Those of you reading this blog more often already know Frank and I had a baby boy in July 2018 which we recently took on his first trip to Greece. Despite being seasoned travelers I was a bit nervous about our first family trip. First of all: how would D. behave on the plane? And secondly: what do I need to pack?
When Frank and I were backpacking around the globe in 2015 and on our yearlong trip in 2017, I had a very organised but minimal packing list. We both carried a big backpack and a small day-pack which easily fitted everything we needed. But… how to pack when traveling with a baby? I didn’t have a clue!
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Traveling with a baby: what to pack
Our first trip was a bit of trial and error, there were several items I packed but didn’t need (I really didn’t need to pack an entire pack of diapers, turns out they sell these in Greece too;-), but also items I wish I brought with me (like a manual breast pump).
In order to help you prepare for your first trip with your baby, I have asked experienced family travelers and bloggers which item they never travel without when going on a family vacation. Read on for the complete packing list for baby’s first trip!
The ultimate baby travel packing list
Items to pack for your baby’s health when traveling
First and foremost, we care about our baby’s health. If your baby gets sick when traveling, the last thing you want is having to look for a pharmacy in a strange city. Therefore, be sure to pack these items!
Baby first aid kit
Shari from Diary of a SoCal Mama never travels without a first aid kit for baby.
“Being exposed to new places and new germs could cause your baby to get sick. Be sure to pack a little first aid kit for your baby and include your pediatrician’s phone number, as well as the after-hours nurse line, in case your baby gets sick while you’re away from home.
Your first aid kit should include things like nail clippers (if you aren’t flying), baby Tylenol (read more below), Nose Frida or another nasal aspirator, diaper cream, baby thermometer and gripe water or gas drops in case of an upset tummy.
Don’t forget to include some nipple cream for yourself if you’re breastfeeding! Avoid having to make a late night trip to a pharmacy to buy these things. Packing a baby first aid kit for your trip will save you time, money, an Uber ride and give you extra peace of mind.”
“One item I would highly recommend that every parent takes on a first trip is baby paracetamol. You can buy it in a variety of different bottle sizes, including 100ml so you can get it through airport security. You can even get it in little 5ml sachets; while this isn’t as cost effective, it saves you from lugging a large and heavy bottle around.
If you do go for the sachets, remember to bring a little spoon or syringe as (speaking from experience!). Trying to get sticky paracetamol down an unhappy baby’s throat is quite difficult if you’re just trying to squeeze it directly from the packet down their throat…
And a final note – always read and follow the instructions/information on the leaflet supplied with the medicine, especially if this is the first time your baby has been given paracetamol.”
Items to pack for baby’s sleep/nap time when traveling
Sleeping at a strange place can be difficult for your baby. Luckily, there are several items you can bring on your family trip to make falling asleep easier for your baby.
“Having your own crib can help baby sleep so much better and makes travel less stressful so I see it as essential. Often hotels do have cribs available, but this is never guaranteed and the quality can be questionable especially if you are traveling internationally.
I recommend the Phil & Teds Portable Traveller Crib: it is compact, light to carry and a comfortable crib for a baby. If you are going in a car you can take a pack-n-play, but for plane travel the size of these tend not to be practical and a dedicated travel crib works better.”
Pro-tip: it can be smart to get your baby used to the travel crib before your trip, set it up at home and let your baby take his or her naps in the crib for a week or so. This way, the travel crib will soon feel (more) familiar to your baby and he or she will fall asleep more easily.
Video baby monitor
Katrina from Mama’s Organized Chaos considers her video monitor an essential item when traveling with her baby.
“When I first got pregnant, I’d decided we didn’t need a video monitor, or even a regular one for that matter. Our house was small enough that we’d be able to hear our baby. However, we ended up finding a video monitor for a great price and decided to give it a shot. I fell in love and now I even travel with it!
We prioritize sleep in our house big time, and in my experience a baby that can see you is a baby that doesn’t sleep very well, because he or she is distracted.
So when in a hotel, we create a nice cozy spot for our baby with zero visibility of mama and daddy. We use the closet, the bathroom, or a little nook with a blanket hung up, whatever works. And, in order to be able to see the baby and make sure the baby is sleeping, we set up the video monitor.
We stick to our baby schedules, we use routines, and we give our baby the best set up possible for sleep. Because a well-rested baby, is a happy baby!”
Baby monitor app
“One item we always make sure to have when we travel with a baby or toddler is a baby monitor app on our devices. We typically try to stay in Airbnb apartments or hotels where we can have a separate room and want to have the comfort of knowing that we can check in on baby at any time.
Even if we end up sharing a hotel room, we like to escape to the balcony and use the app to make sure our baby is asleep before we go back in the room. We also use the Baby Monitor 3G app when we are away from home for a sleepover, for example at grandma’s house.”
Marta from Learning Escapes also has a favorite family travel gadget, one she uses extensively when travelling with her babies.
“We learned about portable travel blinds for use in the house, but quickly realized that they were an excellent item to carry when away too. Particularly in situations when we had little control over the brightness of hotel rooms or rental apartments.
Portable blinds are designed to be lightweight and easy to fold. The blinds operate with suction cups that stick to glass surfaces and don’t leave any marks, so you don’t have to worry about asking for permission or damaging surfaces.
They are excellent to keep out excess light, we found them especially useful for naps in the middle of the day and in countries that have extended hours of daylight. Something that makes it harder for your little one to fall asleep, especially when he or she is used to dark environments and predictable bedtimes.”
White noise machine
“Our Marpac Rohm portable white sound machine is compact and battery-operated, which makes it easy to travel with. It has an excellent battery life that has lasted us for days. Our baby sleeps with it on vacations, but we also use it in the car and even the baby carrier when she takes naps out and about.
The machine comes with three sound options, and its adjustable volume options range from very low to very high (which is excellent on city trips when outside noise can be a big issue). The volume can go up much higher than the traditional, plug-in white noise machines that we have used at home.
Overall, this is one of our favorite baby items, and we cannot imagine traveling the world (or even our hometown) without it.”
Items to pack to get around with your baby when traveling
There are several ways to get baby around when traveling, read along for travel tips from experienced moms and dads!
Travel-worthy car seat
Melissa from The Family Voyage never travels anywhere without a proper car seat for her kids.
“One of the most important things to pack on your first trip with a baby is a good travel-worthy car seat. Airplane seat belts are designed to restrain passengers 40lbs and up, taxis rarely offer car seats, and rental car companies are notorious for providing the wrong type of car seat. Therefore, your best option is to bring a car seat that you know and trust with your child’s life.
Obviously a car seat is important as a safety device and having one that’s lightweight and easy-to-lug can be the difference between a back-breaking, sweat-inducing trip that makes you want to stay home for the next five years and cruising through your flights like the seasoned pro you’ll soon become!For young babies the simplest choice is to bring an infant car seat (capsule). Once you child outgrows that seat, there are many choices available and the best option is unique to each family’s budget and specific needs, you can read more about the right travel car seat for your child here.
Car seat trolley
“A car seat trolley is an absolute must for traveling with babies. As a full-time traveling single momma of 3, I often have my hands full and car seats can be (very) heavy.
Getting a car seat trolley was an absolute game changer! I can put my little one in the car seat attached to the trolley and basically use it as a stroller throughout the airport.
I can’t believe we traveled for a year without one. Gone are the days of trying to lug around a super heavy car seat! My little one loves riding around in it, and it makes getting through the airport so much easier.”
We have been travelling with our daughter since she was a small baby and found a quality baby carrier one of the best items to travel with. The type of carrier depends on the sort of travel you do will, but we found just a simple sling worked well for us.
Having a baby carrier or sling is not only great for using once at your destination, but also perfect for on the plane. I felt much more secure having my daughter in the sling when on the plane. I had my hands free to read a book and also knew she was secured if I happened to drift off to sleep.
We traveled a lot to South East Asia with our daughter when she was a baby, and the pavements there are not always well suited to strollers. So having a sling made it easy to carry her around during a day of sightseeing.
“One of the most essential items we bought for our baby’s first trip was an umbrella stroller. It is very light, portable, easy to use and folds away very quickly, while providing sufficient support for a child over a few months old.
We decided to buy one for use in the airport and around our destination city. Before leaving we checked with our airline and airport (Qantas, Heathrow) whether or not we could take the umbrella stroller through to the departure gate, and were delighted to find we could!
We were then able to retrieve our stroller just after leaving the aircraft at our destination, and use it to push our little fellow down to baggage retrieval. This made such a big difference to us! We were able to transport him around the airport easily and quickly, with the minimum of effort. Otherwise we would have had to carry him for two hours before boarding.
Note: the Babyzen YoYo stroller is accepted as cabin luggage by most airlines, making it even easier to travel with your baby!
Items to pack in your diaper bag when traveling with your baby
A great backpack/diaper bag
“There are a lot of essential items to take on baby’s first trip and you need something great to carry them all in. A carry-on sized backpack makes it easy to have your little ones must-haves with you at all times. And, since it is a comfortable backpack, you have both hands free to push a stroller or hold a hand. You can even use a good travel backpack with a baby carrier!
We used Osprey’s Porter travel backpack when our kids were little, and the great thing is, we still use it today. The U-shaped opening makes it easy to access everything and the compression straps cinch the pack down to make it more compact.
Portable changing mat
“A changing mat that is small enough to pack is essential when travelling with a baby. We always used one for changing our babies in public areas and especially on hotel beds to keep everything clean and orderly. Ours had little pockets where we would always store a small packet of wipes, nappy bag and a spare nappy. When a nappy change was needed, we could just grab the one item and the task was so simple.
The mat had velcro ties so was really easy to store in a carry bag or under the stroller. It also doubled as a play mat at times or something to sit on if the ground was wet! As the photo shows, it was even a headrest for their father at times!”
“Muslin cloths are an essential for us when travelling with our baby. We never understood why so many parents recommended muslin cloths until our baby arrived and now those light sheets of muslin accompany us everywhere!
Muslin cloths are super versatile and we use them for everything from burping the baby and covering surfaces to protecting cloths during feeding. They’ve saved many outfit changes on our travels and are super absorbent for spillages on the go.
They also pack up small (so you can fit in a few extras for flights) and are easy to hand-wash when laundry facilities are scarce.”
(A lot of) pacifiers and pacifier wipes
“There are many things you should pack when taking your baby for a trip for the first time, however, pacifiers and pacifier wipes are the number one on my list! You can buy more diapers, wipes, clothes, but a pacifier your baby loves can be a lifesaver that can’t be easily found in every city. I learned from my own experience that some stores simply don’t carry the brand your baby likes and babies can be picky, especially when traveling!
I usually have several pacifiers in the diaper bag, so if my baby drops one on the floor or I can’t find one, I can just pull out another one from my bag. Another item I always carry are pacifier wipes. They are great for traveling when access to water and soap might be limited and you can’t just clean the pacifier like you would at home.”
“Everyone who travels knows how important it is to keep your stuff organized and the same goes for your diapers! How often do you have to hunt for those illusive diapers you’re positive you stuffed somewhere in that overfull day-pack or carry-on?
Now imagine you have your diapers in a brightly colored and easy to find diaper pouch, together with the wipes. No more loose diapers cluttering your bag and it’ll become routine to stock your diaper pouch so you’re never without. Very practical to change your little one on the go.
We always used to carry our diapers this way during our travels. Our son’s diaper pouch became an essential item in our day-packs and we never left without it!”
Extra set of clothes
Sandra from The Smarter Writer has a great tip based on her own not so great first flight with her baby: besides carrying an extra outfit for your baby make sure to pack an extra set of clothes for yourself in your carry-on baggage as well!
“If there’s anything worse than a 9-hour flight with a baby, it’s a 9-hour flight with a baby who covered you in vomit. Or poo. Or worse. Actually, I don’t think it could get worse than that…
Most parents will pack extra clothes for their baby, but often forget to pack an extra t-shirt and leggings or pants for themselves in their carry-on baggage.
Even now that my son is older (and isn’t prone to throwing up, plus has the aim of a Korean archer when it comes to doing his business in the loo) I still pack an extra shirt and leggings for myself, just in case…
He is prone to spilling drinks or accidentally knocking his meal in the direction of my lap. Long flights are hideous enough as it is and the last thing I want to deal with is being uncomfortable in soggy clothes.
Extra clothes are also a must in case something goes wrong with your checked baggage at the other end. Even if you don’t use your extra clothes on the plane, you might need them to freshen up while you wait for your bags to show up.”
Items to pack to feed your baby when traveling
Feeding your baby while traveling can be a challenge. You want to provide your baby with healthy food, clean bottles and you don’t want to make a mess in (fancy) restaurants with s squirmy baby on your lap. Here are several items to make your life easier when feeding your baby on a holiday!
“Silicone bibs are amazing because they have a handy lip that catches even the goopiest of foods. They are super easy to wipe and clean, even in small cruise ship sinks. After our first big trip with our 10-month-old son to Paris we were so glad that we brought two of these clever little bibs.
We were often eating in classy Michelin rated restaurants and this item made it possible to have little to no mess and easy clean up (and sometimes the restaurant would happily do it for us!). We have since traveled all over the US and around the world with these bibs and we’d never leave home without them!”
A travel chair harness
“One of our travel essentials when travelling with a baby is our chair harness. This clever, compact piece of kit can turn almost any chair into a safe seat for your baby.
This is great when you are travelling as you never know whether the restaurants will have proper baby high chairs or not, with this harness you have your own alternative to having them on your lap throughout the meal.
It is ideal for babies that are able to sit on their own but are not yet too mobile, in our case this was around 8 months to just over 1 year. A fairly short time period but it proved invaluable on our trip to Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
The harness is also great for taking to friends houses as they are unlikely to have spare high chairs.”
Microwave sterilizer bags
Ketki of Dotted Globe has a clever travel item for your baby’s first trip as well.
“I highly recommend packing microwave steam sterilizer bags while traveling with younger children. Each of these bags can be used more than once to sterilize baby bottles and parts. However, I have also used them to sterilize everything from pacifiers to sippy cups while traveling with my kids.
The bags are lightweight, simple to use, and I can easily fit a few in my purse making them perfect even for day trips. I have used them to sterilize baby bottles in hotel rooms, coffee shops and AirBnBs. They have been lifesavers while vacationing with my bottle fed baby and have helped me ensure that only clean bottles and accessories are going in my baby’s mouth!”
A small cooler box
Jessy from Planet Pilgrims highly recommends to pack a small cooler box for family trips.
“When I took my first road trip with my daughter for an overnight trip, I’d just adopted her for about a week and she was about 4 months old. We live in South Africa and December is one of the hottest months. Of course I wanted this road trip to go as smooth as possible. Having bottles with formula ready to hand to the back of the car seemed a logical thing to do.
I’m so glad I had a small cooler box that I could keep on the front seat so it was easy for me to reach. The cooler box kept all the bottles all cool and clean during our journey. Now that she’s much older I still use this cooler box to keep all the snacks for road trips.”
Manually-operated baby food maker
“It’s a great idea to bring manually-operated baby food maker. For parents who like to travel and still want to give their babies fresh and unprocessed foods even when on the go, a portable baby food maker is a must.
With this item you won’t have to worry if you have enough food for your little one when traveling. Just buy some fresh fruits or veggies in a (super)market and mash them up. Voila, fresh, healthy and cheap food for the baby!”
Items to pack to keep your baby entertained when traveling
One thing several mums agree upon: it’s very important to keep your baby occupied when traveling! Depending on the preference of your baby, you may want to consider bringing one of the toys described below.
The Dingly Dangly Donkey
“Our favorite item for baby’s first trip is the Dingly Dangly Donkey toy by Playgro, as it has entertained our daughter from newborn to 9 months and she stills loves it. Donkey provides hours of entertainment and is visually stimulating to babies as the toy has bright colors and patterns and engages babies visual perception skills.
The toy engages babies sensory needs as well as there is a squeaker inside and the feet acts as rattles. It’s soft and has many different parts for baby to grab on to.
My favorite part is that the toy is attached to a large clip that makes it easy to move, we have had it clipped to strollers, car seats, play pens, hospital beds, plane seats and many more places. The toy is also compact making it a great toy to travel with, this is hands down my favorite baby toy.”
Baby’s favorite blankie
If your baby has a special attachment to a blankie, be sure to pack this for your family trip! Ingrid from Fabulous and Fun Life experienced firsthand how much it can upset your baby (and potentially ruin your holiday) if you forget to bring your baby’s comforting item…
“What ever you do, don’t forget to pack your baby’s favorite blankie that they cuddle to comfort themselves with before falling asleep!
On our first trip away with my daughter we did forgot to pack her favorite blankie. All the way to our destination she was unsettled, which we put down to her not enjoying the journey. But after an extremely unsettled night for her, us and probably the neighboring villas too, we realized we had forgotten her special blankie.
Luckily my brother was joining us at our destination the next day and was able to pick up the forgotten blankie for us and bring it with him. The second and subsequent nights were much more peaceful and never have I forgotten the special blankies again!”
New multi-sensory toy
When taking baby on a trip, Mary Beth from MB Sees recommends bringing along a toy your baby hasn’t seen before to keep him or her occupied.
“My pick for the best item for baby’s first trip would be a brand new (well, new to the baby) multi-sensory toy. When we took our son on his first flight, we brought along a stuffed octopus toy he’d never seen before that had bright colors, multiple textures, and a different accessory on each leg. After he got tired of playing with his familiar toys, the octopus kept him busy for hours!
There were rattles to shake, rings to grasp and, most importantly, there was a mirror to look into. The accessories completely captivated our son’s attention and his reflection mesmerized him to no end. He played quietly for the entire flight!
Pro tip: don’t punish yourself, or your fellow passengers… get one with lots of activities, but not with noises and music!”
Other essential items to pack when traveling with your baby
“We recently traveled overseas with our (then) 6-month-old and 2-year-old. One of the best items we packed for our first trip with our babies were packing cubes! We used the cubes both in our checked and carry-on luggage, to help us stay organised.
With the packing cubes, we were able to keep things separate and easy to grab. This is especially convenient when you quickly need to find something on a flight. For example, we had one cube for nappies and wipes. So if we needed to change a nappy, we could just grab the cube and head straight to the bathroom.
Another cube held all our snacks and yet another was filled with all the items to entertain our toddler. We also used the cubes in our checked bags to stay organised!”
“I like to attach a toy to each end to make it easy to find the toys in my diaper bag, and also to prevent them from rolling down the aisle on a plane or train.
You can also use one to tether a bottle, pacifier, sippy cup, toy or even food pouch to your baby carrier, stroller or high chair to prevent them from going overboard.
When traveling with kids, it’s easy to overpack or lose things along the way. This is one essential that will actually help you keep tabs on your other essentials!”
“Choose sturdy ones that seal well and they can be used over and over again. A large zip lock bag is the perfect vessel for sterilizing bottles or pacifiers on the go, fill with water and add a Milton tablet.
Ziplock bags can also be used like packing cells to sort and separate when you are packing, keep socks in one, undergarments in another and charger cables organised in another. Use the bags to protect important documents and passports from the inevitable spills that you have when travelling with kids.
I always have a couple on hand around meal times, to store some left-over fruit, vegetable sticks or bread rolls for you or baby to munch on later. The food will stay fresh and take up less room than bulky containers.
Finally, ziplock bags are perfect for sealing away soiled clothes to be washed later or a dirty nappy that is going to stink out the hotel room. I wouldn’t be without them!”
Mosquito net for buggy
“A mosquito net is a thin mesh material which is elasticated around the edges to slip comfortably over a babies buggy. The net is breathable and see-through, so you can still see your baby inside. You can also use it for baby’s bassinet or travel cot on a night.
I bought one for my 4-month old baby when we were travelling to Mallorca in the hot summer months. Turned out we didn’t need it, but it was still a comfort to know that nothing could fly in to her buggy and bite or sting her whilst she was sleeping!”
Waterproof baby sling
“Wondering how you are going to bath your newborn while traveling? It is entirely possible to take a portable bathtub, but an easier option might be to bring a waterproof baby sling. It is much more compact and you simply put it over your head, put your baby in and step into the shower. A waterproof baby is made from a lightweight mesh fabric, this way it dries easily.
As an added bonus you can use it in the swimming pool or on the beach as well. Put your baby in the sling and you can play in the water while keeping your hands free for their siblings.
The waterproof sling is a multi-functional item that you definitely want on your baby’s-firs trip packing list.”
A camera (to snap baby’s first travel shots)
Chontelle from Mum’s Little Explorers recommends bringing a great camera to take plenty of pictures of your baby’s first holiday.
“If you are heading away for your baby’s first trip, one important thing that you can’t forget to bring is a camera to capture those precious moments! Whether it is the first road trip, first train ride, or first flight, those milestone photos of your little one will be something to look back on in years to come.
Of course your phone can do the same job, however you’ll want high quality photos that are going to last and a good camera is always going to be best to capture those memories!”
Chalk board or letter board
Rachel from The Analytical Mommy has a great idea to make the pics of your first family trip even more memorable.
“One of the most fun items you can bring with you on your baby’s first trip is a chalkboard or letter board! During those first few adventures, your baby will get a chance to see some amazing new sights and I’m sure you want to document them, right?
A chalkboard or letter board is small and light enough to carry almost anywhere, and will let you take some of the cutest baby photos ever! Imagine sitting your little one in front of the Eiffel Tower with a little chalkboard next to them saying something like ‘First ride up the Eiffel Tower – 7 Months Old’.
Now imagine having 5 or 10 of those that you can frame showing your baby’s first few trips? I plan to do this with my 3rd!”
If you pack these baby holiday essentials, I’m sure you are well prepared for your first trip as a family.
And while I found traveling with a baby definitely very different than backpacking with my husband, I absolutely loved it! It’s just great to explore exciting new places with the people you love, be it your partner, children, parents or friends. You can download this baby travel packing list below, happy travels!