Every family has different preferences when it comes to travel but one thing everyone has in common is that you need to find the right balance of gadgets and space for you.
You may have seen countless Insta-moms flaunting a bunch of cool travel products, claiming that they are absolutely essential for any travel with your toddler. But take it from me, some of these products turn out to be a waste of both money and luggage space.
Having traveled frequently in practically every kind of way with my children (road trips, long flights, campervans, hotels, apartments – we’ve done it all), I’ve discovered which ones are a godsend and which travel products for babies and toddlers are not worth the space.
Quick Guide to Travel Products for Babies and Toddlers
|Babies (0-18 months)||Toddlers (18 months to 3 years)|
|Portable Sound Machine||✓|
|Portable Changing Pad||✓|
|Inflatable Bath Tub||✓||?|
|Portable High Chair||✓||✓|
|Travel Car Seat||✓||✓|
Best Travel Equipment for Babies 0-18 Months
Now onto my list of the best things, you SHOULD bring on your travels to help the trip go smoothly.
You will see I have broken up these items into two sections, giving you the essential items I recommend you pack for babies, and below for toddlers.
1. Travel Stroller
Recommended: Babyzen Yoyo Stroller
Top of the list is one of the most essential travel items for both babies and toddlers. A travel stroller!
Keep in mind that I 100% recommend getting a stroller specifically for travel, as trying to use your regular home stroller is going to be a nightmare (take it from my experience!).
I have tried pretty much every single travel stroller out there and I can say that the Babyzen Yoyo Stroller is the best choice.
You need something that folds down (quickly) to fit anywhere, doesn’t have to be gate-checked, and has sturdy wheels to handle rougher terrain. I can confidently say that the Yoyo check’s all those boxes!
2. Baby Carrier
Recommended: Hatchlet Caress 6 in 1
Since you can’t take strollers everywhere, whether it’s because of certain restrictions or simply because the terrain is not stroller friendly, bringing a baby carrier is 100% a must for our family.
For my first son, we got the Ergobaby 360 because it seemed like the one everyone loved. Turns out we really didn’t like it, so we changed to the Hatchlet and the whole family is a lot happier.
I keep mine in the car or the stroller basket because you never know when you might go for a little hike or end up having to ditch your stroller in a museum.
3. Portable Sound Machine
Recommended: Hatch Baby Light or Hussh
These are small and easy to pack, making it a sanity-saving travel item for babies, even if it’s for “just in case” uses.
Sometimes if we end up in a noisy hotel room or just don’t want to go to bed when the baby does, we pop on the white noise machine for our kids to sleep. Problem solved.
4. Portable Changing Pad
Recommended: any is fine
Even if you’ve never traveled before you’ve probably encountered the problem of needing a changing table where there isn’t one. Well, having a portable pad is essential for planes and hard, cold tables, to make it a little more comfortable and sanitary for everyone.
5. Car Mirror
Recommended: anything works
Despite a lot of people using a camera for their baby instead of a mirror, for traveling I always go with a mirror.
It’s simply much easier to use with rental cars and I have never had a problem with our mirror before.
6. Portable Crib / Pack & Play
Recommended: Guava Lotus Crib
This one is not 100% necessary all the time depending on where you are staying, and to be honest we only bring a portable crib if we are staying somewhere which can’t provide one for us for a long time.
I always try to book a hotel with a crib but if there is no option for that, bringing a portable crib is going to be essential for you. Plus, you can usually check 2 baby items per child when flying so it’s not too difficult.
I tried a few different brands but in the end, the Lotus Crib is my recommendation as is really compact when packed down and also super easy to set up.
Many people rave about the PeaPod which I think also sounds great, but in reality, it is like sleeping on the floor and I haven’t met a child who is happy with it.
7. Other Travel Products You Might Need:
The following travel products for babies aren’t 100% essential but could be super helpful for you depending on your circumstances.
Inflatable Bath Tub
Recommended: Mom’s Helper
Unless you’re super careful about always making sure your room has a bath, you may find that a portable bathtub comes in handy more times than you may think.
At first, I would simply rinse off my baby in the shower with me, but he quickly decided he hated showers, so we needed to find a small portable bath for him (for our own sanity more than his).
Portable High Chair
This is another item I didn’t originally think was needed as an ultra-light packer, but it turns out not all restaurants have them (especially in Europe).
Recommended: Eagle Creek
Baby clothes can so easily get lost in a suitcase, especially when you need to get to them quickly. Packing cubes are a lifesaver for keeping things organized.
Eagle Creek is a great brand with tones of colors so we can color code each member of the family!
Even though my son can easily drink from normal cups, when traveling we always like to bring a cup for him that doesn’t spill. We do not want wet clothes on a long plane trip.
I have tested so many sippy cups over the years and found that most of them leak. But, while they may be a little more difficult to clean, Camelbacks don’t leak and are easy to drink from. We used it from about 10 months old.
Best Travel Products for Toddlers (15/18 months to 3 years)
If your kids are a little older, here is a list of items specifically for toddlers.
Of course, some of the products from the baby stage are still needed, so if you jumped to here make sure not to forget the following from the list above:
- Travel Stroller
- Baby Crib (maybe – some kids might be used to floor bed by now)
- Portable High Chair
- Packing Cubes
- Drinking Cups
- Sound Machine
1. Travel Car Seat
Recommended: WayB Pico
If your baby has grown out of their infant seat, it can be super difficult to even imagine traveling with a HUGE car seat.
Luckily there are a few portable travel car seats that pack down for easy transport once your kids reach toddlerhood.
For babies, the lightest option is Cosco Scenera Next but this seat is pretty awful if I’m completely honest.
The WayB Pico is great for small kids, but as it’s forward-facing it’s recommended from at least 18 months, then they can move up to the Hiccapop Inflatable Booster and mifold as they get a little older (4+ usually).
2. Bed Bumpers
Recommended: Hiccapop Inflatable Bumpers
We were super happy with our decision to switch our older son from the crib to a real bed because it meant one less bulky item to bring with us on every trip.
We use inflatable bed bumpers and push his bed against the wall to make it nice and safe for him. The inflatable kind is best because they are super portable!
3. Hiking Backpack
If the idea of going hiking with your kids appeals to you, you are going to need something better than a regular baby carrier (especially if you are walking long distances or have bigger toddlers).
Luckily, there are a lot of baby hiking gear and different hiking backpacks to choose from so you can easily find something comfortable inside your budget.
4. Ride On Suitcase
We love ride-on suitcases not only for long airport walks but also storing our kid’s toys for the plane.
Firstly we tried the famous Trunki but found that the wheels weren’t great and the kids kept running into things.
Now we prefer using JetKids because it not only has better wheels and control, but it also turns into a plane bed.
5. Kids Backpacks
Teaching kids how to take care of their own belongings from an early age is important. Kids’ backpacks are perfect for them carrying their own toys.
There are various amazing kids backpacks, where little ones can pack their toys or fun items for traveling like toddler camera, binoculars, or snacks. It makes family travel more fun for everyone involved!
What Not to Waste Your Money and Space On
Firstly, I’m going to start this list with a few products that experience has taught me is absolutely not worth bringing on a trip for your children. While many of these are handy to have at home, I would not recommend using up precious room in your suitcase to pack them as it’s simply not worth the hassle.
- Sterilizing machines – These things are huge and honestly not ever needed whilst traveling. If you really need to sterilize your baby’s bottle, simply cook the bottle in hot water or bring a microwavable sterilizing bag.
- Bottle warmer – Besides the fact that bottle warmers are BIG, they take forever to work. Instead, I just ask for a little bit of hot water for the baby, it doesn’t matter where you are, it’s never a problem.
- Slumberpod – Even though influencers love these, we’ve found Slumberpods to be a complete waste of space in small hotel rooms. Instead, we simply taught our kids to sleep with a little bit of light by never using blackout blinds at home. That way they can sleep anywhere without a problem.
- Baby Monitor – We have never felt the need to bring ours while traveling as we generally stay in small spaces like 1 bedroom hotel rooms or apartments where we can simply leave the door open slightly and check on our babies often.
- Lap Baby – When I first found out about this belt I thought it was going to be amazing for restaurants as it seemed like a great way to keep my baby secure. But, in reality, it turned out that both of my kids hated it and I couldn’t keep them in it for more than 2 mins.
- Toys for babies – Babies are still learning from their environment, meaning that nearly everything around them is amusing and there’s no need to bring toys for kids up to about 1 year. My youngest was happy enough playing with a plastic bottle for the most part. After 1.5 years it’s another story.