We have traveled with toddlers around the world and along the way we’ve learned a little something about traveling with toddlers. We’ve tried a lot of toddler travel gear while traveling with children and are happy to recommend these 10 toddler travel essentials to you..
To make our list of the best travel gear for toddlers, it must be something that we can’t live without or can be used in a multitude of ways.
This post contains compensated links. We have a working relationship with some of the suppliers mentioned below. All opinions are our own.
Here are the must-have toddler travel essentials we pack for every trip:
1. MUNCHKIN SNACK CATCHER
You may find it funny that our #1 toddler travel essential is a simple snack cup, but this handy little snack cup goes everywhere with us. Seriously – it’s the most used toddler gear in our entire house.
Snacks are an excellent distraction and time killer on travel days, making this travel snack cup one of the best toddler travel accessories. Toddlers can hold their travel snacks themselves (from a young age) with minimal mess. We’ve tried regular snack containers and inevitably we end up on the floor picking up all the dropped Cheerios.
2. SPILL-PROOF, LEAK-PROOF, BREAK-PROOF SIPPY CUP
Sticking with the highly functional toddler travel gear, our # 2 recommendation is a simple toddler travel cup. Rather than getting up at night to give our kids water, we use hard spout spill-proof water cups.
Both our kids have spill-proof Playtex spout cups at home in their bed/crib. They can have them right beside them in bed and they don’t spill! We’ve been using these toddler travel cups for years and they come on every trip.
3. INFLATABLE AIRPLANE CUSHION
Getting your toddler to sleep on a plane is a huge part of a successful travel day. Using a toddler travel bed for airplane trips is a perfect solution.
We own two Fly Tot airplane cushions and have enjoyed a (almost) perfect track record with them – our toddlers have fallen asleep on every flight we’ve used them on. We’ve even gotten up to 6 continuous hours of sleep out of our very active 23-month old on a flight (thanks to an extra seat and our Fly Tot).
Fly Tots are a premium inflatable airplane bed, but based on their functionality and durability we believe they are worth every penny. Having that extra space for your little one on a flight is truly worth it. You can read all about our experiences using a Fly Tot inflatable airplane cushion to get a toddler to sleep.
If a Fly Tot or Flyaway Kids bed isn’t in your budget, check out these budget inflatable airplane cushions instead.
Click here for the latest Fly Tot prices and more information or check out our post on flying with a toddler.
4. KIDCO PEAPOD PLUS TODDLER TRAVEL BED
Kid-friendly Airbnb’s and hotels often offer travel cots for toddlers to sleep in, but we still prefer to pack our own toddler travel bed.
Replicating a toddlers at-home sleep routine is one the keys to getting your toddler to sleep on vacation. Giving them the same toddler travel bed every single place you travel will help keep things familiar for them.
We believe the Kidco PeaPod Plus is one of the best toddler travel beds. Our son likes his KidCo PeaPod Plus so much, he even asks to sleep in his “tent” when we get back. As a bonus, despite its comfortable size, it packs down small enough to fit in a medium-sized suitcase.
The PeaPod is also a great option for camping with a baby or toddler. It can be used for naps or even sleeping in the tent to give your toddler her own space.
As you can see, we like using a Halo sleepsack with the PeaPod Plus as it helps replicate their sleep experience at home and reduces the number of times you need to open the zipper to fix blankets.
If you are looking for a toddler travel bed that is not a tent, the Lotus Travel Crib has backpack straps, fits as a carry-on and is one of the best reviewed travel cribs on Amazon.
5. WHITE NOISE MACHINE
We’ve used white noise as a sleep aid since our kids were babies; with two kids and two dogs at home, we like that it helps block out noise.
A white noise machine is particularly versatile and effective toddler travel gear. Staying in hotel rooms or Airbnb apartments often results in toddlers needing to share a room. Additionally, there might be noise from outside or other apartments that your kids won’t be used to. White noise gives them that familiar feeling to sleeping at home.
We used to use a white noise app on our iPhone, but that means giving up the use of your iPhone while your toddler sleeps – that’s exactly when we want our phones! After trying the SoundBub white noise machine, it quickly became our new favorite.
The SoundBub is not only cute, it pulls double duty as a white noise machine and a wireless Bluetooth speaker. We use the Bluetooth speaker for family dance parties, playing story-time or relaxation podcasts and it’s even good for a distraction on a road trip or hiking with toddlers.
6. VOLUME-LIMITED HEADPHONES
Our list of must-have kids travel accessories for flights include volume-limited headphones. For travel day entertainment, we make sure we have a bunch of movies and Netflix cartoons downloaded onto our iPads along with a variety of toddler-friendly apps. Especially for toddlers, just skipping between the games is a good distraction.
If your travel plans include an airplane ride, be aware that typical volume-limited headphones won’t be loud enough to hear over the noise of the plane. Look for airplane friendly headphones which have a temporary volume setting for noisy enviroments, before switching back to the lower volume for everyday use.
If you are looking for some iPad entertainment for toddlers, our Best Travel Toys & Airplane Activities for Babies & Toddlers has several of the best apps for toddlers we have used from when our daughter was 14 months old until now.
7. TODDLER CARRIER
Depending on your type of trip, having your toddler’s favorite way of being carried, whether it’s a toddler carrier or a lightweight travel stroller, is a must.
We used travel strollers for our kids when they were babies, but the last time we used a travel stroller was when our youngest was 9 months old. Travel strollers are great for many situations, but let’s be honest, they are also a bit of a pain. We transitioned to a toddler carrier for travel instead of a stroller as soon as we were able.
We made the switch to a toddler carrier when our youngest was 9 months old. At this stage, we started using a backpack carrier for travel. We own two Deuter Kid Comfort 3 backpack carriers and found them to be great for carrying toddlers while traveling. They are comfortable enough that kids will sit contently for several hours, allowing you to be more active on your trips.
Don’t think the toddler backpack carriers are just for hiking – we’ve brought our backpack carriers on the airplane for several city trips including San Diego with a baby and toddler, visiting Tokyo with toddlers, Kyoto with toddlers, Rome with a baby and toddler, Florence and Oslo.
Click here for latest prices for the Deuter Kid Comfort Pro (the latest model) or get all our recommendations for the best hiking backpack carriers for babies and toddlers here.
We preferred to travel with the Deuter as we did a lot of city walking and hiking with our toddlers. But for many travelers, a soft structured toddler carrier is a better choice for travel than a backpack carrier.
Structured toddler carriers are smaller, making them great for carrying toddlers in the airport, touring cities and for attractions where you can’t bring a backpack carrier.
We are loving our LILLEbaby 3-in-1 CarryOn Toddler Carrier as it allows us to comfortably carry either of our kids depending on their energy levels. It has a wider and taller torso than most toddler carriers and has a weight range of 20-60lbs, so it works really well for even our 4-year old. The back lumbar support is a huge benefit too.
See our recommendations for the Best Baby or Toddler Carriers for Travel.
8. EPIC! Reading app
We love the Epic! Digital Library for travel! We used to carry several of the kids favorite books along with us, but we really disliked the extra weight and the space they took up in our carry-on bags.
The Epic! reading app for kids has over 25,000 titles, there is virtually no limit to the number of books you can bring along on your travels. No more lugging heavy children’s books along on your trips!
To entertain our toddlers on flights, we download tons of “Read To Me” stories onto the iPad prior to a flight. Having our kids listen to stories was a nice alternative to simply letting them mindlessly watch cartoons.
Epic! is also great for bedtimes while traveling. Our kids used to quickly get bored with the limited selection of books we brought for bedtime reading, but with the large selection of books available on Epic!, they don’t complain anymore.
The Epic! reading app offers a free 30-day trial making your upcoming family trip is an ideal time to try Epic! risk-free.
For additional information, read our full Epic digital library review.
9. ADEN & ANAIS BLANKETS
Most parents associate Aden & Anais swaddle blankets with newborn babies. It’s true that we’ve been raving about the Aden & Anais Swaddle blankets since our daughter was a baby and you’ll find them in our baby travel essentials too.
But don’t give them away quite yet as they are also an excellent toddler travel accessory. They are light, compact and versatile. There’s no end to the uses we’ve come up with for them on our travels, but they are especially good for blankets, creating shade and warmth.
10. THERMOMETER & TYLENOL
Finally, a thermometer and Infants Tylenol are the last two items that we bring with us on every trip. It’s often hard to find specific medical items in a new country, and even if you do, it’s nerve-wracking to try and understand the dosage in a different language. So we always bring these toddler essentials with us in our carry-on. You just never know when you’ll need them.
More Toddler Travel Resources
- Here some inspiration for your next trip: best places to travel with toddlers
- New to potty training? Read our top tips for traveling with a potty training toddler and check out the best travel potties for toddlers
- Planning a road trip, then read these 5 things you must know before a road trip with baby or toddler
- Worried about jet lag? Read all about dealing with toddler and baby jet lag