This article about the Best Baby and Toddler Travel Hacks was written by baby travel expert Celine Brewer and may contain affiliate links.
There’s a lot to think about when traveling with a baby or toddler, but if there’s one thing I know for certain it’s that parents are an extremely resourceful bunch! I have no doubt that this list of the best toddler and baby travel hacks will convince you of the same.
We parents have to be resourceful, 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 toddler tantrum 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 at times.
Essential Baby and Toddler Travel Gear
What happens if you do forget some essential baby travel gear or you find you need something you hadn’t thought of while traveling internationally with a baby?
The baby travel gear you need on your trip varies widely, depending on the style and location of your trip. Everyday baby basics such as diapers, feeding and pumping supplies are essential, as are a stroller or a baby carrier. A proper car seat is also important to consider when you get a rental car while traveling with an infant.
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.
We have an excellent post covering all the baby gear for travel, but keep reading below for inspiration on how to make your family trip easier. In this post, 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.
Travel Light with a Baby
Traveling with kids can be difficult! It requires a lot of planning and even with preparedness, family travel can be unpredictable! While traveling with a baby, a good idea is to pack light – doing so can help make your family trip much more enjoyable!
Packing light helps the whole vacation say more organized and have extra space for souvenirs. One baby travel hack we love is to pack enough diapers for the entire trip in your suitcase; then as you use them up it creates space in your suitcase for the trip home. You can also reduce the amount of baby items you need by renting baby equipment at your destination!
What You’ll Find in This Article on Genius Toddler and Baby Travel Hacks:
31 Genius Baby and Toddler Travel Hacks
6 Toddler and Baby Travel Hacks for Feeding
Eating out is one of the best parts about traveling. Here are some of the best family 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 restaurant chair when there is no highchair available. We have used this baby travel hack in vacation home rentals and in restaurants and it works a charm! This useful baby travel tip came in especially handy when we were travelling through Sri Lanka when our baby was only 9 months old.
2. Use a baby carrier as a travel high 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 the challenges of eating at a restaurant with a toddler, we helped him sit properly by transforming our ergobaby carrier into a travel highchair.
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 can be a challenge for traveling parents as nobody wants to spend their holiday cleaning up ground Cheerios and mushed strawberries in the hotel carpet.
When we were visiting New York with our baby, we brought a plastic table cloth to use as our picnic blanket for picnics in Central Park. Packing this plastic table cloth was one of the best hacks for traveling with babies who were new to eating solids. We could stop at a park for snacks or lunch. The multi-purpose plastic table cloth was small to pack, easy to bring out for the day and even easier to clean.
4. Use a travel stroller with a snack tray to feed baby on-the-go.
Another great time-saving baby or toddler travel hack is to use a stroller with a snack tray to feed our toddler her favorite travel snacks while sightseeing. 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. Eco-friendly toddler travel hack
Saving the plastic containers that drink mix packets come in is one of my best travel hacks for toddlers. When we travel, I use these containers to store our toddlers travel snacks because they fit perfectly into the bottle pockets of a backpack 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 or small children! Fill up a travel snack cup with Cheerios or your little one’s favorite dry cereal for finger food snacking later! This easy baby travel hack will allow you to travel with less snacks too!
6 Toddler Bed Hacks and Baby Sleep Hacks for Travel
How to get a baby to sleep while traveling is one of the biggest concerns for parents traveling with babies and toddlers. Will their sleep schedule be thrown off? Will they be able to sleep on-the-go?
We have posts all about how to get a baby to sleep on vacation and dealing with baby jet lag. Use those travel tips in conjunction with these hacks for traveling with babies and toddlers to get the perfect sleep environment and everyone should be well rested!
How Do You Travel with a Baby in a Hotel Room?
Learning to find a suitable baby-friendly hotel for your family is a huge first step. Some hotels provide cribs or baby beds that may be very helpful. After a day of sightseeing, you can also come back to the hotels for some “nap time”.
1. Cover the sides of the travel crib to prevent your baby from seeing you.
If you are sharing a hotel room with a baby, create a visual barrier in their crib so your baby doesn’t wake up and immediately see you. Take a large muslin blanket or pashmina to hang up, or even move furniture like chairs to block the baby travel crib.
This way you can still sit in bed and watch Netflix or read without your baby getting excited that you are around.
2. Hang a spare sheet from the ceiling to create a separate space for baby in a hotel room.
Another great baby or toddler travel hack is to create a seperate “room” by using a spare sheet hung from the ceiling with thumbtacks.
Alternately, check out the SlumberPod, which the first product that we’ve seen to fix the problem of sharing a hotel room with a baby. The SlumberPod fits right over the baby travel crib and is lightweight enough to travel with.
3. 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 for your child to sleep? Make your hotel room dark enough for your baby to sleep by using garbage bags and painters tape. Alternatively, you can help your baby sleep on vacation with these portable blackout blinds.
4. Fill a silk liner bag with clothes to keep toddlers from rolling out of new beds.
Each hotel bed will be a new experience for your child and the risk of them falling out of bed is higher than at home. A useful toddler travel hack to prevent your child from falling out of bed is to bring a silk liner bag (or make something yourself) and stuff it with clothes to make something resembling a sausage. Use your stuffed silk liner bag as a makeshift bed rail.
The sleeping liner bag doesn’t take up much space in your suitcase and when you stretch it out, it covers almost the entire edge of the bed.
5. Rolled up blankets and extra pillows also make good travel bed rails for toddlers.
Another common parenting hack is to use a pool noodle under the fitted sheet. I’m not sure a pool noodle would be high enough for our toddler, nor would we travel with one. One of our own toddler travel hacks is to roll up blankets and towels or used extra pillows under the fitted sheet.
If you are worried about having enough extra blankets to do this, you can always bring your own inflatable bed rails for toddlers. The best options are these Shrunks inflatable bed rails or these Hiccapop inflatable bed rails.
If there’s no bed available for your toddler, one of our toddler travel essentials is a lightweight portable toddler travel bed. We have a complete list of the best travel beds for toddlers that are easy to pack.
6. Use apps instead of packing more.
Strange noises in new places make it harder for your baby or toddler to sleep on vacation. To help overcome this problem, 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 portable white noise machine? The bathroom fan in your hotel room will work as a white noise machine!
Whatever you choose for your white noise machine, it’s very useful to use it at home before your family trip, so the noise will be familiar and comforting for your child.
Visiting family on your trip? Our tips for holiday travel with babies and toddlers will help make the most out of your trip!
3 Travel Hacks for Babies in Strollers
1. 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 used binder clips to keep the muslin blanket firmly attached to the stroller – 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 were in the UK and weren’t travelling in a tropical destination.
We now recommend parents traveling with a baby or toddler pack a stroller sunshade for travel, like the Cozigo stroller cover. The Cozigo will block 97% of the light, is fully breathable and the bonus is your baby can’t pull it off!
2. A clever stroller solution for traveling with a baby and a toddler
If you are traveling with a baby and a toddler and don’t want to buy a double travel stroller, carrying a small umbrella stroller underneath a normal sized travel stroller is a versatile travel hack for kids.
We use the GB QBIT as our main umbrella stroller with a GB Pockit travel stroller underneath. This GB stroller combo offers a perfect alternative to bulky double strollers, 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 travel hack has saved us so many times. This stroller is small enough to fit under airplane seats or in the overhead bin as well, making it an ideal travel stroller for flying. It’s a must have for anyone traveling with stroller age children.
3. 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 travel hacks 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.
6 Airplane Travel Hacks for Toddlers and Babies
Getting around the airport with a baby
Traveling with a baby around the airport can sometimes be a challenge. Whether it is a long flight or a shorter flight, it takes effort to prepare! It also depends on if you are traveling alone and how much stuff you are bringing with you, as it may be hard to carry all your luggage by yourself (when babywearing at the airport makes the most sense!)
Giving yourself plenty of time and considering a stroller when you have free time, are good points to consider. Especially if you are on international flights compared to domestic flights, these airplane travel hacks definitely help!
1. 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 also help protect our valuable baby equipment.
And DON’T fill your carry-on with goodie bags for passengers on your flight, here’s why!
2. 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 travel pillow so they don’t bend their necks in impossible angles while sleeping.
This toddler travel hack saves space and helps your toddlers get a better nap or night of sleep so they can wake up all refreshed and ready for adventure!
3. Old style metal lunchboxes are the perfect carrying case for toddler travel toys.
This is one of our favorite hacks for traveling with toddlers. The lunchbox keeps the building blocks neatly organized when not in use and creates the perfect building surface on flights and on road trips 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, plus our 1 year old travel toys and 2 year old travel toys lists.
4. 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 travel with a very light scarf. This is already one of my best travel hacks for long flights to keep warm, so now it does double duty as one of the best travel hacks with baby!
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One of the many uses for a swaddle blanket is a breastfeeding cover. 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.
These blankets are also excellent to give your baby a place to play on the floor at the airport, if you don’t have one of these travel play mats for babies.
5. 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, why not try one of our tips for getting toddlers to sleep on planes – create a tent or canopy using an airplane blanket and the food tray.
This baby and toddler travel hack is super easy and works especially good with an inflatable airplane bed. Simply ask a flight attendant for a blanket, then open your food tray, stuff one end of the blanket inside, then close the food tray to trap the top end of the blanket, creating the top of your makeshift sleeping tent.
In the picture below, our toddler is sleeping under his tent with a Fly-Tot inflatable bed and a Soundbub white noise machine.
6. 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.
Keep your toddler entertained on the airplane with these screen free travel toys for toddlers.
5 Travel Hacks for Kids, Toddlers and Babies
1. Bandaids are a good substitute for electrical outlet covers.
After spending much time and effort baby-proofing your own home, it can often be stressful for new parents to travel with a baby and stay somewhere that is not baby-proof.
A handy travel hack is to bring plain bandaids (or painters tape) 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.
2. 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 their toys, but can’t throw it far!
3. Large cotton blankets can be used to keep toddlers warm too.
While hiking in Sedona with a baby and toddler, we weren’t quite prepared for the chilly days. Having travelled with a baby frequently, we always pack 1-2 large muslin swaddle blankets in our bags.
Our cotton swaddle blankets 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!
4. Use the sink to give your baby a bath in the hotel or apartment rental.
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5. Electrical tape is good for stroller tire repairs.
Travel with electrical tape (or similar) to complete on-the-go stroller 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!
5 Baby and Toddler Beach Hacks
1. When traveling with a newborn, a suitcase can be used as a bassinet on the beach.
While spending a family day at the beach and not having access to all our baby beach essentials, we grabbed a suitcase from the car, emptied it and used it as a bassinet for our baby to sleep in!
She slept perfectly in her bassinet, 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!
Follow @chasingsummerfamily on Instagram or on their blog.
2. 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’s one of the best baby travel hacks for the beach. It holds everything in place and is big enough for my little family.
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3. 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!
Follow Tear Free Travel on Facebook or check out their recommended toddler travel beds.
4. A fitted sheet can be used to keep baby out of the sand.
Other great baby beach hacks that we’ve seen is to 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.
5. 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.
Other Baby Travel Resources
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.
Wondering if you should pack your baby carrier or stroller for travel? We will help you make the best decision for your trip!
Get inspired with story of how one family travels with a toddler around the world.
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This post was written & edited by:
Celine Brewer is the owner of Baby Can Travel. Not only does she have years of experience traveling with babies & toddlers, but she's helped millions of new parents travel with their babies and toddlers for over a decade. In addition to writing on her baby travel blog, she has shared her expertise on traveling with a baby or toddler by contributing to articles about traveling with a baby with the Washington Post, USA Today, the Lonely Planet magazine and Pregnancy & Newborn magazine.
Celine also writes about family travel on the site FamilyCanTravel.com, 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 TravelBanffCanada.com.