How to Pack: Traveling with Toddlers
My name is Nicole, and I am a mama to three boys 4 and under. My husband and I have been traveling with our kids very regularly since our first one was very little. Due to the nature of my husbands job, I've done a lot of solo traveling with my kids as well! We have been to Disney, Tennessee, Utah, Arizona, and all throughout New Mexico with our little ones in tote. We have done long car trips and we have also flown with layovers, we have gone sun up to sun down in the parks, as well as river rafted and hiked through the TN hills with our littles.
All that to say, we've been through a lot with our kids as toddlers, and through trial and error we've learned a thing or two! So let's jump in and talk about "how to pack"... toddler edition.
HOW TO PACK... Packing for toddlers is like packing for a tiny army. Seriously. Although they are tiny, they can require a lot of stuff. A LOT. Especially when you're trying to keep them comfortable in a completely different environment. But, it doesn't have to be that complicated or overwhelming if you know how to do it. So let's break it down into three rules: keep it as "normal" as you can, less really can be more, be prepared for the "what-ifs".
Keep it as "normal" as you can. And by normal, I mean as close to "home" as you can. If you're child sleeps to a sound machine at night, make sure to bring one or use and app on your phone. If your child drinks milk in the morning out of a particular cup, bring the cup. If you read to your child before bed, bring a book. Including their "normal" day-to-day things into your packing list will certainly ease the adjustment for your little one. Just remember, they are in a completely new environment, so bringing the routine things can help them feel a little less upside down and comfortable.
Less really can be more. On our first few trips with our sweet first baby boy, we severely over-packed. I'm not talking about the "extra" things I mentioned above either, I'm talking 4 onesies per day, diapers for a weekend trip that would normally last us a month, and 3 nursing covers "just in case". While it's great to be prepared, sometimes it really can cause more stress than it's worth. The amount of stuff was drowning on those first few trips, and really just caused more chaos in the end. And honestly, if something crazy really does happen and you completely run out of diapers, or you blow through 2 outfit changes in one day, more than likely you can run by a local store and grab more of what you need.
Be prepared for the "what-ifs". I know, I know.... I just told you to not overpack, but there are certain items that I do believe are worth overpacking for. Being prepared for things like teething, a sudden cold, or even unexpected weather can be really helpful. This doesn't mean stuff the bag full of things in an anxiety induced state because you're worried about a million little things that can happen. What it does mean is being prepared for the not so uncommon, uncommon things. For example, my second son has a colon issue, so he has to have medicine for it everyday. Of course were bringing his medicine, but in the off chance that things go awry for him, we will also pack an extra 1-2 suppositories just in case. Our youngest baby goes through spurts of teething, so we make sure to bring teething tablets with us. Our middle child on the very rare occasion uses an inhaler, but we always make sure to take it on trips for that just in case moment.
Overall, packing for a toddler is a lot and there is really no way around that fact. But it doesn't have to consume you or overwhelm you. I hope that you make use of these tips when you're packing for you toddler, and keep in mind that you've got this. Use the checklist attached to this page to help you pack a medicine bag that will be extremely helpful on any vacation!