The first time we traveled with our daughter, she was 18 months old. The first leg of the trip was a flight from Salt Lake City to Cleveland. We were rookies at traveling with kids.
It did not go well.
Plus, I overpacked.
We’ve since added a baby to our traveling brood and have learned a few things along the way, and since we’re all friends here, I thought I’d share.
Separate kid stuff from personal electronics.
If you’ve got two adults traveling, carry two backpacks/bags. Use one bag for diapers/wipes, snacks, spare clothes, toys, etc. Use another for the iPad, camera, laptop, etc. There is nothing worse than trying to finesse a diaper and wipes out of bag with one hand while also worrying about dumping your iPad onto the airport bathroom floor.
Take the stroller!
I’ve heard people say to leave the stroller home. That’s crazy talk. We took ours on a Disney Cruise and it was a lifesaver. Babies can sleep, eat, and hang out in a stroller, plus they help carry around extra supplies for the big kid that may be accompanying you. If you’re hotel room is cramped, the bathtub is a great place to store a folded stroller when you’re not using it. Or, you know, showering.
If you’re formula-feeding, take a thermos.
Finding hot water is usually pretty easy—any coffee shop will gladly hand it over—make your life easy and stash that hot water in a small thermos. It’s easy to mix hot and cold water to get the perfect temperature and it gives you more flexibility, so you’re not running around trying to find hot water with a screaming, hungry baby. Plus, there’s less danger of someone (like me) getting burned while carting around a paper cup of hot water.
Plan on doing laundry.
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Packing for kids requires a Magic 8 Ball and a certificate in emergency preparedness. For longer trips (5+ days) I have found it much easier to pack less clothing and plan on doing laundry, midway through a trip. You can purchase single-load detergent packets in the travel toiletries section of the store and I just toss a few dryer sheets in a baggie. Don’t forget quarters. A pillowcase from your room is great for hauling laundry to and from the laundromat.
Take a scrub brush and small bottle of dishwashing soap.
If you’ve got kids with bottles, sippy cups, snack containers, spoons...you’re going to want to wash them. I was completely packed for a trip when Shannon visited Utah with her baby and pulled out a bottle brush and travel container of soap to clean her bottles. It sounds obvious, but it hadn’t occurred to me until that moment and it was wonderful to be able to give cups a good scrub in my hotel room.
Take Two Plastic/Waterproof Fabric Bibs
I like Bumpkins SuperBib they have a pocket to catch crumbs, they are machine washable, but also clean up really well by running water over them in a sink. With two, you’ll always have a dry one waiting for the next meal.
Plum Dispensing Spoon by boon
This little spoon attachment was a lifesaver. I did travel with a bowl and spoon, but I relied on this spoon/baby food pouch combo when we were feeding the baby while on the go. This has turned out to be pretty handy for everyday use too, not just while traveling.
CleanWell Hand Sanitizer
I like clean hands, but I don’t like chemicals on my kids and alcohol-based santizers. I have been using CleanWell for years and I swear by the stuff. The orange-vanilla scent is wonderful. I have one in every bag...and two in my car.
Disposable Changing Pads
You are going to encounter some less than charming changing tables in your travels. Get a pack of disposable changing pads for your trip and save the nice pad that matches your diaper bag for less far-flung trips. Like to Target.
Eagle Creek Packing Cubes
I have a few of these double-sided packing cubes and I love them. They are perfect for packing small clothing like socks and undies for grownups, or toddler and baby clothing. No more wayward onsies floating around the bag.
*I wasn’t compensated by any of the brands that I mentioned. All of my recommendations came from my own experience using products that I’ve purchased myself.