We first started traveling with our daughter when she was only 10 weeks old; she’s now 2 and a half, and has recently completed her 36th flight! Packing for our last trip I realised how much less ‘stuff’ we seem to need now… which got me thinking about what we packed, and what we actually needed, before we got into our travel groove with a baby and now toddler.
When we were preparing for our first few trips, and particularly our first international flights, I did a lot of frantic Google research…. there are a lot of great checklists around, but mostly they left me feeling panicked (and over-packed!). Keeping it simple, and feeling confident that if you really needed to, you could just buy what you forgot, made me feel a lot better.
Keep it light and sensible, in my opinion. Basically, especially if you’re still nursing, you need:
- nappies, wipes, nappy cream and changing mat (I’d recommend throwing in a few disposable mats too for those times you have to do a change on a bathroom floor…);
- baby lotion, shampoo, hairbrush;
- thermometer, pain relief and teething gel if needed;
- depending on baby’s age and your access to laundry facilities, 2-3 changes of clothes per day, and as many bibs as you own…;
- sleep items like sleeping bag, comforter, light blankets for the pram etc;
- portable cot if needed (we have used our Phil & Ted one very happily for 2 years);
- foldable stroller (we swear by our Mountain Buggy Nano) and carrier (we enjoyed using the Ergobaby 360);
- a few small toys and books – we tried to add a new one each trip for ‘excitement’ value on flights, and then old ones for familiarity;
- some snacks you know your baby will eat, once you’ve started solids, and spoons/bowls if baby is not yet happy eating direct from a pouch; and
- of course if you’re bottle feeding all the fun of bottles, teats, sterilising tablets and formula…so much fun….
Suddenly in the last few months it really feels like travel has become a LOT easier. C is happier entertaining herself, she is very verbal so can tell you what she wants (or let’s be real, what we’re doing wrong…), and she gets super excited about traveling. She is not a great sleeper on flights, so it’s also been very helpful that she only needs one nap – an early start for a flight no longer means a guaranteed mid-travel meltdown….
With that said, this is what my current list of ‘essentials’ looks like:
- snacks, more snacks, all the snacks. C is a pretty adventurous eater and very happy to try what we’re eating, but she remains very happy to see a packet of raisins, an apple, rice crackers or yoghurt at any time of day….;
- a couple of small toys and 3-4 books, playdoh, stickers, and colouring pencils/paper for the flight;
- baby lotion, shampoo, hairbrush, eczema cream especially if you’re flying long haul or in a lot of air conditioning which dries out the skin;
- thermometer, pain relief, asthma inhaler, allergy medication as needed, and a prescription in case you run out while away;
- 2 changes of clothes per day, and now that we’re toilet trained, many pairs of underpants and spares;
- sleep items like sleeping bag, comforter, toddler pillow, etc;
- portable cot if needed (we’re still using the Phil & Ted!); and
- foldable stroller (we swear by our Mountain Buggy Nano) and carrier (we now use a Little Life Adventurer carrier if C doesn’t want to walk or it’s hard to get around with a stroller);
- if you’re traveling alone, I cannot recommend the Mountain Buggy Bagrider enough – when I traveled from the UK to New Zealand with C, this was an absolute lifesaver! Big enough to fit a bunch of gear, easy to lift and steer, and kept C entertained because it was different from the stroller….
The most important thing you can pack with babies or toddlers though is a LOT of patience. They find everything exciting, overwhelming, and fascinating – so you need to allow extra time for everything, and have some flexibility to roll with the punches…