It's wonderful to show your toddler the world. But toddlers have a whole new set of needs and safety considerations, so here's a checklist and other tips for what you'll need to travel smoothly with yours. And for more information, see our article on secrets to traveling with a toddler.
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Traveling with your toddler
What you need to know
It's amazing to take your toddler to beautiful places and watch him or her make new discoveries, splash in a pool, play in the sand, or spend special time with family members.
But traveling with toddlers can also be difficult and exhausting. Toddlers crave routine. They get bored sightseeing. Interrupted naptimes can cause chaos on flights or outings. And meltdowns can happen anytime, anywhere.
Luckily, there are many strategies you can use to make traveling with your toddler easier, like starting and ending your day early. Toddlers are old enough to "help" pack for your trip together, and can carry some of their own stuff. (Which is good, because toddlers need a lot of gear to keep them safe and happy on the road!)
Here's a roundup of the things you're likely to need.
Fawn Design Premium Vegan Leather Diaper Bag
A luxe place to store your stuff
Of course, you'll need a place to put your diapers, wipes, and other supplies. A backpack is efficient so you can have your hands free to grab your wandering toddler, and this vegan leather Fawn Design bag is gorgeous, looks luxurious, and has 12 different pockets and compartments so you can hold every little thing.
Available at Amazon starting at $169.99
Hello Bello Diaper Variety Pack
Enough to carry you through your journey
A good rule of thumb for carrying diapers for toddlers is one for every two hours you'll be in transit, and a few extras in case of a blowout or a delay. (And don't forget swim diapers if you're going to a beach or pool!) If your toddler is potty trained but using pull-ups at night, pack a few extra just in case. Hello Bello diapers are one of our favorite brands because they have adorable prints, use materials that are better for the environment, and are cheaper than most premium brands.
Available at Walmart starting at $29.97
Hello Bello Wipes
Cleans more than diapered bums
Wipes are handy when you're traveling for many reasons: dirty bums, sticky hands, accidental spills, runny noses, wiping down tables, chairs, or highchairs in restaurants – wipes do it all! Hello Bello's wipes are strong and soft, and the lids actually stay snapped shut (such a source of frustration with some brands) so the wipes don't accidentally dry out between uses.
Available at Walmart starting at $5.68
Skip Hop Pronto Signature Portable Changing Mat
Change your toddler anywhere
When you're on the go, you need a clean and safe space for changes. Most diaper bags come with a changing pad, but the Skip Hop version is a deluxe model that's large and comfy and keeps all your supplies at hand.
Available at Amazon starting at $17.79
Hudson Baby Sherpa Plush Blanket
Cuddly, cozy, and useful
Bring a few blankets for comfort, shade, and warmth. Hudson Baby makes soft, sweet blankets for babies and young kids that are the perfect size for little bodies, and are light and thin enough to roll up into a small bag. They'll go with you anywhere – road trips, daycare, and overnights at the grandparents'.
Available at Amazon starting at $11.99
Bumkins Waterproof Wet Bag
Neatly holds dirty diapers and other messes
Spit-ups and blowouts are inevitable, especially when traveling, so carry a few medium-size waterproof bags for storing soiled diapers, clothes, and shoes. Bumkins wet bags fold up small until you need them to handle whatever messy thing happens, and prevent stains and smells until you can get to a garbage can or washing machine. They zip across the top to keep everything securely contained, and the fabric is easily wipeable and machine-washable.
Available at Amazon starting at $10.90
KINIA Kids Hand Sanitizer Keychain Carriers
Keep sanitizer close at hand
Toddlers get some pretty gross stuff on their hands and there's not always a sink and soap available, so always take along disinfecting hand gel to keep everything clean and healthy. Fill these KINIA travel-size holders with your favorite sanitizer and clip one to your keychain, diaper bag, stroller, and every other place you may need it.
Available at Amazon starting at $15.95 for an 8-pack
LiquiSnugs Silicone Travel Bottles
Don't leave your toddler shampoo behind
If you use a particular kind of shampoo or lotion for your child, don't try to bring your full-size bottles with you. These LiquiSnugs bottles are leak-proof, TSA-approved, and have labels you can switch out so you always know what's inside. While you're packing your toiletries bag, don't forget to bring a tube of kids' toothpaste and your child's toothbrush as well.
Available at Amazon starting at $12.95 for a 3-pack
Kleenex On-the-Go Facial Tissue
Ready when you need one
Keep a travel pack of tissues in your glove box, diaper bag, purse, and stroller basket, because you never know when you'll need them – and when you need them, you really need them. Kleenex tissues are soft, thick, and durable. What more could you want for tending to your toddler's tender skin?
Available at Target starting at $2.29 for an 8-pack
Melissa & Doug On the Go Water Wow! Reusable Water-Reveal Activity Pads
Keeps kids busy during travel delays
This is just the kind of thing you'll want to put in your toddler's travel backpack: a new toy that you can break out whenever you need a fun activity to keep things from going sideways. Just fill the Water Wow! pen with water and your child can use it to make colors and hidden images appear. Once the page dries, the colors fade away and it's ready to be painted again.
Available at Amazon starting at $14.99 for a 3-pack
Carter's Snug Fit Cotton Footie PJs
A backup outfit for emergencies
If something happens and clothing is stained, wet, or lost, you'll thank yourself for packing an easy backup or two like these cozy zip-up pajamas. They're cute and comfortable –just the thing to keep your toddler warm and covered, night or day. If you have a long haul, you may want to change your toddler into these jammies to encourage in-flight or in-the-car-seat sleep.
Available at Carter's starting at $10
Babyganics Mineral-Based Baby Sunscreen Lotion
Portable sun protection
Because it stays on top of the skin to create a barrier, "mineral" or "physical" sunscreen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide is best for children. Babyganics sunscreen is popular with parents because it's gentle on sensitive skin, has SPF 50+, and is inexpensive.
Available at Target starting at $9.99
Thermos FUNtainer Water Bottle
Keep kids hydrated on the road
Encourage your toddler to drink plenty of liquid to prevent dehydration, especially when flying. (It's a good idea to have extra water on hand for everybody.) Thermos FUNtainer is a stainless-steel water bottle with a straw, so it's easy for kids to hold and drink out of. And it won't leak even if it's tipped over.
Available at Target starting at $16.99
Chicco Caddy Hook-on Chair
A secure highchair for almost any table
Portable highchairs are great when visiting grandparents, staying at rental homes, or going out to eat at a restaurant (because, really, those restaurant highchairs can be revolting). The Chicco Caddy Hook-on Chair works with virtually any table and holds kids up to 37 pounds. It's compact, lightweight, and easy to manage when you're on the go. The soft-grip arms won't scratch tabletops, and the fabric seat is removable for easy washing.
Available at Amazon starting at $46.70
AUVON Plug-in LED Motion Sensor Nightlight
Make nighttime parenting easier
Late-night diaper changes and other toddler care is so much easier with a little light, especially in an unfamiliar room. This motion-sensor nightlight has three modes – On, Off, or Auto – which allows you to set it for different circumstances. The Auto mode with motion sensor is a lifesaver when you're stumbling around in the dark.
Available at Amazon starting at $18.99 for a 4-pack
ScotchBlue Multi-Surface Painter's Tape
Cover up sockets in a sec
A simple roll of painter's tape can go a long way toward keeping your curious toddler safe. Use it in a hotel room or unfamiliar home to tape over outlet covers, cushion sharp corners on furniture, or cover up anything your child will want to touch, but shouldn't.
Available at Target starting at $3.99
The Guava Lotus Portable Crib
A safe place to sleep, anywhere
Some hotels and rentals provide portable cribs or play yards, but you won't know until you get there if these are unavailable, dirty, or not in good working order. Bring your own and you'll always have a safe place for your toddler to sleep, and a place for him or her to play as well. The Guava Lotus is a bit of an investment, but it's very easy to use. And since it's lightweight and folds into its own hands-free backpack, unlike most other portable cribs, the Lotus is easy to carry from spot to spot.
Available at Guava Family starting at $199.95
Cosco Scenera NEXT Convertible Car Seat
Light enough to bring on the plane
It's tempting to skip the car seat for your toddler when you're on the plane, but it's safer for your little one to be strapped in, just like in a car. Plus you'll likely need a car seat when you arrive. The classic traveling parent go-to seat is the Cosco Scenera Next. It's lightweight, affordable, and easy to install on a plane or in a car at your destination.
Available at Walmart starting at $49.98
Mountain Buggy Nano
Teeny-tiny travel stroller
An umbrella stroller is a natural for travel, but some are flimsy, while others don't actually fold up as compactly as you need them to. Not the Mountain Buggy Nano: It's small enough to fit in an airplane's overhead bin and weighs just 13 pounds. It's also sturdy and comfortable enough for long, long outings.
Available at buybuy BABY starting at $199.99
Yogasleep Rohm Portable White Noise Sound Machine
Help kids sleep well away from home
Charge this portable sound machine with a USB cable and it's good to go. Three sound options (surf and two different intensities of white noise) will keep little ones calmly asleep even when all their relatives are laughing in the kitchen. It has a built-in lanyard so you can hang it from a doorknob or the stroller.
Available at Walmart starting at $29.95
Getting ready to travel with a toddler
- Start preparing to pack a few days before you travel. Keep a running list of things to bring or set out items on a table or dresser as you think of them.
- Pack an extra outfit for your child in your diaper bag and one in your carry-on for yourself, too – just in case.
- Prevent leaks by packing medicines and toiletries in resealable plastic bags.
- Don't forget chargers and cords for your phone and other devices.
- Watch our video on childproofing for your toddler when you're away from home.