For most parents, traveling with kids is a nightmare! Kids need lots of things but only a little of those you can carry.
The goal is to travel as lightweight as possible and still have all the essential items on board.
My husband is a consultant and the nature of his job forces us to travel frequently. This often involves airplanes, cars, buses, trains and sometimes walking!
During those days when my kids were younger, I had to come up with better plans. The first problem was to decide which things to carry during travel.
Here’s a list of 10 must-have items for kids that will make traveling easier. It’s not an exhaustive list but certainly enough to get you started.
1. Insulated Water Bottle That Won’t Break
Before packing up, the #1 thing you should consider is what water bottle you are going to carry. Back then in 2012, we used to buy water bottles during our business trips. It was a pain. You don’t know when your kids get thirsty and the associated cost is also a big factor.
So, I thought let’s get a permanent water bottle. The first thing I emphasized was it must be insulated to keep the water hot or cold for at least 8-12 hours. Next, it should have a built-in straw inside and easier for kids to open and close the lid. Last but most importantly, it should not break when it falls.
The best solution we could find was a steel water bottle from Takeya. Believe me, it’s worth the money.
Meagan prefers a Hydroflask.
2. Navigate Your Life Easily With Stroller
The long trips to the parks and shopping malls can become effortless with a stroller. I know, I know! Probably every parent owns one. If you are expecting a baby in a few months, get prepared to invest in a lot of things that should include a stroller.
It should help you navigate your life easier even when your baby turns into a toddler. The wheels make it easier to carry and some of them even have dual options to carry a second baby.
The best part is you can hang the diaper bags or other small stuff in the stroller. For City dwellers and frequent travelers, it’s a must-have.
For the first two years of my first child, I was reluctant to buy a stroller. And when I eventually got one, I could realize the difference. No more lost kids, no more hassle!
3. What Do You Do When You Get Tired Carrying Your baby? Get a Carrier
In some cases, carrying a stroller might not be realistic. You might have to travel by air on the go and there’s no point carrying a big burden.
You might call it trendy but a baby carrier sure is a lifesaver in certain situations. This is a wearable gear that you wear on your chest or on your back to carry a baby or a toddler.
When you are in a situation where you need to walk for a long time or are waiting in a queue, a carrier can take off your load. There are different variations of baby carriers. Some are a thin cloth-like fabric that wraps the baby around you. But for longevity and security, I recommend getting a backpack-style carrier with lots of carrying positions.
When you are planning for a short trip, you wouldn’t carry travel bags. But with all those diapers, clothes, and feeding items, you sure need something to organize them efficiently.
These types of diapers bags are usually small but have lots of compartments to organize everything. So, when you will need any item, you can find it faster.
Sure, you can carry backpacks. But I had a bad experience with them. They are not designed to carry baby stuff and you load everything in a single compartment. The result is more clutter, time consumption, and sometimes heavy headache reorganizing everything.
Until I bought one for my kid, I never heard of a travel pillow. The problem starts when you are traveling on an airplane. After a few hours, it becomes tough for a kid to sleep in those seats.
Travel pillows are worn around the neck and it extends to the back as well. So, the head can rest comfortably for longer periods of time.
A better solution can be an inflatable cushion. It’s highly portable and takes up a tiny space in your luggage. Once you inflate it, your child can sleep on it like he normally sleeps.
Getting either of the two can bring more comfort to you than your children. A sleeping child is far better than an awake and havoc creating child. Oftentimes, toddlers start screaming and crying when they can’t lay or sleep with comfort. Trust me, you don’t want that.
Let’s face it. Traveling with a car seat on a plane is tiring. I did it and regret it.
It was in 2016 after my third child’s birth, I finally found a true replacement for car seats. It was an airplane harness.
It takes only a few minutes to install and totally replaces car seats. We traveled in all sorts of airplanes including Emirates, Hong Kong airlines, and British airways. The harness fits all of the seats.
As the weight is just close to a pound, carrying it is super easy. It’s truly a lifesaver and unless you actually use it, you can’t understand its true potential.
The world has certainly changed quite a lot in the last few years. It was a game-changer when I came across a folding potty seat in Walmart.
These seats usually have four foldable parts and when you join them together there’s a hole in the middle. The public toilets have large holes that could be hard for your little one to sit.
You can place it on the regular toilet seat and that’s it. The entire thing folds into small toy-like stuff that you can carry inside the side pocket of your diaper bag.
It becomes more essential when you are hiking or visiting a remote area. I had a hard time getting my child to potty in the woods. The foldable seat made him feel home.
But.. There are other variations of such toilet seats. Some even have foldable legs and cute cartoon themes.
8. Does Your Trip Involve Water? Inflatable Life Vest is a Must
Lake Michigan is one of our favorite holiday destinations. Boats and cruise tours are what we mostly do over there!
It’s needless to say we had to buy life vests for our kids. These types of life vests are quite different from the adult versions. The design keeps your child face-up, so water doesn’t enter through their mouth or nose.
The one we bought was from Stohlquist and it was lightweight and super easy to slip on. It should be enough to keep your child safe upon any accident or calamity.
We never had to use it for any disaster scenario. But we did practice a lot with them in pools.
A lifevest is not a must when you are just traveling on the road. But if your trip involves water, lakes, pools, etc., always have one with you!
When our kids were a little grown-up, we decided it’s time to have their own luggage. There are lots of kids travel bags in the market. These will help your kids get organized and start learning packing up from an early age.
They are generally lightweight, smaller in size, and come in different cartoon and character themes. If you have more than one kid, the hassle of arranging everything in a big bag is way too much. And.. searching through a bag is a big mess.
What’s more? It’s a good way to create a sense of responsibility in them. If they lose something, they will know it was their responsibility to look after.
It was tough to keep our kids quiet during the flight. The best way we could find was to get a headphone and leave them with a cartoon show.
But can you just use any headphones? Sure you can. But exposing them to adult headphones with extreme beat and sound can be tough on the young ears.
So, we got a few toddler-friendly headphones. These headphones are volume-limited that keeps the ears safe. Some of them even have noise-canceling options to tackle the loud noise during flight.
Depending on the nature of your children and the trip, the things you carry will be different. But for us, these 10 items worked like miracles. If you are planning for a long trip outside the home a travel bed can also be included in this list. You don’t have to buy everything on a single day. Maintain a checklist and get the items as you need them.