Every parent has a different idea of what is considered baby 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.
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 toddlers and babies.
We consider ourselves to be fairly minimalistic in the gear department, so you’re not going to find a lot of unnecessary fluff on this 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 road trip with the kiddos, exploring someplace new, or just doing our weekly grocery run.
And this checklist of baby and toddler travel essentials is a great place to start.
16 Game Changing Toddler & Baby Travel Essentials
All-in-One Ergonomic Baby Carrier
Ergobaby Omni 360
Despite all the marketing for baby and toddler gear, there are very few true travel essentials. A comfortable carrier is one of those.
When #2 came along, we considered a carrier like the Tula for our oldest (who was 2.5), but 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.
The newer Omni has been redesigned and is even more comfortable and ergonomic than our old 360.
Volume Limiting Headband Earphones
CozyPhones Kids Headphones
For plane rides and road trips, this comfy earphone headband can be a life saver.
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.
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.
Packable Soft Cloth Highchair
liuliuby Soft Baby High Chair
Another 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.
Safety Harness Backpack
Munchkin Brica By-My-Side Backpack
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.
Shacke Pak Travel Organizers
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.
Travel Foot Pillow for Kids
wapwap Inflatable Travel Bed/ Airplane Pillow
Turn your toddler’s airplane seat into a flat bed!
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.
A lot of companies make inflatable airplane pillows, but the wapwap is unique because the height is adjustable and you can even use the cabin overhead air vent to inflate it!
Static Stick Car Window Shades
Kinder Fluff Shunshade (4-pack)
Even if your car already has tinted windows, direct sun can really annoy the heck out of a baby and ruin a trip.
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, these sunshades use static (think plastic wrap) to stay on the window and fold up to the size of a small plate.
Portable Travel Crib
Guava Family Lotus 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.
Not cheap, but for us it’s turned out to be an excellent investment.
Insulated No-Spill Travel Cup
Munchkin Miracle Stainless Steel 360 Sippy Cup
These Munchkin cups are hardly a secret, but very much an essential for our boys when we’re out and about.
We especially like the insulated cups for the hot weather here, and we know we can always 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.
Full-Body UPF 50+ Toddler Bathing Suit
Dive & Sail Kids One Piece Long/Short Sleeve Swimsuit
This bathing suit 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 bathing suit, but this one was perfect. It’s been worn and washed dozens of times and still looks new.
Hiking Child Carrier
Deuter Kid Comfort
We love our ErgoBaby (see above), but that will only get you so far on a hike or when the wee one is no longer so “wee.”
We swear by our Deuter. 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.
This is essential travel gear for us these days any time we go hiking with our young toddler.
Kids Swim Goggles
Splaqua No Leak Kids Swim Goggles
Speaking of swimming, if your toddler loves splashing around, goggles will open up a whole new underwater world (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.
White Noise Machine
Yogasleep Hushh Portable White Noise Machine
What would we do without our portable, rechargeable, compact white noise machine? We love this thing for so many reasons, but the 10+ hour battery life, clip, and full, natural sound are at the top (no tinny smartphone app noise here).
Not only does a portable white noise machine help mask/ equalize all of the various sounds conspiring to wake your baby or toddler, it also lends an element of comfort and consistency to travels away from home with the kids.
Video Baby Monitor
Infant Optics DXR-8 Video Baby Monitor
It’s true, not everyone’s situation requires a baby monitor, and many parents these days prefer monitors that connect to your smartphone over wifi.
For travel, however, it’s really hard to beat this monitor. Wifi can be unreliable where we travel, but more importantly, and we often don’t want to tie up one of our phones during nap time.
The DXR-8 also uses interchangeable lenses (wide, tele, and normal) so you can adjust the field of view depending on the room.
Popup Beach Tent
WolfWise UPF 50+ Easy Pop Up Beach Tent
If you spend a lot of time outdoors with your kiddo, sun cover is key in the hot months (or hot climates).
Having a pop up tent has become one of our top baby travel essentials, especially when we’re at the beach.
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.
If we lived closer to the beach, I’d probably invest in the Neso beach canopy (I’m big on getting sand between my toes and as much of that ocean breeze as possible). But for our current circumstances, this popup beach tent ticks all the boxes.
Washable Bibs with Food Pouch
Bumkins SuperBib (3-pack)
Last, but certainly not least on our list of baby and toddler travel essentials, we’ve got these awesome washable SuperBibs!
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.
Easy to wash, adjustable, and virtually indestructible!
Want More Baby & Toddler
Check out our other essential reading for traveling with a baby or toddler!
And That's Our Toddler + Baby Travel Essentials List!
Did we miss any of your own personal favorites? Let us know in the comments below!