Since our children were born, we push ourselves to take a few trips a year with them. When you live in Minnesota, this is really one of the only ways to get any sun. We often joke that Minnesotans have to endure 8 months of winter. Sadly, it isn’t too far from the truth. In any case, through our frequent trips to the warmer climates, we have amassed a few tricks to help the trip go smoother. One of the biggest time and stress savers for us is a packing list for every member of our family. Ironically, the smallest people have the longest lists! Keep reading for tips on what to pack with and a free packing list you can customize for your family.
Carry-on Essentials with Babies
I have learned that there are things that we need to make sure to have on hand and easily accessible while others can be packed and stowed away until we get to our destination.
For example, we always pack at least one extra set of clothes for each child. Luckily they could wear each other’s clothes so if we forget, we are fine. But you know that day you fail to take an extra set, is the day your child gets the blow-out to rule all blow-outs. It’s a whole other level of fun. Trust me.
Diapers, diapers, and more diapers
When our children were in diapers, we made sure to have one diaper for every 2 hours of travel. I have heard others suggest 1 per hour, but in my opinion that only applies to very young babies. Ultimately, you know your child best.
Definitely have enough baby wipes with you! We use them to wipe everything – hands, surfaces, butts, you name it. We also have a travel size sanitizer. The ones you get in the sample aisle often come with hooks/holders to attach to the backpacks.
Nursing cover turned blanket
I always have something I can cover with (super useful when you’re nursing) or lay my child on for diaper changes. I’ve taken my nursing cover, a few muslin blankets, or just used my jeans jacket that I wore for all these purposes successfully. So no need to overthink here. I have even had to use these items to stuff under an elbow that needed support while holding a sleeping baby.
Pacis and lovies galore
Another on-hand essential is some sort of comfort item. This can be a lovey, a blanket, or a pacifier your baby is attached to or familiar with. If you have extras and they are small enough, I would even recommend two. I can’t tell you how many times we were able to avert a tantrum or a meltdown when a favorite lovey got wet or dirty by pulling out his twin!
A fed baby is a happy baby
Last, but not least, make sure to fill your carry-on up to the brim with snacks, water bottle, and more food items (assuming your babe is on solids). If not, you’ve got it easy. Just pack some alcohol. Kidding! We have found that for the kiddos pouches were always a hit and mess free. We also usually have some suckers on hand as backup for takeoffs and landings.
Packing the Suitcase
For all the other stuff to pack with you, below is a packing list we started using when our children were just infants. We have adjusted this list over time as they grew and our needs changed. I will also link it at the bottom of the post so you can download an Excel spreadsheet to use as you like. I highly recommend creating a packing list for each traveling family member. We have even created one for our dog Simba.
For general care:
- Changing pad
- Diapers and baby wipes
- Diaper rash cream (Aquaphor/A&D/Butt Paste/Vaseline)
- Lotion/hydrocortisone cream
- Children’s fever reducer
- Gripe water
- Children’s Benadryl
- Bug repellent
- Afterbite bug bite treatment
- Pump and/or manual pump and accessories
- Bottles, nipples, and milk bags
- Lanolin or another nipple ointment
- Breast pads (for leaking milk)
- Burp c
- Travel nursing pillow (if it’s a necessity for you)
- No-spill snack container
- Bib (we love these from Baby Bjorn)
- Some toys to have in the room and on the go
- Lay-flat stroller – great for naps
- Sun screen canopy for stroller
- Other stroller accessories
- Baby carrier or wrap
- Sleeping bag or swaddle
- Familiar crib sheet
- Waterproof crib pad
- Lovey (take extras if possible)
- Sound machine
- Baby monitor
- Swim diapers – disposable
- Swim diapers – reusable
- Rash guards
- Sun screen
- Beach toys and bucket
- Baby shoes – not a necessity if they aren’t walking though
- Baby Birth Certificate (make copies and store in different places)
- Insurance cards
- Copy of your packing list
- Necessary medications
- Small and large zipper storage bags (Ziplock)
- Car seat, if you expect to travel by one a lot
- Doorway jumper
- Small fold-flat bouncer (we have taken this one everywhere!!!)
- Mosquito net for stroller (if you expect many bugs)
- Baby utensils
- Swim vest and/or swim float with canopy
- Baby sunglasses
For older children:
- Tablet (ex: iPad) and protective cover (we use this one)
- Volume limiting headphones (these are great!)
- Sticker books and travel activities for plane
- Neck pillow for airplane
- Swimming goggles
- Water bottle/thermos
Sleeping Arrangements on Trip
One last note: consider your sleeping situation when packing for the trip. If you expect to stay at a hotel, make sure to call ahead and ask for a crib or a pack and play, assuming your child will need one. These always come with clean bedding, but I do prefer to take a familiar sheet to drape over the mattress. If you will be staying with a friend or relative, perhaps they can borrow a portable crib. Otherwise, you may need to purchase one. There are plenty of options available for every budget. Honestly, the only crucial thing is that they are easy to carry, set-up, and fold. We absolutely loved ours and used it with both kids plenty of times. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s on the higher end of the budget, but in our opinion worth every penny.
Free Packing List
Without further ado, I am linking a list our family uses every time we pack for a vacation or holiday. As I’ve said above, we add columns for adult as well, but you should be able to customize it for your family and needs. Thanks for reading and feel free to comment below if you feel I left anything out! Learning from each other is what we’re here for!