HandiGuru

HandiGuru’s Refillable wristband kit includes a one-size-fits-all silicone wristband (20ml) and a BPA-free squeeze bottle, complete with a BPA-free applicator tip for easy refills. MSRP: $11.95

Contact info: Benjamin Anderson, ben@handiguru.com, 310-970-4141

Seat Sitters Healthy Airplane Travel Kit
Photo courtesy of Seat Sitters

Seat Sitters’ lightweight Healthy Airplane Travel Kit has a shoulder strap that doubles as a place to stow snacks and toys. MSRP: $28.50

Contact info: Ally Smith, ally@seatsitters.com, 313-744-2980

Fur Babies Are Not Forgotten

Four-legged furry friends love to travel as much as their two-legged counterparts, especially when doing so in the comfort of their own carrier.

Bark n Bag has the fashionable and eco-friendly CheckerBarc Pet Carrier in hand-loomed cotton canvas. Featuring locking zipperheads and ventilating mesh on two sides, the carrier has a machine-washable polar fleece faux fur liner, top and side entries and roomy front snap and rear zippered pockets. Bonus: It fits under most airline seats.

Bark n Bag CheckerBarc Pet Carrier
Photo courtesy of Bark n Bag

A comfortable carry with padded handle wrap and adjustable and removable padded shoulder strap, Bark n Bag’s CheckerBarc Pet Carrier folds flat for storage. MSRP: $80/small; $85/medium

Contact info: David Fine, david@barknbag.com, 609-981-7477

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