What to pack when traveling with kids

We travel quite a lot with our little one… We’ve flown with her to Spain six times – if you’re interested, in the past I’ve wrote about flying with a baby and flying with a toddler – , we’ve been visiting friends in New York, and on vacation in LA and San Diego. We’ve also driven to Yosemite (~4h), to Santa Barbara (~5h), to Tahoe (~6h), and to plenty of other places. We always try to travel light, but there’s a list of must haves that I would recommend taking with you.

What to bring

Must have

  • Diapers. And always bring extras, if you don’t, that’s the trip where you’ll need them 😛
  • Baby wipes. They come in handy for diaper change, potty accidents, throw-ups, sticky snacks, and who knows? I have differen
  • Bottle and milk. Not needed if you’re breastfeeding, obviously, but if not, don’t forget your formula and specially don’t forget your milk, which you can’t get in a plane. For milk, you’ll either need to buy it after the security check or bring it in a recipient that can be opened for the scan (but then it may not last much). Our trick is to get one or two ultra-pasteurized individual packages, open them at the security check, and save them in a bottle (or two).
  • A change of clothes (or two) for the baby / toddler. You may want to add a change of clothes for you too (just in case).
  • A toy. It can be an stuffed animal, cards, magnet board, markers, stickers.. whatever your kid likes. You don’t need many toys, one or two will do. (They don’t have to be big either).
  • Snacks. What a better way to entertain your kid than with snacks. Just bring whatever they like the most, we normally do cereal, crackers, cookies, or string cheese.
  • Bag pack. I personally don’t like diaper bags, so even though we own one, we only used it for a few months after our daughter was born. At that point, we started making room for our daughter’s things in my purse or our bag packs. Specially when traveling, and because we usually also take laptops and other stuff which takes up quite a bit of space, we bring one bag pack per adult and that’s it. Our rule is simple: whatever doesn’t fit in there, is not a must have.

Nice to have

  • Toddler headphones. Our little one enjoys watching TV shows without sound anyway so… this one is not really needed in our case (or at least not yet!).
  • Tablet. We’re not big fans of tablets in our family, so we normally have her watch whatever cartoons are on the plane or we use our smartphones (Youtube Red for offline videos is our go to service). That’s for flying. For driving, she normally doesn’t watch TV.

Yay or nay?

  • Crib. My recommendation is not to bring a crib unless is absolutely necessary. Going to a hotel, apartment, etc.? Ask for a crib, it’s usually free of charge. Going to visit family, friends? Ask around and see if you can borrow one. As a last resort, after 15 months old or so, we had our daughter sleep with us for a couple of nights. Now that she’s a bit older, we got a bed barrier and she sleeps in a regular twin bed when we visit our family in Spain.
  • Stroller. When flying, and if you can avoid it, don’t take a stroller with you. Good strollers are expensive and bulky, so you’ll have to check them in and they can easily get damaged. If you’re driving and if you have a big trunk, then it’s a different story and it may be useful to take it. Just depends on activities planned at your destination. City? Definitely take a stroller. Beach? Maybe not so much needed.
  • Carrier. If you’re not bringing a stroller and your child doesn’t walk, you’re going to need a carrier. I loved traveling with my child in a carrier, that’s what I call traveling light.

 
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