Every parent has a different idea of what are considered baby and toddler travel essentials.
After logging dozens of flights, thousands of road trip miles, and countless hotel and Airbnb stays across three continents with two very young boys, Lori and I have a bit to say on the matter.
Out of the multitudes of pieces of kid gear we’ve put through the wringer over the years, only a handful of those really stood out as true baby and toddler travel essentials.
Like any parent, we’ve made more than our fair share of mistakes along the way. Which also means we’ve learned a ton as well! A lot of those lessons relate to travel gear for little ones.
We consider ourselves to be relatively minimalistic in the gear department, so you’re not going to find a lot of unnecessary fluff on this list – this is, after all, a baby and toddler travel essentials list.
What you will find are travel accessories that have made a world of difference in our lives, whether we’re on a long-haul flight, doing a family a road trip, exploring someplace new, or just doing our weekly grocery run.
While travel gear alone won’t vanquish the baby travel Bogeyman, knowledge and preparedness make traveling with toddlers and infants a lot less stressful, and a lot more fun! And this checklist of baby and toddler travel essentials is a great place to start.
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15 Baby & Toddler Travel Essentials
In a hurry? Here’s a preview of our list of top baby & toddler travels essentials:
- All-in-One Infant & Toddler Carrier
- Volume-Limiting Headband Earphones
- Packable Soft Cloth High Chair
- Toddler Backpack
- Packing Cubes
- Hiking Child Carrier
- Travel / Airplane Foot Pillow
- Static Stick Car Window Shades
- Video Baby Monitor
- Portable Travel Crib
- Insulated No-Spill Travel Cup
- Full-Body UPF 50+ Toddler Swimsuit
- Kids Swim Goggles
- Popup Beach Tent
- Washable Bibs with Food Pouch
Want to learn more? Continue on for the full scoop on why we love this gear and what makes these baby and toddler travel essentials.
15 Baby & Toddler Travel Essentials
1) All-in-One Ergonomic Baby Carrier
Despite all the marketing for gear for wee ones, there are actually only a few true baby and toddler travel essentials. A comfortable carrier is one of those.
When our #2 came along, we considered getting a lightweight dedicated toddler carrier for our oldest (who was 2.5), but still wanted the versatility of carrying baby or toddler with the same thing. For that and more, the Ergo delivered.
And the new Omni 360 makes wearing either kiddo possible in a multitude of positions. Ergobaby’s newest update has been redesigned and is even more comfortable and ergonomic than our old 360.
On the fence? Read our detailed review on both the original Ergobaby 360 and Ergobaby Omni 360.
2) Volume Limiting Headband Earphones
For plane rides and road trips, this comfy earphone headband can be a life saver. These headphones make it possible for our son to still listen to Raffi on repeat on an airplane without us receiving death threats from other passengers.
The soft headband means older babies and young kids are less likely to mess with it like earbuds or traditional headphones. And the volume limiting function ensures that the sound will never be too loud for baby or toddler’s ears.
Now, we wouldn’t dream of leaving for a long trip without our CozyPhones – they’ve quickly become one of our favorite toddler travel essentials.
3) Packable Soft Cloth Highchair
A soft, packable high chair is a true essential for traveling with an older baby or younger toddler, particularly if you travel overseas or find yourself doing snack time out and about where this is no high chair.
This cloth chair turns almost any standard chair into an instant high chair and packs down to less than the size of a baseball.
What Makes AwayGoWe Gear Guides Different
Why trust our travel gear recommendations? All of the gear on this list has been personally road-tested by us (unless otherwise noted).
While this page contains some affiliate links, we don't do sponsored content here on AwayGoWe and we don't accept requests to peddle anyone's product.
That means that our opinions and recommendations are 100% independent and unbiased (though we will admit we have a strong bias towards useful gear that's built to last!).
4) Toddler Backpack with Optional Safety Harness
Our oldest absolutely loves his toddler-sized backpack, and we love that he can carry his own water, sun hat, and toys with him when we’re out and about.
This particular backpack even comes with a removable “safety leash” tether. We haven’t used the tether ourselves, but for cities with wide and uncluttered sidewalks, it could give young toddlers a degree of walking freedom while keeping them from stepping into traffic.
Whether you choose to use the tether or not, this well-made pint-sized pack is worth the investment.
5) Packing Cubes
While Lori’s been using packing cubes long before the two of us started dating, our travel organizers have become even more essential since the arrival of our first.
If you plan on backpacking, compression stuff sacks are the way to go. But for suitcase travel and everything else, soft packing cubes are the best use of space.
We use them for just about everything from clothes to first-aid supplies, toys to snacks. When we need any of that, all we have to do is reach into the suitcase and we’re good to go.
6) Hiking Child Carrier
We love our ErgoBaby carrier (see above), but once our little toddler became a much bigger toddler, it was time to take things up a notch. Our Deuter hiking carrier has now become an essential part of our toddler travel gear whenever we hit the trails.
We’ve tried to run it into the ground, but this thing is a beast. Lightweight and the most comfortable backpack we’ve worn. And best of all, our youngest, who is now two, loves riding in it.
7) Travel Foot Pillow for Kids
Turn your toddler’s airplane seat into a flat bed! A lot of companies make inflatable airplane pillows, but this one is unique because the height is adjustable!
This is the only one of the toddler and baby travel essentials here that we haven’t used ourselves. But we have close friends who swear by these, and we’re really hoping to get our hands on one before our next long haul flight.
8) Static Stick Car Window Shades
Even if your car already has tinted windows, direct sun can really annoy the heck out of a baby and ruin a trip. These packable sunshades are great for hot climates or summer drives, particularly if you’re hoping to work in a nap (for the kid, not the driver…).
No need for suction cups or adhesive because they use static to stay on the window and fold up to the size of a small plate for easy stowage.
9) Video Baby Monitor
It’s true, not everyone’s situation requires a baby monitor, and many parents these days prefer monitors that connect to their smartphone via wifi.
For travel, however, it’s really hard to beat this monitor. Wifi can be unreliable where we travel, but more importantly, Lori and I don’t like having to tie up one of our phones during nap time.
The Infant Optics DXR-8 also uses interchangeable lenses (wide, tele, and normal) so you can adjust the field of view depending on the room.
10) Portable Travel Crib
There’s not much more we can say about the Lotus crib that we haven’t already said on our blog already. We absolutely love it!
This travel crib is compact, lightweight, and indestructible, with lots of useful features like the side zipper door and carrying case backpack.
The Lotus may just be one of our favorite baby and toddler travel essentials that we own and one of our best kid gear investments to date!
Undecided? Check out our detailed review of the Lotus Travel Crib for more of our thoughts on the crib after years of use and abuse on the road.
11) Insulated No-Spill Travel Cup
These Munchkin cups are hardly a secret, but very much essential gear for our boys when we’re out and about.
We especially like the insulated cups for the hot weather where we live, and it’s nice to know we can rely on this cup not to leak in the backpack or spill when our youngest inevitably tosses it out of the car seat/ stroller/ highchair to make some sort of baby statement.
12) Full-Body UPF 50+ Toddler Swimsuit
This full-body swimsuit was one of the best purchases we’ve made, and has proven to be a game changer for us. Instead of having to lather an excited toddler from head to toe in sunscreen every time we go for a swim, we just slap this bad boy on, cover hands, feet, and face with sunscreen, and we’re all set!
It was surprisingly hard to find a toddler-size full-body swimsuit, but this one was perfect. It’s been worn and washed dozens of times and still looks new.
13) Kids Swim Goggles
Speaking of swimming, if your toddler loves splashing around, goggles will open up a whole new underwater world to them (and help them to gain confidence in the water).
We searched high and low for goggles that sealed properly around tiny toddler faces, and these Splaqua goggles do just that.
If you’re planning on spending any amount of time in the water, a pair of these should definitely be high up on your list of baby and toddler travel essentials.
14) Popup Beach Tent
If you spend a lot of time outdoors with your kiddo, sun cover is key in the hot months (or in hot climates). Having a pop up beach tent has become one of our top baby travel essentials – when we’re at the beach, but also for the park, lake, or wherever baby can use a little instant shade.
This WolfWise tent has UPF protection and a ton of cross-ventilation, which is a big plus on a hot day. AND, it’s anchored by four sand bag feet to keep it from blowing away.
The WolfWise is great for infants and young toddlers, but as our boys have gotten a bit older now (and we’ve moved closer to the beach), we’ve got our sights set on the Neso beach canopy (I’m big on getting sand between my toes and as much of that ocean breeze as possible).
15) Washable Bibs with Food Pouch
Last, but certainly not least on our list of baby and toddler travel essentials, we’ve got these awesome SuperBibs! Easy to wash, super light and packable, adjustable, and virtually indestructible!
We rarely leave home without one of these for either kid. The main disadvantage of the packable cloth high chair that we use (see above) is that there’s no tray to eat off of. The built-in pocket of these bibs helps a lot with that.
One of the best baby and toddler travel essentials you can invest in!
Want More Baby & Toddler Travel Tips?
Check out our other essential reading for traveling with a baby or toddler!
- REVIEW: Ergobaby 360 vs. Omni 360 Baby Carrier
- REVIEW: Lotus Everywhere Travel Crib
- 15 Easy Tips for a Road Trip with an Infant or Toddler
- 10 Mistakes We’ve Made Traveling With Little Ones (And What We Learned)
- How Do I Get My Baby a US passport? (6 EASY Steps!)
And That’s Our Baby & Toddler Travel Essentials List!
Did we miss any of your own personal favorites? Let us know which baby and toddler travel essentials you can’t live without in the comments below!