Fair warning, this list is very much a work-in-progress. In the past 15 months we’ve had the amazing opportunity to leave everything we know behind and move to the other side of the world. In that time, we have slept on trains, planes, and boats, met some incredible people, and have visited seven different countries – all with two little kids in tow. It has been an incredible journey so far, even though traveling with littles can be difficult it can also make things way more fun. During our travels we’ve stumbled upon a few things that really have made traveling with kids much easier. Yes, there are a ton of these types of lists all over the Internet, but most of them are crazy (travel size French press, really?) and after many international trips there are a few select items that we make sure not to leave home without. We plan on periodically updating this list as we have new additions, but so far we are happy to share our top 5 favorite items for kid friendly travel.
There are very few things more important on a vacation (or life in general) than quality sleep. No matter how amazing your day is, if you are not able succumb to the sweet embrace of sleep at the end of it, the following day won’t be nearly as great. This becomes even more difficult when traveling with little ones (particularly when trying to be cost conscious). We bought the KidCo Pea Pod on a whim from Amazon when looking for an option for a travel friendly Pack ‘n Play because let’s be real, no one is toting around our +20lb. traditional Pack ‘n Play, not every hotel in Asia has cribs available, and sharing the bed with a thrashing 2-year-old is not our idea of a great time. Our kids (first Miles, then Penny) have slept in the PeaPod on overnight trains through Thailand (see below), in airport lounges during long layovers (see us hanging out in Bangkok above), and in many, many hotels. Penny loves it, as it’s her own little safe place and she has come to recognize that it’s bed time once she sees it come out and crawls right in at the end of the day. In hotels, we generally try to set it up on top of couch/chair cushions to give her a little extra padding. In the morning, it folds down into a little pouch that can easily fit into a checked bag. On occasion, we’ve even packed it in a backpack for long layovers. It has been a lifesaver.
Buy it Here
2. Osprey Mira 34L or Manta 36L Backpack
Yes, a hiking backpack might seem like an overkill for a trip through Toyko or Kuala Lumpur. In reality, however, the size of this bag is perfect for diapers, wipes, toys, a bib, blankets, and some jackets to ensure everyone stays nice and warm on long flights. It’s got a plethora of pockets, making it perfect to stash passports inside, battery packs, and even bottles for the kids. Once you get to your destination, its perfect to switch gears and use it as a day pack for all of your essentials. Compression straps on the outside are both amazing for hanging objects off of but also to compress bulky items like blankets. As a bonus, it’s got a built-in rain cover to keep things nice and dry when you get caught in a random downpour. We got ours on clearance at an outdoor shop in Virginia as it was closing, and never imagined that we would use it nearly as much as we have.
3. Make My Day Soft Silicone travel bib (or similar)
Trying to feed an infant or toddler on-the-go can be an absolute nightmare. Think you are prepared with pouches or zip lock bags of goldfish? Wrong! We both know they are going to be chewed up and spit out all over that fresh shirt, your tiny airplane seat, or when trying to calm tired kiddos down in the back of a taxi. This bib has been amazing, as it attaches easily, has a built-in shape to catch debris, and can roll up (even trapping said dropped items within if you are without a wipe) when you are done. It’s really easy to wipe clean due to its silicone construction and can compress down into the tiniest of spaces in a full backpack. Plus dishwasher safe when you’re at home!
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Strollers are great, but when you have a backpack on, holding one kid’s hand to make sure they don’t disappear into a mass of humanity on a train, and your other hand is rolling your checked bag you simply don’t have that luxury. Not to mention many countries don’t have the same ADA requirements as the U.S., making that convenient stroller a huge pain when you have to carry it up a huge flight of stairs. Solution? Get yourself a nice baby carrier. Tula brand is our favorite, as they look nice, keep your babies’ hips in a healthy position, pack down when necessary, and are very comfortable to wear for long times when your kid FINALLY falls asleep, making nap time on-the-go a real possibility. Tula comes in several sizes depending on the size of your child. We currently wear Penny in a standard and when necessary we can wear Miles in a toddler. The standard can be used with an infant insert when your precious babe is still itty bitty as well. The “Free to Grow” carrier was not released when Penny (now 2-years-old) was born, however that Tula carrier can be used without a newborn infant insert through standard size (I love the idea of not having to have an insert as it’s one less thing to keep track of). If there is ever another babe in our family we will most definitely be investing in the Free to Grow as we have been so happy with Tula products!
Buy It Here
5. Priority Pass Membership
So calling this a “must have” is absolutely ridiculous, we completely recognize that. However, you cannot underestimate how nice it is to have a place to claim sanctuary in a busy airport on a long (or short) layover. Most have great food choices, free drinks for both kids and adults, and enough space for you to claim a little corner for your family. Our kids know that being able to go to a lounge is a privilege, and that they must be on their best behavior while inside. They also know they are going to get a snack and a chance to chill out for a bit – this in itself seems to reset them during a long travel day. Must have? Certainly not, but it’s been a perk that has legitimately made travel way more enjoyable. We got our memberships for “free” as part of a travel credit card. Travel “hacking” using credit card rewards has been instrumental in helping us travel the world without over-spending, and we will be adding more information about that soon!
We have an entire section on travel rewards coming soon, but in the meantime get more info Here.
Happy Traveling, folks!