One of my first times out of the country was to Peru; my husband and I flew through TSA with two small duffel bags in hand. We’re seasoned travelers that have learned to pack, so light security has stopped us from questioning our lack of luggage. Sadly, gone are the days of backpacking and here are the days of packing 18 must-haves when traveling with kids!
Here we sit with a one and three-year-old, 2 backpacks, a bundle of bananas, busy books, and about 20 small fidget toys my sons can’t seem to live without. Here’s the kicker, he won’t be here with me for the flight back. Cheers to traveling with kids…Alone!
I can give you a billion tips, but if your toddler decides today is the day he hates airplanes, you may be stuck running back up the ramp to catch your escapee. Traveling with kids is about making transitions smooth and stand-stills entertaining.
So let’s dive in!
18 must-haves when traveling with kids!
There’s rarely anything nutritious on a flight so bring plenty of nutritious snacks to help keep your little ones fed and happy. Otherwise, you may end up with toddlers on a Biscoff cookie sugar high. Check out these easy to store travel containers for snacks!
I put this on my son’s birthday wish list, and I’ve never been so happy with a gift! He uses these all the time, and they help comfort him when he needs sensory time, making it a great toy option for flights. They fit perfectly in diaper bag organizing pouches or a large ziplock.
Screentime is inevitable, and the plus side is that there are a ton of budget-friendly tablets that come with kid-proof cases.
Amazon sells comfy headphones placed in a headband and makes for the perfect travel accessory for kids. I know my kids love to blast their cartoons, so these comfy headphones help keep everyone happy.
Toddlers love to learn, so I brought my son a wipe-away activity book, which kept him busy for a good bit. There are so many available and one is sure too match your toddlers personality.
This is an obvious one but make sure to get something that isn’t going to leak from the pressure change. We have great sippy cups with spill-proof straws, but pressure change gets the best of them and they leaked all over our bag on my last flight. Keep that in mind for deciding which cups to bring.
Tylenol, syringe, and thermometer
With two rambunctious boys I almost always have Tylenol with me, but it’s a must on a flight. It also helps if they’re really irritable or for any bumps and bruises they get along the way. Also, I keep a no-touch thermometer with us just in case; you never know.
A change of shirts
Toddlers are gross, and they will get dirty, so better to be safe than sorry.
The temperature on airlines is never perfect. I’m either hot or cold, so I assume my kids will feel similarly, which is why I always dress them lighter and bring their hoodies.
A few of their favorite toys
To minimize space, I will typically give them a few options of toys to bring, but they will all be tiny and easy to stash.
Car Seat travel bag
There are several bags to choose from, but my family goes for budget-friendly. They’re easy to pack and unpack and save space when they fold up. But, of course, you can always get something sturdier with wheels.
Car Seat belts to attach to luggage
If you’re traveling solo with kids, this is a lifesaver. It a belt that attaches your car seat to your luggage making it one last item to carry.
Travel changing mat
Big diaper bags in small plane restrooms is a nightmare. Instead, keep a travel mat with you. It makes for a more effortless diaper-changing experience.
Anti-lost wrist link
People love to hate on “leashes,” but in a busy location like an airport where anything can happen in the blink of an eye, this is good to have. I’ve learned that everyone will judge your choices anyways, so I’d rather feel safe instead of worried about the opinions of others.
My boys love their lovies, and when they are ready to nap, their lovies help to remind them it’s time to close their eyes and relax.
Strollers, carriers, and… leashes?!
Option 1: Travel double stroller
If you have 2 younger toddlers, this might be the best option. It’s challenging to keep your eye on two toddlers who haven’t grasped the meaning of “stay next to mommy.” Plus, the basket underneath acts as an extra hand in carrying everything. I like this option if you don’t have a roller carry-on.
Option 2: A single travel stroller and a baby carrier
This option is better if you have a toddler and baby, or toddler and one year old. You can put your toddler in the stroller and strap the baby to your chest or back.
Option 3: A single travel stroller and wrist anti-lost link
This is a safe bet if you have an older toddler that can follow instructions for a bit. This way, your toddler is safe but happy because they can move around more. Plus, you’ll have two semi-free hands to do the 50 other things you need to do.
Travel inflatable bed
In all honesty, if you have toddlers, I don’t recommend this. It would just be more junk and toddlers fit on the seat perfectly and use your lap as a pillow for naps. BUT, if you have a five or six-year-old, this would be great! I say that because, with toddlers, you still have to carry everything, but with a five-year-old or older, they can help carry the extra luggage because these beds are usually not small.
The only exception is if you have a long flight. That would make this a must-have for all little ones because it would free up your arms during naptime!
Now that we’ve gone over our 21 must-haves for solo travel with kids, I want to share some tips.
When traveling solo with two kids, it’s easy to overpack and bring everything they need to avoid possible meltdowns, but think “minimalist.” Check everything in and only bring a diaper bag and your carry-on with you on the plane. And if you can make that carry-on your purse or laptop bag, even better.
Use bag organizers
The last thing you want to experience on a flight is a screaming toddler on your lap while searching for snacks, or toys. Using little organizers or an insert will help you find everything much quicker.
Arrive early and use curbside check-in
I’m the absolute worst at getting to the airport early, but it makes everything run much more smoothly if you do. When you do arrive, utilize curbside check-in if it’s available. It will make your life so much easier! No wandering around with all your luggage and car seats; simply check in outside and go through TSA with your carry-on.
Don’t worry about what others are thinking about your circus.
It’s natural to want to try and rush through security and not be “that person” who holds up the line, but your priority is with your little ones. Don’t let other people make you feel bad for taking a little more time than the average person. This is your circus, and you are the ringleader.
We covered the 18 must-haves when traveling with kids and a few tips to help make your adventure easier. So many people say their travels stopped once they had kids, but that doesn’t have to be the case. It’s all about making a few minor adjustments and taking a few extra minutes to ensure everyone is content. If this blog was helpful, make sure to share it with a friend or leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!