Our kids have backpacks specifically for traveling. I bought the plainest, simplest (and least expensive) backpacks I could find for them to take on trips. This is where they put a book to read, an activity book to work on in the car, and sometimes pajamas to change into on late-night car rides. I also encourage them to carry a journal to write or sketch in. Their backpacks also give them a place to collect brochures and pamphlets, carry a water bottle, and tote around an extra layer of clothes as we explore our destination.
To spruce up their bare backpacks, I have decorated them with patches and pins from some of the places we have been. Souvenirs like these are readily available at most gift shops for very reasonable prices. Some National Parks even give out free patches as a reward for completing the Junior Ranger booklet.
You can iron most of them on in your hotel room, but I have found that sewing them makes them far more secure. I will use the complimentary sewing kit from our hotel to attach the patch the same day we buy it. I have even been known to sew as we drive to pass the time in the car.
These colorful additions to your bags create a visual reminder of the places you’ve gone and are frequently conversation starters with fellow travelers.