Our Favorite Travel Items for an Infant & Toddler
Let’s talk packing and travel for Tiny Tav! While finishing up our Southeast road trip blogs and starting on Portugal, I realized I haven’t touched on a major change with a baby. Our packing! Obviously it has changed a bit since we started traveling with Rueka. I’ll preface by saying, I am by no means an expert in this subject! But we traveled with Ru a decent amount in her first two years of life. With a couple trips with her under our belt, I wanted to share some travel items that we’ve found beneficial. There’s a billion and one blogs about traveling with an infant but maybe you’ll still find something useful in this. Every family is gonna be different and have different needs. These are just some things we’ve come to find that have been extremely helpful no matter what the trip.
We’ve been used to exclusively backpacking and only carrying what we can fit on our backs before having our daughter. When we had her, we knew packing would change but we still didn’t want to be overloaded with luggage. We’ve done copious road trips, short weekends away, and now taken her across the world. I’ve been pretty proud of how we’ve managed to pair down most of our packing. Even just taking a backpack to Europe I felt like we brought too much!
We used one big carry on for our Southeast road trip. That worked since she was a bit younger and needed a few more things. We took our Kelty Redwing packs to Portugal, along with her diaper bag packed with some extra outfits and diapers. I’ve found that the closer we are to the destination, the more we overpack. Still deciding on what I think the best route is as far as bags go. I love the idea of being able to just bring one backpack, but that’s just not always the reality. With a smaller baby it seems that there will always be more to travel with. And that’s okay, it’s just a season. Toddlerhood has actually been incredibly easy for us to pack lighter. I’ll get back to you when we welcome this second baby and see where I’m at with travel items!
Now, this obviously isn’t every item you could bring with you on a vacation. Just some main ones I’d add to a registry! We’ve used pretty much everything on here for every trip we’ve taken. Everything is linked for easy shopping. 😏
Early Infancy – Toddlerhood
Guava Lotus travel crib – This was my number one “Must Have” on our baby registry. It is pricey compared to other pack-n-plays, but has paid for itself 5 times over with the use it gets. It is lightweight, extremely easy to set up, and even has backpack straps to carry through the airport. We took this on every trip with us right up until we came home from Portugal. We switched her over to the inflatable bed this fall so that she had more room.
Manual breast pump – I breastfed Ru until she was about 20 months and this thing came with me everywhere! I used my big pump at home when I was still working and took the manual pump on trips. Because she was exclusively breastfed, it really came in handy for quickly relieving milk and when I wanted to drink.
Soft carrier – We have just about every carrier available to buy and have loved each one for different purposes. The two that have come with us the most on the plane have been our Wildbird and the Ergobaby 360. I also love the Lalabu for shopping and running errands around town. The Ergo has been the most used for every type of trip and I think provides the most support. Plus all of these are breastfeeding friendly!
Portable diaper changing pad – This one might seem like a no brainer. But I can’t tell you how helpful one of these is. Our diaper bag came with one that just carries wipes and diapers and we use it literally every time we’re out and about. I like that either one of us can just grab this from the bag and take Ru to change her diaper without having to carry the whole diaper bag. Plus, the actual container itself acts as a barrier for the baby and the surface you’re changing on. Can’t count the number of times I’ve just changed Ru on the ground and was glad to have the comfort of the pad for her. Bonus to have one that’s easily wipeable!
Tushbaby – This baby was a lifesaver in Europe! I made the splurge a few weeks before we left and was so happy with my decision to only bring this. Technically, I can still carry Ru in my Ergo. She is so independent that I liked the idea of her being able to get down whenever she wanted. It was definitely the right call! Especially on days that we walked a ton in Portugal but couldn’t take the stroller. The support is unmatched with the Tushbaby and I love that I could carry all my things in the pockets. It was really a grab and go item. We just attached it to the stroller handle and could use it when we were out and about. I now keep it in my car for running errands!
Inflatable toddler bed – We just recently switched Ru to an inflatable bed and it has been a great transition. She actually has slept on a floor bed since she was about 15 months. It almost instantly changed her sleep pattern since she never really liked being confined to a crib. There are many options on Amazon but I liked that this one came with an electric pump.
Stanley or Hydroflask water bottle – Our girl has always loved drinking from straws more than any other bottle cups. We took the 12 oz hydroflask to Portugal and just refilled when we needed. We also took the 20 oz Stanley’s for ourselves and she uses that at home. I prefer these over any of her plastic water cups for travel.
All the Time Items
Lightweight travel stroller – I did a ton of research on travel strollers before our first plane ride. The one I landed on was the GB Qbit LTE Compact Stroller. It fits in the overhead bin on a plane, super lightweight, one handed open and close, and has an extra long sunshade. There’s also a travel bag that fits underneath the seat, although we have forgotten about it pretty much every time we’ve taken it on a plane. It also reclines for napping and has faired quite good on uneven terrain like dirt and cobblestone. The only downside is that the storage is pretty small underneath. Depending on your diaper bag size, you might have to stuff it into a small area. I found one on FB Marketplace brand new for $60 before Ru was born. We have worn that sucker out to the point a wheel was falling off in Portugal. We jimmy rigged it back on and it still has plenty of miles of use to go!
Stroller fan – This little baby has been in our diaper bag almost since day 1! We have used it so much that it started to lose a leg! I just added a new one to our second baby’s registry. No matter what the age, it’s a great gadget to keep around to keep baby (or parents) cool.
Packing cubes – We’ve always been big supporters of packing cubes so it’s no surprise that Ru has her own set. We use them for overnights when she goes to our parents or for bigger trips. They just make our lives so much more organized when packing.
Portable sound machine – We’ve gotten so used to the sound of white noise that we prefer to have a sound machine, even if Ru isn’t with us. I like this one because it has good noise options, good volume control, and good battery life before needing to plug in.
Magnetic blocks – These get their own category because we LOVE these babies. They have been on our plane rides and now live in our diaper bag for when we need distraction at restaurants. I also keep a set at home to pull out and build things together. I love the way her little face lights up when she says, “build somepeen!” Plus watching her imagination take over is so fun. I think we get just as much enjoyment as she does.
Reusable foldable bag – This is one thing I keep in my car just in case and have always taken in my backpack for random things. I like the versatility of having something easy to grab and go for groceries, a beach bag, or putting dirty clothes in for a blowout!
Turkish beach towel – We have a few different kinds of these towels and have actually used them more with a baby. We took one to Portugal with us and used it so many random times as a blanket, something to sit on, or diaper changing area.
Extra Travel tips :
Buy diapers when you get to your destination. This has saved so much room in our bags, especially going to Europe. Even though they didn’t sell our specific brand of diapers in Portugal, I actually really liked their options better than what we have here. I always joke that everything is better in Europe but I really mean it a lot of times. Diapers are no different. Rueka has kind of sensitive skin when it comes to generic brands of diapers but we had no issues with the European Dodot brand diapers and wipes. We brought one pack of our Hello Bello brand diapers in our bags and then just bought as we needed. Diapers were so much more affordable over in Europe too! Any other longer trip we’ve just brought a pack of our own and bought more if needed.
See what you can rent. The obvious ones for this is a pack-n-play and car seat, but there’s actually so much you can rent at your destination! We haven’t had to rent anything besides a car seat but I looked into a few things in Portugal. And we rented Airbnb’s with pack-n-plays so we didn’t have to bring hers. This website has everything you could ever think of for rentals! And there are tons of rental agencies all across Europe and the US!
Condense, pack, then condense again! I am not kidding when I say we could have still left a third of our bag at home when we went to Portugal. I was really aware of what I packed and still didn’t need a lot of the stuff I brought for Ru. Babies are so much more adaptable than we give them credit for. Plus at most destinations you can buy anything that you need or forget. We forgot her silicone bib in the Frankfurt airport, looked for another one for a few days in Portugal and then decided she didn’t actually need it. There was very few things that were actually “essential” that got packed in her diaper bag.
Snacks & new toys! This is mainly just for the plane ride because again, your destination will have plenty of food and fun new things. However, it is essential to bring snacks, snacks, and more snacks on a plane or car ride. We always buy a couple sticker and coloring books for the plane ride and that keeps Ru busy for most of the journey.
I think that covers the most helpful things we’ve found, I plan on updating this when baby number 2 comes along and we’ll see what I missed. We’re taking both kiddos to Disney World at the end of the year so I’ll put all my packing tips to the test again! I hope this was helpful, let me know any of your favorites in the comments below and share with your fellow traveling parents.
Til next time,