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How to Entertain Kids on Vacation: 17 Items That Real Moms Were Super Glad They Packed

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best kid summer vacation items universal
Amazon

A family vacation can be measured by the photos we snap, but it’s also marked by the items we carry. In other words, what are the genius (and summer-friendly) things you shelled out for that not only kept your kiddos occupied, but were memory-making in their own right? We polled actual parents to get their picks—and sprinkled in a few of our own.

best things mom packed reusable water balloons
Soppycid

1. Reusable Water Balloons

Soppycid

“Keep a bucket of water nearby and kids can fill—and refill—these silicone water balloons to their heart’s content.” — Alyssa

the original silly putty
Silly Putty

2. The Original Silly Putty

Silly Putty

“This keeps our kids occupied during dinners out.” — Emily

uno splash
Mattel

3. Waterproof Uno

Mattel

“A classic that everyone knows how to play, but you can take this version to the pool and the beach.” — Mary

surfer dude
Surfer Dudes Store

4. Surfer Dudes Wave Powered Mini-Surfer

Surfer Dudes Store

“Kids can throw it in the ocean—and it comes right back. It’s truly endless fun.” — Jessica

wikkistix
WikkiStix

5. WikkiStix Reusable Molding and Sculpting Sticks

WikkiStix

“They are the best for airplane travel, restaurants, keeping kids occupied at the hotel…the list goes on!” — Cat

do you really know your family
Do You Really Know Your Family

6. ‘Do You Really Know Your Family?’ Card Game

Do You Really Know Your Family

“Ask each other questions to see who knows each other the best—it’s hilarious and perfect for kids six and up.” — Julia

chuckle roar scavenger hunt
Chuckle & Roar

7. Chuckle and Roar Kids Scavenger Hunt

Chuckle & Roar

“These cards were amazing for a long car ride.” — Michelle

stomp rocket
Stomp Rocket

8. Stomp Rocket

Stomp Rocket

“It’s a classic for a reason—bring it to the beach or set it up in the backyard.” — Kathleen

melissa doug stickers
Melissa & Doug

9. Melissa & Doug Puffy Stickers

Melissa & Doug

“These saved us while dealing with a jet lagged toddler in Spain.” — Sherry

stair slide
Stairslide Store

10. Stair Slide

Stairslide Store

“It’s not cheap, but it has been the best purchase I’ve made…ever. It entertains my kids for hours, so we pack it for wherever we go.” — Brynne

squigz
Squigz

11. Fat Brain Toys Squigz

Squigz

“Stick ‘em on every window of your rental house. We also like to play ‘wash the squigs’ in a bucket of water at the beach or in the bath.” — Caroline

orsen tablet
Orsen

12. LCD Writing Tablet

Orsen

“This is so helpful on longer car trips, but also in restaurants—easier than carrying a ton of paper and markers that go missing!” — Ina

connect 4
Worlds Smallest Store

13. Mini Connect 4

Worlds Smallest Store

“Nothing beats miniature versions of the kids’ favorite games—we love Connect 4 and Chess!” — Emily

rat a tat cat
Gamewright Store

14. Rat a Tat Cat

Gamewright Store

“A clever card game that our kids play again and again.” — Jenny

whack minton deluxe
1i4 Store

15. Whack Minton Deluxe

1i4 Store

“The ‘ball’ it comes with is so soft—it’s suitable for our toddler, but also our pre-teens who make it competitive.” — Sarah

paint by sticker books
Haooryx

16. Paint By Sticker Books

Haooryx

“Best for 5 and up, these sticker books deliver loads of quiet time.” — Carolyn

melissa and doug water wow
Melissa & Doug

17. Melissa and Doug Water Wow

Melissa & Doug

“The drying time is speedy, so our son can use—and reuse—these ‘coloring’ books again and again.” — Angela


Rachel Bowie Headshot

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...