Top 5 Essentials for Travelling with Small Children

We went to Northern California recently to visit my cousin and hang at the beach for a while. When I first proposed the trip to Cory, he became visibly anxious at the idea of travelling with a two-year-old and a seven-month-old. Honestly, I think we hit the sweet spot for travelling since Juniper is still not mobile and easy to wear and Archer is still fairly easily distracted/entertained. The trip went as smoothly as it possibly could have and was even surprisingly relaxing! I highly recommend limiting your travel with small children to comfortable hotels/condos/rentals that provide sufficient fun without having to venture out constantly or with family, ideally family that also has small children. We did both.

In all of the travel I’ve done with one kid or two, short or small trips, there are a handful of items that have made things considerably easier for us. It never ceases to amaze me how many gadgets are invented each year for parents of babies and toddlers. It’s sometimes hard to leave all this (ahem, crap) at home, but very much worth it in order to travel light.

The Ergo Carrier

You would have to raise your children under a rock to not be familiar with the Ergo. Or, maybe I just feel that way because I live in a city full of urban hippies. The Ergo can be quickly and easily sized for either me or my husband to wear either of our kids. This makes it great for travel with two small kids because you can get around without a double stroller, but still quash toddler meltdowns in crowded areas if needed. It also allows one parent (my husband) to easily manage both little monkeys while the other parent (me) takes a much-needed break. Yea, Cory’s pretty awesome.

There are a million different baby carriers out there and it is worth researching to figure out which one (or two, or three) are best for you before you invest. I’ve tried a wide variety and the soft-sided carriers (namely, the Ergo) are my favorite. Here is a great comparison chart of soft-sided carriers. I second her opinion that the Baby Bjorn is the worst and a total waste of money.

Phil and Ted’s Wiggle Wrapper

I keep this in our car in case we go out to eat somewhere that doesn’t have highchairs. It’s especially convenient for travel since you can secure your little one to just about any chair for mealtime, playtime, or just to make sure your roving toddler doesn’t electrocute himself while you are taking a dump. It could happen.

Airlines will not allow you to use it during takeoff and landing, but we have found that it works better than trying to wear your squirmy worm whilst he ferociously kicks your neighbors elbows. P & T advertise that it works for securing them while sleeping, but our littles sleep on their tummies and I’m not sure how you would get your child to go to sleep while secured to the bed in the Wiggle Wrapper.

It’s about the size of a three DVDs stacked on each other and is functional for both our kids on just about any chair. Works for both kiddos, lightweight, and compact, what more do you want?

The UppaBaby G-Luxe Stroller

Unless you are an avid runner or crazed shopaholic, this could be the only stroller you ever need. It’s great for both babies and toddlers and easy to adjust when you switch…noticing a trend here? It’s comfortable for the kiddies with a nearly-full recline, adjustable footrest, large canopy, and padded seat. It’s comfortable for the parents with a good-size basket, cup holder, lightweight frame, and smooth maneuverability. It basically has all the tricked-out features of a high-end stroller on the body of an umbrella stroller.

Baby Food Squeeze Pouches

Do you taste your baby’s food? I do. And when she doesn’t like something, I’m usually not surprised because it makes me want to gag as well. I discovered the Peter Rabbit brand while in California and it is delicious! They do a good job of letting the flavor of their vegetables not be overpowered by the fruit. I try to make baby food at home when I can, but these packets just can’t be beat for travel. Skip the little spoon gadget, (it just over fills the spoon and makes a mess) and wrap up a baby spoon in one of these stellar bibs that easily wipes clean.

Toddler Nap Mat

Our two-year old attends Montessori School and sleeps on the nap mat that I made for him using this tutorial. It fits perfectly in the front pocket of my huge new hot pink suitcase and the familiarity helps to keep him from crawling into bed with us. My favorite nap mats for purchase are the Pottery Barns versions above, but if you know your way around a sewing machine, it’s fairly easy to make one. I love Michael Miller’s flannel prints and used Zoology for Archer’s mat.

It’s easy enough to get a pack and play from hotels for the baby, but our two-year-old is way too big for travel cribs and way too squirmy to sleep with us. It’s much easier to stuff his nap mat in the suitcase than to pay for a room with an extra bed or make arrangements for an extra bed at someone’s house. It also doubles as a play mat for both kids instead of having them spread out all over the floor.

Regardless of what you decide to pack (or leave behind) when travelling with small children, the most important thing is to just get out there. I’m proud to say that we conquered a week-long out-of-state trip with an infant and toddler and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There are a million and one tips on travelling with kids but, ultimately, the more you do it, the easier it will be. So have faith in your kids and go book yourself a ticket!