Unless you’re traveling to someone in the middle of nowhere, chances are you’ll have a store close, but no one wants to buy things they already have at home. That’s why you need a list of things you can’t forget to pack when traveling with kids.
Packing for kids is harder than packing for adults.
Parents have to be ready for all the what-ifs when they pack for kids.
What if my kid goes through all of their clothes before we head home? What if they’re bored and throwing tantrums? What if he has an allergic reaction?
You want to have a good time on your vacation – that’s the goal after all – and a single mishap is all that it takes to make a day miserable even if you’re at an amazing destination. I know I’ve learned by mistakes and found things that I can’t forget to pack when traveling with kids.
I asked on my Instagram stories for parents to give me some of their must-have items when traveling with kids, and I put together a list. Make sure you remember these the next time you go to the beach with your family!
14 Things You Can’t Forget to Pack When Traveling with Kids
1. Pack ‘n Play (and Sheets)
Babies sleep best when they’re in familiar areas, so bringing along their pack ‘n play will help your child sleep better. Make sure you bring along a set or two of sheets to go with the pack ‘n play and the mattress.
I typically bring two sets of pack ‘n play sheets because all it takes is for a nighttime diaper to leak and you have dirty sheets. These waterproof pack ‘n play sheets by Ely’s & Co are my FAVE – they’re so soft!
If you have a toddler or an older child, chances are you don’t need to bring along a toddler travel bed because most hotels or family beach houses provide comfortable sleeping spots. I do suggest that you bring their pillows and a blanket from home; kids love to feel comfortable.
Comfortable kids sleep better and that leads to fewer meltdowns. Get all the sleep on vacation as possible!
2. Sound Machine
Another must-have traveling item is a sound machine, even if your child doesn’t use one at home.
Well, when you travel, there are all kinds of new sounds, especially if you’re at a popular vacation destination. Sound machines not only provide a comforting sound that helps your child fall asleep, but they also drown out sounds that come from outside that might disrupt your child’s sleep.
All you have to do is put on the sound machine and not worry that the laughing teens in the room next to yours will wake up your baby.
The Yogasleep Portable White Noise Machine is awesome. It’s rechargeable and works with a USB port, so you can use it in the car!
3. Baby Monitor
I think that a baby monitor is a must if you’re staying at a vacation house rather than a hotel. We stay at a beach house when we visit Holden Beach throughout the summer, and having a baby monitor allows me to go down to the beach when my toddler is napping.
I know that he is safe and asleep while my older kids play in the surf and sand. You also can use one if you’re sitting on the deck at night having a drink while all of your kids snooze. It gives you peace of mind, and I think we need all the peace possible, especially while on vacation.
4. Baby Wipes
Baby wipes are my jam, guys.
Yes, you need them for diaper changes, but they’re so useful on vacation. Use them to clean off sticky hands and messy faces after getting ice cream for the second time that day.
We don’t judge when traveling!
Use baby wipes to clean off the table at restaurants, or use them on the airplane tray. If your toddler spills something in their car seat, baby wipes are great for cleaning off car seat straps.
5. Diaper Cream
So, this is another one of those items that you probably keep on hand anyway if you have a baby, but I have it on my traveling list for another reason.
Whenever we go to the beach, I always have a tube of diaper cream because it helps with chafing. One year, my oldest son ended up with terrible chafing on his thighs after a day at the beach. He was miserable! My best friend told me to use some Desitin, and by the next day, he felt so much better.
Now, I keep diaper cream on hand all the time when traveling. You never know when you might need it, and you might not know that there are many different uses for diaper cream. Since most diaper creams contain zinc oxide, it’s a substitute if you forget sunscreen – don’t do that though – and it helps with cracked heels!
6. Screens! – iPads or Kindles
We aren’t a screen-free family around here. If your family is, I give you props, but we are all about the iPads or Kindles.
Having some sort of electronics helps when you’re traveling with kids, and it’s something you definitely don’t want to forget to pack. Our kids watch TV shows, YouTube, and play games on their iPads. It makes road trips a lot more enjoyable, and if you’re waiting for a seat at a restaurant, everyone is happier all around.
Don’t have an iPad? The Amazon Kindle Fires are a budget-friendly option that are perfect for kids.
7. Portable High Chair
I love portable high chairs! Some of the high chairs at restaurants are questionable – why are they always sticky?
I found that many vacation rentals don’t include high chairs, and my toddlers and babies eat best in one. I’m not sure why that is but if I try to hold them to eat, they never seem to eat as much.
A portable high chair is a great option. I like the Hiccapop Omniboost Travel Booster; it comes with a tray and sits independently. Some places don’t have tables that are sturdy enough to hook a portable high chair onto, so I like ones that sit on chairs or on the floor. You can use this at grandma’s, at the lake, or in a restaurant!
8. Medications for Kids
I always suggest bringing along some medications that your child might need; being on vacation doesn’t mean your child won’t get hurt or get sick.
I use a plastic Ziploc bag and bring along with us:
- Cold & Cough Medicine
In most cases, I don’t need these medications, but at times, I have. One time, my daughter stepped on a bee and had a reaction; thankfully, I had Benadryl on hand.
9. Sunscreen and Lotion
Sunscreen and lotion are two other things you don’t want to forget to pack.
You always want to have sunscreen with you; babies and toddlers have delicate skin that burns much easier. That’s the last thing you want. So, keep your kids safe while traveling, and don’t forget to bring sunscreen for yourself as well!
Lotion is something else that I love to have on hand. When we go to the beach, I find that we end up with dry and cracked feet, and sometimes, the changes in climate lead to chapped lips and skin. If you end up getting too much sun, lotion helps to hydrate your skin and ease any discomfort.
10. Small First Aid Kit
I might be a bit too cautious, but I keep a travel first aid kit with us no matter where we go. Believe it or not, I’ve gotten a lot of use out of it, and I’ve had to restock the kit a few times.
No matter where we travel, I have a first aid kit. Kids are little wrecking balls, and they’ve gotten a few injuries along the way. Having a first aid kit helps me feel better and lets me address any problem that might come up. This goes along with the medications listed above.
Are my kids the only ones who seem to get cold when no one else feels chilly?
The last thing you want is to listen to your toddlers cry because they’re cold when you feel comfortable driving. I always make sure everyone has a blanket or two packed, and if I’m taking a road trip, their blankets are close by so that we can grab them and snuggle whenever they feel chilly.
Blankets also help your child feel more comfortable and close to home.
12. All The Snacks!
When I posted on Instagram asking what you can’t forget to pack, I had so many parents say SNACKS! Kids are universal; they love to eat, and if they’re hungry, they turn into something inhuman. They turn angry and vicious; it’s an easy way to end up with a headache.
Bring along all the snacks, especially if you’re taking a road trip, and if you’re flying, you’re allowed to take snacks on an airplane as well!
Some snack ideas that my kids love are:
- Granola Bars
- Goldfish Crackers
- Peanut Butter Crackers
- Cheese Sticks
- Pepperoni Sticks
- Applesauce Pouches
- Fruit Snacks
13. Plastic Bags
You need to have a few plastic, Ziploc bags whenever you’re traveling. That might sound weird, but hear me out.
I’ve experienced kids throwing up in the car, diaper explosions, kids falling in the water, and everything else in between. Having someplace to put those wet clothes that isn’t your diaper bag is a must, and you also don’t want them in your car. Wet clothes stink, especially if they have body fluids on them.
So, keep a few Ziploc bags on hand. I bring the freezer bag sizes – a gallon. They fit well into my glove box, and if I need them, I have them, and honestly, I’ve needed them several times.
14. Extra Shoes
Chances are you know that you need to pack extra clothes, extra socks, and extra diapers, but did you remember to bring extra shoes?
My oldest son loves to break shoes, and he has broken shoes at the worse times possible, like in the middle of an amusement park and while camping. Now, I’ve gotten into the habit of packing at least one extra pair of shoes for each of my kids.
Don’t Forget to Pack These Things
I believe that more is better when you’re packing for kids; you never know what’s going to happen. Being prepared is the name of the game! So, don’t forget to pack these 14 things – they’ll help your getaway run smoother.