Whether you are traveling domestically or internationally with a toddler, there are a number of essential items, that will make your life a whole lot easier. The thought of taking a toddler along on a holiday can often be daunting. Of course, no toddler will sit for the duration of a long flight or car trip so ensuring that you have enough entertainment, snacks, and comfort is key.
Toddlers can be among the most difficult travel companions, but don’t stress this can be combatted (to a degree) by being prepared. In this article, we take a look at a number of ‘must-have’ travel items that many mothers say they wouldn’t leave behind.
- 1 Travel Basics
- 2 Must-Have Travel Items for a Toddler
- 2.1 Travel Food and Snacks for Toddlers
- 2.2 Travel Transport for Toddlers
- 2.3 Toddler Luggage for Travel
- 2.4 Toddler Accessories for Travel
- 2.5 Toddler Entertainment for Travel
- 3 Baby Momma’s Traveling Toddler Checklist
- 4 What ‘Not’ to Bring When Traveling with a Toddler
- 5 8 Tips from One Mom to Another to Survive Flying or Traveling with a Toddler
Before you start to plan out your child’s suitcase and your own suitcase you’ll need to confirm your total suitcase weight allowance. Exceeding the included baggage weight can lead to a nasty fee on the day so be sure to measure and weigh your suitcases once they are ready to go.
Before you leave the house on the day of your trip, in particular, if you are flying ensure you:
- Chat to your toddler about where you will be going and explain how you will be getting there. For example, if you are flying and this is your toddler’s first trip explain the basics such as we will need to be sitting quietly for take-off watching a movie.
- Check that the flight has not been delayed. There is nothing worse than having to entertain a toddler at the airport for longer than expected.
- Ensure you have your passports ready and your boarding pre-passes printed if a possibility with the airline you are flying with.
Must-Have Travel Items for a Toddler
Travel Food and Snacks for Toddlers
The type of food or snacks that you will be able to take along really depends on how you are traveling. For instance, if traveling by plane, you may be restricted to the type of food you can take if you are allowed to take any at all. If you have a toddler that is still on formula, the flight companies will allow a specific quantity to be taken for the duration of the flight. Same goes for toddler food pouches. If you are driving to your holiday destination, there will be fewer restrictions on the type of food you’ll be able to take. While in some countries, such as Australia certain fruits cannot be taken across borders, other countries do not have state to state food restrictions in place.
Reusable Snack Bags / Containers
You will want to pack your child their own food containers, drink bottles and cutlery as well as a bowl and plate if you have enough room in their suitcase. If you are purchasing a new drink bottle and food container, choose those that are spill-proof. This will ensure if you are flying or they are snacking as you drive, there are no nasty spills to clean up. If your toddler still enjoys milk, make sure you don’t forget their bottle or milk sippy cup.
Travel Transport for Toddlers
Even if your little one is walking, if you intend on sightseeing and visiting new places daily when holidaying, chances are that their legs will get tired at one stage or another. Many toddlers may have dropped their day sleep although still like to have a rest here and there. A travel stroller is compact enough to take along for a day trip and is conveniently ready for your toddler when their legs get tired. There is nothing worse than have to lug a 20-kilo toddler on your hip.
GB Travel Stroller
While there are a number of different travel strollers on the market, among the most affordable, and feature-filled are those by the ‘gb’ company. Many moms swear by the gb Pocket which holds the title as the world’s smallest folding stroller. This pram is suitable for toddlers up to 55 pounds (almost 25 kilos) and the chair can be slightly reclined for those toddlers who still enjoy a day nap. This stroller weighs only 9.5 pounds and folds into a cube shape making it ideal for travel. Many companies will even allow this stroller to be taken as a carry on item. The Pocket Stroller comes in a number of colors and generally retails around $200.00 USD.
Ergo Baby Carrier
Depending on the age of your toddler, a baby carrier may come in handy. While some toddlers who are independently walking will not allow you to place them in a carrier, others are happy to do so. The Ergo Baby 360 Carrier is suitable for toddlers up to 45 pounds in weight. Using this carrier, your toddler can sit on your back or forward-facing on your front. The breathable cotton ensures mom or dad don’t overheat as well as the child. It also comes with a sun canopy that can be pulled out to protect the toddler from the blaring sun if you are travel to a warm location. Ergo Baby Carriers generally retail for around $140.00 USD.
While taking a travel bed along with you can be unnecessary, a travel foot pillow may allow your toddler to rest on long flights. If you are driving by car to your holiday destination, a foam fold out bed may be an idea if you have space in the car. This way it is familiar to your toddler and they may be able to rest on it of a night time while reading a book or watching television.
Travel Foot Pillow
The travel foot pillow is a newer invention and has your toddler’s comfort in mind. It is basically like a large blow-up pillow that sits between two seats in an airplane and allows your toddler to lay down to sleep on long flights. If you will be flying to your holiday destination, in particular, an overnight flight, a travel foot pillow may be something to look into. While it is an extra item to make room for in your suitcase, it may be beneficial if it allows your toddler to sleep well. Before setting out to purchase an airplane toddler bed, ensure that the company that you intend on flying with allow for these type of inflatable pillows.
Toddler Luggage for Travel
Your toddler will either be entitled to a suitcase or a carry on bag depending on the type of flight and ticket you have paid for. Ensure you have the essential items such as a change of clothes, wipes, a drink bottle, and snacks packed in the carry on luggage so that these items can be accessed throughout the duration of the flight.
Trunki Ride-on Suitcase
The Trunki Ride-On Suitcase is sturdy and your toddler can even sit on it and be pulled along through the airport. It may allow your toddler to remain entertained for some time at the airport and is the perfect size to fit your toddler’s clothes and accessories. This bag is also suitable as carry on luggage weighing under 3.5 pounds. All Trunki Suitcases come with a 5-year guarantee making them well worth the money.
You may choose to use your regular diaper bag as your toddler’s carry on luggage. You should ensure you have all the necessities packed in this bag and enough wipes and diapers (if they are not toilet trained) for the duration of the trip. Same goes even if you are traveling by car. Having a small bag full of the essentials will save you having to rummage through a large suitcase if there is an accident or your toddler is demanding snacks from the backseat.
Wet and dry bags will come in handy because no mother wants to be spending their holiday washing and drying clothes. Place any dirty or soiled clothes in one bag, and other clothes that can be worn again in another. Separating your toddler’s clothes will save you time and hassle and allow you to easily wash them when you return home.
Toddler Accessories for Travel
If you are flying or driving a long distance and you allow your toddler screen time, it is a good idea to also pack a pair of headphones. Some airplane companies will supply toddlers with headphones if they have back of seat televisions, although some will not so it is best to be prepared.
Love to Dream Sleep Suit or Ergo Pouch Sleep Suit
Rather than packing multiple blankets to keep your toddler warm, especially if you are traveling to a cooler climate, purchasing one or two sleeping suits can save you a lot of luggage space and weight. You may even find that your toddler will be comfortable to wear a sleepsuit on the airplane to keep them warm, especially if you are taking a nighttime flight. The best part about both the Love to Dream and Ergo Pouch Sleepsuits is that they have legs in them, meaning your toddler can still walk around. While both these companies make great sleeping suits for toddlers, in my opinion, the Love to Dream Sleep Suits are better for warmer climates, whereas if you are heading to an area where it snows, the Ergo Pouch higher tog sleepsuits may be a better and warmer choice. Love to Dream sleepsuits can fit up to a 4-year-old whereas Ergo Pouch makes sleepsuits that fit up to a 6-year-old.
While some may bat an eye at a toddler attached to a harness, once you are a mom yourself you realize the importance of using one in busy areas. For example, the airport is a large area bustling with many people. Having a toddler harness may give you some relief knowing that your little one cannot run off and get lost in the crowd. You can buy a toddler harness attached to a stuffed animal, or others are simply attached to a backpack.
Skip Hop Toddler Leash
The Skip Hop Toddler Leash is attached to a backpack. This allows you to ensure your little one stays close by and it also gives the toddler a place to put all their ‘must-have’ items such as snacks and a drink bottle.
While your toddler may seem confident in the water, it is always best to be safe and have them wear a toddler swimming vest. There are a number of different toddler swimming vests to choose from, and there are also swimmers with inbuilt floats.
Speedo Toddler Swimming Vest
The Speedo Toddler Swimming Vest is lightweight and easy to put on your toddler who may be eager to jump into the water. This vest can be purchased in two sizes, one suitable for those aged 2-4 and another suitable for those aged 4-6. It also comes in a number of different colors and designs.
Toddler Entertainment for Travel
If you allow your child screen time, don’t forget to pack their iPad or tablet. Taking some time in the weeks leading up to the holiday to download some fun and interactive age-appropriate games will ensure your toddler can be kept busy. Don’t forget to also have the Ipad charged ready for the trip and the charger packed in the suitcase or carry on luggage.
Packing some toddler-friendly activities such as pencils, paper, and some stickers can help keep your toddler entertained. Reframe from packing large and bulky toys and stick to a few interactive activities. If you will be heading to the beach, ensure you pack a bucket and spade or alternatively purchase a cheap set when you reach your holiday location. Some moms swear by packing a couple of containers of PlayDoh mentioning that it has kept their toddlers entertained for hours on flights.
Baby Momma’s Traveling Toddler Checklist
If you are taking a ‘baby on board’ with you, then you’ll want to start packing days before you jet set. This allows you time to consider any items you may have forgotten and it decreases stress the day before. Of course, there will be ‘last minute’ items that you’ll need to throw in and I recommend adding these to the carry on where possible. Use our complete travel checklist below to ensure you pack all toddler traveling necessities:
Click here to download a printer-friendly PDF copy of the checklist below.
|Diaper Bag (Carry on) |
Include a handful of diapers, wipes, diaper bags, bottles, and changes of clothes. You may also like to include a changing pad, panadol, diaper rash cream, baby powder, a small blanket, snacks, headphones, entertainment and hand disinfectant for flights or train trips.
|Toddlers Passport and Indetitfication|
If you are traveling overseas, ensure you pack your toddler’s passport and any ID required. It is a good idea to take your toddler’s medical card even on short, local trips.
|1 x Toddler Suitcase||☐|
The number of diapers you pack will depend on whether your child is toilet trained or not. It is a good idea to also pack swim diapers if you will be swimming on holiday.
|Wipes and Tissues |
1 or 2 packets should be enough.
|Wet and Dry Bags |
Bags to place soiled, or dirty cothes in. You may opt to just use plastic bags.
|1 or 2 x Comfort Blankets||☐|
|1 x Sleeping Suit (Climate Appropriate)||☐|
|Child’s Toiletries |
This should include your toddler’s toothbrush, toothpaste, soap bar, cotton buds, hairbrush, sunscreen and hair wash.
Ensure you pack play and going out clothes for your toddler. Account for atleast one accident a day, or more if your toddler is toilet training. Clothing that can be layered is the most suitable.
Ensure you pack appropriate pajamas for the climate you will be exposed to.
|Socks and Shoes|
Pack atleast two pair of shoes for your toddler. This ensures if one pair is wet, your toddler still has shoes to wear.
|2 x Swimming Costumes|
If you are traveling to a location where there will be a swimming pool or beach, ensure you pack 2 swimmers for your child so that one can be drying out, while the other is being used. You might also like to pack a spade and bucket for the beach.
|1 x Toddler Hooded Beach Towel||☐|
|Beanie and Mittens|
If you are traveling to a cooler climate, you may need to pack your toddler a beanie and some mittens.
|1 x Sunhat||☐|
|1 x Sippy Cup and 1 x Drink Bottle |
Ensure you pack a leak-proof drink bottle
|1 x Bowl, Spoon and Fork |
Choose a lightweight plastic set.
|Snack Foods / Formula |
This may include fruit pouches, packets of biscuits or fruit bars that your toddler enjoys. Check with where you are going as to which foods you can take with you. If your toddler still enjoys formula, don’t forget to pack a tin in his/her suitcase.
|Small Bag Laundry Powder|
If you intend on doing any laundry while you are away, ensure you pack a small container or plastic bag of laundry powder.
|Toys and Books |
Try to pack lightweight toys and books. Ensure you pack your child’s comfort toy.
|Pencils and Paper||☐|
|Electrical Items and Charges such as Ipad||☐|
What ‘Not’ to Bring When Traveling with a Toddler
While it may be tempting to pack up half of the toy room and your toddler’s closet when sorting out your child’s suitcase, chances are you’ll be lugging added weight for no reason. While packing the essentials is important, avoid bringing along bulky items as these will be hard to transport from place to place especially if you will be moving around between a number of hotels. If you are traveling domestically or internationally and you will be staying in a hotel, phone ahead in advance and see what they provide. Many hotels provide bedding for toddlers so this will eliminate the need to bring along a porta cot of your own.
- Do not bring along expensive and bulky prams.
Your toddler will be walking by now and in the case that their legs become tired, you can either use a carrier or small travel stroller. Bulky prams will become a hassle for you to transport, and chances are your toddler will rarely use it.
- Avoid using re-usable diapers while traveling.
While of course using re-usable diapers and re-usable swimming diapers cuts down on waste and betters the environment, these can be a hassle when traveling. Finding somewhere the wash the diapers regularly may be hard, and unexpected accidents can catch you off guard, especially if you are out for the day sightseeing. Traveling with a toddler is already enough work, so save yourself some time if your little one is yet to be toilet trained, and opt for a pack or two of disposable diapers for the time you are away.
- You should not need to bring a car seat.
Unless you are driving to your holiday destination (chances are the car seat will already be installed in your car), you will likely have no need to bring along a car seat. Transport services generally will have car seats that they can provide, and if you are renting a car, make sure you add a car seat at the time of booking.
- Avoid packing hefty toys.
While we advise packing a number of toys to keep your toddler entertained, selectively pick lightweight and easy to carry items. For example, you are better to pack some pencils and paper rather than your child’s train set collection. Choose a number of well-loved toys for your toddler and leave the hefty, large toys behind. While holidaying, more than likely you will have planned a number of day trips and your toddler will be active throughout the day with you and your family so don’t stress too much about packing an excessive amount of toys.
- Limit the amount of blankets you pack and include a sleepsuit instead.
Rather than loading your suitcase with multiple blankets, you are best to bring one comfort blanket for your toddler and a sleeping suit. Sleeping suits can be purchased in a number of different thicknesses so you’ll need to purchase or pack one that is suitable for the country/region you will be visiting. If you are staying at a hotel, additional blankets should be provided.
- Only pack suitable clothing and pajamas.
Work out the number of days you will be away and ensure you have packed enough clothes and spare clothes in case of accidents. While packing light is ideal, you don’t want to be having to do washing every day on a holiday either. You need to pack sensibly for your toddler and this involves having a suitable amount of clothes, undies, socks, singlets, and pajamas. Consider what the climate will be like at the time of your holiday.
8 Tips from One Mom to Another to Survive Flying or Traveling with a Toddler
- If you are flying, attempt to burn as much energy as possible before boarding the plane. There may be a playground at the airport, or you may be able to go for a walk to look at a couple of stalls with your toddler. Take a couple of trips up and down the escalator. A tired toddler is ideal when boarding a flight. This way they should be more happy to sit and watch a movie or do a quiet activity to take off.
- Ensure you have an activity bag ready for your toddler full of different types of craft and interactive games. Pack lots of snacks in this bag, preferably low sugar snacks unless you want your toddler bouncing off the walls of the car or airplane.
- Pack a diaper and lots of wipes even if your child is toilet trained. You never know what type of accident may happen. If another guest on the airplane is taking a while in the toilet and your little one cannot hold their bladder the nappy may come in handy.
- Pack a change of clothes for yourself in your carry on. Us moms and dads take the brunt of toddler accidents. Always ensure you have a change of clothes packed for yourself that you can easily access in case of an emergency. I can imagine nothing worse than sitting in wet clothes on a long flight.
- Have a bottle, sippy cup or be ready to breastfeed your toddler on take-off and landing as the pressure of the airplane can drive your little one crazy during these periods. Some moms suggest a lollipop for take-off and landing.
- Ask to be seated in an aisle seat with your toddler. Being stuck next to someone can be quite frustrating especially if your toddler is up and down to the toilet every hour.
- Try to book a nighttime flight so that your toddler will be able to sleep through some of the duration of it. A nighttime flight also means that if you have dinner before take off, your little one will be full and less fidgety.
- Keep your child’s Ipad as a last resort and use all other activities first. This way, if the flight is long you will not need to worry about the battery dying in the first few hours.