Year-round inspirational gifts for kids who love travel
This year I feel we have taken some leaps and bounds out of the ‘baby globetrotter’ stage of life and we are slowly emerging in to the fun part of family travel. The bit where our kids actually know they are travelling, experiencing something new and learning from the world around us. In short, I think the Globetrotters have been bitten by the travel bug, and I’m pouncing on this opportunity!!!
So rather than just an ordinary kids gift guide this Christmas (though if you’re stuck for ideas, we have last minute stocking-stuffer ideas too!), here’re our top 5 picks for Christmas gift ideas for kids that will inspire them to travel and to learn about the world. Perfect especially for loved ones who may be overseas, these are gifts that keep on giving!!
All our recommendations have been tried and tested by the Globetrotters
These home explorer subscriptions kits are a superb way to introduce kids to global learning. At first, my older girl didn’t seem that taken by them, so imagine my surprise when that was the number one thing she just asked me for this Christmas!!
What do you get: Available now in four main product types – Early Explorers, World Edition, Science Expeditions and USA Edition. They are best ordered as a 6-month or 12-month subscription. A starter pack will be mailed to your child including a suitcase, world map, tags and stickers arrives first, followed my monthly topics or countries to add to your pack. We trialled both the Early Explorers and World Edition with our Globetrotters – come see what they thought.
Cost: Depends on type and length of subscription package ordered and postage – range is $14.45 – $19.95 per month – costings and locations they ship to are in our review.
Now turning our attention to “in real life” travel with kids. Are your kids looking to get more involved when you’re on the fly (literally!)? Our 6-year-old is now super keen to help out with things like ticket checking and passport control but of course we don’t really want her holding “the real thing”. When I stumbled upon Little Traveler Passports – as close as they can get to the real thing!
What do you get: From the outside a pretty real looking passport; On the inside fun facts and activities on 20 different countries and a space to collect a passport stamp for each country. Not only do they make a fabulous keepsake, but it keeps kids entertained during airport layovers with additional fun activities and room to write their own journal notes too. They are currently available for Europe (in Navy/ Blush) and Asia Pacific (Mint/Charcoal).
Cost: $24.95 AUD (approx $19USD – worldwide shipping free).
Will border officials actually stamp them? We had no problems in Australia and the UK this summer with the border staff very politely and willingly engaging with the kids but I’m afraid Abu Dhabi border staff looked utterly confused…
I bet any of you who traveled pre-kids owned at least one Lonely Planet guide in your life, right? (We may have a dozen or two…). But let’s be honest, these guide books are really more geared to the broke backpacker than the family with kids. Introducing LP Kids series!
What do you get: From Atlases to history books and city guides, these are superbly aimed at beginner to confident readers. My personal favorite so far (yes, I love them as much as the kids!) has been The Travel Book. Far more than just an atlas, it goes into many facts and details about the people, climate and culture of every country around the world. It is a great resource book to pull off a shelf when we are talking about a particular country, animal or custom (so we use it in conjunction with a number of the products we talk about on this page).
Some of the newer titles that we really like the looks of include the Cities Book – covering an incredible 86 Cities (though as it recommends 8+ we will hold off a year or two on this one). For the younger audience, we recommend Adventures around the Globe which includes stickers, maps and puzzles – and various other titles in this sub-series like Adventures in Busy Places, Adventures in Cold places and Adventures in Smelly Places (I know which one my lot would immediately jump at!)
Cost – varies across the range but expect to pay between $8-$18 USD per book.
My brother first subscribed Miss Z to the Little Kids magazine when she was 3. I’ll admit it took a year or two until she took the slightest notice of their bi-monthly arrival in the mail – now she simply laps them up. They are ideally targeted to the 3 to 5-year-old age bracket but there’s obviously flex within this depending on your child’s interests and reading ability.
What do you get: An annual subscription to Little Kids Magazine has 6 issues, each 24 pages, packed with activities and interesting facts – mostly on animals but also about countries and cultures, space, plants. They are full of high-quality pictures, bright colours and simple language but probably more interesting topics than they get in their class readers! It is designed as a step into self-reading and children questioning the world around them. Most activities my daughter now does independently (with Master 4 hot on her heels) like spot the differences and missing letters. You also get 6 tear-out animal fact collector cards with each issue which seem to be Miss Z’s favourite part.
Cost: $15USD for 12 months – 6 magazines (note Amazon linked in this article now price match with National Geographics own site).
As your kids start to outgrow this series and become independent readers I would move them up to the more advanced National Geographic Kids, more complex language and facts but still full of glossy colourful images that encourage self-reading. The magazine, like many other services these days is also tied to their NGkids website which is something we are starting to explore now in line with the kids school topics, and the National Geographic Kids You Tube channel . (Note that reviews that appear on Amazon saying this magazine is full of advertisements were from 10+ years ago! This is no longer the case and is a product we believe in and happily recommend – albeit yes there is some product promotion, NG is now a company run for profit).
The Globetrotters are also starting to explore the reading series too. These are again, fabulous bright colourful photography books with interesting facts. They are broken down by reading levels so you can choose according to your child’s reading ability, ours have already become a much-loved section of the bookshelf.
5. And for your older kids – Leap & Hop Activity Books for Kids
Geared to a slightly older audience, these activity books are a must-have travel item for kids traveling with their parents to more adventurous locations around the world. They are better suited to learning on the go when you’re actually in one of the country/regions covered, but they would also make great preparation material ahead of an overseas trip too, or compliment in-class learning.
What do your get: Each book is sold individually by country/region (currently there are 9 titles including Bali, Cambodia, Hong Kong, London, Paris, Myanmar, Rajasthan, Singapore and Sri Lanka – and very soon Vietnam). Each is ever so beautifully and intricately illustrated, with facts and activities related to the location weaved throughout. They are aimed more towards the independent learner so 8 to 12 years old is ideal, though younger ones will still benefit from the activities and facts with guidance.
Cost: HKD $170 ($22USD approx) with worldwide shipping
For more on general ideas for kiddy entertainment on the go check our “getting through the flight” post, and our review of “KidGoz, Travel Entertainment in the bag” – you may also want to check out our travel stocking stuffers guide if you are looking for smaller, travel-friendly items for your little ones
It is truly exciting to be taking that mammoth leap from dragging our kids around the world behind us to having them independently wanting to learn more about the world. I hope that with a little extra wanderlust inspiration in your household your kids may also make that monumental step towards being confident little globetrotters too.
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Disclosure: Some of the above suggestions include affiliate links. This won’t affect the price you pay if you make a purchase but may provide us some small income to keep this blog going as a free resource for parents – thank you!