Your ultimate checklist for traveling with babies + kids

Babies…they are tiny little things, but boy do they come with a lot of STUFF! If you’re a parent, then you already know what I mean. If you’re a soon-to-be parent, this is your warning. If you are not a parent but have friends who are, then I’m sure you’ve seen how messy your friends’ apartments and houses have become as the baby items pile up.

When you go on vacation with these little babies, it is no different. All those little things that fill your home will also need to fill your luggage. The first time you go on a big trip with your baby, he/she will need a suitcase at least equal (if not larger) than you + your spouse combined! We are by no means experts at packing, but after taking numerous trips we have narrowed it down to somewhat of a science.

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17-month-old R at JFK before our two-week trip to Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia. Packed for all types of weather (sun + snow) in 1 medium-sized luggage + 1 carry-on-sized luggage + 1 diaper bag. Toddler car seat attaches to our Mountain Buggy Nano stroller!

Tip: Use packing cubes! After packing tiny things into a large suitcase and then needing to dig through everything to find the littlest item, we invested in PACKING CUBES and they have been the ultimate lifesaver. Each kid has their own color, one cube for their clothes, one cube for accessories, one for blankets, one for toiletries, one for first aid. If you don’t have these yet, do yourself and favor and go get them. I promise you will not be disappointed. You’ll thank me later!

FOR THE ACTUAL JOURNEY:

  • Carseat: this can either be luggage checked (most airlines will check baby items for free, but check with your airline to be sure) or gate checked or brought onto the plane if you have a seat for your child. *Note: we recommend placing it in a carry-bag.
  • Baby carrier: allows you to be hands-free in the airport/boarding the plane. This is our lifesaver for keeping the kids calm
  • Stroller: even if you’re planning to wear baby in the carrier, it is always helpful to bring a stroller for your destination (and for shlepping your bags around the airport!). Many strollers on the market now can be stored in the overhead compartments, but we like to gate check ours so we have one less item to drag on board.
    • *Our top pick* Mountain Buggy Nano single stroller: good price point, compact fold, lightweight, easy maneuverability, and compatible with many infant carseats and even the Cosco Scenera Next toddler car seat.
  • Diaper bag essentials w/extra diapers + 2 extra outfits for the kids + extra outfits for each parent – our kids are really great at timing blowouts when we’re on an airplane.
    • Also take along a wet clothes bag or any bag for placing any wet/soiled clothes
  • Pacifiers (great for takeoff/landing to relieve pressure in the ears)
  • Snacks galore: no better way to pass a couple of hours on an airplane than munching on snacks
  • Blankets for sleeping
  • Toys & activity to keep babies & kids occupied
  • iPad/tablet/kindle if you use them + baby headphones
  • Inflatable travel pillow for naps

CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES

  • Enough outfits for the number of days you’re traveling away from home, plus 2-3 backups, just in case
  • Light jacket or hoodie for change in temperatures
  • Socks/shoes
  • Pajamas
  • Items for the sun: hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, swimsuits

FOOD-RELATED ITEMS

  • Baby bottles and/or breast pump
  • Milk and/or formula: for our toddler, we typically buy cartons of milk when we get to our destination, but we still bring a handful of packaged milk cartons for traveling
  • Travel kit for washing bottles + dish detergent
  • Bibs + travel utensils + food scissors (we swear by ours and get asked about it everywhere we go, allowed to go through airport security and have only once had it confiscated at the airport in Taipei, TW)
  • Baby food pouches
  • Snacks
  • Cooler bag w/ice packets: perfect for transporting some food and even breastmilk if you’re pumping.

TOILETRIES & FIRST AID:

  • Diapers & wipes (Note: the first couple of times we traveled, we packed an entire trip’s worth of diapers + extra. Now, we pack enough for 1-2 days, then buy what we need when we arrive to our destination. Might be more expensive, but it’s a lot less to carry since they’re so bulky!)
  • Diaper rash cream & Aquaphor
  • Baby medicine: Tylenol & Benadryl w/medication syringe for dosing. There are also chewable tablets if your child is old enough.
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Baby shampoo & bath wash
  • Bandaids, antibacterial cream
  • Nail clipper
  • Baby aspirator (boogie bulb) & saline spray
  • Tissues
  • Thermometer
  • Pedialyte powder packets

Did I miss anything? Comment below with some of your must-haves when traveling with young children!