If you're planning on traveling with a toddler, you've probably been spending some time on Google and Pinterest looking at all the tips and hacks for things to make travel easier with your little energy-filled humans. I know, I've been there lots of times- and after buying lots of neat travel caddies and specific travel essentials for toddlers, most of what I've bought quickly got boring, and I needed to update my toddler travel items list STAT!
So this is MY list of toddler travel necessities that REALLY DID make traveling easier for our family. Hopefully, this list will give you some new ideas and save you some frustrated plane, train and bus trips!
This post lists a few of the items that WE have personally used on our family trips for airplane travel, and for long bus and train rides. They are mostly going to be toddler travel necessities rather than activities.
When it comes to activities, it's important to consider what YOUR toddler enjoys. For example, one of my toddlers had no interest in coloring pages, but loved craft type things. Our youngest would sit for hours and color and be totally content, on the other hand.
So when looking for things that will keep your toddler happy and entertained on long journeys, don't just take others' word for it- do a bit of creative shopping for things YOUR kiddo will actually enjoy doing.
(PS- if that's a tablet screen, who cares? An couple of hours playing on an iPhone instead of squirming, whining, and kicking the seat in front of them is still a win.)
BTW- if you haven't seen my '5 Must Have Travel Items for Making Travel Easier' post, be sure check it out for some awesome gear that makes traveling so much easier for the WHOLE family. 🥰
Anyhoo, with that disclaimer out of the way- here are our travel essentials for toddlers.
Must Have Travel Items #1:
This is a genius product- created by moms- and has saved me so much frustration while traveling!
First of all, this tray keeps toys and snacks clean and free from touching airplane trays, train tables, or whatever other surface your toddler will use to place their things on.
No matter how much wiping down I've done of those trays, they still seem grimy and gross. So this is a HUGE perk in itself.
When making your list of what to bring when traveling with a toddler, this amazing folding tray should be considered for the cleanliness aspect alone. (Yay for less germ contact!)
There are other types of trays like this, but honestly this one is the best (IMHO) because it folds smaller and is just easier to toss into my carry-on or diaper bag without much hassle.
But there is ANOTHER reason I absolutely LOVE these trays. And if you've already done some traveling with little ones, you probably will know exactly what I'm about to mention...
My kids have dropped ANYTHING and EVERYTHING at some point during our journeys.
I've had to bend and twist my body like a pretzel to reach toys, sippy cups, and who knows what else that has been dropped underneath plane seats, bus seats, etc.
And those spaces are tight- so it was quite a feat to get back whatever precious item my little one has dropped.
So the fact that this neat little tray has raised sides- therefore keeping all your kids travel essentials and activities neatly INSIDE (and off the floor)- has prevented so much frustration of trying to reach dropped objects without bumping the seats around me. Talk about a product that actually makes traveling easier! 😅
Raised sides + compact foldability = total score!
Must Have Travel Essentials For Toddler #2:
Okay, y'all... this item has been one of my must have travel items for a while now... it is the LITERAL best travel essential for toddlers- and let me tell you why...
This product isn't just for travel. I bring it everywhere- to the park, to restaurants- you name it. It folds up and fits right into my purse, easy peasy!
How many times have you gone somewhere and had to hold your little one up over a public toilet- either because it's dirty or because they might fall in?!
This is no longer a problem, thanks to this genius invention. Seriously, I'm obsessed with this folding toilet seat!
I wish they had this around when my oldest was little!
In fact, I've bought a few different 'toilet' items over the years, and this is definitely the winner of all the must have travel items for toddlers.
It folds nicely, it doesn't pinch their little tooshies, and it is easy to pop onto any size or shape of toilet. Also, it has it's own little carry bag, so I can just give it a quick wipe and toss it in the bag after using it. Then when I get home, I spray the seat and inside the bag with Lysol. So easy!
And this awesome seat is surprisingly affordable, giving me another reason to have it on my list of smaller kids travel essentials!
What To Bring When Traveling With A Toddler #3:
This is one of our family's must have travel items- even the big kids have snuck a few turns using these.
These headphones are made in a soft and comfortable headband style, which is not only easy for toddlers (and babies) to use, but their fun designs get toddlers excited to wear them!
If you've got picky kids like mine, they might have complained about other headphones- even the ones with the soft cushions- hurting their ears.
So I was excited to find these- and we've reliably been using ours since late 2017! They have both the standard wired version and Bluetooth wireless version.
Our headphones have wires, which I actually love, because I was able to position the sound pads over their ears better. The wireless ones are sewn into place, making them less adjustable.
I should also note that the wired ones are sized smaller than the bluetooth version- so they have been perfect for our family from about 1.5 years up to about 5-6.
Our older toddler (who is a bit large for her age and has a head size that rivaled my 9 year old at the time we bought these) outgrew hers more quickly, and by age 4 she needed a bigger size. The wireless ones are a better fit for older kids or kiddos with larger heads.
Another perk to these (aside from being comfortable and cute) is that they fold up quite small. Since we're packing for a family of 7, every bit of space in our bags counts.
When deciding what to pack when traveling with a toddler, cozy headphones that fold up small without breaking are the BEST!
They also have cartoon ones from Paw Patrol, PJ Masks, and Sesame Street, as well as other fun animal designs. So toddlers REALLY do love wearing and using them!
Oh! I almost forgot- these have been parent tested / parent approved (and have thousands of rave reviews on Amazon), so not only do I love them, but TONS of parents love them too!
Must Have Travel Items For Toddlers #4:
Okay, this is one of those super important toddler travel necessities- but it comes with a warning. I've actually been made fun of for having one of these... and not all parents approve of the idea.
But if you've ever had a wild child, it's worth every penny. You know... that kid who learns to walk and suddenly decides to just want to run off at random with no fear, no worries and no limits??
That was our 4th child. SHE was the child that inspired me to finally buy the controversial 'kid leash.'
It actually wasn't until we were walking through the Orlando Airport when she was about 2.5- and she suddenly just TOOK OFF RUNNING on her little toddler legs like it was nobody's business! No clue why or where, but she'd decided she was going... and fast!
I quickly chased after her and she was fine, thank goodness! She didn't make it very far, and there wasn't a lot of people in the area at the time. (Whew!)
But I was on Amazon that night shopping for a 'kid leash' like my sanity depended on it.
We went to lots of theme parks, zoos, and other busy places and I never again had to worry that she was going to just up and RUN, because her little wrist was attached to mine. It was beautiful!
It became one of our must have toddler items even when we weren't traveling!
And as far as those other mommies who (not so politely) judged me for 'putting my kid on a leash like a dog' I just have to say that thank heavens you've never had a kid that made you feel like you needed one! 🥴
But for those of us raising a kiddo who just loves to explore and test their limits, these safety lanyards are a serious blessing. 😜
And this one has LOTS of great reviews and safety features that I really just love as a mom.
It's definitely on our list of toddler travel necessities (thanks, Kid #4...) at our house!
Also, since we are on the topic of travel safety- I want to share this fantastic article by SafeWise, called 10 Safety Tips for Taking Your Kids on Vacation. It has a few helpful and easy to implement tips to help make your trip a bit safer for little ones (which means less stressful for parents, too!)
Must Have Travel Items For Toddlers #5:
I almost made it through this list without including any 'activities' because kids all have different interest and you never know if it will be a hit or a miss.
BUT- Wikki Sticks have been on our list of travel essentials for toddlers, big kids, and even our teens love them!!
They are a no-fail activity that hits all of our big checkboxes:
- They take up very little space
- Wikki sticks are super affordable so you can keep them or toss them
- They promote creativity and free imaginative play
- These sticks DON'T make a mess (like most 'creative' toys or activities do)
- Literally ALL ages love these little things!!
When making your list of what to bring when traveling with a toddler, these are always a huge hit.
And, I'm going to be honest, I've logged in some play time with these as well. I've had stick figure building contests with my kids, we've made 'gardens' and cars and silly mustaches... they really are just fun and enjoyable to play with. 🤩
Just be sure to buy enough- I've bought the 8 or 12 pack, which really isn't enough to get super creative. (Plus the kids will bicker over who gets which sticks, or whatever...)
The 48 pack of WikkiSticks is a really great size because they have enough to entertain 1-2 kids (or you and your toddler) without needing more sticks.
There are bigger packs (like 200? 500?) if you're looking to separate them for multiple kids or if you travel A LOT and want to just buy them once and bring a chunk of them at a time.
These could actually be on my more general list of kids travel essentials because they really do make traveling easier and keep our whole family entertained.
But I ALWAYS suggest them to friends or family asking what to pack for a trip with a toddler- so this seemed like a more specific list to add them to. 😜
(Quick travel hack- screenshot this list of 50 things you can make with Wikki Sticks so it's handy on your phone for long bus, train or plane rides! Talk about ideas galore!)
And that's it for my list of what to bring when traveling with a toddler- hopefully you like these suggestions!
Everything I've added to this list are things to make travel easier or simpler based on our family's travel experiences.
Your travel items list might be a bit different- and that's totally ok!
If you've found any toddler or kids travel essentials that you absolutely LOVE, please share them below in the comments so we can all travel easier! 🥰
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