Planning a trip with a toddler? We wrote this hand-crafted, road-tested guide to our favorite toddler travel essentials just for you!
Out of the multitudes of pieces of kid gear we’ve put through the wringer over the years, these are what really stood out among the crowd as true toddler travel essentials.
While travel gear alone won’t vanquish the toddler travel Bogeyman, knowledge and preparedness make traveling with kids a lot less stressful, and a lot more fun!
And this guide to toddler travel essentials is a great place to start.
Psst…is your little one not quite a toddler yet? Check out our travel gear guide made just for babies!
Can’t wait? Here’s a preview of our list to get you started right now!
- Durable & Foldable Travel Stroller
- Portable White Noise Machine
- Hiking Child Carrier
- Volume Limiting Headband Earphones
- Toddler Backpack with Optional Safety Harness
- Inflatable Airplane Pillow/Bed for Kids
- Static Stick Car Window Shades
- Insulated No-Spill Travel Cup
- Pop-Up 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 toddler travel essentials.
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10 Toddler Travel Essentials for Better Family Adventures
➊ Durable & Foldable Travel Stroller
We’ve owned five different strollers over the years and this is by far our favorite!
The Baby Jogger City Mini GT2 is every bit as durable and packable as other popular jogging strollers, but folds in seconds into a compact and stowable size.
Better yet, it’s sturdy wheels and unique design offer a smooth ride for both the kiddo and the one who’s pushing the stroller. This makes the City Mini a great option for jogging, but also for a bit of off-roading as well!
➋ Portable White Noise Machine
What would we do without our portable, rechargeable, portable white noise machine?
We absolutely love our Yogasleep Hushh 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 toddler from their silent slumbers, it also lends an element of comfort and consistency to travels away from home with the kids.
➌ Hiking Child Carrier
We loved our ErgoBaby carrier, but once our little toddler became a much bigger toddler, it was time to take things up a notch.
Our Deuter Kid Comfort 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 toddler loves riding in it.
➍ Volume Limiting Headband Earphones
For plane rides and road trips, this comfy earphone headband by CozyPhones 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.
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!).
➎ Toddler Backpack with Optional Safety Harness
Our kid 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.
➏ Inflatable Airplane Pillow/Bed 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 travel essentials on our list that we actually 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.
If you beat us to the punch, we’d love to hear how it worked for you in the comments!
➐ Static Stick Car Window Shades
Even if your car already has tinted windows, direct sun can really annoy the heck out of your kid and ruin a great trip.
These packable sunshades from KinderFluff 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.
➑ Insulated No-Spill Travel Cup
These stainless steel Munchkin sippy 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 toddler statement.
➒ Pop-Up Beach Tent
If you spend a lot of time outdoors with your kiddo, cover from the sun is key in the hot months (or in hot climates).
Having a pop up beach tent like this one from WolfWise has become one of our top toddler travel essentials – when we’re at the beach, but also for the park, lake, or wherever we 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.
UPDATE: 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 now 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).
➓ Washable Bibs with Food Pouch
Last, but certainly not least on our list of toddler travel essentials, we’ve got these awesome SuperBibs from Bumkins!
Easy to wash, super light and packable, adjustable, and virtually indestructible! They’ve even got a built-in pocket for catching food (or putting snacks in).
We rarely leave home without one of these for either kid. One of the best toddler travel essentials you can invest in!
What Do We Mean By ‘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 feel like we’ve racked up a number of toddler travel tips worth sharing.
Like any parent, we’ve made more than our fair share of mistakes along the way. Which also means we’ve learned a ton about traveling with toddlers 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 fluff on this list.
What you will find is travel gear that has made a world of difference in our lives, whether we’re on a long-haul flight, hitting the road on a family a road trip, exploring someplace new, or just doing our weekly grocery run.
Want More Toddler & Baby Travel Tips?
Check out our other essential reading for traveling with a baby or toddler!
- 8 Best All-Inclusive Caribbean Resorts for Families
- 10 Baby Travel Essentials for More Fun, Less Stress
- REVIEW – Deuter Kid Comfort Air
- 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 Insanely Easy Tips for Traveling with a Toddler
- How Do I Get My Baby a US passport? (6 EASY Steps!)
And That’s Our Handpicked Guide to the Best Toddler Travel Essentials for 2023!
So, how about you? Did we miss any of your favorite toddler travel essentials you can’t live without? Have you used any of our top picks yourself? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!
We hope you enjoyed our hand-picked, road-tested list of toddler travel essentials and gear.
If you were on the fence before about traveling with a toddler, we hope our guides can offer a gentle nudge to get out there and go for it.
Lori and I know it’s definitely not easy. But through it all we’ve always found that the rewards of traveling with little ones far exceed the headaches involved.
And best of all, we’ve found it gets better the more we keep traveling!