Smooth Sailing: Essential Tips for Stress-Free Traveling with Toddlers and Babies

Picture this: You've got your suitcases packed, your itinerary all planned out, and you're eagerly anticipating your upcoming travel adventure. But there's one significant difference this time – you're not just navigating the excitement of exploring a new destination; you're also taking on the exhilarating (and sometimes daunting) challenge of traveling with toddlers or babies in tow.

We understand that traveling with toddlers and babies can be tricky, and that's why we've gathered the best tips and strategies to ensure your journey is not only smooth but also filled with unforgettable moments of joy and discovery. 

Pre-Trip Preparation

Before you embark on your journey with your little ones, it's crucial to ensure that your pre-trip preparation is thorough and well-planned. In this section, we'll delve into the essential aspects of pre-trip preparation to set the stage for a stress-free adventure.


Baby Items Checklist for Travel

Clothing and Diapering

- Onesies, bodysuits, and tops (several changes per day) - Pants and shorts - Sleepwear (consider weather-appropriate options) - Socks and booties - Sun hat or winter hat, depending on the season - Swimsuit (if applicable) - Jacket or sweater - Bibs - Burp cloths - Diapers (estimate based on your travel duration) - Baby wipes - Changing pad - Diaper rash cream - Plastic bags for soiled diapers - Potty training supplies (if applicable)


- Baby formula (if applicable) or breast pump - Bottles and nipples - Insulated bottle carrier - Baby food (if your child has started solids) - Snacks (age-appropriate) - Sippy cups or bottles with spill-proof lids - Baby spoons and forks - Bottle brush and dish soap - Bibs

Sleep and Comfort

- Portable crib or travel bassinet (if not provided by accommodation) - Fitted crib sheets or sleeping bag - Blankets or swaddle blankets - Stuffed animals or loveys for comfort - Baby monitor (if needed) - Nightlight (if your child is afraid of the dark)

Health and Safety

- First-aid kit (band-aids, antiseptic wipes, thermometer, infant pain reliever, any prescribed medications) - Baby sunscreen (age-appropriate) - Baby insect repellent (if traveling to mosquito-prone areas) - Childproofing supplies (outlet covers, cabinet locks, etc., if necessary) - Child identification (ID bracelet or card with contact information) - Car seat (if you're renting a car or using transportation that requires it) - Stroller or baby carrier - Baby gate (if you have a mobile toddler) - Baby Proofing items for the accommodation (socket protectors, corner guards)

Entertainment and Comfort

- Age-appropriate toys and books - Coloring books and crayons - Favorite stuffed animals or comfort items - Portable DVD player or tablet with headphones (for longer journeys) - Baby-friendly music or lullabies

Documentation and Travel Essentials

- Passport and visas (if traveling internationally) - Identification for your child (birth certificate or passport) - Travel insurance information - Medical records and vaccination certificates - Prescriptions and necessary medications - Travel itinerary and tickets - Travel-sized toiletries (baby shampoo, soap, lotion) - Baby laundry detergent (if needed) - Travel-sized baby bathtub (if your accommodation doesn't provide one)

Packing Essentials

Baby/Toddler Travel Gear: When it comes to traveling with babies and toddlers, the right gear can make all the difference. Start by making a checklist of must-have items such as strollers, car seats, baby carriers, and travel cribs. Opt for lightweight, collapsible versions whenever possible to save space and make transportation easier.

Clothing and Diapering Supplies: Pack enough clothing for your little ones, considering the weather at your destination. It's always a good idea to include extra outfits, as babies and toddlers can be messy travelers. Don't forget essentials like baby wipes, diapers, and diaper-changing supplies. Ziplock or scented bags can come in handy for storing dirty diapers until you can find a trash can.

Comfort Items: Familiar items from home can provide comfort and security for your child during travel. Pack their favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or pacifier to ease any anxiety they might experience in new environments.

Group of girls wearing different princess dresses

Fun New Items: It can also really help to bring along some newer items for your child to be excited about. For example, if you’re going on a magical theme park vacation, a brand-new princess dress would be perfect! If you’re going on a pirate-themed cruise, a cute pirate costume is great. Maybe a fun new pair of light-up shoes, a purse, or a new doll could be a fun addition that your little one can get excited about using on their vacation.


Passports, IDs, and Tickets: Ensure that all necessary travel documents are up to date and in order. This includes passports for your children if you're traveling internationally, identification cards, and all flight or train tickets. Check the specific requirements of your destination regarding child identification, as these can vary.

Medical Records and Prescriptions: It's always wise to carry a copy of your child's medical records, especially if they have any pre-existing conditions or allergies. Additionally, if your child requires medication, pack an ample supply and carry a prescription from your healthcare provider to avoid any issues with security checks.

Accommodation Selection

Baby/Toddler-Friendly Accommodations: Choosing the right accommodation can significantly impact your trip's comfort and convenience. Look for hotels, resorts, or vacation rentals that explicitly cater to families with babies and toddlers. These accommodations often provide amenities like cribs, baby-proofing options and even on-site childcare services.

Room Safety Measures: Once you've chosen your accommodation, take a moment to inspect the room for potential hazards. Ensure that outlets are covered, sharp objects are out of reach and any potential choking hazards are removed or secured. If your child is old enough to explore, consider bringing portable baby gates to block off unsafe areas.

By focusing on these pre-trip preparations, you're setting the stage for a successful and enjoyable adventure with your little ones. 

Travel-Day Strategies

Girls holding hands and wearing flower crowns

The key to a smooth start to your trip lies in strategic planning and preparation. In this section, we'll explore essential travel-day strategies that will help you kick off your journey on the right foot.

Timing is Everything

Timing is crucial when traveling with little ones. Consider their natural rhythms, such as nap and meal times, when planning your departure. Some parents prefer night flights or early morning departures to coincide with sleep schedules, while others opt for mid-morning or mid-afternoon departures to avoid disrupting routines too much.

Additionally, research your destination's time zone and plan accordingly. Gradually adjust your child's schedule a few days before departure if necessary to minimize the impact of jet lag.

Regardless of your mode of transportation, arriving early can relieve much of the travel-day stress. This extra time allows you to navigate check-in, security, and boarding at a more leisurely pace. It also provides a buffer for unexpected delays or last-minute needs.

Carry-On Essentials

Diaper Bag Must-Haves: Your diaper bag is your lifeline during travel. Ensure it's stocked with all the essentials, including diapers, wipes, a changing pad, disposable bags, and diaper cream. Pack extra clothing for your child in case of spills or accidents, and don't forget to include any medication or specialized items they may need.

Pro tip: Keep the diaper bag organized with labeled compartments to locate items quickly, especially in high-stress moments.

Entertainment and Snacks: Long journeys can test a child's patience. To keep them engaged, pack a variety of age-appropriate toys, books, and activities. Consider bringing headphones for electronic devices to minimize noise disturbance to fellow travelers.

Snacks are also a lifesaver during travel. Pack a mix of healthy snacks your child enjoys, as well as some special treats for added comfort.

In-Transit Survival

As your travel adventure continues, the in-transit phase is where careful planning can turn a potentially challenging journey into a pleasant experience for both you and your little ones. Here, we'll explore strategies to keep your toddlers and babies comfortable, well-fed, rested, and entertained while on the move. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Breastfeeding/Formula Feeding: If you're breastfeeding, consider nursing your baby during takeoffs as well as landings to help with ear pressure changes. For formula-fed babies, pre-portion powdered formula into separate containers for convenience. Most airlines and trains can provide hot water for mixing. Remember to bring enough bottles, sterilized if necessary, and extra feeding supplies for the duration of your trip.
  • Baby Food and Snacks: For older babies and toddlers, packing a variety of their favorite snacks is a wise choice. Keep in mind that certain foods may be restricted when traveling internationally due to customs regulations, so research these rules beforehand. Portable, non-perishable baby food pouches are also convenient for on-the-go meals.
  • Creating a Comfortable Sleeping Environment: Ensuring your child gets adequate rest during the journey is essential. If your child is still in the crib stage, consider using a portable travel crib that can be set up in your accommodation and at your destination. Bring along familiar bedding or blankets to create a cozy sleep environment. If you're on a long flight or train ride, request a bassinet in advance to allow your baby to sleep comfortably.
  • Nap Schedules: Try to stick to your child's usual nap schedule as closely as possible. If it's nap time during travel, create a dark and quiet space using a stroller's canopy or a travel-friendly sleep mask to help your child fall asleep. A well-rested child is more likely to stay content and cooperative during the journey.
  • Age-Appropriate Toys and Activities: Packing a selection of toys and activities tailored to your child's age and interests is key to keeping them engaged. Simple, portable toys like board books, coloring books, and soft plush toys can work wonders in preventing boredom. Don't forget a few surprise toys that you can introduce when enthusiasm starts to wane.
  • Screen Time Moderation: While electronic devices with age-appropriate apps and shows can be a valuable distraction, moderation is key. Use screen time strategically, saving it for moments when your child needs maximum distraction or relaxation. Be sure to bring headphones for your child to avoid disturbing fellow travelers.

By addressing feeding, sleep, and entertainment needs during transit, you can make your journey as enjoyable as the destination itself.

Safety First

5 babies on a bed in a row

When exploring the world with your baby or toddler, ensuring their safety and well-being is paramount. As we mentioned, taking proactive measures to childproof your hotel room can significantly reduce potential hazards. 

In addition, maintaining health and hygiene is equally crucial. Hand sanitization becomes your ally in preventing the spread of germs, particularly during travel. Portable hand sanitizer bottles can be stashed in your diaper bag for quick and easy access. 

Also, staying prepared for unexpected health concerns is essential. Carrying basic medications for your toddler, such as fever reducers or pain relievers, can offer comfort in times of need. Consider downloading pediatrician-on-call apps to access professional advice when away from home. Always consult a healthcare provider for guidance on any medical issues that may arise during your travels. By prioritizing safety and health precautions, you can embark on your family adventures with confidence and peace of mind.

In the thrilling journey of traveling with toddlers and babies, meticulous planning and thoughtful preparation emerge as your trusted companions. As you venture forth, armed with the knowledge and strategies shared in this guide, may your travels be marked by memorable experiences, laughter, and the joy of watching your little ones explore the world with wide-eyed wonder.