Oh, the good ole days of sharing one carry-on suitcase between the two of us. Those travel days are loonnnggg gone!
Our luggage triples whenever Gwen is added to the itinerary. We previously discussed our tips for traveling with a baby. Trust us. We never regret taking Gwen along! It really isn’t so painful if you also have the right travel gear.
Be warned. You will need a lot, BUT thankfully, most of these items can be checked-in for free! You can go down a rabbit hole researching all the travel gear out there so we put together a list of the game-changing gear you’ll need (and most importantly, what you should leave at home)…
1. Sleep Sack
Planes are always freezing cold, and babies can lose heat as much as four times more quickly than adults! The Halo SleepSack ($36.99) keeps your baby snuggled and zipped up so that you don’t have to worry about a blanket falling off or being kicked off. Choose from different fabrics (like cotton, organic cotton, muslin or micro-fleece) depending on your travel climate.
2. Disposable Diaper Sacks
We mentioned the Sassy Baby Disposable Sacks ($6.57) before as an essential airplane carry-on. They’re also pretty much a necessity throughout the entirety of our vacations. In an ideal parent world, all hotel rooms would be equipped with a Diaper Genie (or at least covered trash bins). We’re hyper sensitive to stinky poopy diapers. Thankfully, the Sassy Sacks control any odor issues with its powder scent. The disposable sacks also seal in the wetness and bacterial from soiled diapers. We always keep a few in the car just in case we have to resort to backseat diaper changes too!
3. Baby Carrier
New faces! New noises! It can be overwhelming and overstimulating for babies when they’re in a new place (especially at the airport). Sometimes they don’t want to be in the stroller. No matter how old they are, they will want you close by and that’s okay because they’re just scared. For those situations, a baby carrier is a lifesaver because it allows your hands to remain free. Two carriers tie for our top pick: the Sakura Bloom Onbuhimo ($198) and ERGObaby Omni 360 Carrier ($179).
The family photo of us (above) is from our London trip when Baby Gwen was only 6 months old. We carried her everywhere in the Sakura Bloom, a local line crafted in San Diego. It’s seriously the softest, made of hand-dyed linen and Italian leather. The carrier supports babies 15-35 lbs and can be worn in the front and back. We wanted something pretty yet functional since we knew there would be a lot of walking in London.
If you have a very mobile baby, plan on hiking or being outdoors most of the time, we recommend the more “sportier” ERGObaby Omni Carrier. You can carry your little one four different ways with the ERGO: front-inward, front outward, on your hip or back. There’s even a UPF 50+ sunshield hood for naps or privacy while nursing on-the-go. Bonus: it’s sturdy enough for newborns to age three (up to 45-lbs) with its built-in lumbar support.
4. Insulated Bag
Just like adults, babies get hangry and the last thing you want is a meltdown. The PackIt Freezable Bag ($18) can transition into a bottle bag, snack bag and then lunch bag as your baby ages. Bonus: Its built-in freezer gel walls eliminate the need for an ice pack. It also collapses for easy freezer storage. Plus, we’re digging the unicorn print.
5. Car Seat Cover
Car seats need to be checked in so you’ll need a cover to keep it clean. The JL Childress Car Seat Travel Bag ($39.99) is bulkier than others, BUT that’s because it’s fully padded for full protection. For safety concerns, you wouldn’t want cracks or damages to the seat. They’re expensive to replace! This water repellent cover also has backpack straps. If you still wanna take the risk for a smaller and slimmer option, check out the JL Childress Car Seat Gate Check Bag ($16.99).
6. Travel High Chair
Warning: If you are traveling internationally, high chairs are not the norm in restaurants. You can sit and feed your baby in your lap, but is that really enjoyable for either of you? We like the My Little Seat Travel High Chair ($19.98) because you can literally throw it in your purse. It’s machine washable with a 5-point harness. Even if you’re not traveling, it’s handy having the high chair stored in your car, especially if you’re having dinner at baby-free home.
7. Umbrella Stroller
Yes, you can check-in a stroller for free. However, we’ve seen enough rough manhandling of airline baggages to trust that our stroller will not be damaged by the time we reach our destination. We just purchased the Babyzen YOYO Stroller ($500) for Gwen. It was a big investment, but we travel a lot with her and needed something very lightweight (16-lbs) and compact. It fits in the overhead compartment too so you never have to check it in! Another selling factor for us was that the YOYO reclines so Gwen can take her afternoon nap while we still get to sightsee. The under-seat storage basket is bigger than most umbrella strollers, and there’s in a storage travel bag for the stroller when it’s not being used..
Our budget-friendly alternate pick: The gb Pockit Stroller ($210.94) holds the Guinness World Record for being the world’s smallest compact stroller and only weighs 9.5-lbs! Like the YOYO, the Pockit also fits into the overhead compartment. Watch the demo here to see how it folds down to the size of a handbag! Keep in mind that it’s not as sturdy as the YOYO, and the canopy and storage space are much smaller.
8. Travel Crib
Most hotels offer a complimentary crib by request. If you do need one, we love the Guava Lotus Travel Crib ($209). It’s lightweight (13-lbs) and converts into a comfortable backpack. Tip: All US domestic airlines allow a free crib check-in at the ticket counter. Check with international carriers about their policy prior to traveling.
Our budget-friendly alternate pick: the Fisher-Price Day & Night Play Yard ($83.50). It’s bigger and heavier but you can’t beat the price tag. There’s also a removable incline sleeper and top changing station for younger babies.
9. Changing Pad
Dread public restrooms? We’re germaphobes so we carry a changing pad everywhere. Our travels (and even everyday outings) opened our eyes to the lack of changing tables available. We’ve used a bench, the trunk of our rental car and even changed a poopy diaper on the floor! It sounds totally gross but not if you have a pad. And even if there is a changing table, we still lay out the pad for safe measures.
The Storq Diaper Kit ($48) makes the unpleasant task look pleasant. No one will ever notice that you are carrying around a changing pad! Even when Gwen transitions out of diapers (which would make us soo happy), we plan on using the kit as a clutch. The bag includes a padded changing mat, wipe pouch and pockets for your rash cream and extra change of clothes.
Second contender: If you have a squirmy baby that rolls around and touches everything, the SnoofyBee Portable Clean Hands Changing Pad ($29.99) has a barrier with rings for toy attachments.
10. Travel Bottler Brush & Drying Rack
Baby bottles, sippy cups, breast pump pieces. Cleaning up baby feeding accessories is our dreaded chore. There are nooks and crannies that can’t be reached with a simple rinse and dry. We love our Boon Trip Travel Rack ($11.99) because it’s a sanitary solution for drying and cleaning on the go. It’s small enough to fit in our diaper bag and features a dual-ended brush with a nipple cleaner for those hard to reach areas. It’s also compact enough to fit in your diaper bag. Don’t forget your bottle and dish soap too!
11. Wet/Dry Bag
Wanna know what’s worst than a diaper blowout? Dealing with one in public and then realizing you don’t have anything to hold your baby’s soiled clothes. It’s a crappy situation to be in (pun intended). We wish we could say that this is a horror story passed along to us, but in actuality, we’ve experienced this first-hand (without a bag).
Wet bags hold and separate your dirty and clean clothes. They’re also waterproof, leak-proof and eco-friendly. When your baby transitions out of diapers, wet bags come in handy for beach trips or even for the gym. If you haven’t noticed already, we are all about buying baby gear with a long lifespan use! Our top pick goes to the BAGGU 3d Zip Bag Set ($34). They’re multi-use bags so we have a couple to also organize our suitcase.
Honorable mention: The Alvababy Wet/Dry Bag ($8.99) features two compartments specifically made to separate dirty diapers and clothes.
WHAT TO LEAVE BEHIND
- Bulky stroller – Do you really want to lug around your everyday 40-lb stroller?
- Baby travel utensils – Don’t worry. Your baby will survive from being fed with adult utensils.
- Noise machine – We hope whoever invented the noise machine is living large in the Bahamas with their pina coladas because that is the best parent survival invention ever. That being said, there are now apps and even YouTube videos to stream hours of white noise.
- Toys – Besides a few airplane toys, leave the big toys behind because everything will be new and therefore, entertaining to the baby.
And now you’re set! Good luck with your travels. If you have any travel gear that has worked (or not worked) for you, please feel free to share! It always seems like we learn something new everyday when it comes to this parenting gig.