Our Top Picks and Must Haves for What to Pack When Traveling with a Baby or Infant
*Some free products were provided that I mention during this post. This is the case with all bloggers, like my disclosures, I am just very up front about it.*
As a travel enthusiast and travel journalist, I envisioned myself gallivanting around the world and bringing my baby everywhere. I thought, what a cute accessory. My pregnant, pre-baby self, thought, “you’ll see, you’ll all see! I will travel everywhere and make it look easy!” Then my daughter came and I thought, “I will never travel, sleep or do anything again. Ever.”
Fast forward seven months and I am finally ready to brave the world again…with my daughter in tow. I have learned that there are many products that make traveling easier. In fact, there are so many products that it’s damn near overwhelming to narrow down the best ones. And you have to figure out the ones you really need–otherwise you will overpack and weigh yourself down even more–which you don’t want.
As a blogger, companies send me products free of charge for hopes of a potential feature. I always like to disclose this because I am always honest with my readers. My opinions are as unbiased as they can be. I get the products for free but my insight and opinions are very real. I am never paid further compensation. There are tons of products that I receive that don’t make the cut as well. So keep this all in mind when you read this. This is the case for almost every blogger out there, I’m just upfront.
Without further ado, here are my top picks for travel must-haves for babies and infants whether you’re traveling abroad internationally or just a short road trip.
*Oh, and before we get into my picks, please know that I get tons of stuff sent to me to review. In this article, most of the items were received as presents from travel-writing mommies and from my daughter’s most recent party. So no matter how you slice it, I didn’t pay for these items. Make of that what you will, I am extremely honest–hence why I am going on and on about how I didn’t pay. Most bloggers don’t pay for anything, I just am very up front about how I roll.
You are going to have an insane amount of stuff with you when you travel with a little one. Mother Load turns chaos into organized chaos with their durable color-coded, grab-and-go pouches. It’s every diaper bag’s best friend to help you control mommy mayhem. Stop digging through your bag and know exactly where your items are with Mother Load’s stretchy, see-through mesh. They’re machine washable and water-resistant. Available as a set of five for $50 includes diaper bag (holds everything including changing pad), spare pair, keep onesies and backup clothes, dirty wet bag, snack bag for bibs, spoons, bottles, etc, and also the toys and tools for toys to easily have on hand.
No new parent should be without a Snooze Shade! Think of it as a breathable blackout curtain for the stroller or car seat. It allows your baby to nap on the go and also offers sun protection (it’s approved by the Melanoma International Foundation). This product ensures that you can enjoy your Pina Colada poolside or go see that art exhibit while your little tyke is napping. This to me is a must-have, must-have.
Snooze Shade also makes one of these for cribs, which to me is essential since my daughter only sleeps in very dark rooms. You just pull it over the crib, fasten its straps and voila, instant darkness even if she’s in the same room as you. When we stay at hotels, not every room has blackout shades. To find some darkness, many parents put the baby in the bathroom, however, occasionally, the crib won’t fit. And then you also don’t have access to the restroom until morning, which isn’t ideal. The fabric it’s made out of is 100% breatheable, air-permeable mesh. It’s easy to alter light levels and give easy access to baby. It also protects from insects and sun if you want to use on a play yard outside.
When you’re traveling, the baby carrier might be the easiest option when you don’t know what kind of terrain you’re going to encounter. You can simply stick a carrier on and then not have to worry about bumpy roads or if the stroller will fit in that cute (but tiny) café that you heard is amazing. I have tried almost every carrier out there and my carrier of choice is the Ergobaby 360. It’s ergonomically correct for baby. It has a nice bucket seat that keeps baby in the frog-leg position with her spine in an optimal position, too. And this way she can look out at whatever fabulous destination or museum you’re visiting.
On-the-Go Snack and Formula Dispenser
The Zoli On-the-Go Snack dispenser lets you easily feed your baby when you’re out and about. The individual containers let you store everything from foods to formula. And the easy-pour spout ensure no mess. The Sumo is essentially the same thing for bigger kids as their appetites grow. PODS are leak-proof if you want to stow away baby purees or other snacks that may leak like yogurt. These are all BPA and Phthalate-free!
Sippy Cup On-the-Go
Thinkbaby Thinkster all the way.
Cutest Beach Wear
NuNuNu is one of my favorite clothing brands. And that goes double for their beachwear. I buy this brand all the time because it’s a little edgier than your classic Bonpoint and Jacadi brands. Nununu’s got skulls, splatter paint and attitude to boot. But it’s still super sweet, adorable and comfortable, too. It’s what all the A-listers like the Kardashians, Ashton Kutcher and the like dress their cuties in…if that’s something you care about. Cause I know these things…
Masala Baby is also adorable, and I love its modern spirited, urban vibe mixed with the essence of Indian style. It’s cool and cute and the bright colors are so vibrant. To me, it’s like a baby version of Calypso St. Barth, which is just so chic. Very resort-y and fun for summer and/or beach getaways. Love the colors, patterns and everything about this brand.
My other go-to are the “rags” from Rags to Raches. They are so cute and trendy right now. They have the cutest prints from sweet to silly. They’re also the easiest things to throw your little one in. No zippers or buttons. Just simply pull the stretchy neck open and pull over your little one’s shoulders. They’re cool and comfortable and easy for parents.
Painter’s Tape is the easiest way to quickly childproof a hotel room. Cover outlets, tape down wires and keep cabinets closed by taping them up. Then remove the tape easily when you’re ready to leave.
Go Big or Go Home
As you may know, I am an UPPAbaby Ambassador (What this means: I was gifted a free stroller, I do not get paid further, it means I am a fan of the brand and agreed to discuss my experience with my stroller). I love my UPPAbaby VISTA and try to take it anywhere that space allows since it’s the most durable and handles rough terrain very well. Traveling with a regular-sized stroller (not an umbrella) can be tricky on planes since you will probably be asked to gate-check it when you board. The problem is that most airlines require you to sign something saying that they are not responsible for any damage. How crazy is that? Luckily, UPPAbaby has a Travel Safe program. If you purchase one of their travel bags, they guarantee your stroller, RumbleSeat or Bassinet during air travel. That means you don’t have to worry when you check your stroller. To me, this is a no-brainer if you need your big stroller. Once you register online, any damage to your gear is covered by UPPAbaby. Pretty rad, right. For the VISTA, the stroller bag is $129 and the RumbleSeat is $69.99. To me, it’s totally worth it for peace of mind.
Umbrella Stroller for Every Need
If you can get away with just taking an umbrella stroller, I have three favorites. Each have their strengths depending on what kind of travel you’re doing and what your needs are.
The BabyZen YoYo wins for maneuverability and stylishness (because sorry, it’s a consideration I’m only human), the Mountain Buggy Nano is great for maneuverability and its easy car seat adaptability for almost any car seat, and the GB Pockit is my favorite when you just need something tiny.
The BABYZEN YOYO+ stroller is really great whether you’re just going out in your neighborhood or on a flight halfway around the world (it will fit in the overhead compartment on planes). It’s lightweight and has the easiest one-hand fold that we’ve ever seen. Just click a button and you can fold and unfold with JUST ONE HAND (this is a big deal). It features a 145-degree incline for several seat positions to keep baby happy even when she’s napping. Oh and I LOVE the spying window. The four-wheel suspension system offers a smooth ride. The canopy offers UPF 50 and there is decent storage space to accommodate baby’s stuff. Car seat adapter is sold separately but accommodates the Nuna Pipa, Cybex Aton, Cybex Aton 2, and the Maxi Cosi Mico’s infant car seats. For travel, to keep baby safe from the sun and other elements, I recommend purchasing the BABYZEN Mosquito Net and Parasol.
Mountain Buggy Nano
The Mountain Buggy Nano is a great umbrella stroller as well for about half the price of the BabyZen. It’s not quite as stylish or easy to fold (though it’s still pretty good). For the price though, it’s definitely a great option for those looking not to spend as much. We love that it’s compatible with almost any infant car seats making it ideal for travel. You don’t even need to buy an adapter, it comes with everything you need. Many other umbrella strollers aren’t compatible with any car seats or (like the Recaro) are only compatible with its own. There are straps under the nano that work just like a safety belt in a car. Also, you can pair this with the Cocoon and then use it right from newborn age as your main stroller if you want. The Mountain Buggy Nano is great for travel because it’s easy to lift and fits in small spaces. It has rear wheel suspension to keep your baby comfortable on their travel adventure, an easy to use color defined brake for extra safety and 5.5” EVA wheels for a smooth ride. Its maneuverability is really great, it moves with excellent ease. This makes up for its fold, which isn’t the easiest. Also, love its versatility and ability to last a long time. For travel, to keep baby safe from the sun and other elements, I recommend purchasing the Mosquito Net and Sun Shade. I do wish this stroller had a spying window but you can’t win em all.
The GB Pockit Stroller is the world’s smallest fold according to Guinness Book of World Records! It shrinks to the size of a large purse. You can even fit it under an airplane seat. It isn’t the easiest stroller in the world to maneuver but considering its size, it’s pretty good. I think its small convenient size and storage makes up for the rest.
My favorite baby float by SwimWays keeps them safe and out of the sun.
The Otteroo baby floatation device is also a great way to get your baby to join in on water fun in the pool. This floatie (for infants 8+ weeks) goes around babies neck and allows them to move her arms, legs and bodies in the water. Babies love the freedom to move around the pool on their own and mommy and daddy feel safe to let them do so “independently.” But obviously I hope it goes without saying that you are right there the whole time an arm’s length away.
Totseat Travel High Chair
The Totseat is the best invention ever. Don’t worry about whether a hotel or restaurant has a high chair ever again! The Totseat is your washable, squishable, lightweight highchair. Rest easy wherever you are that your little one can safely sit on her own. It’s the original travel high chair because it adjusts quickly and easily to all different shapes and sizes of chairs and children. And it weighs next to nothing!
Portable White Noise Machine
The Marpac Hush sleep machine is the best sleep machine ever made. It’s great for travel and has a lanyard for easy hanging anywhere. It’s rechargeable with a USB charger and has surprisingly powerful sound for its size. As good as the regular machine we use at home. I couldn’t believe it. It is loud enough to mask all those disruptive noises that rouse baby from nap. We keep ours in the stroller and she goes out like a light! People stare but hey she’s sleeping!
The Mountain Buggy Bagrider solves the problem for families who need a stroller and a carry on. This carry-on bag transforms into a traveling seat for toddlers up to 33 lbs. The back of the seat also offers a mesh pocket, perfect for storing passport and phone with easy-to-reach access. The bag itself has great maneuverability even when you put a kid on top. The seat is also safe, offering a 5-point safety harness with adjustable straps.
I assume it goes without saying but don’t forget your hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. Planes and airports can be pretty grody.
I take sunscreen very seriously. So while I’m not a doctor, I have done my homework. That said, ask your doctor what they think is best.
Thinkbaby Sunscreen has had a 1 rating with the EWG since 2010 (check out the EWG’s ratings for sunscreen here). If you don’t know the Environmental Working Group, they’re the agency that rates personal products based on health and safety of ingredients. They are unbiased and not affiliated with any particular brand so I feel like I can trust them. When you’re slathering something all over your baby’s skin, you want to be sure it’s safe. It’s actually disturbing how many sunscreens for kids have really terrible ingredients in them. These are brands that they sell at your local pharmacy. It’s literally terrifying. Chemical sunscreens with dangerous ingredients are disturbing because these ingredients can be detected in the blood less than one minute after application. The best part about ThinkBaby’s sunscreen is that the formula is emulsified so it spreads easily and is not sticky like many other “natural” brands. The sunscreen stick is awesome too and very convenient with zero mess.
California Baby Sunscreen Stick is also rated 1 and is a great option, too. They’ve received tons of accolades as well from Babble, Time Magazine, WebMD and more. The main ingredient here is Titanium dioxide, which is a physical barrier and not chemical barrier. They’re water resistant for up to 80 minutes of fun. They’re made right here in the US too, which is pretty cool! It’s free of hormone disrupting chemicals such as oxybenzone, PABA, and others lurking in many popular chemical sunscreens on the market. It can be a little tricky to apply because a little goes a long way. Click here to see a video on how to apply properly.
SPF Clothing & Swim
Since we are on the topic of the sun, I hope it goes without saying that you should try and keep your little one out of the sun when possible. Umbrellas, sun hats, rash guards, etc. should be the first line of defense. Sunscreen is great but I always avoid needing it in the first place. Many clothing companies have UPF ratings. When it comes to swimsuits and rash guards, Snapper Rock are my absolute faves. They have adorable prints and come in UPF 50+ fabric that block 98% of harmful rays from the sun. I love the long-sleeve sun suits because you can pop on one of their UPF Sunhats and really only then have to get hands and lower legs with sunscreen. Because trust me, getting your little one to sit still long enough for you to put sunscreen on is no easy feat. The material dries quickly and is very breathable. Just a note that you want these to fit well, if they are too big they will not dry as quickly and will make your little one cold when they come out of the water. Oh and they make mommy and daddy stuff too. Some of it even matches the baby stuff. It’s to die for!
When it comes to SPF clothing, I am obsessed with Patagonia’s baby stuff. Their jackets are too cute, really. My brother and sister-in-law introduced us to this line. I never even knew they had baby wear. This long-sleeved baby hooded pullover protects against sun and wind, and is made of cool-wearing Capilene Silkweight fabric with 50+ UPF sun protection. It’s perfect for the windy beach when I worry that bright sun is still reflecting onto my little one.
Even though we have the UPPAbaby VISTA, we wish they made a little umbrella for shielding little ones like the Bugaboo Parasol. Mountain Buggy Nano makes one of these as well.
Use these adhesive table covers by Neat Solutions for your little one. Place food right on the table and don’t worry that the eating surface isn’t sanitary. These ones are the best. BPA and Phthalate free!
Microwave Steam Bags
Since you never know where your bottles will end up, microwave steam sterilizing bags (like Medela’s) are the perfect way to quickly and easily sterilize your baby’s bottles. Plus, these bags weigh practically nothing to pack.
Dr. Brown’s Sterilizing Wipes
Wipe things off that fall on the floor two million times. Cause this will happen in the airport…on the plane…You get the picture.
Bug Repellent Blanket and Clothing
With Zika on the forefront of everyone’s minds, let’s just talk a little about avoiding mosquitos. While you should definitely get bug repellent, I’m not sure about you but it doesn’t make me super excited to know that my little one is breathing that in. I don’t like me breathing it in myself either to be honest. So, that’s why I’m obsessed with using mosquito-repellent clothing. Toad & Co actually makes some super cute options. My favorite option is this Debug Hoodie. It’s available in a nice neutral color. I wear it thrown over whatever I’m wearing. It keeps my shoulders out of the sun but also keeps bugs away—especially at dusk. Mosquitos love me and I have found this to be useful so far. The Debug Trail Tight is also awesome to wear when hiking or even just walking around on vacation when you don’t know what the mosquito situation is going to be.
So many travel cribs out there are insanely heavy! Like who is carrying around something that’s an extra almost 20 pounds on vacay? I ask you! I mean we don’t all have pick-up-trucks. Sheesh. That’s why I fell in love with Phil & Ted’s Traveller Travel Crib. It’s super light weighing in at only 7 lbs! And you can use it as a crib or a playpen. The mesh sides are great to help your baby feel protected and also so you can stalk her. It’s also globally certified so you can rest easy.
Stylish Diaper Bag
There is nothing worse than feeling like a tourist—except maybe feeling like an unstylish drab mommy. When I chose my diaper bag, I was willing to make an investment so I would feel confident when I carried my diaper bag. Other than your stroller, you probably get the most use out of your diaper bag. I always knew that I wanted a Storksak since they are based on the concept that everything has its own special place and they are also fashion forward and top of the line when it comes to luxe diaper bags.
Storksak caught my eye. It’s made from a very soft but durable leather that is hard-wearing and takes the rough and tumble life of mommyhood. It is a very structured bag and has four large magnetic pockets on the outside that clip on their own and are easy to open in a rush. The inside features ten compartments so there is space for everything and you are able to find what you need with ease. It also has a wipe-clean liner so you don’t have to cry over spilt milk. It will easily wipe away! There is a detachable vanity pouch for essentials if you need to leave your bag behind. It also comes with a thermal bottle bag and a changing pad that matches the bag. The bag has two small handles you can use on your lower arm or a detachable shoulder strap to convert to a messenger bag. On the style side, I chose the black color and this really matches anything and everything. Since price and quality go hand in hand, it is on the pricier side. But it’s still far less than designer bags like the Gucci diaper bag.
My only issue with the Sofia is that it is a bit heavy even when it’s empty. For a lighter and less expensive option, my top pick is for the Storksak Alexa, which definitely delivers style and substance. It’s affordable, lightweight and looks like a regular handbag as opposed to a diaper bag. That means you can use it even when you don’t have baby with you—save yourself the hassle of transferring your belongings back and forth nonstop. It is equipped with the wipe-clean liner, comes with a changing pad and an insulated snack sack. There are five drop-in compartments so you can still have everything in its place for easy access. There are two very stylish zip pockets on the front. Fits easily under your shoulder and also converts to a messenger.
I happen to be obsessed with the belt-style straps.
If you’re looking for a gender-neutral option so that your hubby can help you tote your diaper bag around, the Storksak Travel Backpack is awesome. The buckle release clip makes fastening a snap. This also comes with the signature wipe-clean lining, water resistant material and diaper pad for easy changing. There is a zipped back slot for placement on telescopic handle of cabin bag, which when zipped can be used as a pocket. There are eight pockets in all for you to store all your essentials. There are also two pockets on the inside (the part that faces your back) for your valuables like wallet, passport and phone. Also has internal key clip for easy finding.
Luggage Made Simple & Stylish
Storksak is the ultimate luxury when it comes to style and sophistication in the baby bag world. And now they’ve taken that to the carry-on luggage world for traveling with tots. I am obsessed with this line, it’s exactly everything I was looking for. It affords you pockets and packing cubes so everything has its place and is easy to find. First things first, I am in love with the sophisticated grey color so that’s my vote, but the bags are also available in black, which is probably more practical. The Cabin Carry-on is my ultimate travel bag for a weekend getaway, overnight affair or carry-on for a plane. It can be carried or wheeled around. The genius in this bag lies in the smart hanging organizer that it comes with. It sits in the bag allowing you easily pack and compartmentalize your items. Then, when you reach your destination, this piece slips right out and attaches with velcro to a closet bar so you don’t even have to unpack. The duffle is the perfect companion bag and sits on top easily. This lightweight bag comes with its own hanging organizer as well and allows you to pack the bag and simply remove it in your destination without unpacking. There is also an external access passport pocket. Both of these items have gorgeous detailing and very high quality canvas handles. They’re water resistant too on the outside and feature the signature wipe-clean lining Storksak is famous for.
Car Seat Travel Bag
Capture Your Family Moments
What’s a vacation if you can’t share your memories with your friends and family. I’m obsessed with Recently, which is an app that works as a subscription service to receive a monthly magazine that curates the best 100 photos from your phone. I love it because it forces you to print pictures and not just resign to have them disappear into the cloud. Instead, every month you get a beautiful magazine delivered right to your doorstep. They’re the perfect fun way to show everyone those adorable vacation pictures and family moments without boring them to death (remember when people used to do slideshows! ha).
And y’all know my heart still belongs to Flytographer for capturing the best vacation photos ever! Can’t live without these guys!
*Disclosure* This post contains affiliate links. I received many of these products for free or as gifts from our friends for our daughter’s baby naming ceremony. Please feel free to consider that I received every item in this article without buying them on my own. My opinions, however, are as always honest.
Ahh! Cutest photo of Baby G in the pillows!!!! And great advice–I’m pretty sure I just avoided leaving a 7-mile radius from my house when Hunter was little. If only I’d had this article to reference…!- November 5, 2017