So you were brave enough to plan a trip with your toddler, but now reality has set in and it seems like a daunting task. It can be, if you are not prepared, but with these handy tips you’ll be ready to travel with your busy little one.
Things to Consider when Traveling with Toddler
This is a thorough and all-purpose travel packing list. It should fit the needs of most parents traveling with a toddler. However, take your destination, form of travel, and length of travel into consideration when deciding how much and what to bring. If you are traveling within your own country and know that you can get certain items without any inconvenience or added cost, you may want to do that and have less to carry.
Disposable Diapers – Make sure that you have enough for travel in your diaper bag, with a few extra for delays or emergencies.
Cloth Diapers – Cloth diapers can take up a lot of room, and you may not be able to clean them during your trip. If you use them anyway, make sure to pack enough diapers and accessories (inserts, covers, wet bag, detergent, stay-dry liners, and diaper rash cream). Bring about 1 diaper for every two hours, and add a few extra for reassurance. Pack supplies in both your diaper bag and checked luggage.
Training Diapers (if potty training) – You may also want to bring a travel potty with you.
Wipes – Disposable wipes are highly recommended during travel. Even the greenest of moms choose this option for their peace of mind. Don’t forget a diaper pad. The germs that lurk on those changing stations would make you want to dunk your kid in antibacterial sanitizer.
Diaper Rash Cream – Even if your toddler normally doesn’t get rashes, bring diaper rash cream. Climate change, routine changes, and maybe staying in a diaper for a longer than normal period of time (due to traveling) can all cause your child to develop a rash.
Plastic Bags – These come in handy for storing wet clothes, soiled diapers, shoes, etc. Bring several sizes.
Blanket(s) – Bring your child’s favorite blanket, and an extra in case that one gets dirty. Keep weather and destination in mind. You don’t want a fleece blanket if you’re visiting Mexico in July.
Bibs – Avoid stains on clothing by packing bibs. Only pack a few; you can easily wash them in a sink. If you don’t want the hassle of messy bibs, purchase disposable bibs. You can get a pack of about 25 in most stores for a reasonable price.
Utensils and Sippy Cups – Pack age-appropriate utensils for your little one (most restaurants and airplanes don’t have utensils that are safe for toddlers to use). Sippy cups allow for easy spill-proof drinking.
Snacks/Food – You will want snacks and food on hand for travel. Pouches of baby food are excellent for travel, as they are easier to handle and less messy. Don’t forget to pack some snacks for yourself (and spouse). Moms and dads get hungry too, and traveling while hungry can make for a grumpy companion.
Your Child’s Stuffed Animal and Nightlight– Although very exciting, traveling can be a bit unnerving for some children, especially at night. Sleeping in a strange place can be scary, but having a familiar item, like a favorite stuffed animal, will offer some comfort. If your child uses a nightlight, don’t forget to pack it.
Clothes – It’s so easy to overpack clothing. If you are staying at a place that has washing machines, consider packing for half the days you will be there and plan on washing. Consider destination and weather. Pack accordingly, and don’t forget evening and nighttime temperatures. If your destination is warm/hot during the day, but cooler at night, bring sweaters, long sleeves, and long pants. Wearing layers is a great way to prepare for weather changes. Remember that darker colors hide stains better, but they also attract the sun and are therefore warmer.
Laundry Detergent – If you plan on washing your clothes during your trip, or if you are using cloth diapers, bring laundry detergent. If buying it at your destination isn’t inconvenient, that will save you some space. For accidents along the way, use bathroom hand soap to do a quick wash and store in a plastic bag until you’re able to machine wash.
Shoes and socks – Consider activities and temperature when deciding on shoes. For the most part, you want two pairs of shoes — a comfortable pair that your toddler can run, climb, and walk in and a nicer pair for dining out, special occasions, etc. Water shoes come in handy if you will be spending time at the beach or doing water activities. Snow boots are a must for winter vacations. Don’t forget socks and stockings/tights (for girls).
Toys and Books – Bring some of your little one’s favorite items, but don’t overpack. These items can take up a lot room and get heavy. Vacations are a time to try new things and experience adventure, so keep that in mind before you pack the entire playroom. Don’t pack things with many parts. The last thing you want is a meltdown because you cannot find a part to a toy.
Bathing Suit – if appropriate for your destination.
Sun Hat and Sunscreen – if appropriate for your destination. For winter destinations, pack mittens/gloves, hats, and scarves.
First Aid Supplies – Consider packing pain reliever/fever reducer, thermometer, and supplies for treating minor injuries. No one wants to get sick or injured during a trip, but sometimes life happens and being prepared makes it easier.
Toiletries – Pack toothpaste, a toothbrush, body soap, shampoo, nail clippers, bug spray, and sunscreen for your little one, especially if you only use certain products, like organic brands. They may be harder to find during your travels.
Childproofing Supplies – Check before you travel to see if where you will be staying is childproof. If not, bring along some outlet and doorknob covers.
Portable Crib/Playpen or Portable Bed Rail – Unless your toddler sleeps with you or you’ve made arrangements, bring a portable crib or playpen. For toddlers sleeping on beds, a bed rail will help prevent falls.
Travel High Chair – Bringing a portable high chair will make your dining experience easier. Many restaurants abroad do not offer the handy booster seats or high chairs that you are used to. Even if they do, you probably wouldn’t want your tot in it without first hosing it down. A portable high chair can also be used as a secure portable seat for time-outs, rest, or any time you need to sit your little one down in a safe spot. Again, use your judgment; take your location, length of time, and luggage into consideration.
Car Seat – ALWAYS take your child’s car seat, even though it’s bulky and cumbersome. Safety should always come first when traveling. Contact your airline and see if they will allow you to board early so that you can safely install your child’s car seat. Look at the car seat’s installation guidelines BEFORE you travel, so that you know how to install it on an airplane, bus, train, etc.
Collapsible Stroller – It’s easier to travel with and can usually be checked in at gate or stored in the overhead bin of an airplane.
1. For air travel, have sippy cups or a lollipop available to help with ear popping.
2. Use a waterproof diaper bag or pack liquids in plastic bags.
3. Bring a clean shirt for yourself in case of accidents.
4. Pack entertainment for your toddler for traveling to your destination (toys, books, stickers, electronics with kid-friendly apps, etc.).
5. Have important papers (passport, immunization records, etc.) handy and in a plastic bag.Again, if you can easily buy some of these items at your destination, travel light and purchase them there.
6. Write your information and put it somewhere on your child, and carry a recent pic of your tot with you, in case they get lost.