Hudson Bay Christmas window

Travel gifts for kids and parents

Hudson Bay Christmas window

Christmas scenes come to life in the Bay department store’s window display on Queen Street in Toronto. The holiday displays are an annual attraction at the Eaton Centre. (Julia Pelish/

Story by Nicole Keck Family Travel Columnist

Tick tock … the shopping days before Christmas are dwindling but is that true of your gift list? Or is it still full of names with a big question mark next to them? Perhaps you should consider some travel-related gifts that will encourage your loved ones to get out and explore this coming year.

Every family that travels with children knows that if the kids are happy, everybody is happy. So go ahead, play gift-giving rock star to the very deserving parents on your list this year. They’ll think of you gratefully with every moment of gloriously peaceful travel.

Travel Gifts for Kids

Headphones — Put the cacophony of gadgets on mute by supplying the kids with a cool set of headphones. To save little ears, consider a pair that has a volume-minimizing feature.

Trunki Travel Products has so many slick award-winning travel gifts, one of which is a colourful suitcase for kids ages 3-6 that allows them to ride on top as you pull it (about $60). It weighs less than 4 lbs. and fits in overhead compartments. This company does not ship outside the UK but check the International page on their website for a list of distributors.

A National Geographic Kids subscription, ($15). This magazine will broaden their world all year long. The site also offers some great DVD’s, video games and books.

Little Passports calls itself a “Global Adventure” that delivers online activities and games monthly, and of course they’ll be available on your phone while you travel (starting at $10.95).

Kids Camera — What a great way to encourage little and big kids alike to participate in the vacay fun and document the adventure. Afterwards, the kids can make their own keepsake album. On a related note, go to a bookstore and pick up a kid’s-themed travel journal. Better yet, giving both would make a cool theme gift and score you extra brownie points.

Vibrating neck pillow with built-in speakers ($29.95). Plug in the iPod, or the headphones, into the built-in jack and let the kids be entertained throughout the ride.

TravelKiddy is a great source for kid’s travel activity kits ($50-85), or hit up the craft store and put together your own.

iPod Touch (starting at $299) or Kindle Paperwhite 3G ($179). Feeling generous? You can’t go wrong with one of these entertainment staples.

Travel Gifts for Parents

36 Hours: 150 Weekends in the US and Canada ($26.39). The ultimate travel guide based on the New York Times “36 Hours” travel column.

Travel Jewelery Case ($14-$135). Why be forced to make one pair of earrings work for the whole trip, it’s practically barbaric — ladies, am I right?

Ready2Go Cord Organizer ($9.99). Save them hours of searching and untangling with this nifty organizer that also comes with pockets for batteries and memory cards.

52 Fun Things To Do In The Car ($6.95). There are ideas galore in this well-priced little gem by author Lynn Gordon; there are also versions for the plane and the beach.

This Nap Nest / Travel Bed ($39) is one of many on the market that make travelling with babies so much easier. … Sorry, we can’t help you with the sleeping part.

Travel Gifts for the Family

Search your local bookstore for a family-themed travel journal, or a coffee table book about one of their favourite geographical areas.
The Family Road Trip Box of Questions ($8.84) contains 10 classic road trip games, 25 Conversation Starter questions, 25 travel quizzes and six game maps.

A Family Wall Map with Pins ($12-$160). You’ll find these come in a wide range of styles and sizes that are framed or unframed. Add some coloured pins and let the family track their travels.

City Pass ($60/adult, $35/child for the Toronto pass) is available for 10 US cities, plus Toronto. It offers families the best of the best in attractions in a convenient package and at a discount.

Get creative and put together your own theme gift for a day at the beach; include a blanket, beach towels, toys, sunscreen, etc. and package it in a picnic basket or cooler. It will get them planning and daydreaming while the snow is piling up outside!


Nicole is currently a homeschooling, stay at home mother of three young boys, (a.k.a. the three stooges, the little rascals – you get the picture.) Her passion for writing was sparked at a young age when an English teacher said, “It is a noble thing for one to have command over his or her own language and to use it for good.” Nicole studied at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan and before the children came along, she and her husband enjoyed active travel such as hiking, backpacking, canoeing and kayaking. The detailed journals and poetry she wrote during those adventures remain among her most treasured possessions. You can read more about Nicole at

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