13 Toddler Travel Essentials [No More Tantrums]
Traveling the world is a life-long pursuit that shouldn’t stop when you have children—there are far too many cultures to learn about, cuisines to taste, and breath-taking views to take in. However, as you probably already know, traveling with a toddler can present some unique challenges.
Traveling all by yourself can be difficult; delayed flights, getting lost on your way to the hotel, and misunderstandings due to language barriers are some common challenges when traveling, just to name a few. If you’re bringing along a toddler, you’ll still have to navigate those challenges while simultaneously helping your child sleep, eat, and stay entertained.
While that list of responsibilities might seem exhausting at first, don’t feel stressed—many families travel with kids of all ages, and the benefits of helping your child experience the world first hand far outweigh any costs that may come with the territory. While every child is different, there are some things that seem to help in just about every situation.
Keep reading for a list of 13 toddler travel essentials that we recommend for all parents traveling with toddlers!
1. Toddler Travel Essentials: Pack a Portable Pillow!
As you’re probably aware, sleep is the biggest factor in a toddler’s mood (and nothing like a tantrum to make the whole family feel on edge during a vacation). According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children between the ages of 1-2 need to get 11-14 hours of sleep each day. While traveling, kids are not in their typical sleep environment, making it difficult to relax. Because of this, it’s important to take advantage of moments while traveling to get some extra zzzzz’s.
Our Toddler Pillow Cubs are perfect for on-the-go naps. Smaller and more packable than our full-sized Pillow Cube, the foldable animal themed Pillow Cube is a must-have while traveling with toddlers. Good for adults and children alike, it will help you sleep better and feel more rested when you wake up.
Kids love animals—especially stuffed animals—so you can let them choose between a Sleepy Sloth, Uniquely Unicorn, Silly Shark, or Helpful Husky for their personal travel pillow. What’s better than a furry friend that doubles as a pillow? This may be the biggest kept toddler travel secret out there…
2. Toddler Travel Essentials: Save the Day With Snacks
If there was ever one tried and true solution to resolving a toddler’s tantrum, it would be snacks, and lots of them. Most toddlers are picky when it comes to food, so make sure to pack a good amount of your child’s favorite snacks in case you can’t find them in the place you are traveling to (especially if it is out of the country). In addition to the snacks themselves, finding toddler-friendly snack containers that limit spills is of extreme importance.
3. A Lightweight Stroller for When Your Toddler (Inevitably) Doesn’t Want to Walk
No toddler wants to walk around an airport or city all day, and chances are you wouldn’t want that either, especially if you’re in a rush to get somewhere on time. Strollers are an absolute must when traveling, and they can often serve more purposes than simply carrying your child—strollers often have pouches to store supplies or have a place to hang your backpack, they can allow your child to get some sleep while you walk to your next destination, and some have a bar for another child to stand on so that you can all stay together on a busy sidewalk. Just make sure to find a stroller that is lightweight and easy to carry—as much use as you’ll definitely get out of it, you’ll also need to carry it a good amount of the time.
4. Toddler-Friendly Backpacks
Carrying their own backpack filled with snacks and toys will help your toddler feel like they are in control (especially situations that can sometimes be overwhelming), help them practice responsibility, and give them the easiest access to fulfilling their most immediate needs.
If you’re worried about losing your toddler’s backpack, look for unique colors and designs that will stand out against a sea of ordinary luggage (this will also prove quite helpful in the event that your child runs off into a crowd and you need an easy way to identify them).
5. Bring Your Own (Travel-Friendly) High Chair
Eating at local restaurants is one of the great joys of traveling, but sometimes it can be tricky with young children. While most restaurants near your home might have high chairs available for your use, you never know if high chairs will be available when traveling, and letting your toddler sit in their own chair or on your lap both present other challenges. To stay on the safe side, consider bringing your own travel-friendly high chair so you’re ready for any dining situation—be that in a restaurant or in your hotel room.
6. Rideable Luggage: A Toddler Travel Essential
If you’ve ever tried to kill time in an airport, whether you got there hours early on purpose or found out that your flight got delayed after you’d already gotten there, then you know how hard it can be to keep your toddler entertained.
Enter rideable luggage: carry-on sized suitcases fit for toddlers, with a seat that they can sit on as they push themselves along. These bike-esque contraptions will be sure to entertain your toddler for hours so they are ready to sleep once they get on the plane!
7. Turn Your Airplane Seat into a Toddler-Sized Bed
While finding a comfortable position to sleep in is a tad bit more difficult for full-grown adults, creating a bed for your toddler to sleep on while flying is as easy as blowing up an inflatable bed that fills in the leg-room gap in an airplane seat. Who knew? Lack of sleep nearly always leads to tantrums, so nothing will save you more than ensuring your toddler gets a good rest while in the air.
8. Zone out Time for Sleep with a White Noise Machine
Whether you need to block out city noise or the sound of older kids and adults chatting while your toddler tries to sleep, white noise machines are a must. There are many apps that you can use for white noise in a pinch, but many people find it worthwhile to invest in a separate small white noise machine so that you can use your phone even when your toddler is trying to sleep.
9. Ensure Sleep with a Toddler Sleeping Tent
Are you at all surprised the next item on our list also has to do with sleeping? If you’ve ever tried traveling with a toddler before, you shouldn’t be! Making sure your toddler gets a good night's sleep is one of the best ways to limit the number of tantrums during your busy, travel-packed days. Packing a sleeping tent will help your toddler get in the sleeping zone after an exciting day and ensure that they actually have a place to sleep if you are in a hotel with limited bedspace.
10. Backpack Carriers: Not Just For Hikes
Similar in purpose with a lightweight stroller, backpack carriers are perfect for when your toddler decides they are tired of walking. While most people think of backpack carriers as hiking necessities, they are worth considering for any travel situation. Backpack carriers are perfect for cities with hills and uneven roads and footpaths.
11. Tablets: The Ultimate Tantrum Saver
While many parents try to avoid using technology as their go-to for ending tantrums, it can certainly be useful in many situations. You’ll probably be surprised by how amazed your toddler will be by the world around them when traveling, but having a tablet or some other easy, portable form of entertainment around never hurts.
12. Kid-Friendly Headphones
If you bring a tablet, chances are you’ll need to bring headphones too. Whether your toddler is playing a game or watching a movie, they’ll need to hear the noise without disrupting everyone around them on the plane or in a hotel lobby.
While any pair of headphones can work in a pinch, finding a kid-friendly pair of headphones that fits their smaller heads and has a limit on how high the volume goes is even better!
13. Toddler Travel Essentials: A Cozy Blanket
If your toddler has a favorite blanket that brings them comfort, consider bringing it with you on your travels! Traveling to new places can sometimes be overwhelming for young children, and having a tangible piece of home can bring toddlers an immense sense of comfort.
If your toddler has an especially strong attachment to a particular blanket (or stuffed animal, for that matter), it might be best to leave that one at home and find a special new one for the trip, in order to save tears if it ends up getting lost during your travels.