The 10 year olds essential travel gear

It’s funny to think that 10 year old and essential travel gear go together, but this is the moment I have dreamed of since the day she was born.

My daughter, my everything, has needs. There are things that she now deems indispensable and, as a growing young lady, she likes to carry what she needs around the world.

Now, this mom isn’t going to carry everyone’s things around. I am a minimalist. If it was up to me I’d carry one change of clothes, some cash, one I.D., and my iPhone (phone, map, camera, video recorder, note keeper, all in one easy to carry product). But, my daughter, a minimalist in training, is far from reaching the end goal. She is a lot of things, a minimalist is not one of them.

So what does a 10 year old consider as her essential travel gear?

  1. Her iPod. As soon as this kid could speak, she began to voice her specific tastes in music, videos, games, and information. This little apple fell far from the proverbial tree and this mom can’t handle the pop music and the all consuming tornado searches and videos (yes, she’s a weather junkie). And so, on her 6th birthday, I did the previously unthinkable: I got the kid her own iPod. With headphones. She can learn everything and anything about tornadoes, I can do anything else. It’s not that I don’t find weather patterns and stories interesting, it’s just that I’m not obsessed with them like my daughter. As she’s grown, she has also developed a healthy interest in photographing random stuff and making videos, both of which make having an iPod an ever bigger asset. I foresee this turning into real camera and video equipment in the near future.


2. A notepad and pencil. Preferably this is a glittery notepad and a gel pen or colorful pencil. The point is that she likes to carry something she can actually write/draw/scribble on throughout our journeys. I’m not usually allowed to look at what she produces, but she once wrote a whole play (later performed by her friends back home). There was also the time she wrote a three act essay detailing the story of a little bird who didn’t like her new school in a foreign language (in act one). But, the little bird made new friends and got used to being in school and, by act three, she was no longer faking illness in the morning. I liked that writing sample. Regardless of whether I get to read the finished product or not, my kid needs to have somewhere to jot down her thoughts.


3. Her Outdoor Products Mist Hydration Pack. This awesome piece of carry-on ingenuity is almost as much an essential for me as it is for her. This is the bag she carries. It’s small enough for her to carry by herself, pretty enough that she likes it (something that’s important to ten year old girls), incredibly functional with its separate areas, zippers, and draw strings, and has the essential camelback water container she needs. Any parent knows that as soon as you leave the house the kids get thirsty. With this bag, she always has her water literally on her! Couple that with a snack she always carries in the easy to reach side pouch and, voila, distraction/expense averted. She carries her charger, her notepad, her entertainment/ learning binder supplies, her iPod, her snack and water, a change of clothes, and usually a reading book and a toy in this bag. What I love is that it is big enough to carry all of her essentials, but small enough that we can’t overpack and make it too heavy by accident. It’s the perfect kids travel backpack.




She can even wear it under her jacket

4. A money pouch. As a ten year old, Mackenzie has reached that point in her life when she can ‘work’ for her spending money and take care of her own travel money (i.e. carry the money herself). She is learning how to budget, how to spend wisely, and the power of having her own money. It’s hard to loosen up the money reigns but I let her spend her money in any way she choses. She has to fall and make some bad money decisions now to learn how to make the good ones later. I figure it’s better now that we’re talking spending money and not later when we’re talking round-the-world-adventure money. And so she has her own money pouch. It’s small, it reminds her of our fun trips (it’s always one she bought on the road, currently one she bought in Thailand), and it’s perfect for carrying small bills and coins.

5. Antibacterial hand sanitizer. How many times have you noticed your beautiful child about to take a big bite out of lunch with her grimy hands? Too many! And once she got sick on our trip to Paris (because of always having those dirty hands that want to touch everything as we move) I decided to add a small container of hand sanitizer into her bag. You’d be surprised at how much she uses it now that she has it!

6. Toilet paper. Yes, you read that right, she carries a small travel-size roll of toilet paper wherever we go. Because some people and their kids might be more adventurous than us, but we draw the line at toilet paper. So the kiddo always carries her own. Don’t laugh. You’d be amazed at how many times we have used it! I carry my own roll in my bag too!


7. The Binder. We lovingly call it a fun binder for lack of a better word. The Binder is our saving grace from boredom. I am pretty consistent with what is in it, tailoring slightly for different countries and travel goals. We carry coloring/writing paper, writing utensils, stickers, classwork, and games inside The Binder. On our recent cross country road trip we packed it with license plate games, scavenger hunts and many more fun activities (See it here). On our last trip to Europe it had “I-Spy” type games of famous landmarks and foreign words, coloring pages of the places we were planning to visit, and scavenger hunts for museum masterpieces. I love that The Binder holds all this entertainment and learning opportunities for her, but we can also just take out a few pieces each day and pack it in her backpack to take out on our adventures. Flexibility is key.



That’s it. Short and sweet and to the point: the seven travel essentials my daughter always carries with her.

Oh, and for actual packing: five pieces of underwear, three shirts, three bottoms, a sweater, three pairs of socks, one pajama, one t-shirt that can serve double duty as pajama or day shirt, shoes (dependent on location), and a swimsuit. That’s it. Whether it’s for five months or three weeks the kid is never allowed to pack more.


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