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The best tips for traveling with babies and/or young kids come from experience with lots of trial and error. Efficient packing of only the essentials, and strategic planning can make for a happy, low stress trip.
But what if this is going to be your first trip with your baby? Or you only have minimal experience with traveling with a baby?
Don’t worry, I got you!
Let’s face it, traveling with babies can be VERY stressful. But with the right tips and tricks, it can be super fun and memorable!
Tips for Traveling with Babies- What to Pack?
I have been on quite a few trips with 1 and 2 young kids. Short road trips, long road trips, short flights, slightly longer flights, beach destinations, theme park destinations, snowy destinations, and yes, even Las Vegas with at the time a toddler and a 3 month old.
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Packing for a Baby:
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Prioritize and don’t fall into the trap of bringing too many clothes! This happens to me almost every time and I end up not using half, yes, half of the clothes I packed for them!
You really don’t need more than 1 pair of pajamas for every night, and no more than 1 or 2 outfits for them per day. Recycle relatively clean clothes if need be by the end of the trip, or do some quick sink laundry if you are really running low.
One good jacket, and one lighter jacket should be enough (depending on where you are going). One or two good pairs of shoes per child should do it.
Use your common sense. Don’t over pack.
To give you an idea of how minimally you can pack: When we went to Vegas for a weekend, one of the moms that went with us (mom of 3) packed all 3 of the kids clothes/shoes/etc in ONE CARRY ON BAG!
She did have to pack diapers in a separate bag, but that’s beside the point.
3 KIDS= 1 CARRY-ON BAG!!! Amazing!
That’s when I decided I am bringing WAY too much stuff on my trips.
Start counting how many diapers your baby uses in a 24 hour period. Multiply it by the number of days you are going on the trip. Then add at least 10 more (just in case).
You don’t want to be in a pinch if your baby decides to have diarrhea for a day or two.
Take some Boudreaux’s Butt Paste with you. On a lot of our trips, the weather was hotter than my baby was used to and that can lead to a diaper rash, but this stuff never let me down. Works so good a t preventing diaper rash!
Dirty diapers stink! Bring small trash bags. I love something like this. They are super easy to pack and really useful for sealing that poopy diaper smell in.
Bring at least 2 sets of wipes. We use the Costco ones so they have a lot in each. But if yours aren’t as abundant per pack, I would take at least 3 packs. I like to disperse them throughout all our bags for convenience.
One in the diaper bag, one in the carry on, and one in the checked luggage. They work great for cleaning dirty little kids hands, wiping a spill on your clothes, wiping down a questionable cart, AND diapering.
I bring a small amount of laundry detergent also, so that just in case there is a leak, I can pack it in the little trash bag until we get back to the hotel so I can wash it.
Or just wash it right away if you are in the hotel already. The quicker you can clean it up, the better.
Milk for the Baby:
If you are breastfeeding, great! Just make sure you bring your cover. This is my FAVORITE one and I’ve had at least 4 different kinds. Machine washable, super breathable, and rolls up so well that it barely takes up any room! Best of all this brand has so many beautiful patterns!
You don’t have to bring your entire pumping set-up if you still need to pump. I bring a small hand pump just in case, like this one. Your baby is almost always with you on trips, they can just get it straight from the source.
You can see all of my recommended resources in my post What No One Tells You about Breastfeeding.
Of course, do not forget to bring formula if they are formula fed. If you have a really young baby, these premixed formulas are super convenient in the car or plane ride. Just screw on a nipple and throw when done.
Packing for a Toddler:
Having enough snacks. You can never have enough snacks. And drinks (especially if it is hot).
When on vacation, my kids will eat snacks that they usually don’t go near at home. Like raisins or fruit and vegetable squeeze pouches.
They get so hungry from all the activity that they will eat practically anything.
So their ears don’t hurt if you are taking a plane.
If you are breastfeeding, when you start to feel the cabin pressure change, now is the time to feed them. It helps to pop their ears, so they aren’t seemingly crying for no reason.
Potty Seat and Pull-Ups.
If your little one is potty trained or potty trained-ish, bring what they need for the hotel (potty seat, step stool, etc.) and make do with when you are out and about.
Bring an extra pair of underwear and clothes. And possibly put them in pull-ups if you know it will be hard to get to a restroom. Both these things have saved my life while we were on vacation!
Any Loveys or Comfort Items.
Irreplaceable. Don’t forget them if they need them.
You get the point. . .
Packing for a Somewhat ‘Big Kid’:
‘Big kids’ have slightly different needs than their younger counterparts.
They are able to help pack their own bag (well, at least choose what clothes they want to take).
You want to make sure to take Air Pods/headphones/earbuds. They are old enough to be able to control the volume so they don’t blow out their eardrums. Plus their taste in music will most likely differ from everyone else that will be accompanying them on the trip.
What if you are on a seriously long flight? What is the one thing this kid is going to want to make sure he has? That’s right. His technology.
I highly recommend having a fast charging power bank.
Yes, they will need to eventually have some conversations with family members. Yes, they will need to learn to cope without their phones/tablets. And yes, they should be enjoying what the experience of the trip has to offer.
But lets be real. These kids have not fully developed the best coping mechanisms as of yet. Vacations can be hard on everyone. If that portable charging bank can keep a grumpy kid calm for a bit longer during your 16 hour flight, so be it.
DO NOT book a 16 hour flight for a few more years. Enjoy the closer destinations first. Everyone will thank you.
Need an all inclusive packing checklist for yourself?
Don’t worry! My friend Jody over at mytravelobsession.com is an EXPERT at all things travel and makes the tedious parts of traveling super easy!
Check out her post The Ultimate Vacation Packing List where you can download her awesome checklist for FREE!
The Diaper Bag/Carry-On
My diaper bag is a backpack diaper bag and it has saved my life! I absolutely LOVE this thing. This one is the cuter updated version! I have had 5 different diaper bags, and this is by far the MOST affordable, durable, useful, and convenient diaper bag I have had! I love the way it opens with a wide mouth (but not from the very top) and it holds so much with lots of compartments.
But if you want super glitzy glam ones that still have great back pack features, you can get something like this.
Many things can go wrong on vacations. But no need to stress. That defeats the purpose of a vacation, right?
That’s why you MUST have a mini survival pack in your diaper bag and/or carry-on bag (just in case something happens to your luggage).
Take just a little of everything you need: medicine, extra clothes, toiletries, chargers, enough diapers, wipes, breastfeeding cover, etc.
Keeping them Busy
The only time you will really have to keep your babies busy when you are on vacation is during travel times (while in the car or plane).
Presenting. . .The Bag o’ fun!
I like to pack my toddler’s tiny play suitcase with his choice of toys and games that he wants to bring with him on the trip.
It works great for a few hours.
My sister-in-law has 3 kids all very close in age. One of the things she did was wrap some of their favorite toys in wrapping paper and offer it to them periodically on the flight. They LOVED it.
What NOT to Bring when Traveling with Babies:
It is going to be hard. But keep in mind that you don’t need to bring everything. You don’t have to freak out if you forget something. You will probably be able to buy it when you get there anyway.
DO NOT BRING:
- Pillows (they take up too much room and the hotel has plenty of them).
- Too many jackets (unless it’s below zero outside, you won’t need that many). And try to refrain from taking your babies on a trip where the weather is that cold.
- Too many shoes. Just bring the most comfy ones.
- Books. Too heavy. Well, you can bring one small one. You won’t have that much time to read with the kids tagging along everywhere all the time. I love Audible and Kindle books for vacationing.
One of the first things we do when we get to our destination is to buy a large pack of water bottle for the hotel. We usually do not pack it, unless it’s a relatively close drive. And even if you are not an avid water drinker, most of the time, vacation makes you thirsty. Also, I am not a fan of drinking tap water.
What if I forget to bring _________???
- You will be okay if you don’t bring a loofah. It’s only a few days (use a washcloth from the hotel)
- Ran out of diapers or wipes? Make a B-line for the nearest convenience store.
- Forgot your razor? Use your husbands.
- If you forget your toothbrush, the hotel will have some.
- Didn’t bring enough clothes? Wash them. If you are fancy, have the hotel service clean them for you.
- Don’t have an umbrella? The hotel may provide one for you or bring an old one to you from the lost and found. You can always just go buy one.
- Forgot your feminine hygiene products? Go get some. They are everywhere, well, almost.
- What if I forget sunscreen? You know what I’m about to say now. . . Buy it!
But what if you don’t want to spend the money? We are pretty frugal, but when it comes to our family’s comfort during vacation, sometimes spending a little more on something is better than not having that particular something.
One time we were at Disneyland in the summer and I forgot to pack my husband’s sandals. So we bought some at Downtown Disney. It was either that, or wear hot, thick tennis shoes for the rest of the week. He was due for a new pair anyway.
Things you CANNOT Forget:
Okay, mama. Focus! These are the items that are NOT easily replaced when on vacation:
- Documents (passports, licenses, immunization records, etc.)
- Cash (you always need some cash on hand).
- Loveys or other comfort items for baby.
- Chargers. For some reason, it is so hard to find them when you really need them. Plus do you really want to run out of battery when you are depending on GOOGLE MAPS to find your way around from your almost dead phone. Too risky with kids.
Need a packing checklist? Ask and you shall receive! Sign up to download my FREE packing checklist for traveling with babies and young kids:
Tips for Traveling with Babies- Planning the Trip
I don’t know about you but I get some serious anxiety when I need to plan for a trip with my babies. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE vacation. But I also LOVE comfort. And the thought of potential discomfort WITH 2 annoyed little ones just triggers me.
That’s why good planning is essential! Here are some tips that I have learned along the way. . .
DO NOT OVERBOOK!!!
I know you are excited to finally be going somewhere! But ONE big outing per day is MORE than enough with young kids. They still take naps. It’s a new and exciting place that stimulates ALL their senses. For them, it can be overwhelmingly exhausting.
When my little babes are on vacation, they fall asleep faster than you can say “Okay guys, I think it’s time to sleep.” They get REALLY tired.
Don’t force everyone to ‘make the most of your vacation time’ squeezing as much stuff in as possible, pushing everyone to the brink of exhaustion. It is practically impossible to calm a tired, cranky, screaming baby down when they reach that point. Then no one will be having any fun then.
Vacation is for enjoying each other in a new and fun environment. The experience is made better because everyone is having a good time. Make sure to plan your days out accordingly.
PLAN AROUND THE BABY’S SCHEDULE:
Plan around the kid’s schedule or you will regret it. Their little minds and bodies can only handle so much new activity.
It’s much better to plan that outing before or after nap time rather than going during nap time and experiencing a full blown meltdown when everyone is supposed to be having fun.
Been there, done that, won’t make that mistake again.
Packing babies up to do things takes time and energy. It’s not just get up and go like it used to be when it was just me and my husband (oh the good ol’ days). Everything takes so much more time.
Our vacation days are strategically planned out now (after some painful trial and error):
- Wake up, feed packed snacks to the kids (or leftovers from the night before) in the hotel room and hang out for a while.
- Wash up and get ready for our day. Pack all necessary items in the diaper bag and/or stroller.
- Go to a late breakfast. Where of course the kids eat again. Keep those little monsters fed!
- Go on ONE excursion or activity (pool, beach, boat ride, Disneyland, water park, site seeing, bus tour, etc.) Have snacks or leftovers on hand!
- Eat a late lunch.
- Back to the hotel room for a quick bath (like super fast).
- Lights out for nap time (use those blackout curtains).
- Wake up and head on out for an early dinner.
- Stroll around for a while after dinner to see some sights.
- Back to the hotel for an official bath time.
- Bedtime (after they fall asleep, some much needed T.V. time for Mom and Dad).
See how full your day will be with just one big excursion a day? Now of course you can and should tweek the schedule to your needs.
Especially if you have an infant that takes more than one nap a day. Mine wouldn’t make it to lunch time. So they would sleep in the baby carrier (unless it’s summer, it’s too hot for that), or the stroller, or on a towel at the beach under an umbrella, or in your arms. Then wake up for late lunch.
If you are at a theme park and your hotel is super close, you can have dinner at the theme park and go on a couple of rides again before bath and bedtime.
I always keep a mini collection of all my toiletries in an airplane approved clear bag packed, ready and waiting. Saves a TON of time!
Just refill it when you get back from your vacation so it is ready to go for the next trip.
I place it in an easy to access location (carry-on bag/diaper bag) to speed things up at the airport AND so I have it with me just in case they lose my luggage or I need to freshen up.
Advice by Weather and Location
- The Beach:
- Baby powder sprinkled on a small towel (this is like MAGIC for getting sand off babies and things) ABSOLUTE MAGIC!
- Sunglasses and hats (hard to find kids sizes sometimes unless you are on a Disney cruise)
- A good sand repellent mat.
- Potentially Rainy:
- Umbrellas (for the top half of the body)
- Rain boots (to keep the bottom half dry)
- Snow boots and warm hooded jackets (again with the hard to find sizes, plus if they have boots and a good jacket, unless its a blizzard, they will survive
Tips for Traveling with Babies to Keep Them Safe:
Protect them from the elements.
Keep them healthy, fed, and breathing.
And make sure they don’t get lost or injured.
It is basically the same as when you are at home, only with some heightened awareness.
Baby Proofing your Hotel Room
When you are a new mom, you start to feel somewhat more comfortable in this new role after some time, especially when you know you can take your eyes off the baby for 2 seconds because the house is baby proofed.
When you are on vacation, this is sense of comfort is taken away from you and you are in a state of constant worry, again!
But don’t worry, these next tips and tricks will have you back to your somewhat comfortable mom self in no time.
Rearrange the Furniture
One of the first things my husband and I do after we check-in to a hotel is rearrange the furniture.
Not to aesthetically please us, but so our accident prone toddler won’t need to go to the emergency room for stitches again during a vacation.
We like to push the bed(s) all the way to the corner of the room making 2 sides of it fall proof.
We move any coffee tables or bedside tables out of harms way and/or strategically place chairs and ottomans to minimize their likelihood of getting hurt.
I know, sounds weird. But it is wonderful for baby proofing the hotel room.
You can use it as a make shift lock for the toilet seat.
You can use it to keep tape off the door jam so they can’t lock themselves in the bathroom.
Use it to tape off any sharp corners or edges. My husband went as far as duct taping one of the decorative pillows onto the corner of the T.V. stand.
Tape shut any cabinets or drawers you don’t want them getting into.
Tape off any electrical outlets that are in the open.
The possibilities are endless!
With these tips for traveling with babies and young kids, you are armed and ready to go HAVE SOME MUCH NEEDED FUN on your vacation.
I’ve done most of the mental ‘heavy lifting’ for you so you can relax a bit.
Meeting your kids needs when traveling is almost the same as when you are at home. Almost.
Meet their needs and everyone will have a better time. Our kids get a little more attention and get their way a little more when we are on vacation.
I have a firm policy at home to not cater to them so much. But for sanity sake, when we are on vacation, they get to feel a bit more in control since they are in a new situation that makes them feel less in control.
This helps everything go more smoothly, and when we get back home, it’s right back to the old ways.
Get my FREE packing checklist for traveling with babies and young kids to make packing 100 times easier! It has some very useful tips and tricks on it too:
Enjoy how the baby’s eyes light up when they see something they haven’t seen before. And enjoy the change of scenery! It’s only going to last for a minute.
So, take slow, deep breaths often, especially when you feel your neck, shoulders, jaw, or brow tense up so you can savor every moment. you don’t know for sure when your next vacation might be.
Things change abruptly with kids and with life in general.
Be present. Be relaxed. And most importantly, have a great trip!
Learn how to be a CALM and CENTERED mom with this 4 step method (It’s FREE!):