Go-to products for traveling with kids: sunblock to sunglasses, what’s in the bag…
This post about summer travel packing and family friendly kid products is sponsored by Johnson’s Baby, one of our staple brands at home and on the road.
Summer is totally underway. We’ve already had trips to Disneyland, Wisconsin, Florida and more. That means that we’ve honed down our travel packing, daily prep on the road, and go-to supplies. We’ve got our favorite kid products and dad products to share and hopefully you’ll find something new that’ll make your summer days easier and breezier, particularly when it comes to not stressing out about what makes products worthwhile for your family.
What we always look for when we are choosing the products to use in our family is what is going to be safe but also what is going to be sustainable and last for a long time. Kids are hard on things and so are us dads so we have to choose products that aren’t going to be a waste, whether it’s our sunblock or sunglasses. And we travel a lot so finding things that are lightweight and that can be smashed repeatedly is important to us well, just look at what it is that we always travel with…
What you'll find...
Kid products: sunscreen to soaps
Of all of the kid products we’ve researched and actually use on a weekly basis with our kids, Johnson’s Baby and Neutrogena are always in the mix. As babies both of our kids had very sensitive skin so we’ve always opted for the most gentle options possible, from oatmeal bath products to baby sunblock.
When it comes to kid products that protect them from the sun, Neutrogena Pure and Free has been our standard. The two reasons we use the Pure and Free are:
Gentle and effective for the kids
It’s titanium dioxide and zinc oxide based which are both ocean-safe components. Protecting our underwater environment is very important to us.
Since we live by the beach we are there constantly. That means that we’re applying sunblock daily, and even though the Neutrogena Pure and Free is gentle and we trust it, we still give the kids baths whenever we get home from a day in the sand.
Tip: any sunblock you use is going to introduce some form of chemical base to your kids’ skin, so picking the most gentle AND effective product is always our goal. No matter how gentle though, we’re diligent about washing it off when we’re done in the sun.
Johnson’s Head-to-Toe has been our other go-to brand with the kids. It’s the bath time soap we use. It’s the lotion the kids have in their bathroom. And it’s the lotion we dads use for our own dry skin, because why should the kids get all the good stuff?
While there are products out there labeled as all natural and organic and not all of the bath and lotion products we use are labeled as such, we’ve done our research and made decisions we’re comfortable with when it comes to the kid products we have in our home.
Why Johnson’s Baby in our house?
If you’re a parent or guardian of a youngster, you know that others will repeatedly question the things you do or the products you use with your kids. We have always used the Johnson’s Baby products because they’re the most gentle and effective ones we’ve found.
If you poll a large group of parents you’ll get mixed messages of what’s important when they’re picking out the products they’ll use with their kids, but at the top is always safety. Like with anything in life there are opposing sides, studies, and views about what ingredients are safest. You’ll find information about naturally occurring chemicals in fresh fruits and veggies that you eat everyday also being used or synthesized in skin care products; but then you’ll read that synthetic compounds aren’t healthy or safe and some studies suggest against their use. Mixed info everywhere about kid products.
That’s why we research and talk with our parent friends about just this; we care deeply about our kids’ safety and happiness. We keep Johnson’s products around because we’ve found them to work well with our kids’ sensitive skin types and we’ve built up trust with them, both from our experience and our own research.
That’s something every parent needs to do: research the products they’re using and find their comfort level with what products are more safe for their kids than others, including considerations like sunblock vs sunburns. There is so much contrasting study information that, for us, it has always come down to opting for gentle and effective despite some of the information floating around on the internet, particularly because we’re using products in moderation. We feel good about our approach.
Hats for kids: stylish and protective
Another line of defense we always have with us, either to protect from the sun or the cold, is a hat for each of the kids. We always aim for a big brim and a little flash. Since the kids have been small we’ve had a wide range of crazy fun hats from Little Hotdog Watson in the UK. They make the most fun hats for children with flaps that roll down to protect little necks from sunburn, newsie-style caps and more.
Also, we’ve found that our oldest prefers a Gilligan style fishing cap which provides great coverage for his face and neck. It’s nice to see him choosing his own fashion to protect himself in the hot sun. Hats are one of the most important kid products we ensure we always have, so embracing fun ones is a travel necessity.
Tip: adults need hats too, FYI. I’m bald so always have a hat when traveling… but I’m never quite as stylish as the kids.
Just like we recommend doing your research about the personal care products you use with your kids, the same goes for keeping kids safe and cool in the sun. If you’re not sure about how much sun/exposure is too much for your kids, don’t hesitate to ask a pediatrician. That’s what they’re there for.
Since we love to spend time kayaking and hiking with the kids, we also are sure to always travel with sunglasses for them (and us). When it comes to kids’ eyes you cannot be too safe. If you start to research kids’ sunglasses you’ll find that most will come with UV ratings. We aim to always purchase sunglasses for kids and adults with a rating of UV 400.
Note: this rating is in reference to the types of UV rays the sunglasses block. Other positive characteristics to look for are blue blockers and anti-glare lenses, as these also protect eyes from potentially dangerous rays.
And don’t forget that yes, sunglasses are important, but so is using sunblock to keep kids safe while you’re traveling. It’s a winning combo. (see above for our recommendation of Neutrogena Pure and Free to pair with proper eye-wear)
For us adults, we have a few pairs of Simply Amevie sunglasses that we love. We wear them for their coverage, their polarized lenses and their UV blockage rating of 100%. The added bonus to wearing our Simply Amevie glasses is that they’re super light on your face. The frames are all made from bamboo, which are both lightweight and sustainable. I love when friends pick our sunglasses up and comment how light they are.
Tip: find stylish pairs of sunglasses that you AND your kids like and they will most likely not be left behind when you travel! We’ve made it a habit to always pack sunglasses in backpacks and next to each kid’s car seat.
Backpacks and luggage
The final products that we are pretty selective in are our travel packs. We are always on the go so we’ve selected luggage and backpacks that suit our varying needs.
To ensure that the kids have a sense of pride in their packs, we let them each pick out their own suitcases. The requirement was that they had wheels and that the kids would be cool with lugging them around. They picked Trunkis and thank goodness they love them! Also, for trips up to ten days, they’re the perfect size for the amount of clothes needed. And they fit as carry-ons!
For a good backpack, we looked to REI and tested several until we found one that met our criteria:
fits as a carry-on
has adjustable shoulder straps (internally adjustable)
has hip supports.
Oh yes! And be sure that you select one that has a good safety compartment for the personal care products you bring. Even though we love to just carry-on, we do often check the bag that has our Johnson’s Baby products, toothpaste and more, particularly if we’re superseding the liquid rules. We’re really careful about how we pack our products so there’s no mess when we open our pack after flying.
Tip: things to look for in a luggage backpack are good padding at pressure points, many different adjustment options, and lightweight when empty.
The bonus with the particular REI pack we chose is that there is an additional small pack that’s a part of it. It’s been great to have the second pack for keeping kid products for plane rides and impromptu outings handy. And since it’s from REI, if there’s ever a problem with it REI will help you out! Bummer here is that our favorite pack isn’t available anymore, but now you know what to look for.
Consider yourself set up for success! We’re pretty good about making confident decisions when it comes to the travel and kid products we use. We’ve done a lot of research when it comes to the products we put on our kids’ bodies, which is why we’re glad to partner with Johnson’s baby to share our own tips. And even though hats, glasses and packs are in a different category than personal care products, they all work together to protect us and keep us healthy while traveling. Now, get yourself squared away with your travel gear and products and go have fun!
Want to pin this for when it’s time to get your family ready for some travel and kid products you can feel good about? Go for it!
Rob Taylor is the founder of 2TravelDads, the original LGBT Family Travel blog. Focusing on ecotourism and education, 2TravelDads inspires LGBT families (and traditional families also) to go beyond their usual getaways and use travel to learn about and be part of a bigger world. “Traveling the globe and giving the kids a broad worldview.”