9 Must-Haves when Traveling with A Toddler (and a Free Packing List!)

Traveling with a toddler requires a lot of planning, packing lists and gear. When Brody was a toddler we took a trip from Arizona to Italy and I thought it would be fun to share nine of the most useful items we brought with us during our two weeks in Italy. These items made traveling so much easier, and have been used on many subsequent trips!

Baby and toddler travel essentials packing list

One: Lightweight Stroller | Joovy Balloon | Remember that little Instagram chat about whether or not we should bring a travel stroller? Well, I am SO glad we did. Our trip certainly would not have gone as smoothly without it. Rather than buying a new stroller, we decided to bring our Joovy Balloon. It is fairly lightweight, folds up easily, the seat can recline flat for naps, and the sunshade is huge. We used it quite a bit on our trip. At the airport, it served as our luggage carrier (while Brody was in the LILLEbaby ). In Venice and Rome it went with us every time we left the apartment and in Sardinia, it helped us haul all of our beach gear down to the beach. Brody took numerous naps in the stroller, which allowed us to explore during nap time and after bedtime. I do have to say that the steering on the Joovy Balloon is not the best (especially for cobblestone streets). Joovy has since advised me that there is a complimentary wheel upgrade they are offering to help with the steering issue. Overall, it was 110% worth bringing abroad.

Related: Things We Love: Joovy Balloon

Two: FAA Approved Carseat | Cosco Scenera NEXT | After price checking rental carseats and the safety of them abroad, we decided we would feel more comfortable brining our own carseat. The Cosco Scerena NEXT is one of the lightest carseats around. It's priced under $70 bucks and Brody has found it to be very comfortable. Does it have as many safety features and padding as our Maxi Cosi? No. However, for travel it rocks. It is also FAA approved, so we were able to use it on our flight to Venice. Brody sat and slept in the carseat for about 6 out of 9 hours during that flight. This has been one of our best travel purchases.

Three: Carrier | LILLEbaby Airflow Baby Carrier | One word: Godsend. I am a big proponent of using a baby carrier in the airport. Typically you can leave your little one in the carrier as you go through security. We used the LILLEbaby non-stop on our trip to Italy. I would wear Brody on the front when we were hiking or out exploring some of the towns that were not very stroller friendly. My husband would wear Brody on his back in the carrier when I was tired. Brody gets very cozy in the carrier and falls asleep pretty easily. The small, unobscured zippered pocket on the front of the carrier was a great place to slip our passports and wallet when we wore Brody through the train station. There were so many pickpocketers at the train stations! I also loved the mesh exterior of this carrier considering we were in Italy during the warmest month of the year.

Four: Sippy Cup | Zoli Bot XL Sippy Cup | There are two things to consider when picking out a travel sippy cup. First, does it leak? Secondly, can you cover the mouthpiece? This is the one cup that has successfully met both criteria for us. Brody loves to throw his cups and making sure that we could keep the mouthpiece covered from airplane gunk was important to us. We brought the empty sippy cup with us on the plane and had the stewardesses fill it with water when they passed by with their drink cart. It helped us from having any spills on our five flights.

Five: Backpack | Herschel Supply Survey Backpack | I debated whether or not to bring a separate bag for Brody on the airplane. Ultimately, we decided to bring a small backpack to store all of his plane gear separate from my husband and I's gear. It worked out really well. Inside the backpack we kept a change of clothes, Brody's blankies (two so we had a backup), his sippy cup, and his airplane entertainment. The packing list at the bottom of this post has all of the details on what we packed. Brody is now obsessed with his backpack and tries to bring it with him whenever we leave the house. Oh, toddlers!

Related: The Best Of Toddler Backpacks

Six: Placemat | Mastrad Lil' Placemat | This thin, silicone placemat is perfect for the airplane tray table or eating out at restaurants. It can easily be rolled up into the crumb catcher and fits easily into a small diaper bag or your carryon. We used it on the airplane tray when Brody played with his Play-Doh and at nearly every restaurant we ate at during our stay. Brody is not a fan of eating food solely off of his plate--he loves to spread it all over the table!

Seven: Carseat Bag | J is for Jeep Car Seat Travel Bag | When we travel with a car seat, a car seat travel bag is equally important to protect the car seat. We have used this travel bag for five trips now and it has worked well. Tip: we always stuff our diapers, wipes, and bulky shoes into the travel bag, along with the car seat. This keeps our checked luggage from being overweight since we gate check the car seat travel bag.

Eight: Silicone Bib | Make My Day Bib | Our favorite bib is our Make My Day bib. Since swapping outfits between meals is not practical when we are on the go, we bring a bib with us to contain the mess. I love that this bib can be wiped clean. It has a handy little built-in crumb catcher and fits nicely along the neck so food does not stain Brody's collar.

Nine: Travel Crib | BabyBjorn Travel Crib | This travel crib has been with us on every single trip we have ever taken with Brody. From short weekend trips to international travel, it has been a great investment. It's the lightest weight travel crib on the market, comes in a sturdy travel bag, and has been comfortable for Brody when he sleeps. He will be outgrowing it soon, but it has been worth every penny!

Curious what be packed for the trip? Click below and I'll send you my packing list, including tips on how many diapers to bring, what to pack for entertainment on the airplane, snack ideas, and more.

A little follow up: 11 Things You Should Know About Traveling With A Toddler (along with how we scored an empty seat for a lap child on both international flights!)

Related: 16 Tips For Traveling Abroad With A Baby