We recently had an EPIC family vacation to Zion National Park, Antelope Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park and we were fortunate to also attend the RiSE Festival outside of Las Vegas to end our journey. I shared a lot of our items I purchased before on Instastories (follow me @sensorykidsguide) and I put them through the test! My reviews and links are below. Depending on the time of year in which you are traveling, note the temperature swing for us was upwards of 50 degrees just in one week depending on our location! *links below are part of the Amazon Affiliate program. A small commission is given to Sensory Kids Guide.
SENSORY items we ALWAYS travel with no matter the location at the bottom of this post!
NOTE: We did NOT check bags at the airport, so condensed packing was a MUST!
We did laundry mid-week.
Let’s start with jackets! These were in everyday use on our trip for the first 4 days. We traveled in early October and the temps were chilly (especially for us Floridians) in Zion and Antelope and the wind in the Grand Canyon and evening temps definitely were conducive for these Amazon puffer coats! My daughter and I both wore a Men’s Medium and my two younger both wore a Youth XXL. I love these can push down into a small bag attached to the interior tag!
We all were in Columbia hiking boots for this trip. My oldest daughter’s were the only ones that had been “broken in” previous to this trip. We hiked a total of around 15 miles during the course of our vacation and not one of us had any blisters! INCREDIBLE! This was truly a god-send, especially for kids with sensory needs and aversions.
My youngest daughter (age 8) wore a Women’s 6.5 (normally a child’s 5 or Women’s 6) with the pink laces, I wore a Women’s 10.5 (i probably could have gone up to an 11, street shoe for me is a 10) and same for my oldest daughter in the red laces. Click image for LINK.
What are boots without socks?!
I snagged these right before we left and very glad I did! They absolutely did the job and again, did not create blisters. I will make note they were NOT super soft. If your child has issues with socks (as I know mine did when they were younger), I would opt into something like athletic socks similar to THESE.
My husband has had a travel backpack since 2017 and absolutely swears by it (the blue one below). He has taken it to Oktoberfest in Munich, adventures in Calgary and even just small weekend trips! The girls and I used travel size rolling bags for this trip but the boys used these incredibly spacious backpacks! My son used the Black Travel Backpack below and it was surprisingly spacious. I was able to put his puffer jacket bag within the exterior side clips as well as his water bottle! CLICK IMAGES BELOW FOR LINKS.
We packed a few extra items that proved super useful! First, an adjustable, moveable mini tripod. This came in handy at Zion National Park and at the Grand Canyon! The bendable legs allowed me to prop it on any terrain to to use as a holding handle for overhead images. It also came with a remote control, but we did not use it. We will definitely use this often when we travel!
My son has a generic GoPro type camera and we purchased a headstrap for him! He loved taking video from his perspective! (he moves to fast for any content that is usable, but he loves watching it!)
One Item I WISHED I had!
Throughout our trip, we DID find access to water bottle refill stations (yes, we all travelled with empty aluminum bottles) but on our longer hikes, the weight of the bottles was pretty heavy. I wished I had brought my Camelbak or similar hydration backpack! These contain a water storage pouch and also pockets to carry items. As a family of five, we definitely would have still carried a regular backpack for jackets, extra socks..etc. But this could have eliminated the heavy water bottles! Camelbak also carries a Youth version (the pink one below), so each child could have their own!
This in on my Kid’s Christmas lists this year for sure!
Sensory Travel Items
No matter where we travel, I ALWAYS bring some very specific sensory items that help my kids regulate. This could be for on the plane or car ride, potential LOUD noises, or just items that help.
If you’ve been a follower, you know I always talk about NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES. We quite literally never travel without them. I have invested in a pair of Bose Cancelling Headphones for myself and for my kids to use but we also have youth (non-bluetooth) generic noise cancelling headphones. Plane too loud? Potential for fireworks? Large indoor or outdoor crowd noise? Music concert? Kid meltdown because it’s all JUST TOO MUCH? Boom. Noise cancelling headphone. FOR THE WIN.
We don’t ever bring our favorite “lovey” or “blankie” on long trips. When my oldest were very young, we left items on a plane and I’ll never forget the tears from both them and myself. We DO let them pick out something that brings them joy. This could be a book, a stuffed small toy that the like (but don’t LOVE OR that I can replace), a fidget toy or a small game. We did not bring devices on this trip but we often will allow an iPad or Nintendo Switch on long road trips. No links here, just some food for thought!
SNACKS! Before we fly or drive, I always bring some very specific snacks. This includes a protein bar/granola type snack, fruit leather or fruit snack (no dyes or artificial sugars that would increase meltdowns or fidgety behaviors), and a cracker of some sort. These snacks get very pricey in the airport and if your flights only offer a small snack during meal time…this is a great way to fend off any HANGRY outbursts!
Ultimately, you are the best advocate for your child. Taking the time to think through their needs will provide huge benefits for a family trip you’ve worked so hard to plan and pay for! Reach out if you have any questions or would like our full family itinerary! sensorykidsguide(at)gmail(dot)com.