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Hearing the words “we're going on a trip” is usually music to a parent's ears.
But when you have a baby in tow, traveling can quickly become more of a chore than a vacation.
Chances are you've been there before: standing in the middle of the baby aisle, feeling completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff that you need to buy for your little one.
It can be tempting to just buy everything in sight, but when it comes to traveling with a baby, it's important to pack light and only bring the essentials.
To make sure your trip goes as smoothly as possible, we've put together a list of essentials for traveling with a baby.
Traveling by Plane with a Baby
Something you may need to consider while flying is: what items do you need to check versus what you need to carry on the flight.
Most of the time, baby gear, (strollers, pack-n-plays, car seats,) can be checked through to your destination for free.
But which of these items will you need at the airport or on the airplane?
Do you need your stroller or can you babywear?
Will you be flying with your car seat?
While it can be stressful not knowing how your baby will react on a plane, keep calm!
Babies fly on planes every day and you can make it easier by having your baby's essentials for travel!
Road Trip With a Baby
When driving, packing space may be less of an issue, but you may have less access to your baby, (in the backseat,) during travel.
What items will make the drive easier for your baby and yourself?
How will you handle feedings and how frequently will you stop?
Will you have another adult on the trip with you?
In some ways, it may be easier to travel by car, but there is a lot that goes into planning a road trip with kids.
Either way you are traveling, the essentials for traveling with a baby don't change too much.
Here are our picks for the best baby travel essentials!
A stroller is an absolute must when traveling with a baby – during travel and at your destination.
It will give you a place to safely put your baby when you're on the go, and it will also free up your hands so you can carry all of your other belongings – or load them into the stroller!
You may bring your everyday stroller or you can consider investing in a lightweight, travel stroller.
If saving trunk space is important or you need a stroller that folds up to fit in the overhead compartment of the airplane, you may want to check out the Ergobaby Metro Plus.
If you're going to a destination that isn't stroller-friendly, or you don't need a stroller in the airport, you may want to use a baby carrier.
Carrying your baby will keep your hands free and your baby safe.
Keep in mind you will need to remove your baby from a baby carrier during the flight but it is still a great option for getting through the airport.
We typically bring along both a baby carrier and stroller when traveling as baby carriers can fold up and don't take up too much space.
Obviously, if you are traveling by car you will have a car seat. Be sure your baby has not outgrown it and you have a safe fit.
If you are flying, you have options. Consider if you will need a car seat at your destination or if you will want to use one on the plane – extra seat for your baby required!
There are so many options when flying with car seats, including checking, carrying on, and renting at your destination.
Be sure to choose one that works best for your family.
Hands-Free Diaper Bag
There's nothing worse than having to lug around a huge diaper bag when you're trying to navigate an airport with a baby in tow.
Look for a bag that's lightweight and has backpack straps so that you can easily carry it hands-free.
A regular backpack works just fine or a more lux version can have you traveling in style!
Bonus points if it has compartments to help you stay organized!
Diapers and Wipes
You can never have too many of either of these items.
Pack enough to last the entire trip, plus a few extra just in case.
Try to calculate how many diapers your baby uses per day and multiply that by 1.5 just to cover any additional blowouts.
Travel Changing Pad
A changing pad is an essential item for any diaper bag.
It provides a clean, flat surface for changing diapers, and it can be used to change your baby anywhere – think the airport floor or the front seat of your car!
Choose a changing pad that is durable and easy to wipe clean.
You may also want to consider getting one that is padded or quilted for extra comfort if your baby is a newborn.
Be sure it can hold a couple of diapers and a small pack of wipes so you can easily grab it out of your diaper bag and have everything you need for a quick change wherever you happen to be.
It's always easier to travel with a few first aid essentials for baby.
Baby medicine can be hard to find and who wants to be running around in the middle of the night looking for it?
Carry a basic fever reducer like Tylenol as well as a baby cough and mucus medicine.
Of course, bandages, antibiotic cream, and anti-itch are staples in our travel kit as well.
Formula and Bottles
If your baby is on formula, be sure to pack enough for the trip, plus a little extra – use that 1.5x rule again!
Traveling can be stressful, and you may not have time to find a store if you run out. Plus, they may not carry the brand you need.
It's a good idea to pack bottles, even if your baby is on solid food – traveling can have them wanting to eat or nurse more often for comfort.
Travel Bottle Warmer
If you're formula-feeding or pumping breast milk while traveling, then you'll need a way to keep your baby's bottles warm while on the go.
A travel bottle warmer is an essential item if your baby is only used to drinking warm bottles or breastmilk.
Be sure to choose one that is compatible with your type of bottle, (standard, wide-necked,) and understand how it works.
We found the Tommee Tippee warmer to be easy to use. It stores hot water for about a day in a thermos. When you're ready to warm the bottle, pour it into a separate container and add the bottle.
Food and Snacks
If your baby is eating solid foods, be sure to pack enough for the trip.
This is also a great way to keep baby entertained! See our road trip snack list for plenty of ideas for your trip.
And don't forget snacks for yourself! Being hangry is no way to travel.
Easy-to-Wash Outfits + Laundry Detergent
Babies are notorious for spit-ups and blowouts, so it's always good to have a few extra outfits on hand when you're traveling.
This is a plan for the worst packing situation because you don't want to be going through the airport with a baby in a diaper!
For airport or car travel – have at least 3-4 changes of clothes for baby. Bring bags to put dirty clothes in as well.
Look for items that are made from lightweight, breathable material and that can be easily rinsed in the sink if necessary.
And don't forget to pack an outfit for yourself too—you never know when your own clothes might end up being covered in baby poop or spit-up!
Lastly, be sure to pack a small container of laundry detergent or a few laundry pods so you can throw dirty clothes in the wash when you arrive at your destination.
A blanket will come in handy whether you're traveling by car or plane.
Do not underestimate the versatility of a muslin blanket! These things can be used for pretty much anything!
A blanket can keep baby warm, offer shade or privacy, act as a burp cloth or even a diaper in a dire situation!
Toys and Books
A few small toys and books will help keep your baby entertained during long car rides or flights. And they might just save your sanity too.
Be sure to travel with baby's favorites and add a few new ones to the mix to pique their interest.
Wherever you stay, you'll need somewhere for your baby to sleep safely.
A travel bassinet is an ideal solution because it's portable and easy to set up.
If carrying a travel bassinet is not too much to add to your luggage, be sure to choose one that is lightweight and easy to clean.
You'll also want to make sure that it comes with a carrying case or storage bag so you can easily pack it up when you're ready to go.
Essentials for Traveling With a Baby
Packing for a trip with a baby doesn't have to be stressful.
But if you're doing it for the first time, you may be feeling overwhelmed.
By packing light and only bringing the essentials, you'll make your life a lot easier—and your travels a lot more enjoyable!
Although these are the essential items that you'll need when traveling with a baby, you can also grab a few more items you think are important!
It's better to be over-prepared and you know your baby best!