Last Updated: February 15, 2018
Are you getting ready to experience preschool international travel? Here are some great ideas for gifts for toddlers, preschoolers and kindergartners (and their parents) getting ready to travel internationally for vacation, adventure or to visit family for the holidays.
Need some help as you brainstorm what to pack for preschool busy bags and preschooler activities for your international trip? Check out this list of suggestions to help prepare yourself for preschool international travel…
What Bags to Buy for International Flights with Preschoolers
A backpack for mom – Especially if traveling with kids solo, mom will want to have hands-free as much as possible. My backpack is no longer available, but this model is very similar.
Everything else (either needed on the trip or valuable) was split between a clear gallon ziploc and a spare makeup bag, similar to this, and packed into my carry-on backpack.Kid backpacks – The Pottery Barn Kids backpacks and lunch boxes do wonderful double-duty for school and travel.
In anticipation of an international trip the following summer, my daughters (then ages 3 and 4) received new backpacks and lunchboxes a few Christmases back… They continue to use these backpacks for preschool and Kindergarten, nearly two years later.
Four sizes are available, so you can find the size that works best for you and your travel needs. Check out this video for helpful sizing information!
Although our children were in preschool at the time, I selected the “small” (not Pre-K) sized backpack, knowing that we needed the additional room and compartments for travel.
The Small backpacks provide a chest clip that helps the child carry heavier loads (like when loaded up with travel activities on the airplane.)
We’ve carried these backpacks on several plane and road trips. Both backpacks and lunch boxes are still going strong and looking good, once in a while just needing a quick swipe with a wet cloth.
Tip: if you are able to plan ahead, catch the backpacks and lunchboxes on clearance in late fall / early winter.
Building a Busy Bag for Preschool International Travel
Card games – Even at ages 3 and 5, my girls really enjoyed playing card games. We didn’t always play by the official rules, but it kept us all occupied! Even a standard stack of cards would keep them occupied for 15-20 minutes, with the children sorting the cards to match colors, shapes and numbers.
For anybody visiting family overseas, it’s nice to have some simple games for children and adults to bridge language barriers.
In our case, Skip Bo Junior was a surprisingly easy game for our 5 year old to join in and play with our elderly relatives, and even our 3 year old was able to “help.”
Uno and the traditional card game set are also good ideas for inclusive activities regardless of age or language compatibility! The Busytown card game has continued to be a hit in our family, even after our travels.
Instead of repeating myself too much, please check out the busy bag suggestions that can be re-purposed from the Gift Guide for Family: Air Travel Edition and the Gift Guide for the Family: Road Trips Edition.
Before a Long Flight with Preschoolers
Tablets – Check out suggestions for tablets, headphones, cases and screen covers in Family Gift Guide: Air Travel Edition.
Headphone splitter – If more than one child is traveling, you may end up deciding to take multiple devices. What happens if one charges down, gets lost or breaks while you’re traveling? (Hopefully that doesn’t happen, though!)
As part of our just-in-case travel arsenal, we took along this headphone splitter. Just be sure it is compatible with your technology!
If one device powered down (or got semi-locked up after an update), we were able to add the splitter to the other device, and both children could watch the same show. (I know, first world problems. But, more than once, I was glad to have this splitter!)
More Apps – In addition to any favorite apps on your child’s tablet or iPad, consider loading up with a few new applications before the trip. One of our favorites are the many drawing and art apps as well as the Kids’ Puzzles apps.
Do you have your recent family photos or videos shared to your child’s device? My kids have can spend a looong time just looking at old photos and videos of themselves! An easy and free solution (and, to me, a nearly guilt-free way to extend screen time!)
FreeTime – Would you like more than 16,000 kid-friendly books, videos and apps at your child’s fingertips? Guess what – grab this 30 day free trial of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited now. After the trial period, membership costs $2.99 per month for an individual plan and is available in Germany, and the UK in addition to the U.S. Perfect for anybody with travel on the horizon!
Audible subscription – Try an Audible subscription and get two free audiobooks — there are selections for children, youth and adults. Don’t forget to check your local library as well! I’ve found both audio and e-books at my library available for download at no cost!
Digital downloads – Before you leave the U.S., download as much digital content as your device will allow. Once you are abroad, you may discover that (even on WiFi), your devices will no longer stream certain content from services such as Amazon Prime.
Amazon Gift Card – If you don’t know what to buy, a gift card is always appreciated.
Other Considerations for the Preschool International Travel Adventure
Seasonal variation – While some things will be obvious (such as a preferred sunblock for a sunny destination), don’t forget to pack seasonal allergy medications or topical creams for skin, especially if triggered by temperatures or environmental conditions.
Keeping medications cool – For summer travel, keeping items cool can be challenging during international travel and outdoor activities. While Epi-Pens (epinepherine, emergency medication for allergic reactions) do not need refrigeration, they should not be in high temperatures.
The FRIO insulating cooling wallet has been our family’s go-to solution for keeping medications at room temperatures. Always check with your airline(s) about their policies (and possible international restrictions or physician’s documentation requirements) for handling medications.
Deliver Gifts for the Preschooler to the Foreign Destination
If you are providing a gift (like diapers) that will be used or consumed completely at their destination (and is not needed during travel), consider if circumstances allow you to have Amazon ship the items directly to the destination.
The duration of the visit, family preference and lodging arrangements will help determine how realistic this option is for the family. Definitely only go this route after speaking with the family, to be sure this is as helpful as you intend it to be! You’ll also need to determine the cost for you to shop on the foreign amazon site.
Going to Canada? Shop on www.Amazon.ca.
Going to the UK or other European destinations? Shop on www.Amazon.com.uk.
Do you have some more ideas for the family travelers in your life? Do you see something missing in this list? Tell me your favorite must-haves in the comments, and let’s make gift-giving easier for our loved ones (and the next reader!)