What are the absolute must have items for travelling with a baby? We’ve put together the baby travel essentials that we won’t leave home without! So far we’ve travelled at least 11k miles and counting since Baby B was born, including on planes and road trips.
Travel can seem a thing of the past once you have a baby, but it definitely doesn’t have to be. We’ve learned that with the right baby travel gear, we can still travel, and better yet, make things easier on ourselves! This travel has been so rewarding, although it hasn’t been without its challenges. Changing a baby in the back of the car isn’t the highlight of anyone’s trip, but we’ve learned what things are must have items for traveling with baby to make it easier at least!
Our little one’s needs, like any baby, require a lot of work at home and adding travel to the mix is another challenge. Your schedule might be thrown out, your room might seem as bright as the sun even with the so-called hotel “curtains” closed, the baby might get jetlag or refuse to nap – there are so many variables!
But with the right planning and baby travel essentials at your disposal, you can combat as many eventualities as possible. The good thing is that baby travel items don’t have to be expensive or technical. Actually, many of them are things that you might want to use at home and that we do on a daily basis.
If you’re new to travelling with a baby or just wondering how to make your next trip more stress-free, then we’ve created this list of baby travel gear, which is essentially everything we currently won’t leave home without.
Everything on this list is something we actually use or have been personally recommended. Given Baby B’s age, things are rapidly changing, so we’ll continue to update this list as we find new baby travel gear that makes travelling with a baby as easy as it can be!
Obviously what you need to take depends on the type of trip. Some of these are best for travelling by car, others by plane. We’ve listed them all so you can pick and choose what applies to you.
Remember, it’s not impossible to travel with your little one, it just takes a little more planning!
These have SO many uses. If you want to get a little off the beaten track and explore areas that your pram just won’t make it over, then a baby carrier could be for you. Or even if you’re trying to navigate a busy Old Town in Europe and the cobblestones are just that bit too bumpy and people are everywhere. Then there’s the usefulness of being able to have your hands free as you go through an airport!
Also, once your baby is old enough to able to look around and see the world, it can be an excellent experience for them. It took Baby B a little while to get used to the carrier and he wasn’t particularly fond of facing inwards, but since he’s been old enough to face out he’s been loving it! We managed to explore ancient Stone Circles in Arran with him strapped to our chest and used it when we flew from Scotland to New Zealand.
Some carriers are made specifically for newborns, and others will work with them as they grow. Baby B was big enough for us to get the latter as soon as he was born, so we skipped over getting a newborn one and went straight to the Baby Bjorn One Air, which we picked because we knew we would be travelling to warmer climates and wanted something more breatheable. It’s not the cheapest option but the quality is good and we trust it!
Many people also swear by baby wraps/slings, which are basically a big bit of fabric you wrap around you and the baby, but I was never quite able to get the hang of it!
While babywearing is great, you may not want to do it for your whole trip, so a pram/stroller is your next option! Every parent looks into the wealth of different prams that are available but depending on the situation you may not be able to use your usual pram when you travel.
We went for the UppaBaby Vista as our usual pram. It has a broader wheel that helps it over bumpier than usual terrain, a huge basket that fits the abundance of things you find you need to take out with you and it even folds nicely in half. This is by no means a small buggy but we have the space to fit it in our car so we’ve used it for all our local travel because it’s so reliable.
For travel further afield and especially plane travel, something smaller is much more practical so you’ll need to check out some travel strollers. We haven’t actually bought one yet but have been researching them solidly for some time now. We’ve been recommended the Baby Jogger, which is a more pricey option but looks amazing, as well as the Joie Nitro Stroller (UK based). These are the ones we’re currently looking at, if you have a good one do let me know!
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After considering how you’re going to get your baby around you’ll probably be thinking about where they’re going to sleep. There are SO MANY OPTIONS. You can always avoid having to take anything with you by booking accommodation that has travel cots available, but we haven’t been that impressed so far by what they’ve offered so we’ve usually taken our own Chicco Next to Me, since it folds up into a carry bag to go in the back of the car.
For plane travel, I initially struggled with finding something suitable for Baby B when we went to New Zealand because he wasn’t quite 3 months old yet and many of the travel cots weren’t really suitable for a baby that small, but a lot of the bassinet options seemed impractical to travel with (even though they were meant to be for travel!) or crazy expensive for something we might not use a lot.
In the end, we used a combination of a Koodi pop-up travel bassinet and a travel cot borrowed from a friend. The Koodi is awesome in that it folds up super small. The “mattress” in it is pretty thin, however, so I’d recommend getting the extra blow up one to go with it. You can also get a bigger Koodi for older babies that looks great too.
Baby B is now rolling a lot in his sleep though and so we’ve opted to move up to a travel cot.
Again, travel cots don’t seem to have very good mattresses, so we’ve had to consider this carefully, as well as what folds up well and isn’t too heavy. Something like the Baby Bjorn Travel Cot fits that criteria, or the Phil & Teds Traveller.
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Portable Blackout Curtain
Getting Baby B to sleep has been a mission at times, and if you’re anything like us then a dark room is crucial! After a day exploring the last thing you need is a bad night’s sleep because your accommodation only has blinds or flimsy curtains. A portable blackout curtain won’t cover every window, but it will give you a fighting chance of some precious hours of rest. The one we travel with can be adapted to different sizes and uses suckers to stick to the surface and it folds up pretty small. There are plenty on the market, and you don’t have to spend a fortune.
The irony of needing a blackout curtain can be that you also need a nightlight! Switching on the overhead light to change the baby or to find your way in a strange room can mean instant wide-eyed awake time! Not ideal at 4 am. We have used a few now, some that are light sensitive plugins and also the Vava, which is portable with a range of touch-sensitive settings and seems to last FOREVER after charging.
Baby Feeding Items
Feeding baby on the go means more baby travel gear! Even when I was breastfeeding I brought a pillow with me because I really needed it to make things more comfortable, especially on the plane. Of course, you can always make do with bundled up sweaters, airplane pillows, or pillows at your accommodation, but it just made it easier for me to have something I was used to. I used a pillow that was made in New Zealand and given to me as a gift but it was similar to this one, and a friend swears by this blow-up breastfeeding pillow.
Travel bottle warmer
If you’re bottle feeding your little one, then this travel bottle warmer is a must-have. Straightforward and inexpensive, this food warmer means you can heat a bottle anywhere. Filling it with boiling water in the morning means you have access to heat all day! Place your bottle in the thermos container and pour in the water, after a few minutes you have a meal fit for… well, a baby.
Baby B can be a little fussy about the temp of his bottle, so this has a godsend. Trying to find somewhere that will give you a little boiling water and a container big enough to hold a bottle can be a real chore and we’ve been able to give him bottles in completely random places as we road trip across Scotland!
Now that he’s started solids, we’re looking into what we’ll need to take and our next purchase will probably be this type of travel food warmer.
Steralising is something you need to contend with if you’re bottle-feeding, and these steralising tablets make it much easier. I like how they come with the bag which means you don’t need to find a large container when you’re staying in a hotel room!
However, these are also great for steralising toys that might have been tossed on public floors that seem a little too grimy to just give back to baby.
In the UK using Milton Steralising tablets is really common, but I didn’t find it to be as common in the US where advice seems to be sterilising bottles isn’t necessary due to the water cleanliness. However, it might be something to consider when travelling!
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These are quite baby specific, depending on how they like to sleep. Baby B took to swaddling well but eventually wanted a little more movement, to the point where he fought being wrapped up like a baby burrito. We were introduced to sleeping bags by a friend and have never looked back.
The key to choosing the right sleeping bag is tog level (the thickness). Remember you can adjust what they wear underneath as well, but we’ve found taking both a warm (2.5 tog) and cooler (0.2 tog) option has suited us. They’re much more straightforward than balancing the temperature of swaddles and blankets!
We love the SnuzPouch Sleeping Bag and the Ergopouch Sleeping Bag (as does Baby B!) and we’ve been recommended the Woolino, which can be used in all seasons so I’m going to check that out when we need the next size up!
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Having a monitor with a few added extras can make travelling much more manageable. For example, when we travelled to New Zealand, we went from Scottish winter to Kiwi summer, and the thermometer on our monitor helped us gage quite how warm the room was when we put Baby B down to sleep.
This plus in-built white noise and a light show meant we had every aspect covered despite being in another hemisphere! We have a BT sound only monitor that was easy to take with us. You might be able to take your monitor from home, or consider a smaller cheaper one if you have something a bit cumbersome or expensive and you’re worried about it being in your luggage!
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Adapter and Multi-socket extension cable
With all these things to plug in, it’s worth taking an extension cable with you. Whether you call it a powerboard, multi-socket, or an extension cable, one of these is invaluable, even when you’re not travelling with a baby! Multiple adapters often don’t fit in the plug sockets next to each other and there are often limited sockets even before you start considering any extra baby stuff.
We pack all of the baby electrics in one packing cube, so wherever we set up Baby B’s room, we have everything ready to go at a moments notice.
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Car seat bag for flying
If you’re going a little further afield, then baggage allowance will suddenly become a big part of your life! A long haul flight may well be the ultimate family challenge, and I will write about how we managed flying from the UK to New Zealand with a 2-month-old soon.
However, one thing suggested to us was a car seat bag. They are by no means the most attractive piece of travel gear but as well as giving your car seat a little extra protection it also provides additional space for more stuff. Bonus!
Our baby car seat left lots of room in the bag so we took four weeks worth of nappies with us as well as towels and reusable wipes. It might not sound much, but nappies in the UK are so much cheaper than NZ that the bag paid for itself! I was hesitant about taking such a massive bag as our “baby travel item” but when we checked in for the flight they didn’t say a word and acted like it was totally normal to have this enormous bag. So, win.
As Baby B grows we’ll have to get a bigger car seat, and at that time we’ll also look into whether it’s better to get a travel car seat, since car seats are definitely not the easiest and lightest things to haul around.
Packing cubes may be a step too far for some, but when taking a family of three across the world having everything you need to hand as soon as you open your case is fantastic. When you’re packing it does seem a little like overkill, but when you’re jetlagged and need to find clean bibs you’ll thank me, I promise! We found that cubes of different colours best so a simple shout of “It’s in the red one” makes it so much easier.
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I carry a small wetbag around usually anyway, but for longer trips, it’s definitely work taking these. I think we went through 5 outfit changes between Scotland and New Zealand so it got used for sure!
Snooze Shade for Pram
We live by this for Baby B’s naps in the pram. He’s far too interested in the world around him to want to nap when we’re out and about, but when he’s due a nap and we pop the shade down then he’s out like a light! At first we tried muslins and pram clips/pegs, which do work as well, but it was super handy to have this ready-made Snooze Shade. I’m literally obsessed and have recommended it to all my friends, many of who now have it!
Here’s the link to the Snooze Shade so you can see it. I wish I’d realised there were different colours!
Baby Sunscreen & Mosquito Net
These are both location and trip specific!
Baby skin is super sensitive, and although you might try to keep them under wraps and shade most of the time it’s also worth bringing some baby sunscreen along with you. When we travelled to New Zealand I made sure to lather Baby B in it every morning, thanks to the super fast burn rate there! While this means sunscreen made specifically for babies sensitive skin is readily available there, it might not be everywhere, so it’s a good idea to pack some of your own from home.
Also, our pram has a mosquito net and although we’ve never had to use it it’s definitely worth considering one depending on where you’re travelling to. You can get large nets that could be clipped over a pram or the top of a travel cot, if necessary.
In nearly every aspect of my life, I use lists, and when I found out Phil is also a list advocate, I knew he was the one for me! We have numerous packing lists for different trips which we will be adding here very soon. Often we have a limited amount of time to pack and with Baby B to look after this can lead to both raised stress levels and forgotten items. Arriving somewhere to realise you’ve forgotten your charger and Sophie the Giraffe does not end well for anyone!
And that’s our list of must have items for travelling with baby so far!