Planning a holiday with your family soon? We have a definitive checklist of family travel essentials depending on who is in your family and what type of holiday you are planning. So if you have a baby, toddlers, teenagers or even grandparents coming along then we have a printable travel essentials list for you!
We’ve tried to break it down into different aspects of your holiday to make it easier to consider all the things you need to take. These categories are:
- Eating and drinking
- Nappies and toileting
- Getting around
- First Aid and Medicines
Head over here if you need any tips on how to pack a suitcase.
Family Travel Essentials Printable Planner
Use the planner below to keep a list of all the things you need for your family holiday. Either do one for all the family or print out individual planners for each member.
Travel Essentials – Baby
These are just some of the things you need to consider when you travel with a baby in tow. Obviously tailor your needs to the length of time you are away for and any luggage restrictions that might be in place with your airline if you’re flying.
Travel cot or bassinet
If one isn’t being provided at the place you are travelling to then you need to take along your own travel cot or bassinet. We have a long article on the different types and styles available here- best travel cots.
Our pick of the bunch is the Baby Bjorn travel cot. It is lightweight and easy to put up with no fiddly clicking. Comes complete with a mattress and sheet and can be used until your child is around 3 years old. An extra advantage of taking a travel cot with you is that they can double as a playpen for when you need to keep your child safe and contained.
If you have a small baby and need something that will take up the least room possible then go for a travel bassinet. The Koo-di Pop-Up Bassinet is just the ticket. Small and lightweight but still providing a safe space for your baby to sleep in, this bassinet will last until they are 6 months old. The dimensions and weight make it perfect for a camping trip where space in the tent and the car are at a premium.
Baby sleeping bags are perfect to take with you when you travel. No need to worry about taking bulky blankets and if you have a wriggler, you can be reassured that their ‘covers’ will still be on in the morning. It’s also good to take something that they are familiar with as part of their bedtime routine, so if you already use these it’s a win-win. Just make sure you have the right tog rating for your destination.
We always took a room thermometer with us when we went on holiday- it gave us peace of mind about whether the room was too hot or cold and meant we good get the right amount of layers on under the sleeping bag. Take one that runs on batteries so you don’t need a plug for it.
Eating and Drinking
If your baby is under 6 months then you will only need to think about the drinking aspect of holiday packing.
If you are breastfeeding then you might want to take a pump with you. A manual pump is a better bet than an electric one as you don’t have the hassle of trying to find a power supply. They are also smaller and easier to pack.
Bottle feeding system
If you are formula feeding your baby then you have a few more things to consider. If you can, take formula with you, or at the very least check you can buy the exact same formula at your destination. Choose a bottle-feeding system like this one that uses pre-sterilised drop-in liners so that you have less worry about bottles being sterile.
Steriliser tablets or bags
Milton are the leading brand of sterilising tablets so pop enough into your luggage to last you for the holiday. If you’re using the sterilizing bags then you will need access to a microwave. If there isn’t one where you are staying, many hotels and holiday parks will let you have use of one of theirs.
To help you make up bottles when you’re out and about you will need a supply of still hot boiled water. For this, you can use a vacuum flask filled in the morning with boiling hot water to mix with pre-measured formula powder as and when it’s needed.
This one from leading brand Thermos holds 500 ml of water and can easily be stashed into a bag.
If your baby has got to the weaning stage then you’ll need some food tubs to store finger foods and purees in. To save space go for collapsible food storage tubs that can be flattened for travel.
These silicon ones come in a range of sizes depending on what you need to carry. They are microwave, freezer and dishwasher safe so perfect for keeping things fresh and easy to clean if you have the option of a dishwasher. The bright colours mean your unlikely to lose or forget to pick them up when you’re out and about.
Eating and drinking will only lead to one thing- a full nappy! So along with all the disposable of reusable nappies and wipes that you need for the journey, take one of these as well.
Travel changing mat
At Kid Transit we sell an awesome travel changing mat. It has a detachable, wipe-clean changing pad for on the go changing that can be used all the time. It also has a little pouch that easily fits enough nappies and wipes for a full day. The perfect size to fit into a backpack or to add to a changing bag.
You’ve probably already got yourselves a travel system and/ or pushchair and car seat of some sort. For travelling though the aim is to take things that are lightweight and easy to pack or store. So for any child under one (and even older children) the best idea for carrying them is a sling. If you still want a pushchair as well then we have a lightweight travel one that might fit the bill.
Sling or baby carrier
Slings or baby carriers are really the perfect way to carry your baby when travelling. You can have them close to you to give them comfort and you get to keep your hands free for all the extra things you need to carry. Even when on holiday a sling is still a good idea. On public transport, you can keep them safe on your lap and you don’t have to keep manoeuvring a stroller onto buses, trains or metros.
The best and most lightweight designs are the baby wrap style carriers. These are made of stretchy cotton material which you wrap around yourself and your baby to keep them secure. Once it’s been used for the day, the sling packs small- perfect for travel.
If you’d rather take a pushchair with you- maybe you plan on letting your baby nap while you enjoy the evening, or your visiting a hot country and want the option of your baby in a pushchair instead of being in a sling then we have a great lightweight option for you.
The Besrey Lightweight Stroller is suitable from birth with a full recline seat, has a one-handed fold and can fit in the overhead locker on the plane. Only weighing 5.6 kg, the pushchair is a good option if you want the flexibility of a buggy. The sun canopy covers well and it comes with a rain cover if the weather turns when you’re out and about.
With a baby, entertainment is easy(ish)! Just take along some of their favourite (and small) toys that they like to play with and make sure you have loads of toy straps so they don’t get lost. Just loop the toy onto whatever is handy- car seat, buggy, sling etc. Always be careful that they can’t get wrapped around your baby’s neck.
First Aid and Medicines
Make sure you have any medicines needed for your baby, including a supply of baby paracetamol or ibuprofen depending on their age. Always check the airline requirements of how to carry medicines if you’re flying.
If you have lots of travel documents for your holiday then get yourself a travel wallet to fit them all in. With different pockets for tickets, papers and passports you can keep it all safe and handy. Go for a brightly coloured one so you can easily see it in your bag when you check you still have it for the thousandth time…..
The type of bag or suitcase you take is entirely up to you and your travel needs. The easiest way to travel light with a baby is to have a backpack style bag that stands unaided. This means you always have hands free to do other things. A backpack is also perfect for multiple destination travel with lots of public transport in between. Another good buy are packing cubes.
Go for a bag you can carry easily, that has multiple pockets and can sit unaided. It’s a good idea to try some out for size in a nearby camping or outdoor shop and then find the best deal for your chosen bag online.
Osprey is a good brand to go for- they have loads of choice in backpacks from smaller carry-on size ones to larger full trek backpacks. The Farpoint 70 litre bag has loads of space, comfortable shoulder and hip straps (that handily can be hidden away) and a detachable daysack for when you get to your destination.
Packing cubes really are a revelation if you haven’t used them before. Just by using a different cube for each person or even a different cube for a different destination if you’re doing a few stops on your holiday makes arriving and unpacking/ packing so much easier.
You could also use different cubes for different types of clothes, have one just for toiletries, even one for nappy changing items instead of a changing bag. Instead of having to unpack and repack every single thing, you can just get out the one bag you need.
Travel Essentials – Toddler
When travelling with a toddler your essential requirements will be a bit different from travelling with a baby. Entertainment needs are greater (hello iPad) and you might need to negotiate the minefield of travel with a potty training child (argghh). Don’t worry, we have all the best products to buy to make it all so much easier.
You’re toddler might still be sleeping in their travel cot- take a look at the baby section or our full article on travel cots to find the best one for you. If they’ve moved into a big bed or have outgrown the travel cot then you will need either a ready bed or a bed guard when travelling to keep them safe overnight.
A ready-bed is a brilliant idea for a few nights away from home as it combines an inflatable mattress with a fun character sleeping bag style quilt. No need to take along extra bedding for your toddler and an incentive for them to get into bed if they have their favourite character to sleep with.
Your toddler might be happy to sleep in their own bed when you’re travelling. To keep them safe from rolling out, get a travel bed guard. This portable one from Safety 1st folds down for easy transport in your luggage. Just pop the feet under the bed mattress and get peace of mind through the night.
Eating and Drinking
Eating and drinking when travelling with a toddler can be somewhat difficult if they are past the age where they will sit in a high chair. We had a travel booster seat that really helped encourage them to stay sitting at the table for longer. Finding a leakproof and shatterproof drinking bottle is also a holy grail for all who travel.
Travel booster seat
A travel booster seat is really great for keeping your toddler safe and sat down during food times. It’s also extra handy when travelling as a lot of places might not have a highchair available. We had this one from Munchkin which straps firmly onto any type of dining chair and also has a handy pocket to fit in food and wipes.
Leakproof drinking bottle
The Miracle 360 bottle from Munchkin is a really good drinking bottle for young toddlers as it mimics the correct drinking position for their mouths but also doesn’t leak if tipped upside down. The only time ours leaked is if it hit the ground with some force and that was only a small amount spilling out. You can buy them with or without handles depending on how good a grip your toddler has.
Nappies and Toileting
If your toddler is still in nappies or pull-ups then you just need to pack your travel changing mat. If you are potty training or have potty trained them then you will need to decide whether to take a potty or a toddler toilet seat with you. My choice would always be the toilet seat as you can get easily portable fold-up ones and it’s much easier if your toddler goes on a toilet instead of a potty which you then need to find a place to empty.
Travel potty or toilet seat
Travel potties are available- the My Carry Potty is a well-known product that is designed for being used out and about. The fun and bright potty is easy to carry around for both you and your toddler. Once the potty has been used, you can close the leak-proof lid and easily carry it until you find a toilet. If you use it with potty liners then you have a virtually mess-free way to travel with a potty.
When travelling with a toddler a pushchair becomes more useful than a baby carrier as they can easily hop in and out of it and can have good naps during the day or in the evening. However, if your holiday is going to be a more adventurous break then you might still need a baby carrier.
If you’re hiring a car you might want to look into whether it’s worth taking your car seat with you- we have a good article weighing up the benefits of taking your car seat on a plane that should help you make up your mind.
Travel car booster seat
Not strictly for toddlers, but the BubbleBum inflatable car booster seat is worth mentioning if your child is over 4 years old. Instead of hiring a car seat at destination or taking yours, this booster seat makes a good purchase for short journeys. Can be used on planes, trains, coaches, buses etc the seat is inflatable to give a good position for your young child. Easy to deflate and pop into a bag it is a great travel accessory.
If you’d prefer to use a baby carrier to get your toddler around or you’re off on the type of holiday that isn’t pushchair friendly (lots of uneven ground to cover for example) then a sturdy carrier is a good investment. We had a LittleLife child carrier that was comfortable for our daughter and us to use, had handy pockets and was freestanding making putting her in and out a breeze.
Entertaining a toddler while travelling (and when you’re away from home) can take a bit of organising. If you’re spending a long time in the car then a car organiser with a tablet pocket is a really good idea. An activity tray is also handy for all modes of transport as it provides a good place for your child to play on.
The Kid Transit car organiser is a great buy if you have toddlers or if you have teenagers and anything in between. Attaching to the back of the front seats it has room for a tablet/ iPad and pockets for books/ toys/ comics/ snacks (basically anything else they want to stash!)
An activity tray is really useful for long journeys. Resting on their knees, it provides a flat space to play games or do drawing on. This one has lots of pockets for storage, a tablet rest at the back and a lip to stop things rolling off onto the car seat.
We have a full run-down on all the different kid’s suitcases you can get, including the iconic Trunki (our feelings on this were a bit meh, but loads of people love it). Our pick of the bunch for smaller kids, and cabin friendly to boot is actually the MiniMAX trolley case.
The MiniMAX trolley case is the perfect mix of child-friendly- there’s a spot on the front for their favourite teddy- and robust organisation. The trolley bag is easy to push or pull around an airport, has handy hide-away shoulder straps, and a spacious top opening bag so your child can reach in and out for all the things they want when seated.