Most Dads love to travel. Some like road trips, others like to fly to faraway places. Whatever your Dad prefers, we have thoughts on what gear you should gift them. Written by another Dad (Bill) who feels strongly about what other Dads might enjoy.
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Gifts for Dads Who Like Plane Travel
What is an activity bag? It’s a special bag where you keep all the fun things you are going to entertain yourself with on a trip or vacation. My family used to make fun of me for having an "activity bag" but guess what? They all have one now too, so there!
We accept that there is a good chance you won't touch half this stuff while you are gone. You won't read four novels and five magazines. You won't find time to watch seven movies and listen to three audiobooks. That's ok. Having them in your bag is nice and always makes me feel good before I head out.
What makes a good activity bag?
Not too big / not too small. Read, big enough to carry all your stuff without being bulky and heavy
Has a laptop sleeve
Has basic organization features and pockets for things like pens, car keys, etc.
Is easy to carry
Has some style - you want to feel good having this with you
My pick - Timbuk2 Lightweight Flight Messenger Bag
I have had a Timbuk2 messenger bag that my sister bought me for years. Their bags have definite style. They are also built to last, which is good quality for an activity/entertainment bag you take on trips. It comes in two sizes and four different colors. There are a good set of pockets for organizing your small items. You can't go wrong with Timbuk2 bags.
Cable / Charger Pouch
A good companion for your activity bag (see above) is something to keep all the cables, chargers and other small items you need / want to take with you. I have been slowly refining mine for a few years now.
Here is a list of the items I have in mine. Keep in mind that I'm a Dad that needs to keep the whole families devices charged when we go on trips. I've got ground to cover here so have a relatively expansive list.
USB-C to Lightning cable - We are an iPhone family, so this is a necessity. The newer USB C variety enables faster charging.
USB-C cable - I need this for the newer Amazon Fire devices we got our kids
Apple Watch cable - I love my apple watch, need to charge it daily
Micro USB cable - I still always carry one of these, even though it is old technology. Seems like something always needs one.
USB-C Power Adapter - you want the 20W version for quick charging, makes a real difference
A couple of rechargeable AA batteries - I end up using these for something (small flashlights, etc.)
Rechargeable battery charger
Apple Airpods - I use these to watch movies on my phone
Headphones - old school with a 3.5mm jack, for emergency purposes
Headphone splitter - mainly for our kids if they want to watch the same movie together
My pick - FYY Electronic Organizer
Note: this is on sale now and the best price
This one is the right size with a good mix of pockets and spots for cables. It is also cheap and comes in numerous colors on Amazon.
I'm not someone who gets cold all the time. That said, planes are always cold. Always. I have never regretted having a warm fleece to put on during flights.
My pick - the Patagonia fleece jacket
I generally like things from Patagonia. Their stuff is expensive but well made and worth the cost. The company is also pretty awesome. They guarantee everything they make. They do things that are good for the environment, they treat their employees really well (think onsite child care). It goes on and on. Can read about it on their website.
Not always, but sometimes (particularly with international travel) I don't want to bring my normal wallet with lots of credit cards and other stuff I won't need on the trip (e.g. my Costco membership). This is where the slimmed-down wallet comes in.
My pick - Airo Collective Stealth Wallet
Voted "Best Minimalist Wallet" by CNET for 2020, 2021, and 2022, the Airo is a bi-fold design that has two pocket card slots, that can each hold up to four credit cards. It also has a ballistic bungee loop which is an elastic band that holds your cash in place. This is key for me as I still like to have a wad of cash with me when I travel. I don't like having cash in a normal folding wallet, because it ends up being thick and bulky. This wallet also has RFID protection if you care about that (not sure I do).
Gifts For Dads Who Like to Road Trip
There is something appealing about duffle bags. I'm not quite sure what it is. Could be their simplicity, one big space you just pile things into. They also have a kind of masculine quality to them. Think of bank heist movies or military swat teams, they always carry their gear in duffle bags. Nobody's rolling into a bank robbery with wheeled luggage.
My pick - Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole 40L
I'm going to go with another Patagonia choice here. This duffel bag with 40-liter volume is a good size for weekend trips and meets most airline and train carry-on requirements. They have three bigger sizes if you need that. It comes in several cool color schemes and generally looks good. Note: as of 6/4/22, this item was on backorder until 6/23/22, but you can get on the waitlist at the link above.
Guys like knives. Guys like being prepared with knives. Have you ever been to a kids birthday party and someone needs a knife to open a gift or some other task? There will be five Dads racing to get their knife out of their pocket, saving the day. It's what we do.
My pick - LEATHERMAN, FREE T4 EDC Pocket Knife
Leatherman is the rugged, American version of a Swiss Army knife. I like that about them. The company was started by some guy traveling in Europe in the '70s and he was trying to fix leaking plumbing with a Boy Scout knife that didn't have any pliers. He returned home from that trip and developed the original Leatherman, centered around a very usable set of pliers along with a knife and other components. Cool stuff. My pick doesn't have pliers, but that's ok. I like it because it has a decent size blade, scissors (a must in my opinion), basic screwdrivers, and a bottle opener.
One thing I've learned from my father-in-law is to always have a cooler with you. Always.
My pick - The Yeti Tundra 35 Hard Cooler
This pick may bother some of you. Yeti is expensive. Hard coolers are heavy. This one is a little on the big size. I recognize all that. I don't think a Dad and his family around him will ever regret having this cooler. It is big enough to have some food and drinks for the whole family. It keeps ice for days and will never ever leak. Priceless stuff in my opinion.
Roadie Water Cup
I have an insulated tumbler-type mug with me at all times. I have one for home and one for the office. If we go on a road trip, the home mug goes with me. This is so that I have ice-cold water to drink at all times. This is awesome.
These things are perfect. They hold ice for a whole day easily. Get the big one so you have plenty of water. It will still fit in your car's cup holder due to the tapered bottom.
Bonus gift points if you customize his cup with some letters or decals. I've done this and you can still put the cup in the dishwasher. No issues.
And let me be the first to wish all you Dads out there, a Happy Father's Day!
Please bookmark or share with someone (like your wife) who may need ideas!