Travel Tips

Great Gifts for the Local Family Traveler

What to buy the traveler in your life? Check this list:

Spot It is my favorite new game, hands down. It’s easy to learn (you’ll get it in about two seconds), scales well by age (I’d say 5 and up) and comes in a very portable tin.

Gift certificates to a favorite hotel or restaurant. Many come with bonuses for you, too. I’ve seen a 10% bonus for purchases for the Victoria Clipper, an extra $25 gift card when you purchase one $25 gift card at the Cannon Beach’s Wayfarer restaurant and a few more I can’t really mention — they were only for e-mail subscribers to the hotel e-mail lists. But you’ll find these sort of “secret deals” when you sign up for a restaurant or hotel’s e-mail li.

Reusies are one of our favorite ways of transporting snacks for the kids (particularly crackers, nuts, cheese, etc.) in the car. Children can chow down, then seal up the container themselves — no plastic lids to struggle with. ReUsies 2 Pack Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bag – Pirate

If I were buying just one gift for the family traveler, it would be a picnic backpack. We’ve had ours since our wedding day and have used it over and over again — it’s a fantastic way to save money. Eat oatmeal in your hotel room or create a picnic from yummy things you’ve collected at Granville Island market. Here’s one example: Picnic at Ascot Classic Blue Picnic Backpack for Four with Blanket

A NW-centric book, like Lonely Planet Pacific Northwest Trips or (my book) Northwest Kid Trips: Portland, Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver or The Most Beautiful Villages and Towns of the Pacific Northwest.

A Chicco Capri Lightweight Stroller. I don’t have the money for a Maclaren. But I think a Chicco umbrella-style stroller ($65-75) is a great value for those of us on a budget. This particular stroller works well no matter what the streets throw at it — cobblestones, dips, bumps or grass-covered hills. It fits easily into most crowded urban restaurants and the handles work well for my tall husband. If you don’t want to buy from Amazon, head to your local Babies R Us, which typically has this stroller in stock.

A membership to a local zoo or science center. All the better if they’re participating members of the ASTC Passport Program or the Association of Zoo and Aquariums, which allows the recipient to visit nearby cities’ zoos and science centers for free or at huge discounts.

Is there anything you hope Santa brings you this year?

Lora Shinn writes about family travel, Pacific NW travel, grown-up travel...and travel in general. Her travel-related articles and essays have appeared in Family Fun, Parenting, AFAR, National Geographic Traveler, AAA magazines and Redbook, among others.


  • Jessica

    Do you have “Rush Hour” or “Rush Hour Jr.” It’s a great game for travel or just going to dinner – packs in a small bag and kiddos can play ALONE or with friends.

  • Amy T.

    The Chicco Capri certainly is certainly on my list of top umbrella strollers. When I read through all the reviews that customers write on the Capri, the recurring theme is how great this stroller is for traveling. Transport is even easier because it comes with a carrying bag and strap, certainly handy at the airport!