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Everyone thinks that when you have kids you need to quadruple your suitcases and don’t get to bring anything for yourself. Not true! Keep reading to find out why!
The Secret to Packing with Babies and Toddlers
by Keryn Means
Table Of Contents
Our number of bags hasn’t changed at all. This is because there is a simple secret that most people don’t want you to know when it comes to traveling with kids: they are tiny, at least for a little while. Their baby travel gear is small too. Babies just don’t need a ton of stuff when you hit the road.
I find that I can pack myself and my 2 boys into one medium checked suitcase, a book bag, and a purse, still have room for my shoes, and an extra outfit or two in case I need options.
In fact, I did just that on a 5- week trip to Europe in October 2012.The key was organization, light mix and match layers, and knowing I would have access to a washing machine at least 2 of those weeks, and if not I could do a load in my hotel sink.
The secret to traveling light is to create a functional but minimalist capsule wardrobe. Learn more in my guide!
Here is a sample of what we brought with us:
Toddlers and Kids Packing List
- 7 tops- half short sleeve, half long sleeve
- 6 pairs of long trousers*
- 1 pair of shorts
- 1 jacket or zip-up hooded sweatshirt (depending on weather)
- 1 hat
- 2 pairs of comfortable shoes
- 2 pairs of pajamas
Activities: small ziplock bag of toys including a tiny model airplane for takeoff and landing, 5 crayons + tiny coloring book, tablet or smart phone for reading bedtime stories, watching movies, and playing games.
parents with little girls can swap out some long pants for leggings and skirts and/or dresses!
Baby Packing List
- 4 onesies
- 3 long sleeve tops
- 1 short sleeve top
- 4 pairs of long trousers
- 1-2 pairs of shoes
- 1 hat
- 1 jacket or zip-up hooded sweatshirt (depending on weather)
- Diapers & wipes for 2-3 days (buy more when you arrive)
- Feeding: 3 baby spoons, 3 bottles, 1 bottle brush, formula and baby food for travel days to destination.
- Activities: three small toys. This can include a Tupperware container of blocks (shake it, stack them, knock them over), a ball, and/or a roll of duck tape.
Use packing cubes to help you organize and even compress your belongings to maximize your space.
Extras and Baby Travel Gear
Cheap umbrella stroller (It’s OK if it breaks. You can replace on the road)
Baby carrier (my favorite is the ErgoBaby)
Car seats and booster seats (rent) I recommend renting these if possible or taking public transit. Carrying car seats across Europe would have been impossible traveling without another adult, and downright annoying with 2 of us. Most rental car companies will have seats available for a cost, but double check before you make your final decision.)
Baby medications (definitely pack your prescriptions. Most over the counter medications can be found in other countries. For more remote areas it is best, and sometimes easier, to bring your own).
A few last tips
While you may think you need more, you really don’t. Food, diapers, and even formula can be picked up in many destinations, especially in Europe. It may not be the exact brand you want, but whether they are Chinese, Mexican, Italian, or English diapers they will keep your baby dry.
As for toys, remember that you are bringing your children on an amazing adventure. Sticks, rocks, monuments, parks, and castles are their playmates on this trip. Plus you can always pick up a little special something along the way. Toy memories made on the road are the best kind.
LOVE these tips on toddler and baby travel gear and packing lists! Thank you so much Keryn! Don’t forget to check out her awesome family travel blog: Walking on Travels.
What are your packing tips for family travel?
For more packing tips, please read:
Hope you liked this toddler and baby travel gear packing list! Please share the love on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest! Thanks for reading!
Author: Keryn Means is the founder of Walking on Travels, a site that gives hope to today’s modern parent who doesn’t want to stop their lives; they simply bring their kids along for the ride. You can find Keryn dragging her 2 boys around Seattle most days and across the globe several times a year. Follow along on their adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
I had to travel twice with a 11 months baby and I managed everything in my carry-on luggage (8 kg) + pockets – including some books, food for me and my boy, present for my husband, a few cloth nappies and some disposables (left most of those with my mom for the next trip). I have to say I still did not use all of the things I carried with me. I did not need to take formula – thank god for breastfeeding success, but he was ever so easy for toys – tissues, windows, lights – cupboards and apples – he hardly touched any toys on those 2 3-day trips
it’s definitely more of a challenge traveling with a family
I totally agree! We’ve travelled a ton with our littles (now 2.5 and 5.5) and I usually bring less – 4-5 days worth of clothing. We always rent apartments with a washing machine, so we get by just fine. I generally limit myself and the kids each to one medium size packing cube for our basic clothing (for a beach vacation I might allow another cube for everyone’s swimsuits, while for a winter vacation there might be a cube for hats and gloves). When the kids were younger I would also take one medium cube (plus some carry-on) with our cloth diapers but I’m so excited to take our first diaper-free trip this spring!
I disagree with some of the author’s thoughts on gear though. In terms of a stroller, cobblestones and umbrella strollers just don’t mix! A better choice is a City Mini — more robust (= comfortable) wheels, full recline, and amazing sunshade. We can recline the seat all the say and stick the two car seats in there, with our carry-on bag sitting in the seats at the airport. It works great!
We also bring our own car seats for a few reasons. First, kids under 40lbs just aren’t safe on the plane without them and it is only airline lobbying that has prevented the passage of laws to protect kids on planes (if a coffee pot has to be properly secured, why not a 25lb toddler?). Second, the laws of physics are the same everywhere but car seat standards aren’t. In many countries, an 18mo would be given a forward-facing car seat and that just isn’t safe. We’ve kept the kids rear-facing until ~4yo, as they do in Nordic countries and would only plan to rent seats in countries that have similar standards.
The author recommended the ErgoBaby carrier, which can be a great choice for some families up through 18mo-2yrs. However, the panel is a little lower than some newer entrants to the market (meaning less stability on mama’s back as the kids get older!). Other options to check out include Tula (standard & toddler sizes), Lillebaby and Beco (Gemini, Soleil and Toddler depending on age).
We take more luggage now than before kids but there is no way around that since we only used to take on carry on and that is just not possible with a baby and toddler as well (and not particularly desirable as we have enough to carry on the plane!).
We also can’t travel without a travel crib. I find it just gives us so much more options with accommodation and less stress.
Hi Ellie! I can only imagine the amount you have to carry 🙂 Check out another article on traveling with a toddler for some more tips http://bit.ly/1TTJIBB
Hey ! Nice article you have!
Check out my toddler pack list post too!
Thank God for this list. Going to Perth and Adelaide and next month and this will be my first time travelling with a baby. This list sure helps a lot as I am already panicking on what to pack for my daughter.
This is my first time checking this website and I feel the tips and tricks really help me to pack for my upcoming trip.
Glad you’ve found TFG helpful 🙂 Have a great trip!
Great tips! I completely agree about packing light – I think you never need more than a 2-3 days worth of stuff if you have access to washing facilities (water!) – but it’s so tempting to just sneak a few extras in. I think I’ll adopt “you may think need more, you really don’t” as my new packing mantra. Thanks!
That’s great Fiona! It makes so much sense and you can always buy things along the way too 🙂
Oh, I recall the heartache of even the simple four-hour car journey to grandma’s house. All the baby food, sippy cups, diapers, pack and play, extra clothes; the list goes on and on. Now he’s in kindergarten and I look back and think why did I stress about those simple things. this is a good list and very helpful.
I just wanted to let you know that http://www.kimcarlisle.com nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogging award, I in turn have nominated you, I would Like to thank her and ask that you visit her site if you haven’t already
Thank you Lee 🙂 I’m honored for the nomination!
Thanks for the list! All the other baby packing lists out there encourage you to pack the kitchen sink, and I agree that less can be more! I’ve taken my one year old all over the world and I’ve found that the less you pack, the easier it is. My one luxury item that I pack is the inflatable high chair/booster seat (mine if from the first years). I’ll sacrifice extra shoes for myself to pack that.
Megan- we have the same booster seat. I started out packing that, but I don’t even have space for it anymore. Instead I pop my youngest in the stroller to feed him. And unfortunately I’ve chased him across the floor trying to feed him as well. Maybe I need to rethink packing the booster seat! Course then I’d have to leave my fav boots at home! 😉
Great tips! Packing for small children, especially babies, is a daunting task, but these tips make it easier.
Thanks Jenna! I know you have dragged enough across oceans. I hear it does get easier though. At least that’s what they tell me 😉 If nothing else kids have made ME a better packer. I now cut way back on the extras I don’t really need for myself, and honestly traveling is so much easier because of it. Less certainly is more for everyone in the family.