Skip to Content

Top 12 Toddler Travel Essentials You Shouldn’t Leave Home Without

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 toddler travel essentials to you, based on our real life family travel experiences.

To make our list of travel essentials for toddlers, it must be something that we can’t live without or can be used in a multitude of ways.

walking with toddler in Rome using hiking backpack carrier.
Our toddler loved climbing steps in Rome!

This post contains compensated links. We have a working relationship with some of the suppliers mentioned below. All opinions are our own.

Travel Advice You Can Trust

You’ve come to the right place. The following list of toddler travel must haves comes from our real-life experience traveling with babies and toddlers. Whether it was a short-haul flight to Sedona with a toddler, a flight to a Mexico all-inclusive resort with a toddler, or a very long flight to Kyoto with a toddler, we’ve been in your shoes before and are here to help.

best carriers for hiking with toddlers and babies.
We used our hiking backpacks a ton on our family trip to Japan

The 12 Best Travel Items for Toddlers

Here are the must-have toddler travel essentials we pack for every family trip:

1. Spill-Proof Snack Cup

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.

A toddler and a preschooler pose for a picture in Trollstigen, Norway.
Our toddler never let go of his travel snack cup in Norway

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.

Our favorite toddler snack cup is the Munchkin Snack Catcher but here’s a list of all the best toddler snack cups for travel.

2. Spill-Proof, Leak-Proof, Break-Proof Sippy Cup

Sticking with the highly functional travel essentials for toddlers, 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.

A toddler in a car seat holds a toddler travel cup and a white noise machine.
We traveled everywhere with these sippy 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. This one and this one are two other great travel sippy cup options.

See all our recommended travel sippy cups here!

3. Travel High Chair

Let’s face it, toddlers are messy eaters! While restaurants often have high chairs, packing your own travel high chair can be well worth it. We’ve learned the hard way that an uncontained toddler can make a huge mess while eating in an Airbnb or hotel room. This problem became much more manageable when we started traveling with a travel high chair for our toddlers.

using a travel high chair to contain a messy toddler while on a family vacation to Italy.
Using a travel high chair to contain our messy eater in Rome

We found having a simple fabric high chair to be easy to pack and carry around with us on our daily outings. The Inglesina portable high chair is another option for parents who are looking for a more robust travel high chair, but due to its size, you’ll need room in the bottom of your travel stroller or in a backpack to carry it around all day.

4. Inflatable Airplane Toddler Bed

Getting your toddler to sleep on a plane is a huge part of a successful travel day. We have enjoyed so much success using these inflatable plane beds, that they are on our list of must-have toddler plane travel essentials.

A toddler sleeps on an airplane using a Fly Tot inflatable airplane cushion.
Our toddler fell asleep EVERY TIME we used our Fly Tot airplane cushions.

We own two Fly Tot airplane cushions and have enjoyed a nearly 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 on a plane.

We were also lucky enough to try out the Flyaway Kids bed and also had great success. We enjoyed some design improvements in the Flyaway Kids bed vs. the Fly Tot. You can read all about the best toddler travel beds for airplanes or our Flyaway Kids Bed review.

a toddler gets comfortable on his inflatable bed for airplane while watching a movie on an ipad holding his stuffy.
Our toddler couldn’t be more comfortable on his Flyaway Kids bed.

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.

While we love the Fly Tot, it’s not always available on Amazon. If this is the case, we recommend the Flyaway Kids Bed.

These products may be out of stock due to the high number of people planning travel. If the Flyaway Kids Bed is out of stock, we recommend signing up on their website to be notified when more stock arrives.

5. 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.

a toddler fast asleep in a kidco peapod tent on a family vacation.
Notice the sippy cup in the PeaPod Plus? We take it everywhere!

We believe the KidCo PeaPod Plus is one of the best travel beds for toddlers. Our son likes his KidCo PeaPod Plus so much, he even asks to sleep in his “tent” when we get back home. As a bonus, despite its comfortable size, it packs down small enough to fit in a medium-sized suitcase.

If your family enjoys camping with a baby or toddler, a proper travel bed is essential camping gear for babies, and eventually toddler camping gear. The PeaPod 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.

A toddler sleeps in a PeaPod Plus travel bed while using a SoundBub white noise machine.
Another great sleep at the Airbnb…

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.

Once your toddler outgrows the PeaPod Plus toddler travel tent or a toddler travel crib, an inflatable toddler travel bed is another great alternative. If you know you’ll have a bed for your toddler, you can pack inflatable bed rails for toddlers to help keep your child from rolling out.

Toddler on inflatable toddler travel bed in hotel room.
We used the Shrunks travel bed frequently in Europe.

We also have a Kidco PeaPod Plus review and a full post on the best toddler travel beds.

6. 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 toddler plays with the Soundbub white noise machine while traveling
Even though our Oslo Airbnb had toys, our toddler liked playing with Ollie – his white noise machine!

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 with their parents. Additionally, if you are staying in a big city there might be noise from outside or other apartments that your kids won’t be used to and may keep them awake.

Using a white noise machine while traveling with a toddler gives your child a familiar feeling to sleeping at home.

We used to use 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 one of our must have travel items for toddlers.

A toddler laughs while hiking in a Deuter Kid Comfort 3 backpack carrier with a Soundbub white noise machine on the front.
We used our SoundBub as a Bluetooth speaker on many family hikes.

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.

7. Volume-Limiting Toddler Headphones

Our list of toddler flight essentials wouldn’t be complete without volume-limiting 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 during your family flight.

A toddler uses headphones to watch a show on an iPad during a flight.
Our toddler watches a movie on an iPhone during a flight.

If your family travel plans include an airplane ride, be aware that typical volume-limited toddler 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 environments, 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.

8. Travel Stroller and 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. (See our full review on the Inglesina Quid Stroller)

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.

Toddler 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 baby carrier for travel 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 family trips.

A mom hiking in Norway uses a Deuter Kid Comfort 3 to carry her toddler to a viewpoint.
Our daughter sits comfortably in her backpack carrier while hiking in Norway.

Don’t think the toddler backpack carriers are just great toddler hiking gear – 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.

A mom carries her preschooler in a Lillebaby carrier.
Our daughter loved being carried in her Lillebaby carrier. (Notice the snack cup? He took it everywhere!)

Eventually we traded in our baby carriers for toddlers to a toddler-specific 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 – 60 lbs, 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 Toddler Carriers for Travel

9. EPIC! Reading app

We love the Epic! Digital Library for travel! We used to lug several of the kids favorite paper books along with us, but we really disliked the extra weight and the space they took up in our carry-on bags.

A toddler uses the Epic! digital library reading app on a train.
Our toddler picks a book to read on the train using the Epic! reading app for kids.

The Epic! reading app for kids has over 40,000 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 using their headphones was a nice alternative to simply letting them mindlessly watch cartoons.

The Epic reading app 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.

we loved the Epic reading app for traveling with our small kids.
The Epic reading app made bedtimes so much more enjoyable while traveling with our kids.

I can’t overstate how much we valued having the Epic app for our family travels. Bringing along our own books was so heavy and they’d get bored of the same titles so fast. Having a huge selection of books to read to our kids while traveling quickly made Epic! one of our favorite toddler travel essentials.

Your family vacation is an ideal time to try the Epic reading app for free. You can learn more about our favorite toddler travel app in our full Epic digital library review.

10. Aden & Anais Swaddle 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 list of baby travel essentials too.

a toddler sleeping on airplane with his stuffy and an Aiden & Anais swaddle blanket.
Our son sleeps on a flight using a swaddle blanket for warmth.

But don’t give them away quite yet as they are also a excellent toddler travel gear. Swaddle blankets 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.

Read our review on the many travel uses for these excellent blankets.

11. Thermometer and Tylenol

A thermometer and Infants Tylenol are two more toddler travel essentials 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.

12. Toddler Travel Toys

While we don’t recommend filling your toddlers travel backpack with heavy toddler travel toys, there are so many easy options to bring to entertain a toddler on the plane or on a road trip with a toddler.

a toddler plays with some simple travel toys while on a family vacation.
Our daughter plays with some simple toddler travel toys on a family trip.

We’ve included plenty of screen free toddler travel toys that are easy to pack in this list, which also includes some fun DIY toddler travel toys. For even more ideas, check out our 1 year old travel toys and 2 year old travel toys.

More Toddler Travel Resources

Pin It For Later!

Image of a toddler running at airport with text overlay of Top 10 Toddler Travel Essentials

This post was written & edited by:

Celine is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's been helping new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade.

Celine also writes about family travel on the site, which she co-owns with her husband. Being from the Canadian Rockies, she shares her passion about her home and travel to Banff National Park and area on their site