Travel with children means slowing down, adjusting your plans and seeing the world through different eyes. In our latest gear reviews, we look at equipment for parents and kids, whether they're relaxing on the beach or exploring in the jungle.

Littlelife Freedom S4 Child Carrier © David Else / Lonely Planet
Kids enjoy the view while parents enjoy the hike with the Littlelife Freedom S4 Child Carrier © David Else / Lonely Planet

Littlelife Freedom S4

Hiking in the hills or strolling in the city can sometimes prove too much for little legs. So put Junior in the Freedom S4 child carrier from Littlelife and let your shoulders take the strain instead. With padded back, seat and straps, plus fully adjustable harness, it’s very comfortable for both parties, with ingenious features including foot stirrups, removable sunshade, neck support and headrest (washable), while various pockets and compartments mean extra kit can be carried as well. We’ve used a previous version of this carrier and can confirm Littlelife’s durability; the Freedom S4 undoubtedly makes family travel easy and enjoyable.

  •         Plus points: foot-fitting ‘anchor point’ holds the carrier steady when putting children in or out
  •         Worth noting: some parents may find the Freedom bulky; other Littlelife options such as the Adventurer or Ranger are smaller, lighter and cheaper
  •         Cost: UK£189.99; €239.99
  •         Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 9/10; value 9/10
  •         More info:
The Kitvision Splash action camera © David Else / Lonely Planet
The Kitvision Splash action camera is family- and wallet-friendly © David Else / Lonely Planet

Kitvision Splash

Designed specifically for families, the Splash action camera from Kitvision provides entertainment for the kids and holiday memories for parents. A strong plastic case protects it from dust and water, while additional mounts fix it to bikes, helmets or other outdoor gear. Images can be high definition (up to 1080p or 12MP), although the low-definition screen means you can’t always see what you’re filming, or even the red ‘record’ dot. But for no-frills, no-hassle, no-worries videos and snaps at a great price, Splash hits the spot.

  •         Plus points: simple point-and-shoot, mounts and case included
  •         Worth noting: micro SD card required, toggling through function menus takes practice
  •         Cost: UK£69.99; €75 approx
  •         Rating: quality 8/10; practicality 8/10; value 9/10
  •         More info:
Mammut’s First Cargo © David Else / Lonely Planet
Mammut’s First Cargo is an ideal small bag for small travellers © David Else / Lonely Planet

Mammut First Cargo

A cargo bag (aka duffle or hold-all) is valuable on any trip and now there’s an option for young travellers: the First Cargo from Mammut. Measuring just 38cm (15”) long, it’s small and light, while handles double as straps so it can be carried like a backpack too. Fill it with toys, snacks and spare socks, and the kids are good to go anywhere.

  •         Plus points: big U-shaped zip gives easy access to main compartment
  •         Worth noting: two external pockets and one internal pouch helps separate candy from teddy
  •         Cost: UK£45; €49.90
  •         Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 9/10; value 8/10
  •         More info:
Reima’s Sea Board Shorts © David Else / Lonely Planet
Ready for beach, pool and sunshine with Reima’s Sea Board Shorts © David Else / Lonely Planet

Reima Kids Sea Board Shorts

Family holidays mean clothes for the beach, and the Sea Board Shorts from outdoor children’s clothing specialist Reima are ideal. First up, they’re stylish, so kids love them. Second, sun-proof fabric shields young skin from harmful rays, so parents are happy too. There’s also a hidden pocket for a ReimaGo app-linked sensor to encourage activities.

  •         Plus points: comfortable waistband, knee-length, quick-drying
  •         Worth noting: other sun-proof garments available: skirts, hoodies, hats, etc
  •         Cost: UK£22; €29.95
  •         Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 9/10; value 8/10
  •         More info:
Pyramid’s Cot Bell mosquito net © David Else / Lonely Planet
Protection and peace of mind provided by Pyramid’s Cot Bell mosquito net © David Else / Lonely Planet

Pyramid Cot Bell Mosquito Net

In regions where malaria is a risk, young travellers can sleep securely with the Cot Bell mosquito net from tropical protection specialist Pyramid. The bell-shaped net hangs from a cord over a cot, crib or playpen, using a foldable wire circle and single central hanging point – so there needs to be a beam or hook in the ceiling to hold the cord. Real adventurers can of course hang it from the branch of a tree.

  •         Plus points: very fine weave ensures no persistent insects squeeze through net
  •         Worth noting: even in non-malarial zones, net is useful for warding off bugs and flies
  •         Cost: UK£30 approx
  •         Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 9/10; value 9/10
  •         More info:
Solo Endeavor backpack © David Else / Lonely Planet
Stay cool in the city with the Solo Endeavor backpack © David Else / Lonely Planet

Solo Endeavor Backpack

Young travellers may like colourful equipment, but travel kit for teenagers has to be cool. Enter the Endeavor backpack from streetwise brand Solo. With two main compartments (one big enough for a laptop, and another with internal pouch to protect a tablet or e-reader), plus three small external pockets to keep stuff organised, it’s ideal for cabin baggage on planes or to hold essentials on sightseeing tours. For our 13-year-old tester, the ‘Designed in New York’ label sealed the deal.

  •         Plus points: sturdy, stylish, understated
  •         Worth noting: ventilated padding on back and straps helps maintain cool
  •         Cost: US$59.99
  •         Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 8/10; value 8/10
  •         More info:
Organic Children sun lotion © David Else / Lonely Planet
Keep young skin sun-protected and irritant-free with Organic Children sun lotion © David Else / Lonely Planet

Green People Organic Children Sun Lotion

Protecting children from the sun is always important when travelling but some creams irritate young skin or leave greasy ‘slicks’ in the paddling pool. Organic Children sun lotion from Green People aims to overcome both these problems and is made entirely from natural ingredients. In testing, our guinea pigs (sorry, delightful children) said it ‘smells funny’ – thanks to the lack of perfumed additives – but they soon got accustomed, and slapping it on them every morning became no more of a battle than with any other sun cream.

  •         Plus points: leaves no oily deposits, so no damage to skin or natural environments
  •         Worth noting: may stain some white clothing, but washes out easily
  •         Cost: UK£18.50 (150ml, 5oz); €30.10 approx
  •         Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 9/10; value 8/10
  •         More info:
Lion and Monkey from Go Travel © David Else / Lonely Planet
Lion and Monkey from Go Travel keep kids happy on journeys © David Else / Lonely Planet

Go Travel Lion Neck Pillow and Night Glow Monkey

On long journeys by plane or car, the young traveller in your family will snooze happily with head support provided by the Lion neck pillow. Then at bedtime, Monkey comes on duty to provide a child-friendly night light and reassurance in unfamiliar beds or hotel rooms.

  •         Plus points: comfortable, comforting, cuddly
  •         Worth noting: parents may find it cumbersome to replace batteries and reach the on/off master switch deep in Monkey’s tummy
  •         Cost: Lion UK£8.99; Monkey UK£17.99;
  •         Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 8/10; value 8/10
  •         More info:

How we review products

Our opinions are by definition subjective. Our testers (male, female, young, old) trial products in the real world, then give their honest opinion and scores for quality, practicality and value: 5/10 = mediocre; 6/10 = fair; 7/10 = good; 8/10 = very good; 9/10 = excellent; 10/10 = perfect. We don’t include anything that scores less than 5/10.

We aim for gender balance, and over a year cover an equal number of male- and female-specific items. We state where kit is available in male and female versions, or for everyone, unless it’s obvious.

Prices are quoted in at least one major currency. Where possible we include other currencies. We take prices from manufacturers’ websites; information was correct at the time of publication, but you may find different prices online or in specialist stores, particularly after a period of time when products are discounted.

Manufacturers supply Lonely Planet with test products for review. We do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.

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