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17 Awesome Travel Gift Ideas Your Kids Will Absolutely Love

Seeking great ideas on fun, easily portable, and reasonably priced gifts for children who travel? On a cruise, a road trip, or a plane, these are awesome kid-tested gifts that will be long treasured.

Travel Gifts for Kids [2021]

Over the years, my family has had dozens of gift exchanges with friends and family onboard a cruise ship, between Christmas holidays and various summer birthdays.  So, we have gotten a pretty good handle on what makes a good travel gift for a cruise ship-based gift exchange.  Scroll through below to see the ones that we have found to be big hits! (Also, be sure to check out our posts on giving a cruise as a Christmas gift and making gift-giving easier on Christmas cruises.)

Key Issues With Selecting Travel Gifts For Kids

When perusing potential travel gifts that you will actually be traveling with, keep the following three issues in mind:

(1) Can you easily pack this travel gift in standard luggage?  Remember that these travel gifts must be transported at least two times, from your home to the cruise ship and from the cruise ship to the recipient’s home.  So, when considering travel gift ideas, you should avoid things that are too heavy, bulky, or fragile.

Travel Gift Ideas For Kids | Photo of girl in dress hugging present

(2) Can you use this travel gift, at least in part, on the current trip?   Let’s face it.  Kids want to be able to play with their gifts NOW.  Sensible phrases like “Wouldn’t it be better to leave it in the box so that none of the pieces get lost, and everything makes it home in one piece” sound like gibberish to the eager, excited child.  A related point: it should not be a travel gift that, once opened, consists of 100 pieces; at least 15-20 will be lost between your cruise cabin and home.

(3) Will this travel gift continue to be used once the current trip ends?  I hate the idea of spending good money on travel gifts that turn out to be used one or two times and then shoved in a drawer.  One hallmark of a particularly fun or cool gift is whether it will continue to be used and appreciated once everyone returns home.

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Travel Gift Ideas | Cruise Gift Ideas for Kids

17 Awesome Travel Gift Ideas for Kids

Keeping my three key questions in mind, here are my top recommendations for holiday gifts for kids who cruise.  These are all gifts that I have personally purchased and gifted to at least one child in our travel party, or gifts that were received by at least one child in our travel party and were loved.  In some instances, the original item has been discontinued or updated, so I am providing a link to the latest version.  (Although numbered, we are not “ranking” these suggestions.)


1. V-Tech Kidizoom Smartwatch DX2

Kids' Smart Watch
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This awesome smartwatch for kids was my then-5-year-old’s absolute favorite gift. It was a surprise gift from a family friend and quite the hit! Thankfully, it is easy to charge (with regular charge cables from your phone or tablet) because he has enjoyed hundreds of hours of use from it. In addition to taking pictures and selfies, and making tiny videos, it has several different game features, including some that require movement and activity to have the most fun.

2. Digital Video Action Camera

This camera lives up to its hype.  It is extremely durable and versatile.  While my then 4-year-old was ecstatic to receive this as a gift (an earlier model), I had some concerns as to how long it would actually last.  He is a kid who loves rough-and-tumble active play.  But this camera has managed to hold up well.

Kids' Waterproof Action Video Camera
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It is also surprisingly small.  It can literally fit in your pocket.  Box includes accessories that permit mounting on bikes and scooters and for underwater use. With its included accessories, the box weighs about a pound.

3. Crayola Color Wonder Mess-Free Art Kits

Mess-free art kits for kids.  These sets originally started out as just coloring and included special markers that could only color on special paper.  So no issues with markers all over walls, furniture, or clothes.  Crayola has now expanded this concept to other media, such as ink stampers and paint.

Color Wonder Art Kit
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You can also find kits featuring favorite Disney or Nickelodeon characters.  Most kits weigh less than 1.5 pounds and are compact enough to fit in a tote bag or carry-on luggage. Recommended for ages 3 to 8.  Check out an extended catalog here.

4. Any Kindle Fire Tablet

A tablet can be your best friend when traveling – both on and off the ship. Tablets can be great for downtime in your room, providing entertainment on a long bus ride (with headphones), or during other long waiting periods. A tablet’s also good if you don’t like the sometimes limited options available on cruise television.

8 Inch Kids' Fire Tablet
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The Fire tablets come in three different sizes. Each of these are lightweight, extremely portable, and easily slips into a child’s backpack.

10 Inch Kids' Fire Tablet
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5. Child-Friendly Headphones

Children will be able to make the most travel use out of a tablet if they also have a pair of headphones.  I have come to the conclusion that all kids’ headphones break, get lost, or otherwise need to be replaced at some point in time sooner than you would like (but maybe that’s just us). So I have taken to buying extras “just in case.”

We prefer the on-ear, foldable kind because they travel very well, and are less likely to get misplaced. I also like to find relatively inexpensive ones because we run through them so quickly. These are our current favorite headphones. These have the distinction presently of being one of the styles that have held up the best to date. Even if you don’t get some for travel gifts, these are good items to pack anyway.

Child-friendly over-ear headphones
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For older kids and teens, some affordable wireless headphones may be particularly appreciated. These wireless waterproof sports earphones work well for teens who want a lighter, sleeker look, yet aren’t comfortable with just earbuds.

Color Wonder Art Kit
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Did you know that you can find audiobook versions of thousands of your favorite children’s books? This can be a fantastic gift for anyone who likes books and stories. And, it can be particularly fitting for a reluctant reader.  You can have countless numbers of titles easily available to enjoy by the pool, on the beach or on a plane.

Audible Gift Memberships

It’s also an engaging way to pass time in the car or relaxing anywhere around the house.

You can buy gift subscriptions in 3, 6, or 12-month increments. Subscription provides recipients 1 audiobook a month and 30% off any additional titles.

If they already have a subscription, the recipient receives bulk credits all at once. Audiobook titles are owned forever regardless of subscription status and can be played on a free audible app.

7. Melissa & Doug Flip to Win Travel Memory Game

This portable memory game is a true classic.  A modern twist on the timeless game of Concentration.  Great for planes, airports, and waiting around.  Designed for travel.  All game pieces are securely attached.  The set weighs less than 1 1/2 pounds and will easily fit into a tote bag or backpack.  The manufacturer lists the recommended age range as  5 to 7; but it can easily be adapted for younger children.  Made from real wood and will last for years.

Travel Memory Game
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8. DK Ultimate Travel Sticker Books

Sticker Book - Marvel Characters
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Sticker books can be an excellent travel activity, and they make great travel gifts! Over the years, we have gone through quite a few. The best ones have reusable stickers and plenty of pages to use your imagination to make your own story.  You can buy one or more, mix and match, and accommodate any budget and almost any set of interests. Here are some popular ones to consider. 

Ultimate Sticker Book: Ocean, Ultimate Sticker Collection: LEGO CITY, Ultimate Sticker Book: Sharks, Ultimate Sticker Book: Disney Pixar

Sticker Book - Disney Princesses
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Either of these would make a great stand-alone gift, but bundling them together makes them an awesome gift!

ThinkFun 4 Children’s Card Games

This boxed set contains four classic and timeless card games that have been loved by generations of families. The set includes Old Maid, Rummy, Crazy Eights, and Hearts.

Boxed Set Children's Card Games
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And, does your child have trouble holding cards so that competing players can’t see them? Problem solved!

Gamewright Little Hands Playing Card Holder

This set of two holders makes it easy for everyone to play cards on a more even playing field. These holders can be used with any card game. And they can hold a sufficient number of cards to play most games.

card holders
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10. Waterproof Uno Cards

This set of cards makes a great gift for kids of all ages and adults. It’s an excellent stocking stuffer as well.

Waterproof Uno Cards
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These are plastic cards that are resistant to water, which makes them ideal for playing a friendly game of Uno around the pool or at the beach. Plus, if they get dirty – from sand, food, or whatever – you can easily wipe them off with a wet cloth.

The set also comes with a carabiner-style clip that keeps the set together and allows you to attach it to a backpack or other convenient location.

11. Portable Child-Friendly Metal Detectors

Bounty Hunter BHJS Junior Metal Detector

When my son first requested one of these as a gift, I was very skeptical that I would find anything suitable.  I assumed it would be too heavy, too expensive, or otherwise too complicated to cart around the world.  I was wrong!  There are several portable metal detectors designed for kids (aka “junior metal detectors”) that are reasonably priced and actually work.

These are great for the beach, park, or backyard.  Many models weigh less than 1.5-2 pounds and can easily fit in standard-size luggage. And the one that we got actually fits in a backpack! So they can definitely work as travel gifts.

12. Affordable Binoculars

This is another great gift for kids who love to investigate and explore. Binoculars can be used in a wide range of settings, whether traveling around the world or at home in your own backyard. Go ahead and get an actual set of real binoculars rather than a toy set. You can find several different versions with meaningful magnification and clarity at a reasonable price point.

affordable binoculars
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Like the Aurosports 10×25 Folding High Powered Binoculars With Weak Light Night Vision. An affordable, compact and lightweight set that can be used by both kids and adults.

They can be used for many future travels for years to come.

13. Kids’ Snorkeling Set

Snorkel sets make great travel gifts. Exploring the fascinating world under the sea can be a great water sport for cruisers of all ages. Snorkeling is a great way to explore under the sea without needing any special certifications or dozens of hours of special training.  And, it is a water sport that is easily accessible to young children (just remember to add a safety vest!).  Most basic snorkel sets for kids weigh about a pound or less.

kids' snorkeling set
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A portable charger or power bank makes a great gift for any tween or teen. It will get lots of use both while traveling and back at home.

portable charger
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When getting one as a gift, buy one that’s 10,000AMH or greater. This allows for extended use and multiple charges. And, one with multiple charging slots will allow for sharing!

15. Underwater Digital Camera

If you’re looking for something that’s more like a traditional camera than the GoPro style listed above, try a full-sized digital camera that can be used underwater and touring around above ground.

underwater camera
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This is a great option for kids who don’t have cell phones but still want to take lots of pictures – including selfies.


Several different manufacturers make magnetic-style building tiles in a wide range of styles and colors. When it comes time to travel, these are infinitely superior to lego style building blocks.

Building Tiles
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They are much easier to keep track of, and they don’t hurt your foot if you accidentally step on them!

We have procured several different sets or pieces of set over the years. We have found that they can generally be used interchangeably.  And, they have held up really well over many years. And, parents can expand a basic set with lots of different accessories to fit the needs and desires of different kids.  


Many cruise lines have been switching away from plastic straws.  They now provide paper/cardboard straws, if any at all.

reusable straws
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My kids (understandably) complain mightily about these straws because they only last for about 3 minutes. After 4-5 sips, they start to collapse and disintegrate.

So, our forward-thinking and practical gift this year will be a set of reusable straws for everyone!

Closing Thoughts

Any of these items would make a great gift that will be both loved and easily packable!

Elaine Warren

Founder & Crew Chief

Elaine founded this website after publishing the book The Family Cruise Companion’s Guide to Cruising With Kids. She has sailed on 39 cruises (and counting). She loves helping families navigate their way to an adventure-filled, fun, and memorable vacation.

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Last update on 2024-04-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API