Traveling with a Toddler/Baby
Gone are the days when I could jet set at the drop of a dime with minimal efforts. Traveling has changed so much for me going from flying solo taking only a carry on, to wearing a baby and checking a bag, and now to strolling my toddler and checking 30 items. It went from easy breezy, to a littler more work, to hard. Luca is 18 months old and has been on 20 flights already. Yes, 20. He flew with me as a baby and now as a toddler and let me tell you, it is very different! Traveling solo with a baby is easy. Traveling solo with a toddler is not easy. I don’t care how good your toddler is, the stuff they require alone makes traveling a big deal. Granted when you do this with help, it can be so easy. I want to go over things you will need while traveling with a baby vs a toddler, what has helped me, and what I could’ve done without.
First of all, plan! plan! plan! Plan out your trip, plan out your outfits, plan out your travel schedule, plan out your snacks and when you’ll be eating meals, plan where you’ll be for nap time, plan if you need to rent a car, bing a carseat, plan for the plane ride, plan for the car ride. When it comes to traveling, I think less is more. That’s why planning everything out will allow you to pack the exact items you’ll need. The better prepared you are, the easier it will be on you (and your child).
I’m going to take you step by step what I do to prepare for our big travel. If you’re anything like me, you’ll appreciate this breakdown. I am 100 percent Type A so I like to organize and plan. Some think it’s a lot of work, but I think it’s so much better than being a shit show. I actually get joy out of it and it makes me stress free and feel like I’m on top of things when I do this.
- Establish what big items you’ll need by your destination. Where are you going? To Europe where you know no one? To visit family/friends? Do they have baby gear? Pack n play/crib? Stroller? Car seat? When I visit my cousin, I literally need to bring nothing. She has everything for Luca because she has a toddler & baby and extra everything. If your’e going somewhere that you’ll need to bring everything for your baby or toddler, decide if you’ll need to buy a travel stroller, car seat, and/or pack n play. I highly recommend getting an extra item of everything for travel only. We have an extra item of all of these things because we have a really expensive and nice stroller and car seat and I see how the airport employees treat luggage and just throw it around. I refuse to willingly let our nice stuff be ruined. I also refuse to spend a lot on our “extra” travel items, so I found the safest and least expensive baby items for travel. Also, the travel pack n play is perfect for travel; it’s compact and easy to carry for destinations where hotel doesn’t have a crib they can set up in the room. A lot of places like hotels and airbnbs will have cribs you can use, just make sure you sanitize and clean the shit out of them.
- Make a travel schedule. Writing in my notes day by day what we will be doing helps me pack efficiently. What will you be doing everyday? Will we be near a beach, pool, water? Will we be in the snow? Will we be near restaurants and have easy access to stores and cafes? Will I need to pack food, snacks, juice packs, pouches? I can easily plan out our outfits (yes I do this for myself too) and what change of clothes for that day are needed, how many diapers, how much snacks, formula, etc based on the amount of days we are gone and what we are doing each day. I literally pack the minimum possible by doing this. It’s so easy and fun to get excited for the trip by figuring out the tentative travel schedule.
- Determine what you’ll need on the airplane. Do you have a baby? Will you baby wear? Make sure you get the most comfortable and easy to use baby carrier. Pack your diaper bag with diapers, wipes, pacifier, bottle, toys, snacks, extra change of clothes in case of accident, water bottle for mama, and don’t forget the disinfectant wipes, spray, and hand sanitizer for the seats, changing stations, etc.
- Make a list of everything you’ll need for your trip. EVERYTHING. This helps me determine what I need to purchase and what I have already.
- After making a list on what you’ll need for your trip, now you can determine what you need to purchase. I usually do my purchses 2 weeks prior to our travel. Order on amazon prime, hit up Target, and shop local stores to stock up what you’ll need. I like to pack everything I’ll need, even puree pouches because the last thing I want to do on vacation is go to the store for diapers and pouches. My advice is to pack it, but only pack what you’ll need.
- Now the fun part: laundry! I like to gather all the purchased and delivered stuff, things around the house I’m packing and wash everything.
- Layout. After I have everything, I go through our travel schedule and set aside what I will need day by day such as outfits, snacks, shoes, and I lay everything out before I pack it. Count it twice. Make sure it’s all there!
- Pack it. Fun tip: roll all of your clothes to save space and use organizers/seperators to pack. It makes finding things easy when you’re on vacation.
Now that I walked you thru the prepping and packing process, I will show you my actual list of travel items with attached links. If you want to purchase any of these exact items, just click on anything listed below.
Traveling Toddler checklist
- 2 crib sheets
- Wash cloths
- Bottle warmer
- Body wash
- Gentle baby oil
- Swim diapers
- Swim shorts
- Swim spf shirt
- SPF sun hats
- Travel Baby monitor
- Sanitizing wipes
- Natural melatonin for kids
- Baby Tylenol
- Travel thermometer
- Toddler formula powder
- Oatmeal powder
- Travel stroller
- Travel convertible car seat
- Water bottle spill proof
- Pedialyte powder packets
- Travel dish washing soap (for bottles)
- Travel laundry soap
- Dog bags (for poopie diapers)
- Blanket for the plane & room & stroller
Traveling domestic vs international:
Luca has been to 5 states and is an international traveler. Traveling internationally is way more intense because you’ll need to pack items you wouldn’t normally bring to a domestic destination, like a whole mini first aid kit, etc. You know, things you can’t take a 5 min uber to the local pharmacy for.
My advice is to travel the least amount of flights possible (i.e take direct flights when you can). Fly first class if you can. You’ll be catered to and have more room, a television on the back of the seat for entertainment, and you’re off the plane first.
We’ve flown during the day vs during the night and honestly, with a baby, flying when they sleep is ideal. For a toddler that is used to their room and crib, not so much. Almost all times when traveling intentionally, however, you will be guaranteed a 10-14 hour travel day. In that case, you don’t have a choice, you have to split up the flight with sleeping and entertainment. My advice; order a glass of wine or 2.
I highly recommend the JETKIDS by stokke. It’s luggage that your child can pull or ride for fun, storage for kid stuff, and folds out to a comfortable bed on the plane.
Here are some images of what jetkids looks like:
Go to bathroom, change the diaper, and fill up water bottles before boarding! Don’t go on the plane first. Wait until the very end to board as kids don’t like waiting on the plane. When your child is going to be on your lap for the flight, try and have him sit in the stroller, or run around before boarding just because he will be touching you for a long time on the plane.
Sit your child down on your seat when you are on the plane. Get settled in, take jackets off, and make sure you are organized and know where your stuff is before sitting. I tend to keep diaper and wipes in the seat pouch for easy and quick access. Wipe down the seats, arms of chairs, tray tables, and seatbelts. Put your diaper bag and your kids bag under the seat. Take your time and don’t rush.
Don’t have your kid in your lap right away unless they want to be. Instead, have them stand in between your legs and play a game. Drop something so they have to pick it up and do that until they get bored. Have your kid help to wipe down the area, they think it’s fun. Let them say ‘hi’ to neighbors and interact.
Take off and landing;
Have your baby nurse, drink a bottle, or suck a pacifier during these times to avoid ear aches and relieve pressure. I still try and make my toddler suck on something or drink a bottle/sippy cup during take off and landing. He has never gotten an ear infection or been fussy from the pressure of landing and take off and he has been on 20 flights! Trust me, this works.
Keep it minimal and get creative. Bring toys that they have never seen before.
1. An old wallet with cards so they can pull them in/out or drop on ground.
2. Little note pad and a pencil crayon (less messy than a pen and can’t get on things)
3. Head phones & iPad
4. “Wow “ coloring book. You fill the pen with a little water and color. It’s no mess!
5. A little animal touch and feel book
6. Aquaphor chapstick where they can take the lid off and on. Aquaphor is hard to squeeze out so Luca isn’t able to make a mess.
1. Salted pretzels or breadsticks (not as messy as crackers)
2. Cheese/ protein (turkey) for fist leg of trip before it goes bad.
5. A leak proof water bottle
6. A juice for them from the airport (water bottle lid tho so no unnecessary spills )
7. A new snack they haven’t seen in a while (I always make sure it isnt too sticky or messy)
8. Different lollipops (great for take off and landing)
Check everything you can. Baby & Toddler gear for kids under 2 travels for free. Checking items that you don’t need on the plane helps so much!
Baby wear your infant or 1 year old.
Stroll your toddler, don’t baby wear them, and check your stroller at the gate so you can get it immediately after you land. In diaper bag for plane ride, don’t forget to pack motrin or children’s tylenol in case of emergencies. Also, a change of clothes for kids and extra shirt for mom in case of emergencies.
Car Ride Tips:
Uber Car seat selection is only in 3 cities; New York City, Orlando, and Chicago. If you aren’t going any of these desinations, you’ll need to bring your car seat! I love the car seat bag because it folds up into a bag and unfolds to put the car seat in right after our car ride.