Toddler Travel Gear
Toddler travel is tough. Like, reaaaaally tough. Traveling with a toddler has got to be one of the biggest challenges I’ve had parenting yet! Sleep schedule? Out the window! Eating anything? Forget it! Everything is new and exciting and new and exciting until EVERYTHING IS AWFUL and your toddler is having a meltdown no less than 5 minutes into the trip. One thing I have come to appreciate is toddler travel gear that ACTUALLY makes my life easier. Whether it’s a toddler travel bed that actually FITS my toddler, or travel toys that can keep my kids attention for more than 30 seconds, I’m happy to along pack things that truly allow me to relax on a vacation with kids!
Below is my list of the best toddler travel essentials I use when traveling with a toddler:
The Best Toddler Snackbox: The YumBox
The YumBox is one of my favorite toddler inventions of all time. It’s cute, practical, and highly appealing to easily distracted toddlers. This thing is great for storing travel snacks for toddlers on your vacation. My son has always been a picky eater, and this lunch box has really helped me to get him to try new foods (although we are still working on the color green). The YumBox compartments are the perfect size for a variety of snack-size treats and the YumBox can even hold liquids like yogurt and applesauce.
We make use of the YumBox throughout our trip. We fill it up with extra-appealing snacks for distractions on the plane or in line-ups. On a long flight with a toddler, unlimited snacks is key! If we are staying at a resort, we will fill the YumBox up at breakfast and keep it in our bag for snacking all day long. On trips where we have our own kitchen, we buy healthy snacks and divide them into the YumBox every morning. The YumBox has either 4 or 6 compartments allowing for a nice variety of snacks you know your toddler will eat, and some good stuff to sneak in as well. It is a must-have!
The yumbox is also great for the beach! Check it out on my post on ‘What to Pack for the Beach with Kids‘ for more info!
Toddler Straw Cup for Travel: Silikids Siliskin
This is another toddler travel accessory I simply can’t live without. Wherever I go, servers are always impressed with these toddler approved straw cup toppers. The silicone toppers will turn any cup into a straw cup or sippy cup without the bulk of actually bringing your sippy cup along. If your kids are anything like mine, they have to do it ALL BY THEMSELVES, and the siliskins allow kids to use adult cups without spilling a gallon of water in the process.
Toddler Car Seat Head Support: No Bob Panda
I bought this off of a Kickstarter campaign and it certainly falls under the category of “Why didn’t I come up with that?!” For long road trips, this toddler travel hack is a must. It keeps the head supported when kids fall asleep with no awful head slump. The top strap on the no-bob model prevents the strap from going up too high or too low. My son loves the “pandie strap” and often requests it to be put on when he’s ready for a long snooze. Win-Win!
Be sure to check out my post on the best toddler travel car seat if you are looking for some lightweight and affordable options!
On our last trip to Mexico, we used a Baby Gear delivery service (Baja Baby) to deliver some items to our resort. This is one of the best toddler travel hacks I’ve found yet! We ordered a swing for our baby (swing = more than 20 mins of continuous sleep for newborns), and we ordered sand toys for our eldest son. They delivered us a huge Tupperware container full of amazing sand toys, diggers and dump trucks and my son was in heaven. Diggers and dump trucks = at LEAST 30 minutes of uninterrupted “me time” on the beach. The delivery process was so simple, the stuff was in our room when we arrived and it was picked up as we left. I will definitely use this service again next time I am in Mexico.
Baby gear rental is available almost anywhere you travel, check out this post at travel mamas for more details!
Of course, family vacations are about bonding and spending quality time together as a family. But they also have to be a bit about relaxing, right?! Sometimes our vacations feel like non-stop GO GO GO and then I check my watch and it’s only 9:30 am. For us, some downtime is a must and my son certainly loves the iPad for a little R&R. Although this case can be a bit bulky if you are tight on space, its perfect for toddlers who tend not to be careful with their things. It also stands up on its own for viewing on tables or on the seat tray of an airplane. Our travel mantra goes something like “Wallet? Keys? Passports? iPad?”
If you are looking for some high-quality, education-focused iPad apps, check out my post on the top educational iPad apps for toddlers.
Toddler Noise Cancelling Headphones: Banz Baby Ear Muffs
At the end of a long day on vacation, I love to catch some live music, eat some good food and decompress. Thankfully, we always bring our full-size double stroller (see below) and both our kids have had lots of practice sleeping in the stroller during the evening hours. These kids earphones allow us to enjoy the adult time and keep the kids sleeping. They are also great for attending loud events like concerts, sporting events, and fireworks.
If I can bring a full stroller on vacation I will always bring it. Umbrella strollers just don’t cut it as a travel stroller for toddlers IMO. Full-size strollers also serve multiple functions such as luggage carriers, beach stuff carriers, napping devices, and kid restraining devices 😉 I usually bring my UppaBaby Vista, as tandem strollers are typically easier in narrow spaces, and it folds up nicely for the plane. I personally skip the stroller bag (too bulky!) and I have never had a problem with damage to my stroller on an airplane.
Toddler Sleep Accessories: A noise machine and a video baby monitor
We have a noise machine at home in our toddler’s room and we usually make the effort to pack it on vacation. As the boys are often sleeping in the same room as us, the noise machine helps to dampen down any outside noise. After almost 4 years of sleeping with the sound of the noise machine, I can’t sleep without it! If bringing a noise machine isn’t an option due to space, YouTube offers a nice selection of white noise videos on a loop that will do the trick as well.
Depending on the set-up while on vacation, consider bringing your video baby monitor along. At resorts with swim-out rooms, or if you are staying in a villa or house, having the monitor on allows you some freedom to relax during everyone’s favorite time of the day: NAP TIME! We have also used an app, iCloud baby monitor, over the wifi network if we weren’t able to bring our monitor along. With this app, you can watch a live stream of your kid asleep while you are enjoying the sun.
I have a ton of hacks for getting my kids to sleep WELL on vacation! Check out my post on ‘the 8 tricks I use to get my kids to sleep anywhere‘ before you go!
The Best Toddler Pool Float: Puddle Jumper
The puddle jumper is one of the best toddler inventions around. Please note, that it is not a lifejacket, and still requires supervision, but it has allowed my son to be very independent in the water from a really young age. My son used to be so afraid of water and clung to us if there were any waves. With the puddle jumper, he is a little swimming fish! Although it takes some space, this item is a must-have in our suitcase for any beach or pool trip.
If you’re looking for more info, I have a whole post on the ‘best floaties for toddlers’ with lots of great options that are perfect for travel!
Toddler Travel Toys: Bubbles!
Bubbles are the solution to many toddler problems. Many a meltdown has been saved by bubbles in our household. We like to hike with our kids and we usually bring along bubbles on our hikes. Bubbles are great for when the kids inevitably start to slow down and get tired and cranky. Works like a charm every time!
Cheers to a great vacation everyone! xo Kate