Traveling with Baby- Our Favorite Gear
We’ve complied our must-have travel gear for baby’s first year. Through lots of trial and error, narrowed down our top baby travel items and this is it! All of these items have become tried and true items that have helped us travel well during the past year. If you’re interested in how we traveled during Emmylou’s first year, you can read more about that here.
No. 1: Familiar Lovey (of some kind)- Emmylou is obsessed with her bunny. She sleeps with bunny all the time but we realized that a smaller bunny would be easier for travel. Well, mini-bunny made it’s debut on a recent trip and it was a hit! Regular bunny came checked in our suitcase for nighttime but mini-bunny came along on all of our adventures. She even napped really well in her car seat and I am attributing that to mini-bunny. Whatever your child’s lovey is, have a couple of them just in case disaster strikes and one gets lost or something. We now have 3 bunnies…
No. 2: Changing Pad– This inflatable changing pad has been amazing for trips! We usually change Emmylou on a desk in our hotel room, so this pad works well to provide some comfort, a waterproof surface and the inflatable sides support her a bit. It deflates and folds flat- I pack it into the front zipper pocket of my suitcase.
No. 3 and No. 4 Baby-Wearing Wrap and ERGO– We began flying with Emmylou (at 5 weeks) in the wrap and she LOVED it! She was snug, sleepy and happy for most of our flights. It also folds into a small pouch, so it is easily packed away when it’s not in use. Once she outgrew the wrap, we switched to the ERGO and it’s been great, as well! It offers more support for the baby-wearer and options for how baby rides. It’s more bulky to pack but worth bringing; especially on trips where the stroller is not practical.
No. 5 Pacifier Clips– Bring a few just in case one hits the floor. We clip them on baby, to the inside of our tote bag and on the car seat strap for easy access.
No. 6 Water Bottle and Snacks– Bring snacks for parents/baby and enough water to get through the flight if service can not be provided (especially if you’re nursing). The last thing you want is to be hangry or thirsty mid-flight and left with no service due to turbulence. It’s also really nice to have a refillable bottle once you reach your destination.
No. 7 Hat– Whether you’re traveling to a warm or cold weather location, always pack a hat! Flights can get chilly, plus it could get sunny or cool wherever you go. We always pack a sunhat or beanie for Emmylou.
No. 9 Travel System- Our travel stroller and car seat have worked out really well! We like the simple, umbrella stroller but love that the car seat can click into it too. Traveling with our own infant car seat has been great because we know she is safe in any vehicle and we don’t have to wait for cabs with a car seat (finding those can be especially tricky when traveling internationally). We did NOT travel with the car seat base. Because the seat clips directly into the stroller and can strap into the car using the seat belt, we had no trouble without the base. I would recommend leaving that heavy piece at home, if you can.
The most important feature of a travel stroller is the ability to lay flat. Emmylou naps really well in her stroller and I really think it’s because it lays almost completely flat. The stroller does not fold down very small (it must be checked) but is a nice size and will continue to hold her as she grows (up to 50 pounds). I also appreciate the basket underneath; it’s great for a backpack, blanket, toys, lunch box, souvenirs…).
No. 10 Large Tote Bag– This catch-all has been amazing for trips! We use this as our carry-on and stuff it full everything we need (diapers, outfit change, toys, bunny, a couple of pacis, snacks, baby-wearing wrap/ERGO, water bottle…). Once we arrive, this bag can be re-purposed as a beach bag, if we need one. It’s water-proof/can be wiped clean inside and out, zips closed and holds a lot but is super lightweight itself. Even Jon approves of this tote!
Another gear item (not specific to travel) we have also loved is our diaper backpack! We’ve tried a few and, honestly, don’t have a favorite, but I love wearing the diaper bag on my back and EL on my front while Jon usually handles the large tote and any other carry on items we may have. The diaper bag usually goes by my feet (with the most important/used items) and the large tote goes into the overhead bin.
No. 11 Travel Diffuser and Oils– This may not be your thing, but I love bringing along some lavender and cedarwood oils to help set the tone for rest. I also bring along oil rollers for motion/sea-sickness and germ-fighting. I pack everything in this tiny pouch and think it makes a difference (believe it or not, Jon does too).
No. 12 Portable Sound Machine– Similar to familiar smells, babies thrive on familiar sounds. Jon hates sleeping with the sound machine but I swear by it, especially for travel. It also helps drown out background noise if we are trying to have her nap or all sleeping in a hotel room. I’ve even put it in the stroller or car seat while she’s slept on the go!
No. 13 Gate Check Bags– These pouches have been wonderful for protecting our stroller and car seat from some of the wear and tear of travel. I would say it mostly protects against moisture and stains but also helps the items to stand out to airport staff (I also like to think the staff is more gentle with our bagged items). It’s also easy to forget pieces of luggage with a little one (more bags and more distractions) so be sure to count your items before checking in, leaving the airport and getting out of cabs!
No. 14 Blanket– You can use a blanket for a million things; to shade baby, to sit/lay on, to keep baby warm, as a nursing cover, as a towel/burp cloth, to play peek-a-boo…the list goes on! We also found that blocking Emmylou’s view of us when room-sharing in hotels helps her sleep better- we hang a blanket over the side of the crib to block her view of us in the room (this is not a safe-sleep practice so we remove it before we go to sleep). We found this amazing SPF 50 blanket and have loved using it for travel! It’s a nice jersey material, folds down small and can be used to swaddle a little baby or lay over a passed out toddler in the stroller. The SPF is an added bonus to avoid getting extra sun while napping on the go.
No. 15 Diapers and Wipes– We have traveled with and without large quantities of these (since diapers are bulky and wipes can be heavy) but I have found that I prefer to travel with enough diapers and wipes to get through a good amount/all of the trip (depending on how long we’re gone and where we’re headed). Whenever we traveled light and planned to buy when we arrived, I found myself getting stressed about not having enough diapers and worrying about getting them (and annoying Jon about counting diapers). Finding diapers can be more difficult in foreign or rural destinations. We also found that city grocery stores may have only a few diapers stocked, so your options for size and brand will be limited. I’m of the opinion that a blow out could ruin a trip (poopy car seat with no laundry=hell!) so I’d rather bring them along. Maybe you’re more of a risk-taker than I am, but that’s my two cents.
No. 16 Stacking Cups– These come on every trip and are ALWAYS used and played with! They are easily stacked and packed away but have so many uses; we use them as beach toys, bath toys, a cup to rinse her off during bath time and just for general play. So simple but oh, so effective.
No. 17 Car Seat Cover– Emmylou naps well on the go and this cover has helped a lot! It blocks out visual stimulation and some light so she can rest her little eyes anywhere. I use it as a nursing cover, as well!
No. 18 is not pictured but ALWAYS travel with an extra ziplock bag with a clean outfit for baby and burp/washcloth inside…you never know when you’ll need it and the bag will contain any dirty or stinky items.
Hopefully you find some of this gear useful. Read more about HOW we traveled with an infant in this post!
K, J, EL & P