As someone who traveled to over 60 countries before giving birth, I knew that I didn’t want my adventures to end just because I had a baby. Before traveling with him, I almost gave into the persistent belief that traveling with a baby has to be difficult and that it has to involve tons of checked baggage.
Neither has to be the case. Over 10 trips — two of them international — and 24 flights with my now 8-month-old, these are the essentials I bring when we travel with our baby.
1) LOTS of Diapers
This one will seem obvious, but don’t underestimate how many diapers you will need! We were once on what was supposed to be a one-hour flight that got rerouted mid-air and turned into three flights and most of the day. Airports don’t always have diapers to purchase. We always WAY overpack the amount of diapers we’ll need in our carry on, and I’m glad we do for moments like this.
On our most recent trip to Japan, we packed enough diapers for a week and bought the remainder in Japan. They weren’t as good as what we brought from home, but it helped save much-needed space.
2) A Comfortable Baby Carrier
Although a travel stroller can be a great idea, we rarely travel with one, especially if we need to pack light.
Garrett and I almost always babywear instead – through the airport, on the flight, walking around, on public transportation, and just about everywhere we need to go. Our baby sleeps well like this, and it’s just so much easier for any terrain we might encounter.
In the early days, I loved the soft Solly Baby Wrap, then we graduated to the Artipoppe and Ergobaby carriers, and as he gets bigger, it’s been more important to go for something that wears more like a hiking backpack.
3) Portable Changing Pad
With all of the changing tables that our portable pad has seen, I’m glad that we had it along to act as a barrier between Felix and the, sometimes nasty, tables we’ve had to change him on.
Or benches, forest floors, beds, and so on. This is the portable pad we use. It’s easy to wash and fold up.
4) Comfortable Diaper Bag Backpack
I initially thought that I was going to want a cute diaper bag, and while that would have been nice, when it came down to it, functionality mattered more than anything else. Go for the biggest one within your budget that also has stroller clips.
Trust me, you want it to be large if it’s traveling with you in order to fit the loads of diapers, extra bottles (if using), washing station, extra wipes, extra onesies, and travel toys.
5) Portable bottle washing station and soap
I always joke this is the best $17 I’ve spent, but honestly, this bottle washing station has come in SO handy. From airport bathrooms to airplane bathrooms, Airbnbs, hotels, and friend’s houses, this has given us a clean surface, dedicated bottle brushes, and a drying rack anywhere we go. We even use this as his dedicated bottle washing station at home!
I also recommend bringing your own unscented soap in a travel size container. I almost always end up only finding antibacterial (not great for ingesting) or heavily scented soaps when we travel and have been very glad to have our own unscented, plant-based dish soap.
6) Sanitizing Bags
I’m in love with these steam sanitizing bags too. They’re cheap, multi-use, pack down tiny, and steam clean pump parts, bottles, binkies, and silicone teethers. One of my Instagram followers told me they even use these in the NICU for sanitizing! As long as you have a microwave available, which we have in 90% of the places we’ve stayed, you just pour in 60ml of water, seal, microwave for 90 seconds, and dump onto a clean surface. Voila! It’s all sanitized in just a few minutes.
7) Portable breast pumps
These saved my pumping journey. Although I never planned to exclusive pump, that’s how things ended up, and I’m so glad to have been able to maintain on the road with these! Whether in a moving car (sometimes while driving), airplane, lounge, or train, I’ve pumped on the go with ease with my pumps. I tried both the Elvie and Willow Go and like them both. Even if you’re not an exclusive pumper, if you pump at all, these are so much easier for travel!
8) Portable Bassinet
We want to create a safe sleep environment on the road. Sometimes the places we stay have cribs available, but most of the time we have needed to bring our own.
At first, we loved this foldable bassinet. It packed down small and we could pack diapers and clothes inside. Now that he’s too big for it, I use the Guava Lotus bassinet. It’s considerably bigger, but it has worked great on road trips along with the Slumberpod.
9) White Noise
Our baby sleeps better with white noise, and we do too! Having our white noise machine has saved us when we got put in a room with a bar downstairs, when there were lawn guys outside in the early morning, and from general hotel noises.
I learned from experience that the fancy ones that connect to Wifi are better kept at home. We have the most basic Hatch Mini sound machine and it works great. Alternatively, you can play Spotify 10-hour white noise podcasts from your phone.
10) Portable Baby Monitor
I should have known when our friend gifted us his Owlet due to the constant connectivity issues that we might have the same problem. Especially on the road with hotel WiFi or anything that isn’t 2.5ghz (WHY are all baby items like this?!) For the price, I really like the analog one we bought for $35 for trips.
It works up to 1000 feet, has night vision, and allows us to put Felix in his own room, or for us to let him sleep downstairs while we enjoy the pool, hot tub, etc. It’s honestly just as good as the Owlet and costs a fraction of the price.
11) Portable Highchair
If your baby is eating solids, take it from me, it’s much easier to have them in a high chair than feeding on your lap, although sometimes we do the bathtub and just hose him off after.
12) Nail File
Do not forget the nail file! I swear I’m filing F’s nails every other day, both at home and on the road.
13) Bottles or spoons appropriate for age
Since BLW can be very messy, I usually order a side of avocado or fruit for him when we’re in a restaurant and hand feed him pieces of it, then do a full meal when we’re back at the room. It’s worked great so far!
14) Baby food, formula, or cooking supplies
Depending on where you go, you may or may not need to bring the enough baby food and/or formula with you for the entire trip.
I have seen baby purée in small towns in Mexico as well as drug stores in Japan, albeit more limited than I might find at home. Since we do BLW, we usually buy fruit and veggies at grocery stores to share with Felix. For our most recent road trip, we had space in the car for me to bring his Beaba babycook, which allowed me to steam veggies for him in the hotel room. I was glad to have it with us, though it’s less practical for flying.
15) Medications, nasal aspirator, and thermometer
It sucks when little ones get sick on the road, but it happens. We always have his thermometer, nasal aspirator, and infant Genexa with us when we travel. It’s so much easier than having to look for these things on the road.
16) Portable toys
Some people think babies don’t need toys, but I disagree! Having a toy along has saved dinnertime for us parents more than once, and they keep him stimulated and entertained. 90% of the toys that we have for Felix are from the Lovevery Montessori-inspired play kits and that’s what we bring with us when we travel. We’re big fans. Read my Lovevery review here.
17) Baby-safe sunscreen
Once your baby is 6 months or older, baby-safe sunscreen is great to have on-hand. I like this mineral one.
18) Baby-safe insect repellant
I honestly hate bug repellant, but I hate mosquito bites more! When possible, I try to keep Felix in rooms with screens to keep insects out, and keep a mosquito net over his crib, but when we can’t avoid exposure, these wipes come in handy.
19) More baby clothes than you think you’ll need!
Garrett and I joke that we end up wearing the same outfit a bunch of times, but babies tend to need to change more often whether it’s drool, spit up, blow-outs, you get the idea. I usually have more than one per day for him, which is easy to do since they pack up small.
Our baby has extremely sensitive skin and basically lives in Kyte Baby. We use a North Face onesie for cold weather with the Kyte baby underneath. It helps him regulate body temperature better and keeps his skin from reacting. I also zip him up in Seraphine babywearing jackets. I love them so much I have three!
20) Umbrella for shade or rain/snow
When we arrived in Japan, Osaka airport happened to have free umbrellas outside the arrivals hall. I grabbed one and we were so glad to have it for all of the snow we encountered. It was a clear plastic one, so it wouldn’t be great for sun, but I would definitely bring along a small umbrella to block out sun on warmer trips.
I don’t know about you, but for us to have a good night of sleep we tend to throw a good eight pacifiers into the crib. If your little one is as into them as ours is, definitely bring them with you when you travel, too! Don’t forget the binkie clip.
22) Car Seat
You may or may not need to bring a carseat on your trips. We needed one to get from the airport to the Airbnb when we went to San Pancho, Mexico, but didn’t need one in Japan where we exclusively took public transport. That said, you will need to get a ride from someone with a car seat installed to the airport since Ubers do not have infant car seats.
You can check, gate check, or use the car seat on board if you buy your baby a seat (more baby travel tips here). It’s really up to your comfort level. We always zip it into a travel case and check ours, though it’s a back-up ‘travel’ car seat from a friend. Our main one stays in the car.
23) Lots of bibs and burp cloths
We bring at least four burp cloths with us when we travel.
24) Hat (for sun or cold)
We always bring his hats along, whether it’s a cold-weather beanie or sun hat. Felix rocks this UV-blocking Patagonia hat in sunny environments. Consider baby sunglasses as well.
25) Consider bringing your own detergent
As I mentioned before, our baby has extremely sensitive skin. We have some Dreft samples the pediatrician gave us so that if we do laundry on the road, he’s not getting exposed to scented or harsh detergents that’ll make him break out.
26) Swim gear (life jacket, bathing suit, bathing diapers)
Depending on where you’re going, you may want to have swim gear with you. Consider an infant life jacket, baby floatie, and definitely some bathing diapers!
27) Portable baby activity center
We don’t own one of these (yet) but I could see how MANY times it would have been great to have. You can’t bring absolutely everything when you travel, but this one folds down and gives you somewhere to stash the baby if you have a crawler, which we now do!
28) Portable baby bath
For bath time on the road, we almost always just bring Felix into the shower with us. It’s how we do it at home, too. But as he gets bigger, bath time in the real bath makes more and more sense. This blow-up bath tub creates a safer environment and is workable if your hotel doesn’t have an actual bath tub.
29) Travel Stroller
There are hundreds — maybe thousands? — of strollers out there. Part of the reason why we don’t travel with a stroller is the difficulty of gate checking or luggage checking it, though we’re in the process of testing out the world’s smallest stroller, the Qbit+ all-city. It’s small enough to go into an overhead bin on a plane, and we’re excited to see if we like it!
We always bring at least one book with us when we travel. Some of my earliest childhood memories were of nightly reading with my mom before bedtime, and that’s a habit I want to repeat with Felix. We bring one of this smaller and lighter board books with us on the flight (we’re not doing screen time yet) and on the road.
I realize that this list is full of products that can add up fast. Although I have bought some of these things new, I’m a big fan of buying and selling baby products on the secondhand market. More than half of what I listed here has been purchased and resold this way, essentially giving me a cheap or free rental.
Speaking of rentals, you can also rent baby gear at your destination using BabyQuip. Though I haven’t personally used it, I’ve heard good things.
I hope this helps you to have a seamless journey. While we don’t bring everything on this list every time we travel, each of these items has come in handy on various trips we’ve had in Felix’s 8 months Earthside.