Planning a family trip, but unsure what you need in terms of toddler travel essentials? Keep reading for my traveling with a toddler checklist (from a mama of twin boys).

From ensuring you’ve packed the essentials, to anticipating toddler needs on the go, the mere thought of organizing a trip with toddlers in tow can be overwhelming.

As a mom of twin boys who started traveling at four months and have now been on over 50+ trips, I understand the joys and challenges that come with traveling alongside your little ones. But rest assured mama, you got this!

My all-inclusive toddler travel essentials list draws from my personal experiences and takeaways from traveling with my twin boys. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a long-haul international trip, these toddler travel essentials will help alleviate the stress that often accompanies toddler travel prep.

You’ll find, not only the toddler travel essentials that have worked best for my kids but also items that my fellow traveling moms swear by. Please remember that every kid is different – so what works for one may not work for the other (even with twins!) It’s likely that you won’t need all the items listed (that’s where your mama intuition will come in). Also please be aware that toddler travel needs change as your little one grows from 12 months to three years and so on.

Think of this blog post as your roadmap to smoother, more enjoyable travel with your toddler! The focus will shift from worrying about forgotten items to creating cherished memories with your little adventurer. It’s broken down into two simple sections: the day of travel (i.e. what needs to be in your diaper bag or toddler’s backpack) and carry-on/checked luggage (i.e. what you may need at the hotel/vacation rental or during the trip).

Disney Wish character review- family meeting Donald Duck

Day of Travel: Toddler Travel Essentials

When flying with a toddler, what you include in your diaper bag travel checklist can make a significant impact on your flying experience. Simply because most airports don’t offer items that cater to kids. The toddler travel essentials listed below will help you fly with your little one with ease.

Toddler Travel Essentials: Transport Checklist

As a mom of twins, my biggest concern before traveling with my infant twins was how I would transport them during the trip, especially at the airport. As they got older and more accustomed to traveling to different regions and climates, I realized that what’s required for one trip may not be required for the next. As you prepare the toddler travel essentials you will need to take into consideration where you are traveling to and what activities you’ll be participating in.

Travel Strollers

A good travel stroller definitely makes the list of toddler travel essentials for your next family trip.

For my boys’ first and second trips to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico (respectively), we used this double stroller travel system which easily connected both car seats. To be fair, however, it was a bit cumbersome gate-checking a double stroller. You have to, not only detach the car seats, but also remove a seat and fold the stroller. All the while somehow holding or containing two kids.

After our travels in Europe and taking the train from Amsterdam to Paris, I realized a double stroller was not conducive to travel. I noticed European parents using small travel strollers – some of which folded compactly and could fit in the overhead rack. That’s the exact moment that I became obsessed with the GB Pockit Stroller. I absolutely love how I can roll the stroller on the plane with the baby in tow. Once the baby is settled, I simply fold it up and place it overhead.

There are several good options for compact travel strollers and many of those can fit overhead on a plane. Depending on the climate you’re traveling to, you may want to consider getting a mosquito net cover, rain cover, and/or fan for the stroller. Another great stroller accessory when carrying a lot of things is a stroller organizer. Being able to keep your hands as free as possible when traveling with kids makes the journey a lot easier and less stressful.


A wagon is a great alternative to a travel stroller on my list of toddler travel essentials.

As my boys got older, they became more resistant to using a stroller. That’s when our handy beach wagon came to the rescue. It was perfect for fitting both kids or their luggage. Our personal rules to the kids were “either pull the wagon or ride in it.”

If you prefer a wagon specifically designed for kids, there are several options including Wonderfold, Evenflo, and Gladly Family. These wagons come with seat belts and seats specifically designed for kiddos.

Lightweight or Travel Car Seat

The WAYB Pico Car Seat in the hand of mom at the airport. It's definitely a toddler travel essential!

Another toddler travel essential that I stressed about when first traveling with my twins was car seats. I couldn’t imagine carrying two standard-sized car seats along with all of the other kid travel needs. Luckily, some genius out there with kids designed lightweight and portable travel car seats for parents on the go.

We started with the Cosco Car Seats which are relatively lightweight at about 12 pounds. We didn’t have any issues with it. However, when we discovered the WAYB Pico was foldable, only 8 pounds, and could be used with kids up to 50 lbs (we were nearing the weight limit of our Cosco Car Seats), we knew it was time to switch.

It’s extremely easy to travel with the WAYB Pico Car Seat. I personally love how spacious the car seat bag is. It’s roomy enough to fit additional items, like life jackets.

Ride Safer Travel Vest

Another great option is the Ride Safe Travel Vest for car travel only. It is available in three sizes and fits kids from 22 to 110 pounds. The best part is that the travel vest only weighs a bit over two pounds.

CARES Kid’s Fly Safe Harness

The CARES Kid's Fly Safe Harness is a toddler travel essential.

Due to the amount of stuff you have to bring, traveling with twin babies and toddlers is no easy feat. Once I started buying my kiddos their own seats on the plane, I was happy to find the CARES Kid’s Fly Safe Harness to use on the plane instead of a car seat. It quickly became one of our toddler travel essentials.

This harness is designed for kids that weigh 22–44 pounds and is very compact. So compact, that each boy would carry theirs in their backpack! Plus, the setup was super easy and only took a minute or so.

Toddler Luggage and Travel Backpack Essentials

As your little one gets older, they’re going to want more independence. A great way to satiate that need is to add toddler luggage and/or a toddler backpack to your toddler travel checklist. Keep reading for my favorites.

Toddler Luggage

At two years old, my boys were over the moon when they got their own toddler-sized luggage. We found it was best to give them two-wheel luggage since it seemed easier for them to know which direction to roll it. Initially, they carried just lightly packed luggage or backpacks to limit the weight. As they got older, they started to carry both, which has made traveling with kids so much easier.

My boys with their toddler backpacks and luggage about to board the plane to Peru.

Toddler Travel Backpack and Harness Backpack with Leash

Once your little one gets old enough and is a relatively good walker, a toddler travel backpack is a must-have. These backpacks can be relatively light and easy for your little one to carry. As they grow, they can begin to carry some of their needs, like entertainment, snacks, and/or diapers.

If you have a kid who likes to wander or have multiples (like myself), consider investing in a harness backpack with a leash.

Toddler Luggage Accessories Checklist

Packing for yourself can be a challenge. Throw in packing for a toddler, and you may end up with more things than you can physically carry. Luggage straps, compression packing cubes, and vacuum storage bags have been the key for my family to travel as lightly as possible and have even allowed us to fly with only carry-ons.

Luggage Strap

Believe it or not, I have traveled with my twin toddlers solo several times. One of the biggest hurdles I initially faced was how to carry everything by myself. A luggage strap is a quick and effective solution. Simply attach your kids’ luggage to yours, and pull all of it together.

Cincha Travel Belt

The Cincha Travel Belt is a great way to ensure that any bag set on the handles of your luggage stays put. The worst thing is walking through the airport and having your bag slip or fall off the handles. You won’t have to worry about that with this travel belt.

It especially comes in handy as a toddler travel essential, since you can easily attach the diaper bag or even a car seat bag onto the handles of your luggage. Honestly, it’s been a game-changer! The fewer things I have to carry in my hand or back, the better.

Toddler Travel Essential: Feeding Checklist

Feeding toddlers can be a challenge all on its own. Add in travel and an airport full of germs, and no wonder people are intimidated by traveling with their kids. This “feeding toddlers while traveling” checklist will make the feeding on-the-go process easier and less of a headache.

Snack Catcher OR Snack Spinner

If your toddlers are anything like my twins, snacks are a travel must-have. Unfortunately, that normally equates to a mess. That’s where the snack catcher and snack spinner come in handy.

The snack catcher is a great option if you’re packing a single snack. It’s very small and can easily fit into your toddler’s backpack. On the other hand, the snack spinner is a travel essential for those toddlers who require a variety of snacks. They come with five snack compartments and an interactive button. It’s a bit larger, around 6.5 inches, so it may or may not fit in your toddler’s backpack, depending on its size.

My boys enjoying a snack from their snack spinners – a toddler travel essential.


Of course, if you have a snack catcher or spinner, you must have snacks. Honestly, they count as a form of entertainment. Below are some of my kids’ favorite travel snacks:

  • Applesauce or other pouches
  • Graham crackers
  • Cheerios
  • Veggie straws
  • Dried fruit
  • Cheese crackers
Spill-proof water bottles are high on the list of toddler travel essentials.

Spill-proof Water Bottle

A spill-proof water bottle is hands-down one of the most important toddler travel essentials since, for some unknown reason, toddlers are always thirsty. I recommend getting a bottle that can easily fit in your toddler’s backpack because they seem to be the easiest things to lose and/or forget when traveling.

Additionally, don’t fret about carrying your own drink pass airport security in a kid’s water bottle. It’s allowed, but it has to be screened. This simply means the officer will ask you to remove the top of the water bottle so they can place a paper above the opening. This ensures there are no foreign or illegal substances.

Personally, I think it’s worth it!

Screenshot from TSA.gove

Easy Clean Bibs

Toddlers are notorious for smearing food all over the table and themselves while they eat. Using a long-sleeved, easy-to-clean, waterproof bib will minimize the amount of clothing you have to change after mealtime. You’ll love them so much that they’ll become a part of your everyday diaper bag essentials.

Foldable Placemats

As toddlers, my boys LOVED to eat. I couldn’t expect us to go anywhere to eat without them wanting to share in the meal. These foldable placemats ensured my boys had something clean to eat on, that they couldn’t pick up and throw on the floor. They became so handy that they quickly became a diaper bag essential, even when we weren’t traveling. Plus, they are simple to clean. (I would use bottle and pacifier wipes.)

Portable High Chair

My son in his portable high chair, perfect for travel.

The portable high chair is another toddler travel essential that quickly became an everyday diaper bag essential. How many times have you been out to a restaurant and either there wasn’t a high chair available (especially with twins, this happens more than you would think) or the high chair was dirty?

This is also important when trying to feed your kiddo at a vacation rental or a family member’s house. Where does your kid sit? Portable high chairs ensure you have a clean place for your little one to safely sit around the table. The high chairs that we used easily adapted to almost any type of chair and folded small enough to fit two inside of our diaper bag.

Toddler Utensils

Toddler utensils are more of perk than a toddler traveling essential. Can your toddler use regular or plastic silverware? Most likely – yes. But since toddler utensils are made for your little one’s little hands, and help them master their fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, why not add them to your toddler packing list?

As a bonus, they can easily fit in your diaper bag.

Toddler Travel Checklists: Diapering Essentials

Listen –

On the first few flights with my twins, at least one of them had a blowout. If there’s one area I want to be over-prepared for when traveling with kids, it’s diapering essentials.

Changing Pad Liner

Believe it or not, some airplanes don’t have changing tables. Most have at least one bathroom with a changing table, but when there’s an emergency (because toddlers love to wait until the last minute to tell you they have to go), how would you know which one to go to?

A changing pad liner ensures you have a clean and ample space to change your toddler while traveling. It also has space for you to store diapers, wipes, and other diapering essentials. Sometimes I would bring a dog training pad so that I wouldn’t have to worry about soiling my liner. I could easily wrap all the soiled items in it and dispose.

Toddler Travel Potty

Once my twins started potty training, I wanted to ensure they were comfortable going to the potty while traveling. Therefore, I purchased a toddler travel potty before our travels so they could get comfortable using it (hopefully eliminating the possibility of them not wanting to use it while traveling).

For reference, there are (3) different toddler travel potty options:
1) Toddler travel potty that includes a bowl
2) Toddler travel potty that does NOT include a bowl
3) Toddler potty seat

There is no wrong or right option – just whatever works best for you and your toddler. We personally liked the style that included the bowl.

A toddler travel potty is high on the list of toddler travel essentials for a family vacation.

Wet Bag

Adding a wet bag to your toddler travel checklist will ensure you have a place to store any potentially soiled clothing. The last thing you want to do is put soiled clothes into your clean diaper bag!

Diapers, Training Pants, and Wipes

I’d be remiss if I didn’t add the basic necessities when it comes to diapering a toddler.

A quick suggestion to the potty training mama- don’t be afraid to use training pants while traveling, even for the kiddos who are pretty advanced. It takes the pressure off of everyone. I can’t tell you how many times my kids “suddenly” had to go potty during landing.

Toddler Plane Sleep Essentials

The best thing that could happen when flying with kids is they fall asleep during the flight. Making your toddler as comfortable as possible will help them sleep on the plane, especially on long-haul flights.

JetKids BedBox or Inflatable Travel Bed

My toddlers sleep on plane with the JetKids Bed Box.

One item that’s guaranteed to make my toddler travel checklist when I want my kiddos to sleep on the plane is a comfortable toddler travel bed.

We love the JetKids BedBox. It turns their seat into a lay-flat bed. Each time we use it, it basically guarantees they’ll get comfy enough to drift asleep. Plus, the compartment is large enough to use as a carry-on to fit your kiddo’s clothing and belongings.

Another more affordable, option is the inflatable travel bed, which wedges between your child’s seat and the seat in front of them. This way, they can stretch their legs out and fall asleep.


Planes are notorious for being cold. Be sure your toddler is as comfy as possible by adding a blanket or jacket to the travel packing list. A blanket that folds into the bag easily fits in most toddler backpacks and attaches to luggage.

Also consider adding a hat to your toddler travel checklist, especially if your kid tends to get cold easily. This could even become a diaper bag essential, as many restaurants and stores tend to be chilly.

Portable Sound Machine

Some children have a hard time falling asleep without a sound machine. If this is your kid, be sure to add a portable sound machine to your toddler travel packing list. It’s lightweight and small enough to easily fit in your diaper bag.

Toddler Travel Essential: Entertainment

When preparing for a flight, it’s common to bring some type of entertainment to pass the time in the air. Toddlers aren’t any different.

Most toddlers need multiple forms of entertainment on their travel checklist. I recommended bringing at least one new or rarely used toy/entertainment so that they are excited about playing with it, and hopefully play with it longer.

Below are some of our favorite toddler entertainment travel essentials:

Other Toddler Travel Day Essentials

My twin boys distracted by their tablets and foldable headphones at the airport. Entertainment is a toddler travel essential!

Extra Set of Clothing

An extra set of clothing is a must for both toddlers and babies, especially when checking luggage. Just remember when you’re on the plane and somehow you and/or your little one get dirty (it happens more than you can imagine), you only have what’s in your diaper bag.

Teething Toys

If your toddler is teething, it’s important to have teething toys on the travel checklist. While on the plane, your little one’s ears may pop, which may magnify their gum irritation. The sucking and chewing motion will help minimize the irritability of both the gums and ears.

Hand Sanitizer and Disinfectant Wipes

It seems as if one of toddlers’ favorite activities is to drop something on the floor and put said item in their mouth. It’s one thing when they do it at home, but it’s an entirely different game when done at the germy airport. Keeping hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes in your diaper bag will allow your baby to play happily while giving you peace of mind.

Toddler Travel Essentials: Required Documentation

What a bummer would it be to pack all of your toddler travel essentials, only to forget the correct documentation?

  • If your child is under two, they need…
    • Copy of birth certificate OR 
    • Letter from the hospital indicating age
  • If you’re traveling solo without the other parent, you need…
    • A signed and notarized letter stating permission for travel to X destination
  • Passports and/or visas (if required)

✔️ Get This Checklist as an Interactive PDF ✔️

Toddler Carry-on/Checked Luggage Packing Lis

The toddler travel essentials listed below can vary depending on the age of your toddler, their propensity to get dirty or soil their clothes, and the type of destination you’re traveling to. For example, beach vacations require their own set of travel essentials.

Toddler Travel Packing List: Clothing

These are the general packing guidelines that I use when traveling with my kids. If possible, stay at a vacation rental or hotel with a washing machine. Or come prepared with sink laundry detergent.

  • Underwear: 1 per day, plus 2 additional
  • 1 outfit per child, per day
  • 1+ additional outfits per child (especially more tops if your toddler drools a lot)
  • Socks: 1 pair per day, plus 1 additional pair because socks disappear
  • Shoes: 1-2 pairs, depending on activities
  • Pajamas: 1 per every 2 days (you may need to increase if the toddler soaks through overnight training pants)
  • Weather-specific clothes: i.e. coats, hats, or beach clothing

Toddler Travel Packing List: Toiletries

Packing as light as possible is key for traveling with kids. It’s recommended to get travel-size toiletries or use leak-proof pouches or travel containers.

Toddler Travel Checklist: Sleeping Essentials

Toddler travel beds are a toddler travel essential for your next trip.

It can be a challenge for some people to fall asleep in a new place, and toddlers aren’t any different. Therefore, recreating their home environment as closely as possible increases the chances of your little one sleeping through the night. Be sure to add these toddler travel sleeping essentials to your checklist!

Pack and Play, Portable Baby Travel Crib, or Baby Travel Tent

There are a variety of toddler travel bed options. There is no right or wrong option, it’s more what works best for your family’s needs and price point. Whichever one you decide to go with, try it out at home for a few nights just to make sure your little one enjoys sleeping in it.

Portable Black-out Curtains

In order to get some children to sleep, the room needs to be pitch black. If this is your toddler, be sure to add portable black-out curtains to the essential packing list. They are relatively small to carry and the setup is pretty simple since the attached suction cups stick to the window. It’s worth bringing them if a good night’s sleep is on the line.

Portable White Noise Machine

Similar to black-out curtains, some kids have a hard time falling asleep without a white noise machine. If this is your toddler, a portable white noise machine is indeed a travel essential. This one is compact and can attach to most things. It offers three different sounds to help your little one drown out any disruption and drift off to sleep.

Smartphone Baby Monitor 

If you’re planning to stay in a vacation rental or somewhere where your toddler will be sleeping in a different room, you may want to add a smartphone baby monitor to your packing list. The camera itself is relatively small and you use your phone as the monitor. It’s a great way to check in on your toddler without having to physically go into the room or take up a lot of space in your luggage.

Toddler Travel Essentials: Packing Light

Packing light is key when traveling with kids, especially if you’re like me and get overwhelmed when you have a lot to carry. Now you may be saying, “traveling with toddlers and packing light, that’s an oxymoron!”

Yes and no.

Yes, toddlers have more things to bring than the average person. But no, it doesn’t have to mean you overpack or bring more than you can carry. Try the tips below out for size!

Toddler Sleep on Plane_ Toddler in arms

Compression Packing Cubes

Compression packing cubes, which are different from regular packing cubes, help clear out extra air – allowing you to pack more in a small space. In fact, when using compression cubes, we’re able to pack all of the boys’ belongings either in their toddler luggage or JetKids BedBox.

Vacuum Storage Bags

Another great option for fitting your toddler’s travel essentials into a carry-on or toddler luggage is vacuum storage bags. They normally come in two options: foldable and vacuum. I personally like the vacuum storage version since they get the most air out. They’re also the easiest to use, in my opinion. Be aware that you have to carry the manual pump to get the air out of the bag while traveling. Luckily, the pump doesn’t take up much space.

Similar to the compression packing cubes, we’ve used vacuum storage bags with JetKids BedBox and toddler luggage.

Other Toddler Travel Essentials


If you know your toddler will be spending a significant amount of time at your vacation rental, you may want to add babyproofing items like outlet covers or corner protectors to your packing list. This isn’t necessarily a travel essential, but they’re nice to have to keep your toddler safe while exploring the new space.

Toddler Travel Checklist Essentials

Having a detailed toddler travel packing list can give you the confidence you need to travel with your little one with ease. It gives you a great feeling of preparedness and leaves you ready to conquer whatever may come.

In addition to having a checklist of items you need to pack, I would recommend also having a checklist that mentally walks you through each step of the flying with kids process. Think about how you can most effectively get the kids and luggage to the check-in counter. What if there’s a delay? Is there any special toy or treat you can use to pass the time? This gives you a plan and helps you feel prepared for your trip.

Of course, these are lists you can create yourself. But if you’re a parent, I’m sure your time is limited. That’s why I’ve created detailed, interactive checklists that include all of the above toddler travel essentials and allow you to track what you’ve packed, add your personal items, and browse links to my favorite products.

Family enjoying their Brazil itinerary in front of the flag and Sugarloaf Mountain

Using these checklists will not only save you time and energy, but they’re also reusable – eliminating the need to recreate the packing list for each trip.

There are three checklists available including a traveling with babies checklist, a traveling with toddlers checklist, and a traveling with kids mental preparation checklist.

✔️ Get This Checklist as an Interactive PDF ✔️

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