If you’ve ever traveled with a toddler you know you don’t want to pack too much or too little. If you pack too much you have just way too much to lug around and that ain’t fun. If you pack too little you probably end up running around looking for the things you should have packed. I always seem to forget something, that’s why I made this list. You can find a free printable checklist at the end of this post.
Now remember every family and child is different and what is enough for us to survive and enjoy our holiday might not be enough for you. If your child needs a pacifier or some certain medication don’t forget to pack that. If your child’s favourite toy or blank is the only thing that calms her down, I suggest you pack that. My daughter is very easygoing and she gave up her pacifier at 14 months just like that, and even though she might have a favourite toy, in a moment of despair any toy will do.
We like to travel with carryon luggage only if we go on a vacation. Every time we visit one of our homes in Finland or America we of bring a big suitcase or two, since we either want to bring gifts to our families and bring things back to China. When we go on a holiday however, we don’t want to lug a big suitcase around.
You can buy a lot of the things in your destination, like sun lotion and milk. However I like to know what I’m putting on my daughters skin or what I’m feeding her. It’s good to do a quick search before you go to see if the items you need are available where you go. You don’t want to go running around looking for milk or sunscreen on your first day when you could have prepared for all this in advance.
You live and you learn and we have definitely learn by our past mistakes.
I just want to let you know that this post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something through one of my links I will get a small commission at absolutely no additional cost to you. So don’t be afraid to click those links.
What To Pack For A Beach Vacation With A Toddler
I pack everything I might need during the flight or a car ride in my backpack so that it’s easily accessible. I have one of these DOUGHNUT Macaroon Backpacks. I love the design and all the pockets where I can put all the small things that would get lost otherwise.
I recommend not bringing your child her own backpack before she is old enough to take care of it herself. We lost one with her toys and snacks once boarding the plane since we weren’t aware of our daughter taking it from the stroller and hiding it somewhere.
Now what exactly do I pack in the backpack?
- Laptop and Headphones (for me)
- iPad (for her)
- Baby bottle
- Change of clothes (for both of us, in case of spills)
- Airplane Travel Harness for kids
I never leave the house without my Ergobaby 360 All Carry Positions Baby Carrier, . Even if I go on stroller walks, I pop it under the stroller in case I have an upset baby who refuses to go in the stroller and just wants to be carried.
It’s also great on the flight. I’ve had my 2 year old take a nice nap on the flight in the carrier. If I’m having trouble getting her to sleep, I just put her in the carrier and walk up and down the aisle for a little bit and that usually does the trick.
We also always rent a scooter at the destination and we don’t have to worry about holding onto a wiggly crying toddler on a bike, when she is safely strapped in the carrier.
Airplane Travel Harness
This FAA Approved Cares Child Airplane Travel Harness fits into a small space and it’s a lot safer than trying to strap your child to the airplane seat with the seatbelt that is just way too big and the child can open herself. I just recently purchased one knowing soon we would have use for it since our daughter will need her own seat.
Shorts, T-shirts and tank tops, two pairs of loose fitting pants for cooler nights and flights and to protect from those nasty mosquitoes. A hoodie and a light jacket to protect from the UV rays on bikerides. I usually pack about 7-10 outfits for any given length of stay. Laundry service is usually cheap in South-East Asia.
I usually bring at least two. I keep losing them for some reason.
Sandals and shoes
Crocks are super handy. Easy to rinse off after a beach day. Sneakers for longer walks.
Fast Dry Microfiber Towel
I like taking this thing to the beach. The sand won’t stick to it quite so bad.
Sunblock is a must for our little Snow White. We usually buy SPF50. I like this BabyGanics Mineral Based Sunscreen. I usually pack all my lotions in these little reusable travel bottles. You can of course buy sunblock at your destination too. You might just not get your favorite brand.
Baby Formula / Powder Milk
My daughter still takes a bottle, and even if yours doesn’t, it’s good to bring some formula or milk powder in case you don’t like the milk at the destination. Fresh milk isn’t always available, and I like to choose what kind of milk my daughter drinks. I must say, it was a lot easier when I still breastfed. I didn’t have this problem.
Also Formula is the best option on flights. For example in China they won’t allow you to bring those little milk cartons on the plane like they do elsewhere. I had an unpleasant surprise once when the milk carton was the only thing I was prepared for a long flight and they took it away. They also didn’t serve any milk on the plane.
This Baby’s One Organic Toddler Formula is my favourite.
I highly recommend bringing a plastic one. We use glass bottles at home but when you travel you don’t want to end up having to drive around town frantically looking for a shop that sells bottles, because the only glass one you brought just broke.
Not a necessity, since most restaurants and hotels are happy to wash the bottle for you, but I like not having to be dependent on this service.
I also pack a tiny bit of dish soap in a small travel liquid container. A little goes a long way.
You might prefer not to bring one, but I highly recommend it. Even though the carrier is easy to use, when it’s hot outside it might also get uncomfortably hot and sweaty for both of you. The stroller is easy to push and also it gives the child a good chance to get a little rest and maybe even nap.
I know I know… Low media is better. But trust me, on those long flights no matter what kind of activity packs I’ve packed for her, nothing holds her attention like Peppa Pic or this Phonic Game she loves to play and sing along to.
You are most likely able to find floaties at your destination, but these inflatable ones won’t take up a lot of space and it’s better to get good ones that are regulated and safe for your child than something you bought off the street that probably has been in the sun for months. We’ve bought some of those cheap ones but usually they don’t last you very long and you end up buying a new set every time you go.
Pack N Play
We used to always bring a pack n play with us. This way our options weren’t so limited, since not all the hotels have baby cots available, or they might charge you for it. Or the room description says there is no room for cots or extra beds in the room, but we’ve always managed to fit the bed in, even in the tiniest rooms.
One of the hotels I we once stayed at would have charged us $10 extra per night for the baby cot. We were staying for 2 weeks so It made all the sense to buy this Graco Pack ‘n Play Playard, Aspery for $49 for this holiday. Some places do offer the service for free, but they might have a limited availability.
It can seem a little heavy to carry, but our solution for those short walks we had to make at the airport and so on was to pop it in the umbrella stroller and just put the baby in the carrier. Far easier than carrying the bed and pushing the baby.
Now that our daughter started sleeping in a big girl bed, we can simply ask for extra blankets and make her a bed on the floor if the hotel doesn’t have baby cots.
Or you can simply improvise and make a bed from what you already have. Big suitcase works quite well. This is what we did when we got back to China when Hailey was almost 1-year-old and all our furniture was still in the storage. Unfortunately she wouldn’t fit in a suitcase anymore.
Bring enough at least for the first couple of days. Pack at least 5 in your backpack even for a short travel, and more if you have a long haul flight. You don’t want to have to open that well packed suitcase of yours and start looking for diapers during a flight. On our quite short flight to Vietnam, I had to change a poopy diaper twice. It was good to have extras.
I always try to bring quite a lot because diapers at the tropical destinations can be quite expensive. Diapers fit in a quite small space if you put them in these reusable Vacuum Seal Storage Bags. These bags even come with a handy pump to squeeze all the extra air out. It’s good to bring the pump with you, so you can make extra room for souvenirs on the way back.
I also try to give our daughter as much diaper free time as I can during our holiday so I won’t need quite so many diapers per day. She is wearing a swimsuit most of the time anyway. Now we really only need diapers for sleep time.
Don’t forget these! Wipes will be your best friend and saviour. Whether is half eaten gummy bears you need to remove from your clothes or chocolaty face or hands you need to clean before they stain that new white T-shirt of yours, having wipes handy might just save your. I try to keep them where they are easy always easy to get to.
First Aid Kit
Infant Tylenol, Thermometer, Different size Band-Aids and a small bottle of Betadine are always good to carry with you. We didn’t go anywhere farther or more exotic than Helsinki Finland once for a two night trip and our daughter ended up waking up with fever in the middle of the night. She was crying her lungs out probably waking up all the neighbours. The nearest pharmacy didn’t open until 7am and the only 24h pharmacy was not a walking distance away. After that I’ve always brought a small bottle of Infant Tylenol with me when ever we go out of town.
Check out this FREE printable packing list for a toddler!
What are the things you can’t travel without? Are there some things that have made traveling with a toddler easier for you? I would love to hear your best tips and tricks! And please let me know if you think I’ve forgotten something vital!