If you’re planning on traveling with toddlers, you’ve probably been spending time on Google and Pinterest looking at all the family travel tips and things to make travel easier with your little energy-filled humans. I know, I’ve been there! But after buying lots of neat travel caddies and trendy ‘must have’ travel essentials for toddlers, most of what I’ve bought quickly got boring or went unused!

So THIS is MY personal list of toddler must haves for traveling that REALLY DID make travel easier for OUR family. Hopefully, this list of toddler necessities 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 travel- including airplane travel, long bus trips and train rides.

Two toddlers holding hands walking down a cobbled street in Europe | Travel Essentials for Toddlers: 5 Must Haves For Traveling With Toddlers Family Travel Tip Blog
Our toddlers holding hands in Cuenca, Spain.

These items are mostly going to be travel essentials for toddlers rather than activities.

When it comes to activities for traveling with toddlers, it’s important to consider what YOUR kiddo enjoys. For example, one of my toddlers had no interest in coloring pages, but LOVED craft activities. Our youngest, on the other hand, would sit for hours coloring and be totally content.

So when looking for things that will keep your toddler happy and entertained on long journeys. A bit of creative shopping for things YOUR kiddo will actually enjoy doing will REALLY pay off.

(PS- If that’s means tablet time, who cares? A couple of hours playing on an iPhone instead of squirming, whining, and kicking the seat in front of them is still a win. Traveling with toddlers is hard, and we don’t do it often. It’s okay to splurge on screen time a bit.)

I’ve also tried to keep this list of travel accessories for toddlers fairly affordable. We REALLY put effort into keeping our family travel on a budget. So I try to make sure we’re only suggesting items that are truly worth the money and won’t break the bank.

BTW- If you haven’t seen my ‘5 Must Have Travel Items for Making Travel Easier With Kids‘ post, be sure check it out for some awesome gear that makes traveling so much easier for the WHOLE family. πŸ₯°

Anyhoo, with the disclaimer(s) out of the way… Here are our travel essentials for toddlers.

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.

Fun N Fly Foldable Travel Tray – Blue Red Portable…
  • Child-safe Multi-purpose Play Space for Airplane Travel
  • Folds and Unfolds in Seconds: Have Your Little One Playing in No Time
  • Durable and Machine Washable: Clean Up Any Spills Quickly, Wash at the End of the Trip!

When making your list of what to bring when traveling with toddlers, this amazing folding tray should be considered one of your toddler necessities for the cleanliness aspect alone. (Yay for less germ contact!)

There are other types of trays like this with different brands or features. But (IMHO) this is the best one. It folds smaller and is so much easier to toss into my carry-on or diaper bag on the go.

Quick Tip For Traveling With Toddlers:

One of the things I really love about this particular brand is that it’s machine washable. So your kiddo can have their snacks on the mat and if they make a mess, no worries! Toss it in the washing machine. ;)

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 reaching toys, sippy cups, and who knows what else! Dropping things underneath plane seats, bus seats, etc. seems to be a toddler pastime.

Folding travel tray shown on airplane traveling with toddlers

And let me just say ,those spaces are tight! It’s quite a feat to get back whatever precious item my little one may have dropped.

But this neat little tray has raised sides- therefore keeping all your kids travel essentials and activities neatly INSIDE (and off the floor)! Talk about a product that actually makes travel easier! πŸ˜…

Raised sides + compact foldability = total score!

It’s also at the top of my list because traveling Europe with kids involves LOTS of train rides. Many European trains have fold-down trays (or sometimes even tables!), making this a foldable tray a must-have for family travel gear if you’ve got smaller kiddos. Just unfold it on top of the train’s try, and you’re all set!

I bet you didn’t expect a TOILET seat to be on my list of toddler necessities…. but here’s the thing. This has been one of my MUST HAVE travel essentials for toddlers and small kids. 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 bag, easy peasy!

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Jool Baby Folding Travel Potty Seat for Toddlers,…
  • Our Folding Travel Potty Seat fits most standard and public toilets securely, and works great for toddler boys & girls.
  • Award winning: 1st place winner of the 2019 Drug Store News/ECRM Buyer’s Choice Award!
  • Perfect for on the Go: Small, lightweight, and includes a free travel bag that makes it easy to take around.

How many times have you gone somewhere and had to hold your little one up over a public toilet? Maybe because it’s dirty, or because their little bodies 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. But this is definitely the winner of ALL of the must haves for traveling with 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 its own little carry bag, so I can just give it a quick wipe and toss it back in the bag. Then when I get home, I spray the seat and inside the bag with Lysol. So easy!

And this awesome seat is surprisingly affordable. Which gives me another reason to have it on my list of toddler travel essentials!

With such amazing ratings, this brand is truly the best travel potty seat for toddlers! It’s seriously just the smartest invention to make life easier when traveling with toddlers, and is always on my list of family travel tips. Nobody likes dirty public toilets, so this product just rocks.

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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. That means they are not only easy for toddlers (and babies) to use, but their fun designs get toddlers excited to wear them!

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CozyPhones Over The Ear…
  • SUPER COMFORTABLE KIDS HEADPHONES – with thin 1/8″ volume…
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  • THE PERFECT GIFT FOR HOLIDAYS – a unique and fun gift for…
  • FINALLY – HEADBAND HEADPHONES YOUR KIDS WILL LOVE –…

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! We have both the standard wired version and Bluetooth wireless version. They are a favorite item to bring on all of our family travel, from plane rides to road trips.

And speaking of road trips, be sure to check out these awesome toddler road trip hacks from Destination Momhood if you’re planning one!

The toddler sized headphones we use have wires, which I actually love, because I was able to position the sound pads over their ears better. The speakers on the wireless ones are sewn into place, making them less adjustable.

More Helpful Travel Tips With Toddlers:

Don’t forget to bring along your toddler’s favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or other comfort items. These can help soothe and calm them in unfamiliar settings. When we’re in the flow of making packing lists, we can sometimes forget the ‘big’ things that really DO make travel easier for our kiddos.

I should also note that the wired ones are sized smaller than the bluetooth version. They have been perfect for our kids from around 1.5 years old 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. By age 4, she needed a bigger size. These wireless ones are a better fit for older kids or kiddos with larger heads.

Our kids in toddler headphones on the airplane to make travel easier
Our kiddos LOVED their headphones!

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. Especially because traveling with toddlers usually includes plenty of spare clothes!

When deciding what to pack when traveling with a toddler, cozy headphones that fold up small without breaking are the BEST!

You can click here to check out the bluetooth (wireless) ones, or click here to see the wired ones like ours. Both are amazing must have toddler items that really do make traveling easier. 😍

Oh! I almost forgot! The CozyPhones brand has 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!

They also get recommended often on facebook as well when asking for family vacation tips or suggestions to make travel easier for little ones. The fun designs help get kids excited to wear them, too, which is always a plus. (They also have branded versions with Paw Patrol, Sesame Street, and other fun characters!)

Okay, this is one of those super important toddler necessities that goes BEYOND travel. 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. I won’t go so far as to say they’re controversial. Nevertheless, there may be some outsider judgement involved.

But if you’ve ever had a wild child, these are worth every penny! You know… that kid who learns to walk and then suddenly decides to just want to run off at random. The child 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.’

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Blisstime Anti Lost Wrist Link Safety Wrist Link…
  • Keep toddlers close to you and at the same time give them…
  • Easy to use: All you need to do is connect the wristbands to…
  • Soft & Comfortable: Soft double layers of hook and loop for…
  • Sturdy: The coiled cord is made of stainless steel and…

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 she was going, but she’d decided she was gonna get there… 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. πŸ˜…

It became one of our must haves for traveling AND for busy, public places!

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!

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! πŸ₯΄

But for those of us raising a kiddo who just loves to explore and test their limits, these safety lanyards are a serious blessing. 😜

Blisstime Toddler Wrist Link shown on toddler necessities for travel

And this one has LOTS of great reviews and safety features that I really just love as a mom. It’s also fairly inexpensive, which is GREAT when trying to keep your family travel on a budget.

It’s definitely on our list of travel essentials for toddlers (thanks, Kid No. 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! We have enough to worry about when traveling with toddlers, am I right?!)

If you’re not too wild about the idea of having your child attached to you while traveling, I totally get it. It’s not for everyone, and that’s ok.

But it’s definitely topped our list of things that make travel EASIER with small, energetic kids- and there’s been a few times I’ve been so glad to have included it in our go-to family travel gear.

And coming back to the topic of traveling on a budget for a quick second, if you haven’t had the chance to see my awesome post about our family travel budget & FREE vacation calculator/planner, you should definitely check that out for some great family travel tips to save some cash!

I almost made it through this list of travel essentials for toddlers without including any ‘activities’. This is 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!! I buy them for every big road trip or long plane ride.

WIKKI STIX Arts & Crafts for Kids Primary Park of…
  • Pak contains 48 Wikki Stix in 8” length in four bright…
  • Calming sensory fidget toy for fine motor development and…
  • Teaching tool for classroom or homeschooling in economic…
  • Hands-on, tactile, and engaging, Wikki Stix make learning…
  • Wikki Stix are the timeless toy for hands-on fun and…

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 toddlers (or any kids), 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. 🀩

Quick family travel tip:

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!)

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, yay…)

Wikki Sticks for traveling with toddlers being played with on airplane window. Wording on top of image says Great for travel. Fun fidget toy.

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. 😜

Everything I’ve added to this list are things to make travel easier or simpler based on our family’s travel experiences.

Your list of travel accessories for toddlers might be a bit different- and that’s totally ok!

If you’ve found any toddler or kids travel essentials that you absolutely LOVE, or even any cool travel with kids tips, please share them below in the comments so we can all make travel easier! πŸ₯°

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4 Comments

  1. These are some great tips! My parents often had these items (or similar items) for my brother and I when we were growing up, but there are also a few things on this list I had not considered before.

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