Packing with Kids

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Packing is an art. Pack too much and you’ll wear yourself out just getting to your destination and spend too much time re-packing each time you change locations. Even worse, you’ll have no room to bring things home with you! Forget a few important items and you'll spend the first day of your trip running around trying to find them

Wherever you go, they will have kids, and the stores will sell products that kids need. While you might not want to spend tons of time tracking down everything your child needs, it can be fun to discover new products that aren’t available at home.

Basic Packing Checklists for Travel With Kids
Packing Checklist for Travel with Kids (Essentials)
Airplane Carryon for Babies Toddlers and Kids

Specialty Packing LIsts
Travel Toys
Optional Items Roadtrips with Kids
Optional Items for Longer Trips with Kids
Packing Checklist for Breastmilk Pumping When You Travel
Optional Items for Traveling While Pregnant
Packing Checklist for Bringing Bottles and Formula or Breastmilk on a plane
How to Pack an Airplane Busy Bag
22 Reasons to pack a ziplock bag when you travel

Tips for Traveling Light
Tips for Traveling Light


  1. Jessica Narace on July 5, 2008 at 8:05 a.m.

    I am preparing to fly with my 15 month old daughter for the first time soon and LOVE your website. I like to think, re-think, then plan, re-plan, etc. when preparing to go anywhere with my daughter. My husband will not be taking the trip, so I'm a little nevous...first time and alone! :) I have been using your packing guide and checking out gear, toys, etc. I found some nesting cups that have a little extra bonus. They are by munchkin and you can find them a Target, Wal-mart, Babies-r-Us, etc. They can hook together and become a caterpillar. Munchkin also makes a little diaper dispenser (not that duck that doesn't clip onto anything) but looks like a part of any bag and clips on for easier carrying/finding. I have also used (in a lot of car trips when she was younger) this blow up duck bathtub. It rolls up to the size of a rolled up t-shirt and comes with a hand pump that takes up about the same amount of space. It's priced great and bonus, it makes duck noises when you squeeze the beak. I have one question, though, have you tried the Zooper hook on high chair? Do you know how it compares to yours? I will be by my lonesome and would like the easiest packing and hooking on.

  2. Debbie on July 8, 2008 at 9:01 a.m.

    I'm sorry, I haven't tried the Zooper. It looks like it might work with a wider range of table widths than the Phil and Teds, but it also looks a lot less compact.

  3. Kari on July 10, 2008 at 8:42 p.m.

    Hello, We are traveling with our 11 month old son to Europe next week and will be abroad for 2 weeks. I am concerned about his sleep schedule and your advice was helpful. I have not been able to find any information about what to do about milk for the flight. He has just transitioned (on his own) to cow's milk. Do you know if that is acceptable to bring through security or do most airports carry whole milk after security? Also, he decided he didn't want to eat baby food any longer, but is still learning on soft foods - ww bread, cheese, ww crackers, etc. Do you know if I could pack unopened lunchables or similar through security? What do I do?

    We are packing our Britax carseat, but have reserved the britax seat aboard the British Airways. Any advice with what is best practice?

    Thank-you so much for taking the time to blog and help other new mom's. It is VERY appreciated.


  4. Debbie on July 11, 2008 at 7:23 p.m.

    Technically you can probably bring the milk through security by saying it is "baby milk", but it is easier to buy it after the checkpoint. You don't say what airport you are flying from, but Starbucks usually sells shelf stable milk boxes (which means you don't need to keep them cold). If there is no Starbucks, any coffee shop and many of the other restaurants will sell you milk.

    If your son will still drink formula, bring a couple of individual sized powdered formula packets in case of "emergency"

    You can bring any food you like as long as it is not gel based or liquid (and you can bring baby food in "reasonable quantities." bread, cheese, o's and bananas all make good choices.

    With the car seat, the BA Britax seat is not a true car seat, and your son will not be able to sit in it during takeoff, landing or turbulence (it does work well for sleeping though). The best practice is to reserve a seat for your son & then seat him in his own seat, but that is expensive. You can also call ahead on the day of flight and find out how full your flight is. If it is not full, you might try bringing the britax to the gate with you and checking it only if you cannot get an empty seat for your son.

    Checking car seats can be risky, and the best way to protect your seat is to package it in its original box. If you cannot do that, put it in a sturdy bag, and mark it "Fragile"

    I hope this helps,

  5. wendy on August 5, 2008 at 8:36 p.m.

    I'm going to be traveling from Texas to Portland, OR in September for about 2 weeks. It's going to be me, my 3 year old, and my 8 month old. My 8 month old is small for his age, so I was going to put him in the Bjorn and push my toddler in a stroller. My question is, how do I use a bag like the Baby Sherpa with a Bjorn on, too? Or do you recommend a different bag to use with a front carrier? Or should I use my Ergo instead? Sorry for all the questions, but I'm just nervous about flying on my own with the 2 kids!
    Thanks so much...and I LOVE your website. You have great ideas!

  6. Maria on August 6, 2008 at 2:56 p.m.

    I am traveling to Paris and Lourdes with my 4 year old boy. He has a g-tube and I use pediasure or ensure to feed him. Can I find that easily in Paris? or somthing similar? Where?

  7. Debbie on August 11, 2008 at 10:32 p.m.


    If you need a specific product to feed your son, I wouldn't take risk not finding what you need in France. Consider taking enough Pediasure or Ensure (in powdered form) to last your entire trip. If you don't have room in your suitcase, you could consider shipping it ahead to your first destination. Make sure that it is well wrapped and enclose each container in a ziplock (that way if the container bursts, you will not loose the powder)

    That said, if I were looking for Pediasure, I would visit a Pharmacy. At most Pharmacies in Paris, the pharmacist will speak English and you can talk to him or her about what you need. Each neighborhood has one that stays open 24 hours & your hotel will be able to direct you to the closest pharmacy.

    I hope this helps,

  8. Debbie on August 11, 2008 at 10:47 p.m.


    On longer trips I put D on the front & the baby sherpa on the back. It's a little strange being sandwiched, but not a big deal. You could give it a try before you leave home. On shorter trips, I often use a tote bag (I happen to use this one: but I didn't do much research when I bought it, so you might find something that meets your needs better) I loop the tote's handles over the stroller & as long as my son stays in the stroller as a counterbalance, that works well too.

    You were also wondering whether to use the Ergo vs. Bjorn. I personally am more comfortable when I use the Ergo (my daughter is 21 months old now), but you should do whatever is comfortable for you.

    Enjoy your trip,

  9. Travel packages India on January 13, 2009 at 6:42 a.m.

    Well said that packing is an art and it needs to be mastered but still there are few unlucky people like me who are not blessed with this talent. Every time I make a list and try to pack all we need for the trip there would be something or the other that I have missed on for sure.

  10. Shari Murphy on March 30, 2009 at 11:06 a.m.

    I would suggest that for day trips to teh ZOo, Beach, Lake, Theme Park or other outdoor location a good 50+ SPF sunscreen, wide brimmed sun hat, sunglasses and UV swimsuit be packed as well! You can find a great family budget friendly selection at!!

  11. shelley cheny on April 22, 2010 at 3:32 a.m.

    Here'e my little tip for when you're travelling somewhere where you're unsure of hygiene, and health a few asian countries. Pack a few disposable plates and cups and spoons,if you're eating out, say at hawker stalls (eg malaysia or singapore). Pass it to the cook and smile. Just say it is the childs fave colour or whatever.Their plastiware is tenuously cleaned and they are more than happy to oblige. I always take band aids and paracetamol as well. Everywhere.

  12. Melanie on June 3, 2010 at 6:08 p.m.

    Your website is great. I've travelled 3 times with my now 17 month old successfully, all 5 hours or less of travel time. Our next adventure will be a 13 hour flight to England, we'll be staying 2 months for my husband's work. We use cloth diapers and won't be able to afford to buy disposables for the trip. We'll have to skimp on packing in other areas to accomadate them. We'll have no car and I have no idea where they are putting us up, hopefully there will be laundry facilities nearby. It is an amazing opportunity, but very stressful to plan. DS is also not getting a seat, though if the plane isn't full they will probably allow us to use his sit'n'stroll. I'm also hoping some of DHs coworkers there will lend us a playpen, highchair and stroller. If not, I'm looking at a booster seat diaper bag and a playpen with storage on the side that is made for travelling.

    Do they serve enough food during the flight to share with DS? I will be packing non perishable snacks, but would like him to get something resembling a real dinner. Also, is yogurt allowed through security? It will definitely be an interesting experience.

  13. Debbie on June 3, 2010 at 11:15 p.m.

    I think that you could share the inflight food with your son, but often the flight attendant can help round up some extra snacks or meals. Still, to be safe, I would bring along food that you know your son likes.

    Yogurt is considered a liquid and would not be allowed through security unless you can convince the TSA screener that it is babyfood. Alternatively, you could buy yogurt after clearing security.

  14. Alicia on July 11, 2010 at 8 p.m.

    I have a new baby (2 mos. old) and a 2 1/2 year old and will be flying from Milw to San Fran with them in a week. I am trying to decide if we should bring our double Baby Jogger city mini stroller or a single umbrella stroller for my 2 1/2 yr old and use my Ergo carrier or Baby Bjorn for my 2 month old??? but then I will always have to use the carrier for my infant, I don't think she can sit in the umbrella stroller safely. Thoughts?

  15. Debbie on July 11, 2010 at 9:24 p.m.


    Thanks so much for writing. I find it so much easier, especially in a busy city like San Francisco, to use a single stroller than a double. It's true that you won't be able to put the baby down (which could be tough in summer) but hopefully the weather won't be too hot.

    I hope you have a wonderful time in San Francisco

  16. Gina on November 20, 2010 at 2:13 p.m.

    I am traveling in 3 weeks to Quito, Ecuador with my husband and 3 sons, 4 years old, 3 years old and 1 year old. We will be staying for 5 weeks, most of the time we will be at 10,000 feet elevation. My questions are : do you have any tips for the children adjusting to such high elevation? Do you have any tips in dealing with parasite prevention in children from water?
    Your site is so informative and practical! Thank you!

  17. Debbie on November 22, 2010 at 9:40 a.m.


    I don't have any personal experience with traveling with kids at high elevation, but here's a really good article in the New York Times:

    and here's an article from the International Society for Mountain Medicine

    With the water, I like the SteriPEN or a high quality water filter, but you should talk with a travel medicine clinic for advice specific to your destination.

    Good luck!

  18. Lu on May 7, 2011 at 8:48 p.m.

    We are taking our 20 month old son to Seattle. This will be our first time traveling with him. We will not be renting a car so my concern is regarding riding with a child in taxis, shuttles, busses and trains. Carrying around a full size car seat wouldn't be practical. Any advice on a safe alternative?

  19. Debbie on May 9, 2011 at 8:49 p.m.

    Depending on how big your son is, you might be able to use the Ride Safer Travel vest. It's small enough to fit in a backpack and provides a safe harness that you can use in any seat with a seatbelt. Here's the link:

  20. Maria on November 1, 2011 at 12:17 p.m.

    My sister is comming to Seattle during winter with her 1 year old baby, they live in Colombia where the wether is nice. She is very concerned about the cold wether may affect the baby's health, since the baby is not use to this cold. Is it not advisable to bring the baby in this season? or which tips do you recommend to keep the baby safe.

  21. Debbie on November 1, 2011 at 8:17 p.m.


    In general my kids do fine with the weather as long as I bundle them up when they are outside, but if she is concerned, she should consult her doctor.

  22. Em on November 21, 2011 at 1:04 a.m.

    Love your website! We are thinking of flying from Houston, Texas, to Paris(3days), Nice (2days), then to Johannesburg, South Africa for 2 weeks, with our 15 month old twins. Am I crazy to even entertain the idea of accompanying my husband on his business trip to France, then flying to South Africa for a wedding? In February, with what will be 15 month old twins? We are thinking of all over night flights. Do you think this travel will be to hard on such young babies since we will not be in France for very long?

  23. Debbie on November 21, 2011 at 8:01 a.m.

    Em, that does sound like a lot of flying and a lot of time changes in a very short time - if you are able to slow the trip down at all (perhaps heading to france early or skipping that part of the trip) That would help...

    Good luck!

  24. Andrea on January 12, 2012 at 5:44 p.m.

    Hello my husband and I are going to Mexico to a resort for a week with our 17 month old son, he is still drinking homo milk four bottles a day, and I don't know if it's safe for him to drink the milk from there....any suggestions? I was thinking of freezing some bags of milk and bringing with us, but not sure about security...once we get there I'm sure it will be almost raw and I'd put in the fridge right away...what about powered milk? It took him a long time to switch to homo milk from breast milk so I'm thinking powered may not work?? Help

  25. Debbie on January 17, 2012 at 8:09 a.m.


    I have three suggestions - one is that you might try a powdered toddler formula before you leave and see if he would accept that. It would be sweeter than powdered milk, so he might be more willing to drink it.

    Another suggestion is that if you are worried about milk in Mexico, you could heat it before serving it to him.

    Finally, you could pack shelf stable UHT milk (the stuff in the boxes) in your checked bags

  26. Ashu on January 20, 2012 at 11:20 p.m.

    Hi Debbie,
    I am traveling to India with my 7 month old baby in March. He is on breastmilk (which I pump since he won't latch on to me anymore). And I was very nervous about carrying the pump with me, pumping in flight, carrying breasmilk... but your site has helped answer all these questions. I guess I should not have a problem with security?
    My next query is around giving my baby MMR shot at 7 months of age. Usually this is given at 12 months and the doctor is recommending we give it sooner because of the air/international travel. I am not sure and would like to know if you or someone you know have gone through this? I am nervous about giving him something too soon! Hope to hear from you soon...

  27. Debbie on January 22, 2012 at 1:55 p.m.


    I'm so glad to hear that my site was a help! I'm sorry to say that I don't have any detailed information about the MMR shot. If you aren't sure about the information your doctor is giving you, perhaps you could schedule a consultation with another pediatrician in your area?

    Good luck!

  28. Aditi on February 1, 2012 at 6:07 p.m.

    Hey Debbie:
    I was wondering for my flight to India, will I be better off carrying my 9 month old in a baby carrier or taking an umbrella stroller..I think I have a transit of 1.5 hours in Seoul.
    Thanks in advance

  29. Debbie on February 2, 2012 at 8:59 a.m.


    I personally prefer a stroller for a layover since it gives you a place to seat baby for snacks and lets you keep the baby off of your lap for a little while (since you'll probably hold her a lot of the time while you are in flight)

  30. Alysa Stephens on February 6, 2012 at 7:03 p.m.

    Hey thank you for posting all your insight!!

    My son is 3 months currently and we will be flying (3 hour flight) to my hometown and visiting for 6 weeks when he will be 5 months old. I have so many questions regarding everything i will need for our long stay and visualizing what items i will need for a baby of that age (in which there seems to be a lot of changes - cereal, solids, sitting, rolling etc) and am unsure of what developmental toys and bigger things will amuse him.

    I am compiling a list of everything i need and even the extras, i plan to pack as light as possible and pull together mostly everything from relatives and friends there (but i still need to make a list and ask if they have it of course)

    What do you suggest a 5 month old needs for a 6 week period of time. Geez my head is spinning. Any advice pleaseee!!! :)

  31. Debbie on February 6, 2012 at 9:23 p.m.


    I would bring along clothing that fits now and a few larger items if you already have them. With regard to toys, I would bring only things that your child is already interested in - you can always pick up new toys and clothing (as well as food, diapers, etc) at your destination.

    Good luck!

  32. sejal on February 8, 2012 at 12:52 p.m.


    I am planning to travle to india alone with my 2 daughters.. my younger daughter is 12 months old. I am plaaning to take foldngo feed chair with me...i know it is better to not too took too much stuff but how can i feed cereals?
    we are just thinking to take seat for her too instred of holding her in hands.
    what do u think about feed chair?
    any suggestion for ear preesure prob?

  33. Debbie on February 8, 2012 at 8:31 p.m.


    Thanks for writing! Instead of bringing along a portable booster seat that you will have to carry with you to restaurants, you might consider whether you could feed her in her stroller or backpack.

    good luck!

  34. Erika on March 8, 2012 at 4:20 p.m.

    Hi Debbie,
    Thanks for your help! My husband and I are traveling with my 2 1/2 year old daughter to Paris, Zurich and Switzerland. The last two places by train.
    We were not planning on bringing a car seat. We were wondering about public a car seat required in Europe? We will probably be walking most places but what do we do if using a taxi?
    Also, as i read in the comments, most restaurants don't have high 2 1/2 my daughter loves her high chair but is there an alternative to bring with us--something that travels? We will have a stroller with us.
    Also, do you recommend me bringing my daughter's vaccine records?
    We are worried about her sleeping and planned to get a crib at hotel, otherwise we will put her in our bed? tips??
    Thanks for listening and for your helpful website!

  35. nina on September 10, 2012 at 8:40 a.m.

    hi there,im planning to bring my 2 months old son for a is a 5-6 hour drive to the it advisable to bring him because he's too small?or should i wait a few months?tq

  36. Debbie on September 10, 2012 at 9:36 p.m.


    I doubt anyone will require that you use a carseat, but you need to be the judge of what is safe. Riding in a taxi without a carseat is no safer in Europe than it would be in the US.

    I've tried many of the travel highchairs, but never really been satisfied with any of them. At 2 1/2 she'll probably be ok in her own chair, on a lap, or in a stroller

    I think it's always good practice to carry a vaccine record and medical history, but unless you end up in a hospital you are unlikely to need it.

    Hope this helps!

  37. Debbie on September 10, 2012 at 9:38 p.m.


    It really is up to you. A 2 months old, if your son is comfortable sleeping in his carseat, you can plan the driving to coincide with naptime. However, if you are the primary driver, and you are already sleep deprived from night feeding, you would want to consider whether the drive would be safe.

    Good luck!


  38. Laura on November 2, 2012 at 9:54 a.m.

    Hi, just found your website. My parents offered to fly my whole family to Paris for about 1 week. Our baby will be almost 8 months at the time of the trip. We are trying to decide if we should go because it sounds daunting to fly for so long with her. Thoughts or advice? I breastfeed and we offer solid food as well.

  39. Jasmine Brown on February 10, 2014 at 6:18 p.m.

    It is always both fun and troublesome when traveling with kids. One, you get to have adventure with them and they get to keep memories of spending time with the family but also troublesome because of all the packing all you have to do.

  40. Angelina Schwartz on February 27, 2015 at 2:53 a.m.

    This is useful for me. Packaging is a difficult task for me whenever i travel with my kids. Thanks a lot.

  41. Clara Marlow on April 27, 2015 at 5:23 a.m.

    We moved in in our new home last week everything was in boxes when we got there. I am glad that I packed a suitcase with some brief stuff like toilet paper,soap,some food and drinks. I suppose that such luggage is very important during the first night in a new place.

  42. Megha on September 22, 2015 at 3:10 a.m.

    Hi Debbi

    I am travelling to seattle from india for good next month with my 3 daughters. The older one is 6yrs and the other 2 are twins aged 3yrs.
    Could you help me on what all i need to pack for them as this is our first trip abroad.

    thank you