Traveling with toddlers can be a wild ride. You never know which version of your toddler that you’re going to get- they can be so unpredictable! Even the most well-behaved toddlers can surprise us with a meltdown at the worst possible time (usually in public, usually inconsolable. We’ve all been there.). Taking trips with your family can be such an amazing way to make memories, and while meltdowns may not be entirely preventable, there are definitely ways to make the trip a bit smoother. If you’re trying to figure out what to pack for a trip, I’m sharing a packing list full of the best travel essentials for toddlers so you can make the most of your vacation!
Make the Most of Your Family Vacation: 16 Travel Essentials for Toddlers
We love to take family trips with our toddler and baby. It can definitely get chaotic, but my favorite packing tip is to always come prepared! (If you’re bringing along a baby as well, read more baby sleep and travel tips.) Check out these travel essentials for toddlers for a safe, comfortable, and happy travel companion!
Different Factors that Can Influence Travel
Even though toddler meltdowns can sometimes feel like they’re out of the blue, there are many factors that can influence your little one’s temperament. Life happens and things aren’t always in our control, but keeping these factors in mind can help prevent the boat from rocking too much!
Sleep is (in my opinion) the most important factor in your toddler’s temperament. (And let’s be honest- yours too!) I’ve included a bunch of travel essentials for toddlers on this list for easy packing that will aid in better sleep. Hopefully, you and your family can get some high-quality REM while you’re away. If you haven’t tried sleep training, it’s life changing. I also have a whole blog post beyond this list about the best sleep products for toddlers.
The distance you’re traveling, if you’re going by train, car, plane, etc. all make a huge difference in how comfortable your toddler is. The key to a comfortable toddler is to make sure that they’re the right temperature, have enough cushioning to fall asleep if they’re able to, and aren’t bored, hungry, or thirsty. I always keep extra snacks in my bag!
If your toddler is accustomed to their routine, the disruption in that can be stressful for them. Try to maintain as much regularity as possible when it comes to bedtime. Keeping their bedtime routine consistent will give them a piece of home while they’re away. If you haven’t already established a bedtime routine with your toddler, there are a ton of benefits to starting one!
Sometimes, a metldown is just unavoidable. You could accommodate each and every request of your toddler, have a perfect day from start to finish, and still experience a meltdown. Hang in there- remember not to be too hard on yourself, you’re doing your best!
Ways to Prepare for the Best Trip Possible
Planning ahead is KEY to an enjoyable trip with little ones. Family vacations are such an exciting time to make new memories that your kids will remember for years to come. In addition to packing the travel essentials for toddlers, be sure these boxes are checked off before leaving to make the trip as smooth as possible.
Keep Weather in Mind
It may go without saying, but make sure to check the weather app ahead of time to pack the right clothes for your little ones. Even a sunny beach destination can be unseasonably cold! If you’re headed to a warm climate, check out these toddler and baby summer must-haves for some fun ideas to bring along!
Prevent any hangry outbursts by making sure everyone is well fed and keep snacks on hand. When we get too hungry, our brains stop functioning correctly- imagine how it feels for toddlers, who haven’t yet developed all of the necessary skills to practice self control and patience!
Long car or plane rides are a great opportunity for sleep- but don’t count on it! Make sure to always have something on-the-go for your toddler to do to keep them stimulated, learning, and entertained.
Plan for Sleep
Try to plan for naps during travel time, downtime designated for quiet re-charging and naps, and keep your bedtime routine consistent. It may be tempting to try to pack as much into the day as you can, but the downtime will pay off. A well-rested toddler is much less likely to become overstimulated and overwhelmed!
16 Travel Essentials for Toddlers
Here are some of my go-to travel essentials for toddlers that can keep your trip as fun as possible! Beyond the obvious packing items (toiletries like shampoo, body wash, conditioner, clothes, etc.), these items that you may not have thought to add to your packing checklist will seriously improve your travel experience.
SlumberPods are the best for travel! They’re portable blackout canopies that can fit over a pack n play, mini crib, toddler cot, or inflatable toddler mattress. Use code sleep.shore for 5% off your purchase!
This is a great option for a travel bed that will help your toddler to feel more comfortable if they’re still using a crib. If they’ve already transitioned out of their crib, bring a portable toddler cot or bed instead. I also love using Babyquip to rent baby and toddler related items. They deliver it right to you and it’s SO convenient. You can rent a crib, toddler travel bed, bath items, toys, etc.!
These are such a lifesaver when trying to stick with your sleep schedule. They’re paper so they can be cut to fit any window size, which is so perfect for travel. Pro tip- ship them straight to your destination to fit one less thing into your suitcase!
Okay, this may be more for mom than for your toddler. But you feel your best when you look your best, and this product is one of my ride-or-dies! I LOVE using this brightening oil. It has vitamin C and avocado oil to brighten and hydrate your skin. Sometimes I don’t even put makeup over it because it leaves me feeling so bright and glowy. This is the best if your skin is dull or dehydrated!
ALWAYS pack extra clothes. (If you know, you know.) It’s much better to be overprepared than underprepared when disaster strikes. Don’t forget to pack wipes for quick cleanups on-the-go!
Lovie or toy
This is a great way to give your toddler a piece of home away from home. Having their favorite stuffed animal can help them feel safe and comfort them to sleep faster.
If you’re going to be in the sun, this spray sunscreen makes application so easy (even for the squirmiest toddlers!). I love that it’s made without any toxic or dangerous ingredients.
These are SO game-changing when it comes to packing a suitcase. You will be shocked how much more will fit in your luggage when you use these travel cubes! They free up so much space to bring extra essentials.
Books are a really great way to wind down in your bedtime routine. Packing your toddler’s favorite book can also bring some familiarity and comfort to help them fall asleep more easily.
Bringing your toddler’s blanket can make travel and sleep feel much easier for them. Your little one will feel cozy and at home knowing they have their favorite blanket!
This makes all the difference in your toddler’s sleeping environment. White noise machines have been such game changers for both of my children!
Having a toddler stroller can come in handy, especially if your vacation includes a lot of walking. They’re great for preserving your toddler’s energy and preventing burnout! (Make sure to also pack comfortable walking shoes in case they want to walk themselves.)
Bryce has been using this nonstop when we go out to dinner or travel. Toddlers love it, and it’s mess-free! This is a great way to keep your little one entertained during a commute.
If you’re able to fit this with your luggage, it’s SO perfect for outings with toddlers (and babies). It’s easy to set up and convenient to clean!
This picnic blanket is light and easy to transport, which makes it ideal for travel if you have the space for it. It’s waterproof and simple to clean, so it’s perfect for family outings! Picnics can be a really fun activity for the whole family.
If you’re going anywhere with a buggy climate, insect repellant is the key to avoiding an itchy toddler!
If you have a vacation planned in the near future, I hope this list of travel essentials for toddlers can help you and your family have the best time! I love taking trips with my kids and seeing them explore the world around them. With the right prep, vacation can be made much easier for your whole family.
Check out our travel sleep guide for more tips on taking trips with your little ones. Don’t put too much stress on your toddler’s sleep schedule- if it gets thrown off while traveling, you can get your sleep schedule back on track once you’re home. Our 1 week sleep package can help you get back into routine!