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Ready to hit the road or the runway? Road trips with toddlers can be stressful. However, a few helpful items can be instrumental in making happy vacation memories!
Make sure you have these travel essentials to make your family trip safe, fun, and trouble-free. This is in addition to the obvious carry-on must haves you should bring like diapers and milk.
Most of the kid items here are intended for 2 years and older. If you have a younger child in tow, please adjust accordingly.
If you’re looking for gift ideas for the little traveler, read our recommendations here.
From headaches, allergic reaction to new food or even boo-boo’s or ouchies from exploring, I’m a traveling pharmacy. I’m not a fan of stopping at pharmacies or stores in unfamiliar towns or countries. So, I always pack these over-the-counter (OTC) remedies. Also, do not take this as medical advice. Always consult your doctor or your pediatrician especially if you have infants with you.
Let’s say we were not able to prevent this from happening. You’d be happy to have the Carebag Vomit Bag with you when that happens. It has an absorbent pad at the bottom and it also deodorizes.
There is also a cheaper alternative to that, sans absorbent pad, but it still does the job and keeps the smell in the bag. I remember working in the hospital and we have something similar to these vomit bags. I wished I have unlimited supply of them at home. That’s how much I love them.
Bring extra clothes for yourself and the children too!
While the cardinal rule is to ALWAYS wash your hands, sometimes, you’re stuck in a situation where there is no accessible sink or soap.
That’s when a reliable alternative comes to place–the good ol’ hand sanitizer. A great example is Purell’s Travel Sanitizer bottles. It’s easy to carry on your person and it even has aloe, which helps to keep your hands moisturized. It smells nice too! It doesn’t leave a sticky residue in your hands.
And if that doesn’t appeal to you, there is also Purell’s Sanitizing Hand Wipes that comes individually wrapped. The only downside is having to dispose of them after every use.
Remember, nothing beats hand washing.
When you got to go, you have to go. When you have little ones, especially those that are still potty training, chances are, they can’t hold it in until the next stop. Thankfully, there’s OXO Tot 2-in-1 Go Potty for Travel . This is a well reviewed product in Amazon. It can both be used at home or when you’re on the go–may it be road trips, flights or trips to the mall. This folds up nicely and comes with a travel bag. It can be easily put away in your diaper bag. Some toddlers might be uncomfortable sitting on plastic bag that intends to wrapped over the seat (you can buy refills) but you can easily secure them underneath the seat instead of on it.
I know, I know. But those gadgets keeps everyone sane when waiting for that connecting flight in the airport. Just check on them often and make sure you’re still communicating with your kids and family. Try to play the games or watch movies with them.
If you want something not too pricy or don’t have an old iPad, there is also the 8GB Amazon Fire for $49.99 or 16GB Amazon Fire currently on sale for $59.99! It comes with apps as well and is WIFI-enabled. It’s a lot of tablet for its price!
Otherwise, you can use something like a kid activity tray like this one to keep them occupied.
Don’t forget to pack their favorite snacks! You can make or take your own and stick them in zip lock bags. When our son was younger, we were very happy with the Gerber Graduates line of snacks. There were canisters of corn snacks and puffs. I remember even tasting them before and they taste good!
Another portable snack I like are those squeezable apple sauce packs or yogurt packs. Kids also love gummy bears. A good alternative is Mott’s Fruit Snack Medley.
While you are at it, you might want to read the Top 5 Meals For Travelling With Picky Eaters.
For a road trip, this is a no brainer. However, flying, car seats will need a little more decision-making. You have to consider if it’s practical when traveling abroad. Some countries don’t require a car seat in cars.
We don’t intend bring one when we fly. It just goes against traveling lightly. It’s inconvenient for us to deal with possible damage or lost and even carrying it around. We would rather rent a car with one or buy a cheaper one in our destination. If you have a travel credit card, this expense counts towards your travel rewards.
Avis and Enterprise offer the cheapest price of car seat rental. Hertz offer free car seat if you’re an AAA member. SilverCar also offers free car seat to its customers and their fleet is all Audi.
You can also order online and have it shipped to your hotel (check for availability and fees) or pick it up from a nearby store like Target.
Like strollers, car seats travel free and are not counted towards your bag limit. Although, you have to check if your car seat is labeled as FAA certified, otherwise, flight attendants will not let you use them. If you’re going to be checking a car seat, I recommend using a bag like the JL Childress Gate Check Bag for Car Seat (rated for maybe 1 flight) or the Kidsy car seat bag to protect it from being damaged or soiled. For added protection, some parents suggested you can wrap your seats with bubble wrap.
A good option from dealing with a car seat in the plane is the CARES child travel harness. It’s FAA approved, lightweight, compact and only sells for $69.95. Once you land, you can use another compact alternative to the car seat (if you have kids over 40lbs), the mifold Grab-N-Go Car Booster Seat. It comes in different colors, very compact and cheap for only $39.99.
This is almost a given when traveling with kids. One advantage of having a stroller with you is that it can function as a cart for your diaper bag and your other bags. You need to buy one with a ample basket space.
For quick weekend getaways, we have an umbrella stroller like the Cosco Umbrella Stroller, which sells for $19.99 at Target. We have the diaper bag hanging on the handles. It folds up really well. Things I don’t like about it are: doesn’t recline, canopy is not enough to cover him from the sun (but you can always buy a good rain and shine canopy cover for that), doesn’t have cargo space at the bottom. However, it’s a good compact stroller for quick strolls.
There are a lot of choices for strollers. I strongly recommend traveling with the smallest one you can.
For our upcoming Disney trip, we bought the Kolcraft Cloud Plus Lightweight Stroller from Target. The red one is currently selling for $59.99, while the gray option is selling for $62.99. We like how it’s lighter than our Graco stroller but still reclines for those naps. It also has a lot of room in its basket.
Now, if you’re traveling by air, do you check in or gate check? You have to weigh your options. Strollers can be checked for free like car seats. You don’t have to worry about it until baggage claim in the destination but you have to carry your child in the airport. Consider this if you’re traveling to a large airport.
Meanwhile, the advantage of gate checking is you can use your stroller at your departure and arrival airports. The issue with this is it can sometimes take 15 minutes before it’s delivered and retrieved. That means being last in line at customs and immigration.
For both these options, a cover bag can make sure your stroller will be kept clean and secured. J.L Childress Stroller bags are a popular cheap option. They have one for umbrella strollers and for standard or double strollers. Even if they are sturdy, we know how airport personnel would flung your baggage. If the bag or your stroller rips, you can try to claim for baggage insurance through the airline or your credit card. This is why I would rather bring a cheaper stroller and bag for travel so it’s not too big of a ticket to worry about in case it does get damaged or delayed.
If you don’t mind having a stroller in the airport and you’re buying a new one anyway, you have the option to either buy the stroller at your destination or have it shipped directly to your hotel. Make sure you check for fees involving receiving and handling shipments with your hotel before you order anything. You can also pick it up from a store like Target near your destination.
Traveling with kids does make vacation planning much interesting. However, we stick to the original plan of having fun with the family. I shared my go-to list for traveling with kids. Did I miss anything? What are your must-brings when traveling with kids that you would like to share? Please share in the comment section below.
Are you looking into camping with your family? Read this awesome guide on camping with the kids and toddlers.