The right equipment can make traveling with an infant a breeze. Being able to feed, pacify, change, clean and keep the baby comfortable on-the-go can look daunting, but luckily this art has been mastered by “power parents” and product companies over the years, and we can take full advantage of these innovations.
Here’s a list of travel must-haves to make traveling with the little one an enjoyable experience for the baby as well as for parents.
- Travel stroller
- The foldable umbrella stroller is a common choice to thrown in the back of a car. They have minimal cushioning, usually have tiny canopies and are made to be as lightweight and portable as possible.
- Travel strollers. These are are slightly bigger than umbrella strollers but still fit in an airplane overhead bin and are much lighter than traditional full-size strollers. These usually have better canopies and cushioning compared to umbrella strollers,. They sometimes come with cup-holders and a storage basket too.
Between these two types, you want to pick the stroller-type according to your mode of travel and space. It may be worth owning one of each type – in addition to a full-size stroller for use at home – to use based on the type of vehicle and distance you’re going to travel.
Whichever type you pick, pay attention to these factors:
- How lightweight the stroller is
- How easily it folds
- How far it collapses (partially vs completely)
- Whether it has ample sun protection / canopy
- Whether it comes with a carrying case
A stroller bag can be a lifesaver when you travel. If you are flying, you can check it in or carry it with you. A few things to look out for when choosing a stroller bag:
- Make sure it has back or shoulder straps like a backpack for easy carry
- Check if it is waterproof, to be weather-ready
- Ensure it has a wide opening to make it quick and easy to put the stroller in
- Double stitching helps keep it durable
- Some bags come with wheels, for easier use at airports and walkways
There is no telling when the weather can get extreme when you are traveling. It is as important to be prepared for high temperature as it is to be prepared for rain. A battery-powered stroller fan will go a long way in keeping your little one cool as you walk through a zoo or go shopping in your destination.
A few things to look out for when choosing a stroller fan:
- See if the fan has a decibel rating. You want to buy a quiet fan if possible, to help the baby sleep better.
- Look at the battery size. A powerful lithium ion battery with a USB charger will ensure you can reuse your phone or laptop battery charger.
- Some models come with clips and some with wraparound type holds to attach the fan to your stroller. The latter is flexible and lends itself to more sizes and shapes of surfaces, but clips are fine too.
- Some fans come with LED lights, could be handy in odd situations when there is a power outage or unexpected outdoor low-light settings.
- Some models even come with aroma diffusers, that you can use for filling up mosquito repellent.
These are small but useful. You never know when you need to clip a bunch of clothes or a jacket or umbrella to the stroller. Having a few clips with you on the go can be a lifesaver for changing or feeding the baby on the go.
Baby carriers are a must-have in a parent’s arsenal of travel gear. Here’s why:
- Sometimes you need your hands free to do stuff while carrying junior around
- More body contact. According to research, babies who are carried three hours a day cry 43% less.
- Much easier to navigate crowds and get to places quickly
Factors to keep in mind when choosing a carrier:
- Fit and comfort: Ideally the carrier should fit the baby in a neat M-shape posture, this is good for the baby’s hip health.
- Material: Breathable mesh material is preferable to keep the baby cooler whereas if you live mostly in cool climes, you may prefer a carrier with heavy knitting and padding.
- Washable: Not all carriers are machine washable
A travel car seat is a must-have for safe travels with your baby, if you are planning to go anywhere by car at all, including that taxi drive home. There are many travel carseats on the market at every budget. A few factors to look at when choosing a travel carseat:
- LATCH installation system – modern cars come equipped with this type of installation that is more secure than just a seatbelt installation.
- Weight and dimensions: You want one that easily fits into a car-seat backpack or bag, for easy carry
- Convert to a stroller – yes, some travel car-seats convert to a travel stroller, so you don’t have to carry both! But these tend to be expensive, so you want to choose wisely.
Yes, you need one! Here’s why:
- In places where you are not allowed to carry a car-seat with you (like some airlines), your car-seat can become a checked bag!
- Protects your car-seat from dings – especially the wheels that break easily
- Easy carry to and from a taxi
Factors to watch for when choosing a travel car-seat backpack:
- Material: Ideally, a durable bag with waterproof material will come in handy
- Sturdy shoulder straps
- Dimensions: Make sure the backpack actually fits your car-seat’s dimensions
- Weight: Some of these bags can get heavy! Ideally you want something that is lightweight while still being durable.
- Wheels: Some backpacks come with wheels and some don’t. Wheels can be handy especially at airports and train stations.
You may not need a travel crib, but they can be handy. These usually come with thick and comfortable mattresses, and can make the difference between your baby getting a good night’s sleep or not, at the travel destination. These can also be a lifesaver in case the hotel you stay in ends up having bedbugs. They usually collapse or disassemble easily. We would suggest taking these especially on road-trips if you have the extra trunk space in the car.
Factors to look at when choosing a travel crib:
- How lightweight it is
- How easy it is to assemble or fold
- Softness of the mattress
Sleep sacks or sleeping bags for your newborn are a nice-to-have. Some babies have trouble sleeping well in unfamiliar surroundings, and the sort and familiar smell and feel of their sleeping bags can help make them feel at ease.
A couple of factors to pay attention to when choosing a sleeping bag for your baby:
- Material. These usually come in cotton and synthetic. Cotton can be a better choice for softness. Some come with thick, mattress-like padding.
- Ease of washing: Not all are machine washable
- Ease of use: The easiest to use typically have zippers, but wraparound types are fine too.
A portable diaper bag can be a lifesaver on an airplane or a public changing station, or even in a car. There are a few different types of diaper bags:
- Backpack diaper bags
- Stroller attachment bags
- Handbag-style diaper bags
A few factors to look at when choosing a diaper bag:
- Size, dimensions and weight: For travel, you want one that is small enough to carry around easily and attach to a stroller, while being able to carry enough stuff.
- Included changing pad: Some diaper bags have these, and this is a must-have feature for travel.
Travel blankets are at the top of the list of travel must-haves for a baby. When changing, feeding, sleeping or just cooing and saying hi to the world… babies love blankets! Blankets can double as sleep-sacks too.
There are a few different types, with different advantages:
- Swaddle blankets: These usually have thick and soft padding. Muslin is a good choice for this type.
- Cotton blankets: A great choice all-around, generally friendly to most babies’ skin and easy to wash.
- Fleece blankets for cool weather, the inside of an airplane or an airconditioned car.
Baby wipes are a staple in your travel kit. A few factors to look at:
- Ingredients: You want to avoid wipes with any possibly allergic chemicals
- Thickness: Generally, thicker wipes are more effective at cleaning
- Size: For travel, you don’t want them too big, and don’t pack too many. Buy as needed at your destination, but always have some handy.
Travel wisdom generally says NOT to pack too many clothes for lighter travel, but babies tend to be messy. You don’t want to spend the better part of your trip washing clothes, so pack a couple of extra sets of baby clothes than you think you will need. A few types of clothes you want to carry:
These can be convenient for lactating mothers on-the-go. A few types and factors to look at when choosing a breast-pump to carry with you:
- Charging system: Some come with AC adapters that use a car’s cigarette lighter / 12-volt socket. A USB socket is great too, as it would allow you to use your phone or laptop charger.
- Pumping time: Typically varies between 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how long you need to use.
- Size and dimensions
Wet bags are an important diaper accessory. There is no telling when there will be a mess. At some point, something will spill. A wet bag is designed to contain the smell of used diapers, so you always want to have a few of these handy.
A few factors to look at when choosing wet bags:
- Material: Polyurethane Laminate or Thermoplastic Polyurethane bags are both designed to keep smells well contained.
- Reusable vs disposable wet bags: Disposable ones are more convenient but more expensive as they need to be replaced
- Size and dimensions
When traveling, you want bottles that are small and lightweight. You also want to carry a bottle-warmer, to use restaurant milk in a pinch.
A baby first-aid kit for travel is a must-have for well-prepared parents. Make sure it includes:
- A baby thermometer
- Baby tylenol
- Bandaids / plasters
- Anti-diarrhoea medication
- Baby cream / lotion
This can make a world of difference if the baby has trouble adjusting to a new environment and falling asleep. Some babies respond well to white noise in such situations, especially as they get more used to sleeping with white noise.
Factors to look for when choosing a portable white noise machine:
- Sound selection
- Charging system: AC adapter or disposable batteries
- Size / portability
- Automatic shutoff
- Night light (nice to have)
A portable baby-monitor can be especially useful if you happen to travel to a place the baby is not used to, to be able to track their sleep and vitals. This is especially so if you and the baby may have to sleep in different rooms.
A few factors to look at when choosing a portable baby monitor:
- Audio-only monitors are cheap and portable
- Pay attention to range and sound-quality when it comes to audio
- Video monitors are generally more expensive and come with camera features such as pan, tilt and zoom.
Having travel toys at hand can make the difference between the trip being enjoyable or just engaged keeping the baby entertained. A few types of toys can help keep a newborn engaged:
- Rattle style toys – these are the classic, ancient baby toy and always work
- Soft toys and bath toys especially for babies 6+ months old
- Pacifiers and teethers