Family Vacation Gift Guide: Part 1

by  Paul Eisenberg | Dec 7, 2011

'Tis the season that the Family Vacation blog gets tons of holiday gift idea pitches. This post is proof that I don’t ignore them all.

In case you’re interested, my one rule of thumb when I’m recommending products is that I don’t let the product makers or their publicists know about it ahead of time and therefore, don’t accept freebies for review. I guess that’s two rules of thumb.

That said, as you well know, there are a gaggle of travel gadgets out there – most of them useless and uninspiring. But not all. Consider these four gift ideas for the traveling parents in your life (and tune in next week, when I suggest a few things for traveling kids).

Discovery Store Walkie Talkie Watch Set ($39.95)
The notion of equipping your tween or teen with a cell phone is certainly nothing new and is, of course, useful if you’re separated on vacation, intentionally or otherwise. The idea of a parent and child each having a walkie-talkie on a family cruise, however, was a new one for me, and I credit the folks at for not only putting the idea in my head, but for suggesting the model, specifically, the Discovery FRS Walkie Talkie Watch Set. As the name implies, they can be worn on the wrist and thus not (easily) misplaced or dropped overboard. Whether you go with the Discovery Store wrist model or another, CruiseCompete helpfully notes that “if you buy them, be sure to get ones with lots of sub channels to avoid interference.”

Child’s Rubber Medical ID Bracelet ($19.95)
I’ve seen several variations on vanity medical ID jewelry over the years and my problem with most of them is that they look a little too much like cool jewelry and not enough like a piece of medical identification, which I think you’ll agree defeats or substantially diminishes the purpose of a medical ID bracelet. One company that gets it right is Hope Paige Designs. By way of example, their Child's Rubber Watch Medical ID Bracelet is a whimsically-chunky blue band with depictions of little red Lightning McQueen from the Disney film Cars. Not incidentally, the bracelet’s most prominent feature is a big silver buckle with the universal red medical alert ID symbol.

Zazzle Custom Postcard Postage ($15.95)
While I knew vanity medical ID bracelets had been around, I didn’t know that vanity postage existed, or was even legal, until I heard tell of Zazzle Custom Stamps. The reason I like this idea is not so much the personalization – you can customize stamps of various sizes and denominations with photos or sayings, or both – but what the stamps themselves can encourage, which is sending postcards while on vacation. Lots of times we find great postcards while sightseeing or even in the desks of our hotels, but where are the convenient postcard stamps that would seal the deal? A sheet of 20 stamps that would comfortably fit on a small postcard costs $15.95, and if you’re doing the math, that breaks down as $10.15 for the design of your stamps and $5.80 for the postage, representing 20 29-cent stamps. Get a sheet or two for your favorite traveling family and consider one for your own (of course, keeping in mind that these would only be valid from U.S. destinations). What better way to rub in the fact that you’re on vacation than adding a family-photo stamp to that “wish you were here” postcard?

Mute Button Baby Pacifier ($7.00)
Okay, this one is a little silly, but had the Psychobaby pacifier with the words “Mute Button” been available when my kids were babies and traveling on airplanes, I would have been happy to whip one out during a plane ride, no doubt to the delight and relief of fellow passengers and the flight crew. Enough said.

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