There’s a lot to think about when traveling with a baby, but if there’s one thing I know for certain it’s that parents are an extremely resourceful bunch!
Let’s be honest, we don’t have much choice in those early days, as we do most things with a small child screaming in our ear or a baby on the hip. There’s almost always some type of meltdown or poop explosion, right when we don’t need it. Some days it’s just about survival and the same goes for traveling with an infant, baby or toddler, which is why some of the best travel hacks come from parents who are traveling with babies and toddlers.
Though you’ll never hear us say that traveling with toddlers is too hard or that you should stay at home instead of travel with your baby, we will admit that it can be challenging.
What happens if you do forget something or you find you need something you hadn’t thought of while traveling internationally with a baby?
We know that it can be challenging parenting on-the-go, and that’s why we put this list together of the best toddler and baby travel hacks.
You’ll find all the best creative and resourceful baby gear hacks and toddler travel hacks that parents have dreamed up while traveling with a toddler or baby.
Genius Travel Hacks for Travel with Babies and Toddlers
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Toddler and Baby Hacks for Feeding
Eating out is one of the best parts about traveling. Here are some of the best baby travel hacks for feeding your baby on-the-go, eating in restaurants without high chairs and how to make sure a toddler who needs to snack constantly won’t slow you down!
1. Use a large muslin blanket to secure baby to a chair.
Use a giant muslin blanket to tie your baby to a chair when there is no highchair available. We have used this in Airbnb’s and in restaurants and it works a charm! It came in especially handy when we were travelling through Sri Lanka when baby was only 9 months old.
2. Use a baby carrier to secure baby to a chair.
When we were in Cinque Terre with our toddler and preschooler, we were hiding out from the rain in a small café. They didn’t have a high chair (and nor would I have expected them to have one) and we had forgotten to bring our mylittleseat fabric high chair with us that day.
Knowing our toddler was not going to sit properly or more likely would have fallen off the chair, we transformed our ergo baby carrier into a highchair.
Did you know that Onya Baby makes a baby carrier with this functionality built in? Which is why we include the Onya Baby NexStep in our list of best baby carrier for travel.
3. A plastic table cloth is a lightweight substitute for a picnic blanket.
When your baby starts solid food, things start to get really messy. Traveling with a baby eating solids (post to come soon) can be a challenge for traveling parents.
Nobody wants to spend their holiday cleaning up ground cheerio and mushed strawberries in the hotel carpet. When we are out sightseeing for the day, we bring a plastic table cloth to use as our picnic blanket. Then we could stop at a park for snacks or lunch. The plastic table cloth was small to pack, easy to bring out for the day and even easier to clean.
4. Use a stroller with a snack tray to feed baby on-the-go.
If we were out walking, we found a stroller with a snack tray worked wonders to feed our toddler while traveling. It may not have been as light as some of the other travel strollers, but having the snack tray was worth the extra space and weight.
5. Reuse plastic containers to store snacks for toddlers.
I save the plastic containers that drink mix packets come in. When we travel, I use these containers to store snacks because they fit perfectly into the bottle pockets of a diaper bag.
6. Grab extra dry cereal at the hotel breakfast for later in the day.
That hotel continental breakfast isn’t just for mornings when you’ve got a toddler! Fill up a takeout coffee cup with Cheerios or your little one’s favourite dry cereal for finger food snacking later!
Toddler Bed Hacks and Baby Sleep Hacks for Travel
How to get a baby to sleep to sleep while traveling is one of the biggest concerns for parents traveling with babies and toddlers. Will their schedule be thrown off? Will they be able to sleep on-the-go?
We have a post all about how to get a baby to sleep on vacation and dealing with baby and toddler jet lag both written by sleep experts. Use that in conjunction with these travel hacks to get the perfect sleep environment for your baby or toddler and everyone should be well rested!
7. Cover the sides of the travel crib to prevent your baby from seeing you.
If you have a baby sleeping in the same room as you, we always create a barrier so wee bubs doesn’t wake up and see you. We take a large muslin blanket or pashmina to hang up, or we even move furniture like chairs to block the baby travel crib.
This way you can still sit in bed and watch tv or read without the baby thinking it’s party time.
8. Hang a spare sheet from the ceiling to create a separate space for baby in a hotel room.
Another option to create a “room” for baby is to use a spare sheet hung from the ceiling with thumbtacks.
The slumberpod is the first product that we’ve seen to fix this problem (use code babycantravel10 for a discount on your slumberpod – only for Baby Can Travel readers!). The Slumberpod fits right over the baby travel crib and is lightweight enough to travel with.
9. Garbage bags and painters tape can be used as blackout blinds.
What if you are traveling to a place like Iceland with a toddler and it’s just too light in the room? Garbage bags and painters tape are the easiest way to solve that or you can travel with these portable travel blackout blinds.
10. Fill a silk liner bag with clothes to keep toddlers from rolling out of new beds.
The liner bag doesn’t take up much space at all and when you stretch it out, it covers almost the entire edge of the bed.
11. Rolled up blankets and extra pillows also make good bed rails for toddlers.
Another common parenting hack is to use a pool noodle under the fitted sheet. We’ve frequently rolled up blankets and towels or used extra pillows under the fitted sheet. I’m not sure a pool noodle would be high enough for our toddler.
If you are worried about having enough extra blankets to do this, you can always bring your own inflatable bed rails. The best options are these Shrunks inflatable bed rails or these Hiccapop inflatable bed rails.
If there’s no bed available for your toddler, we have a complete list of the best travel beds for toddlers in this post.
12. Use the bathroom fan as a white noise machine.
We’ve always traveled with a white noise machine either as an app on our ipad or this cute SoundBub white noise machine. What if you forget your white noise machine?
The bathroom fan in your hotel room will work as a white noise machine!
Visiting family on your trip? Our tips for holiday travel with babies and toddlers will help make the most out of your trip!
On-the-Go and Stroller Hacks
13. A lightweight blanket and binder clips help block light and get baby to sleep on-the-go.
We always struggled with getting our baby to nap on-the-go while traveling. Even in the stroller, she was too interested in her surroundings and putting a blanket over the stroller didn’t work.
We wanted to use a light blanket (like these muslin swaddle blankets from Aden & Anais) but she always managed to pull them off. For our trip to London and Paris with a baby, we packed our large muslin blanket and binder clips to keep it on. It worked like a charm
At the time we didn’t realize how hot it could get in the stroller with a blanket covering it (#momfail), thankfully we weren’t travelling in a tropical destination.
We now recommend the Cozigo for parents traveling with a baby. The Cozigo will block 97% of the light, is fully breathable and the bonus is your baby can’t pull it off!
14. Buy a small travel stroller that fits in the basket of your regular stroller instead of traveling with a double stroller.
The GB Pockit travel stroller offers a perfect alternative to bulky double strollers for those traveling with two small children. We use the GB QBIT as our main umbrella stroller, but any umbrella stroller with a decent sized under basket should work.
We simply store our folded GB Pockit stroller in the basket of the GB QBIT until we need it. When we want to use it, we pull it out and each child has their own ride.
This has saved us so many times. This stroller is small enough to fit under airplane seats or in the overhead bin as well, so it’s a must have for anyone traveling with stroller age children.
15. Use your stroller to carry your travel car seat.
When you’re traveling with babies and toddlers, there’s always SO MUCH to bring… stroller, car seat, diaper bag and more. One of our best tricks is to bring a very lightweight travel car seat and then turn it upside down and rest it on the stroller canopy.
If the canopy isn’t strong enough, the car seat can go in the stroller seat with the diaper bag in the car seat. The stroller is the ultimate baby luggage trolley!
Alternatively, Britax makes a Car Seat Travel Cart to get your car seat through the airport when flying with a baby or toddler.
Air Travel Hacks for Flying with Babies and Toddlers
16. Fill your travel car seat bag with extra diapers to save space in luggage.
Before each flight, we put our travel stroller or/and baby travel car seat inside a stroller or car seat cover to safely check it in and load to the plane. Inside the cover, we put a lot of diapers and wipes to save space in our luggage.
And DON’T fill your carry-on with goodie bags for passengers on your flight, here’s why!
17. Stuffed animals make great neck pillows for kids.
If your toddlers are like mine, chances are they will want to bring a favorite stuffed animal on the plane or car with them. You can use stuffed animals as neck supports so they don’t bend their necks in impossible angles while sleeping.
This would help your toddlers get a better nap or night of sleep so they can wake up all refreshed and ready for adventure!
18. Old style metal lunchboxes are the perfect carrying case for toddler travel toys.
It keeps the blocks neatly organized when not in use and creates the perfect building surface on flights and in cars so you don’t have to worry as much about blocks falling to places you can’t reach.
Need more suggestions for entertaining a toddler on a flight or best travel toys for babies? Here are our recommended airplane travel toys for babies and toddlers.
19. Use a light scarf for a breastfeeding cover on flights.
Depending on the situation, there were times I opted to cover up while nursing – like during our baby’s first flight when I was seated next to an overly curious 4-year-old! But I like to pack light (and I’m also cheap as can be) so there was no way I was going to buy a breastfeeding cover.
Instead, I used a very light scarf. It’s already one of my essential travel items, especially on flights since I get chilly on planes, so it just did double duty!
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If you are flying with a breastfeeding baby and pumping on the plane, read all the tips in our post on Flying with a Baby and Breastfeeding.
20. Create a tent to block lights on the airplane with the airplane blanket and the food tray.
If you are flying with a baby or toddler and are worried those bright lights will wake your baby or toddler up during the flight, you can use one of our tips for getting toddlers to sleep on planes:
Create a tent or canopy using an airplane blanket and the food tray.
21. Look for other alternatives to help your baby sleep on the flight.
The latest baby travel hack floating around the Facebook groups is to buy a cheap dog bed to place your baby in on the airplane seat. We have not done this and haven’t seen too many pictures of it. I imagine it would be something similar to placing your baby in a dock-a-tot on the airplane seat and a Fly Tot airplane cushion (but the dog bed is smaller and less expensive).
Rather, we recommend one of these inflatable airplane beds for toddlers.
Other Baby Travel Hacks
22. Bandaids are a good substitute for electrical outlet covers.
Bring plain bandaids to place over electrical outlets in hotels or apartments. These are much easier than trying to find the appropriate size outlet cover and they’re surprisingly hard to rip off, deferring tots from the outlet.
23. Attach baby travel toys to backpacks with carabiners.
Carabiners are excellent for attaching toys to the outside of backpacks for travel. Baby can still play with it, but can’t throw it far!
24. Large cotton blankets can be used to keep toddlers warm too.
We travelled with our 2 months old baby and toddler to Sedona, Arizona. Having travelled with a baby frequently, we always pack 1-2 large muslin swaddle blankets in our bags.
They get so many uses, from putting our baby down on the airport floor to providing extra shade. And when the day got chillier than what we had planned for, we kept our toddler warm but wrapping one around her as a scarf!
25. The sink is a great place to give your baby a bath.
When my 2nd baby was 2 months old, we spent a weekend in Prague. The apartment didn’t have a bathtub, so we used the kitchen sink!
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If a tub or the sink aren’t an option, you can pack a baby travel tub that is inflatable.
26. Electrical tape is good for stroller tire repairs.
Travel with electrical tape (or similar) to complete on-the-go repairs. This tape saved the day when we had to tape our umbrella stroller tires back together.
Bonus tip: if you want to have some wine on the plane but know you won’t have a bunch of uninterrupted time. Ask for it in the mini bottle with the cap still on. Then you can sip and cap while you deal with your little without worry of spills!
Baby and Toddler Beach Hacks
27. When traveling with a newborn, a suitcase can be used as a bassinet on the beach.
While spending a day at the beach, we grabbed a suitcase from the car, emptied it and used it as a bassinet for our baby to sleep in!
She slept perfectly, and the rest of the family got to continue enjoying our day at the beach, rather than having to head back to the hotel for nap-time!
28. A large bed sheet is a great substitute for beach towels.
When at the beach, we use a large bed sheet to replace beach towels. It holds everything in place and is big enough for my little family.
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29. Use a portable travel crib on the beach for nap time.
We are obsessed with our Phil and Ted’s traveler crib because of how versatile and lightweight it is on vacation. Not only does this portable crib pack up small enough to fit in the carry-on compartment of the plane, this toddler travel bed can also be used as a beach tent for little ones to nap on the beach.
Throw on a sheet or stroller UV shade to keep the sun out and your little one will enjoy a nap while you enjoy the beautiful beach!
30. A fitted sheet can be used to keep baby out of the sand.
Other great baby beach hacks that we’ve seen are:
Bring a fitted sheet for the beach and set it up with your cooler and bags in the corners to create a sand-free play area for your baby.
Not sure what we mean? Type in fitted sheet beach hack into google and you’ll get a bunch of images of people using this baby beach hack.
30. Bring an inflatable pool or dig a hole to make the perfect wading pool for babies.
If the waves at the beach are just too big to let your baby play, bring a small inflatable pool for your baby or dig a hole in the sand (don’t forget a small beach shovel) so your baby can have her own little wading pool.
And don’t forget the baby powder for sand removal!
For more on beach essentials here are our toddler beach essentials.
Though this isn’t part of the toddler or baby travel hacks, to get your trip off on the right foot, make sure you don’t forget to pack anything. We have this complete packing list for travel with a baby for you to download. Also take a browse through our toddler travel essentials and baby travel essentials.
For those items available on amazon, you can shop the entire list of baby travel hack items here.