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Traveling with a baby or toddler can actually be fun, and doesn’t have to be exhausting. But it does require a lot of gear. A LOT. Put the cute carry-on in the back of the closet and bring out a suitcase big enough to hold your clothes, your child’s clothes and all that extra gear that is essential for life with a little one.
Even if you travel with the bare minimum you need to take care of your tot you’ll be packing far more items than you used to.
These are 37 essential porducts that I have found really do help with the eating, sleeping, playing and getting around with your baby or toddler while you’re on vacation. You don’t need all of them (that would be a REALLY BIG suitcase). But pick the few that will ease you on your way and add them to your list of baby travel essentials.
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Awesome Travel Strollers
First up on my list of clever travel strollers is the 14-lb.Micralite FastFold All Terrain, a popular stroller in the U.K. that is developing a following in the U.S.
It has a good canopy for a compact stroller, storage underneat and is sun-proof and water-resistant.
The seat reclines a bit, the front wheels have shock absorbers and the back wheels inflate like bicycle tires to ease the stroller’s on uneven surfaces. The handle changes positions to be comfortable even for tall dads; and that’s rare in a compact stroller.
It folds easily and when it does can be carried or rolled along like a golf cart.
GB has a collection of strollers made for travel. They’re all well designed and made to last. Each one will an airplane overhead bin with collapsed..
The GB Pockit Air. probably won’t be your every day stroller. The sun canopy is small and it’s not the roomiest umbrella stroller. But it’s perfect for air travel and public transit. It weights in at less than 10 lbs, and and is just under 12 X 7 X 14 inches when folded, it’s the most lightweight and compact stroller in this group.
It takes two hands to fold it. But the trade-off for that is that if you are traveling with amother adult or you’ve bought a ticket for your tot, one of you can easily bring this on board a plane as your carry-on and pop it in the overhead bin of almost any plane. It might even fit under the seat in front of you on larger planes.
The Pockit+ All Terrain has a better sun canopy and eoght small wheels for stability om uneven streets. The Pockit+ All City also has the fuller canopy but its wheels are designed to be more maneuverable in tight city spaces like stores and restaurants.
BabyZen has the YoYo2, like the Qbit, it’s a good every-day stroller that will take you from birth until you no longer need a stroller. It also travels really well.
It’s just bigger than 20 X 17 X 7 inches when folded, so it too could go in some airplane overhead bins, and on train lugguage racks. It has a shoulder strap for carrying it and comes with a travel bag for those times you need to gate check.
You can use the seat in a bassinet position for babies. In its upright position it has room enough for a preschooler to be comfortable and a good sun canopy for its size. It’s a good pick if you don’t want an everyday stroller and separate travel stroller.
Anyone who flies or takes taxis a lot has to take a good look at Simple Parenting’s Doona carseat-stroller combination.
It’s expensive, and your child will outgrow it in 15 to 24 months (it goes up to 35 lbs).
But it’s your infant car seat and first stroller all in one purchase. And it just might be be worth it for frequent travelers and urban parents who take a lot of taxis.
It has a sun canopy and a longer handle than you might expect. It’s mechanism let’s ou attach and detach the car seat fairly easily once you get the hang of it..
The Austlen Entourage is the exact opposite of the rest of this group. It’s not light or compact. You can’t pop it into an overhead bin or zoom around the city with it.
But it’s very clever. The stroller has an extendable platform on back. Use it to ferry suitcases at the airport or coolers and gear to the beach. you can also attach a bassinet or second seat back there.
It folds up to a surprisingly compact size. You can easily toss it in your trunk with plenty of room for everythng else. And you can absolutely fold it up to gate check it when you fly.
Read & Print my Packing List For A Vacation with Babies and Toddlers
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Clever Items For Feeding Toddlers & Kids Away From Home
My latest fun discoveries are these food-grade silicone placemats from Busy Baby. They have suction cups in each corner to stick the mat to high chairs and tables. The funny looking grey things are tethers for toys and sippy cups; nice at home but even handier when you’re in a restaurant or on an airplane.
They don’t stick to everything but you can count on the mats working on most tables or tray that don’t have a grain.
They make ad even more portable compact mini mat, too, that’s just the top part, with the food holder and two tether grips.
Both wipe clean and have bags that will keep residual food away from other items in your bag until you’re near a sink. They come in a half dozen colors.
Back when I was traveling with formula, the brands that had handy single-serving packs were not necessarily the brands I liked best. I wish I’d had these bottles from PopYum. They let you keep one serving of formual in a compartment in the bottle. When it’s time to eat just release the formula, mix and feed your baby, The formula chamber on the top making its easy to can release and mix with one hand. Plus, the nipple is supposed to minimize colic.
If you already have bottles you love, these BPA-free containers are handy for formula. Ecah carries 3 servings of formula. The Oxo tot formula dispenser is especially compact. Turn the top to empty each 3-oz. section in turn. The Accmore formula dispenser holds 2-oz and will slip into your daiaper bag beside your bottle. Both have openings that are ideal for dispensing small snacks like Cheerios and free-ried yogurt puffs.
Once we we’re done with bottles the next thng I treasured was an easy-to-clean sippy cup that didn’t spill. Some parents go directly to water bottle with straws but the straws are hard to clean even at home, so on the road they can really get grotty. And they’re often heavier than sippy cups.
I was thrilled to find a BPA-free 360 cups from Nuk and Munchkin Kids can drink from any side of the cups and yet they’re spill free. They’re slim and easy to pack. Both come in a few sizes and several colors and patterns.
I like these Zoli Pods, stackable snack containers; they allow you to carry a few containers in a compact way.
A smaller size is ideal for carrying premeasured formula, and the bigger ones are great for packing a few different snacks. They’re leak-proof, too, so you can travel with things like yogurt. They rinse out easily.
These will be useful throughut the toddler and preschool years and could easily find their way into lunch boxes for a little while.
I think asking toddlers to manage adult utensils is kind of absurd. So when Tiny Traveler was very tiny I always traveled with a kid-size fork and spoon with me for dining out or in hotels. The Munchkin starter utensils are perfect. They’re chunky and easy to grip. You can rinse and reuse them, but they’re inexpensive enough that you won’t care if you leave them behind.
Much as I loved our snack traps I much preferred reusable snack sacks for traveling. They’re flat when they’re empty and less bulky even when they’re full.
Plus, kids don’t outgrow snack sacks. Quality ones will find their way from your diaper bag to kids lunch boxes for years.
Reginary has a set of 12 in two different sizes and colorful patterns to please all your kids.
Silicone snack bags rinse easily and dry quickly on the road. They won’t leak so you can use them for wet items like sliced fruit. And even yur teen will gladly pop these in their backpack.
My Travel Tray is a round tray that fits in a front-facing car seat, booster seat or car cup holder. It provides a handy place for kids to keep snacks, small toys and a drink during road trips.
It comes with an attachment to keep it steady in larger holder holders. But even the smaller peg was too big for the cup holders in our booster seat. It did fit in the adjustable back seat cup holder, but for a smaller kid that’s a bit of a reach.
Handy Gear For Vacation Naptime & Bedtime With A Baby
The MonBaby Monitor tracks movement, temperature and breathing. It fits in the palm of your hand, clips right to your child’s pajamas and connect to your phone up to 5 feet away via a Blue Tooth. It runs on two small batteries, so no need to pack yet another charger.
It doesn’t have a camera or microphone so it might not be your regular baby monitor. But if you want to travel with some kind monitor this one is as portable as they come.
Attach it to the crib at home. Then pop it into your suitcase to add the sounds of home to any hotel, rental house or relative’s home.
It’s smaller enough that even this mom, who always traveled with as little baby gear as possible, would bring it along.
KidCo’s Peapod Plus is perennially popular with FamiliesGo! readers. It’s a bit bigger than the original so you can stretch its use into the toddler years.
It packs flat and pops up fuly assembled with a sleeping mat in place and breathable walls. Best of all, it gives you privacy in a small hotel room. Put it on the floor are a full-size or larger bed.
This Enerplex toddler travel bed is a reader favorite. It’s shell with a foot-high wall with a separate inflatable mattress inside. It comes in its own bag with a small electric pump.
I’m not sure it’s ideal to bring on a plane but it’s perfect for road trips, camping and staying with relatives.
If there isn’t room on your hotel room floor some parents put it on top of the second bed to keep kids from rolling off.
Travel Car Seats & Alternatives
The inflatable bubble bum seatbelt-positioning booster is as portable as a car seat can possibly be. And it comes in a bunch of colors and patters.
It takes about ten seconds to inflate—I used to do while walking out of the airport to the cab dispatch. And it’s actually easy to deflated it and wiggle it back into it compression sack.
It’s the item that solves the problem of what to do when all you need the car seat for is the taxi rides to and from the airport. We used it when we rented a car, too. And it came in handy as an extra booster when we had friends in our car at home.
It was a sad day when Tiny Traveler outgrew her CARES airplane harness. A simple strap that’s small enough to toss in your purse, it turns an airplane seatbelt into a 5-point harness, eliminating the need to lug a car seat onboard for your toddler or preschooler.
Check and minimum and maximum height to make sure your child is in the sweet spot. It seems a bit pricey for a what is essentially a strap. But it has to be well designed and its made to be durable. It will last through a few kids.
Baby & Toddler Carriers That Won’t Wear You Down
The nylon BobaAir baby carrier might not be quite as padded and cushy as other soft carriers. But it’s still comfortable, weighs less than a pound and is designed to be easy on your hips.
It’s beach friendly, easy to clean and folds up into a storage bag the size of a pencil case.
For traveling with a baby or small toddler it’s pretty darn handy.
If your toddler or preschooler has outgrown other carriers, but can’t quite do all the walking or hiking you do on vacation, try the PiggyBack frame carrier.
An outdoorsy dad who hated wearing carriers designed for moms put a lot of thought into the design of this carrier for older kids—and either parent. It’s light weight and packs up easy. But it’s meant to sturdy and comfortable, too.
Great for hiking, city vacations and festivals.
Other Baby & Toddler Gear That Comes in Really Handy
Diapers bags get less babyish and more well-designed every year —I think actual parents are designing them a lot these days. JuJuBe has a several diaper bags that don’t look like diaper bags.
The faux-leather million-pockets backpack is just the latest. Moms and dads will appreciate the dark blue or black colors and 17pockets.
It has pockets for your water bottle, laptop, phone and wallet. There are also insulated pockts and plenty of room for bottles diapers and anything else you’ll need when your out sightseeing with your baby.
I think Skip-Hop is probably the gold standard for diaper bags. They’re easy to wipe clean, throughfully designed and have styles and colors that are both fun and grown-up.
This diaper bag backpack comes in three subtle colors. It’s streamlined on the outside but has plenty of room and opens wide for easy access to everything. It has a small utside pocket for the keys, phone and wallet you want to keep handy and those Skip-Hope stroller clips so you don’t have to carry it around all the time.
LuvBug’s hooded Travel Towels for kids come in colorful vacation-inspired patterns (surfboard, pineapples, lobsters) and fold up nearly flat for packing. They;re super absorbent, dry quickly and have built-in UV sun protection. They’re big enough for kids to use them until they’re nearly twins.
They also make a larger, non-hooded towel for teens and adults in sold colors and patterns.
Another handy item from LuvBug is this wet/drybag.
The bag will contain soggy bathing suits and towels during day trips and keep laundry stains and odors contained in your suitcase.
It has a hook for attaching it to a stroller, backpack or beach bag and can close securely to be tossed into another bag.
It’s small but also a lot more flexible than a lot of dry bags.
The first time we saw a Trunki suitcase at the airport we knew we had to have it.
Kids can pull it by themselves or ride on top. It’s just the right size for any vacation where a carry-on bag will do. Fil it with crafts and toys for a longer getaway. And send it along on your child’s first sleepovr.
• There are a few items I recommend year in and year out. The Lay-n-Go toy tote is one of them. The drawstring bag comes The smallest Lay-n-go Lite is ideal for bringing loose pieces like Legos, crayons or Doll accessories on a plane.
It’s easy to pack in a backpack or tote bag and it opens up to a flat, 18-inch play area that keep the bits and pieces (somewhat) contained. Cleaning up is a matter of gathering everything up and pulling the drawstring closed.
A bigger one, which opens to 44 inches wide is your go-to tote for the beach, Grandma’s or a vacation house. Throw a bunch of toys into it and open it up to create a clean play space for kids and a playmat for babies.
Zip-Lock bags are go-to item for me when we go on vacation. The ones with zippers are easier for little hands to manage than the press and seal variety.
Gallon bags hold loose toys, wet bathing suits, shoes and my DIY first-Aid kit. They can also keep sticky hands off your tablet when little ones are watchig videos on it.
The very large ones can hold an emergency kit for the car and substitute for packing cubes in a pinch. I take card games out of their bulky boxes and put them in sandwich size bags for so they fit more easily in a backpack or shoulder bag.
• AAA membership: Technically not a baby item but I routinely recommend it for family travel, even if you don’t own a car. Membership gets you discounts on hotels, activities and attractions.
If you use the AAA discount rate to rent a car from Hertz, Thrifty or Dollar you can also rent a car seat for free. Oh yeah, then there is the roadside assistance, which comes in handy at the darndest times.