Toddler Travel Essential Packing List
If you are a parent of a toddler, you know all too well how temperamental they can be. One minute everything is fine, then the next thing you know, they are having a full-blown temper tantrum about something (who knows) that they don’t like or want. This is why having the best toddler travel essentials is important.
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For example, our son had a fit because he was thirsty, and we handed him his sippy cup. He threw the cup and hit the floor because we gave him the blue cup and not the green one. (I am rolling my eyes as I write this, but I know other parents can relate lol)
The random tantrums are why traveling with a toddler can be a challenge because out of, nowhere they will go into full melt-down mode.
We created this list of toddler travel essentials based on our experience traveling to 3 countries, 10,000 miles, and over 20 flights. We can’t guarantee it’ll be perfect, but it’ll be less stressful.
Toddler Travel Gear
Wouldn’t it be great if our kids had to push us around when we are tired of walking? Wishful thinking, but it would be awesome.
Having a reliable stroller while traveling with your toddler is essential. It could mean the difference between a fun day out with your happy toddler or a miserable day with a tired toddler.
We use the Zoe Stroller XL1 when we travel with our toddler. It is lightweight, has a large sun canopy, comfortable handles, and is compact.
We picked the XL1 model because it has a belly bar, our son can’t be trusted in a stroller without a belly car.
If you have a less adventurous toddler (who won’t try to jump out of the stroller), I highly recommend the Zoe Stroller XLC. It is the same weight but more compact, it even fits in the overhead bin on most airplanes.
Lightweight Car Seat
When traveling with a toddler or baby, a car seat is a necessary evil.
The trick is to have a lightweight car seat that you can carry or tie to your luggage without a lot of effort. They are easy to carry around if needed and can be installed and removed easily.
The Cosco Scenera Next is the most popular car seat for frequent travelers because it is affordable and lightweight. If you are considering it but not sure if it is right for you, check out our Cosco Scenera Next Review.
A toddler carrier isn’t always necessary when traveling with a toddler, depending on your vacation plans.
If you plan to travel to Europe where there are cobblestone streets, a toddler carrier is essential.
They are perfect if you plan on doing a lot of walking, on flat surfaces, a lightweight stroller is a better option.
We took a hike up Laurel Falls, with a stroller, and it was a terrible idea. I wish we would have packed a toddler carrier for that trip.
When you are looking for the best toddler carrier for your little one make sure the weight limit goes up to 60 lbs. This will ensure you can use it up to 6 years old, if necessary.
Travel Diaper Bag
A diaper bag is essential when traveling with a toddler. They hold all of your snacks, drinks, diapers, pull-ups, wipes, a medicine bag, and other miscellaneous items.
We do not go anywhere without a medicine bag. Inside the medicine bag, we always have:
- Thermometer (simple thermometer we place in his rectum for more accuracy)
- Teething Tablets
- Boogie Drops / Wipes
- Toddler-Friendly Hand Sanitizer (smells like oranges)
- Diaper Cream (the absolute best!!!)
We like using a backpack diaper bag because it is easy to carry. We also use it as an “extra bag”, when we fly.
ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS pack extra clothes. We forgot to put a spare outfit in our toddler’s diaper bag and his diaper leaked.
Luckily, we were able to quickly wash his shorts in the restroom and dry them with a hand dryer. Where there is a will, mom will find a way. (I think that’s my new saying)
Toddler Snack Essentials
Snacks are essential when traveling with our toddler. He gets hangry when he wants something to eat or drink, and has a full-blown temper tantrum.
To get ahead of the tantrums, we always have snacks packed for him. We usually pack snacks such as fruit, cheese sticks, pretzels, raisins, fruit snacks, fruit pouches, and yogurt.
If you plan on traveling with your toddler anytime soon, these snack toddler essentials will make your life easier.
Spill-Proof Sippy Cup
We do not leave the house without having our son’s sippy cup. It is the only cup he hasn’t been able to figure out how to open and dump.
We’ve gone through at least five other brands, and this was the best one for our little guy.
Recently, we upgraded to their larger sippy cups because he drinks a lot of water.
These cups are very durable because our son finds enjoyment in throwing them on the ground often, and they are still in good condition.
Sippy Cup Catcher
As we mentioned above, our son likes to throw his sippy cups. He thinks it is funny his moms think it is frustrating; but what can you do.
To prevent losing his cups, we recently purchased a sippy cup catcher to attach to his stroller. This handy gadget hangs from his stroller bar and allows him to drink whenever he is thirsty.
It’s simple and genius at the same time. The best part is if he, throws the cup, it just hangs on the stroller bar and won’t get lost.
The snack cups from Munchkin are hands down the best snack cups for toddlers. There are affordable options, but they are easy for your toddler to open and dump out.
If you’ve noticed, our son loves to pour out his drink, dump over his snacks, and overall make a mess. He thinks it’s fun and enjoys it.
These cups allow them to take out their snacks one by one and make it difficult for them to empty.
The top is a twist-off so, you don’t have to worry about the contents coming out if the cup falls on the ground.
We’ve given up on plates and bowls because the food usually ends up on the floor. We started using placemats because they are easier to clean and transport.
These are great while traveling on an airplane with a toddler. They can use this placemat to eat snacks instead of the snack tray, which is usually disgusting.
Our go-to snack is usually a fruit or yogurt pouch.
Although the fruit pouches are convenient, they are MESSY. Every time I give our toddler a fruit pouch, he instantly squeezes the middle and spills food everywhere.
The Flipping Holder has handles that allow them to hold fruit pouches without squeezing them and making a mess.
This product also works for juice boxes. Trust me, you’ll love this, and there won’t be as much of a mess.
Toddler Sleep Essentials
When going on vacation with a young toddler, their routine is changed, which can result in them wanting to sleep with you. I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of our toddler sleeping in the bed with us.
He kicks, punches, and even laughs in his sleep. Although the laughing is cute, I wake up thinking he is crying; then, I’m not able to fall back asleep.
If you do not want to sleep with your toddler, here are a few things that’ll help you avoid that.
Toddler Travel Bed
We are a little biased because we love our Kidco PeaPod Travel Tent. It is our favorite toddler travel bed. Our toddler uses this tent every day as his bed since we are a full-time travel family. It is lightweight, comfortable, and affordable.
If you aren’t a frequent traveler, your toddler can use this tent for playtime, camping, or at the beach.
We started using this as a play area to get him to go inside, and now he dives in when he is ready for a nap. Either way, I’m sure you will love this portable toddler tent as much as we do.
For families that aren’t crazy about the idea of a tent, there are portable travel cribs, like the Lotus Travel Crib.
Portable White Noise Machine
A portable white noise machine will save your phone battery. We used to set one of our phones in the room to play white noise at bedtime.
That was the easy part; the hard part was deciding who was going to get the phone out of the room without waking our little monster. Needless to say, after a few months, we broke down and bought a portable white noise machine.
We decided on this brand because there are 20 different sounds to choose from. The string makes it easy to put on the door handle. I set the timer for 60 minutes and forget it.
Since this is our blog, I am going to vent for a moment. We always said we’d never be the parents that let their child become attached to a blanket.
Well, our son will not sleep without his blanket. We have to drag it across the world with us, or no one will sleep.
If you look at the photo above, you will see the blanket, and it is large. At this point we will probably keep it until he outgrows it, which I hope, that’ll be soon.
Wish us luck, because I’m not sure how much longer I can keep dragging around this blanket.
If anyone has advice on how we can slowly detach him from this blanket, we are open to suggestions.
Keeping your Toddler BUSY
One of the tricks when traveling with a toddler is keeping them busy.
The problem is toddlers, do not have a long attention span. We are only able to keep our little one busy for maybe 15 minutes at a time. If we let him watch his favorite shows, it may stretch to 25 minutes.
That is why it is important to have the right toddler travel essentials. We pack a lot of different activities to keep our toddler busy while traveling.
We accidentally put his crayons in the suitcase instead of packing them in his diaper bag. We had to improvise and give him a permanent marker from my wife’s purse.
Tablet / iPad
The Amazon Fire Tablet 7 is one of the most popular and best-selling tablets for toddlers. It comes with Amazon Freetime Unlimited, which gives you access to over 20,000 apps to keep your toddler busy.
We usually download his favorite shows before traveling, so he can watch shows throughout our flights. If you are looking for more affordable tablets for your toddler.
Any parent knows how annoying it can get listening to your toddler’s shows over and over again.
Headphones are godsent because you don’t have to listen to the same song a thousand times a day. For example, we watch Hotel Transylvania 3 at least twice per day, every day.
When choosing the best headphones for your toddler, make sure the volume does not exceed 85 dB. Remember, prolonged exposure to loud noises can result in long-term hearing loss.
The LeapFrog Builders are my favorite blocks for our toddlers. We got them because they help teach him colors, shapes, animals, and food.
They are the only blocks I can build something that looks cool. Also, they are a lot cheaper than LEGOS and affordable.
I wish we could get a large box, but we only have so much space in our suitcases :(.
My wife ( Mea pre-school teacher) creates all of the activities for our toddler.
She doesn’t like him spending too much time on his tablet, so she makes activities for him while we are on the road. She is all about learning, so everything has an educational element to it.
We like to use activity books to help him hold a pencil. As he gets older, we will use these books to help him learn his numbers, letters, and animals.
I (Cee) like the puzzles from Melissa and Doug. They help with hand-eye coordination, sound recognition, and motor skills.
Toddler Safety Essentials
As a parent, your #1 responsibility is to keep your little one safe. For some reason, toddlers love to investigate things by tasting them.
To keep your toddler safe while traveling, create a travel safety kit. We like to use cheaper alternatives to child-proofing sets.
Our toddler has recently grown a fondness for putting things inside electrical sockets. As you can imagine, this terrified us when we realized what he was doing.
Since we are always on the move, we found a practical and inexpensive solution. Painter’s tape is a quick, efficient, and affordable childproofing tool.
We put a piece over the outlet to keep our son from putting things inside and potentially hurting himself.
Painter’s tape is better than other tapes because it is easy to remove and doesn’t pull paint from the wall.
When our toddler started walking, cabinets became a fun play area and a popular hiding spot. As he grew, he started putting more things in his mouth, and cabinets were becoming dangerous.
To keep him safe we used rubber bands to prevent him from opening cabinet doors. Rubber bands are cheap, easy, and high effective.
Conclusion: Toddler Travel Essentials
As a full-time travel family having the right travel gear is very important. It can be the difference between a nice family vacation and a frustrating week away.
Overall, traveling with a toddler isn’t as bad as you think as long as you are prepared. Using our toddler travel essentials is a good start to enjoying your next family vacation.
Do you have other toddler travel essentials, not listed above? Feel free to comment below, and help a parent out.