22 Must-Have Baby Travel Essentials for 2024

Author: Celine Brewer

Last Updated:

I can remember the uneasy feeling of not knowing what to pack for my first trip with my baby. It’s a daunting question for new parents – the selection of baby travel gear is nearly endless. I’ve learned a lot through trial and error in my years of traveling with babies and I’m happy to share my first-hand knowledge with you. In this post, I share with you the baby travel essentials I used most in my family travels.

While I understand the temptation to pack every single baby travel product just in case, chances are that you won’t use half of it, and you’ll just feel regret for having to carry so much. It might take some trial and error before you figure out exactly what you need for travel with your baby, but my list of the best travel items for baby should get you well on your way!

Celine Brewer, of BabyCanTravel.com, travels to New York City with her baby daughter.
One of my very first trips with a baby was to New York City with our daughter.

My list of the best baby travel gear comes from my real-life experience traveling with our babies and toddlers. Whether it was a short-haul flight to visit San Diego with a baby, a long haul flight to Paris with a baby or a very long flight to Tokyo with a toddler, I’ve been in your shoes before and am here to help.

I’ve structured this list to highlight those items that I consider to be essentials for traveling with a baby. I also offer recommendations for alternative or lighter weight baby travel products, where applicable.

Note, that this list doesn’t include everything you need to pack for travel with a baby. All those items (like diapers, pacifiers, etc.) that are part of every baby travel list can be found in my baby travel packing list.

This post contains compensated links.

The 22 Must Have Baby Travel Gear Items

1. Baby Carrier for Travel

When it comes to getting around while traveling with a baby, I highly recommend a baby carrier. Under the category of infant travel essentials, I absolutely loved my Baby K’tan Wrap and would recommend it to anyone.

Celine Brewer, of BabyCanTravel.com, carries her baby in a Baby K'Tan carrier at the airport before a family flight.
I would walk our daughter to sleep before our family flights using my Baby K’tan baby wrap.

The wonderful things about this wrap are how easy it is to use and how many different ways you can wear your baby in it. I love that the fabric gives it that cozy feeling keeping your baby close, while it also gives support with the band you use. It’s like using a wrap or ring sling without the learning curve! 

I used our Baby K’tan extensively until the kids were about 9 months old, and I certainly got my money’s worth! The one downside is that you order it depending on your size. Unfortunately, that means that it didn’t work for both my husband and I.

After our kids outgrew the Baby K’tan, I moved to the Ergobaby Carrier. The Ergobaby Carrier is size adjustable, which means either my husband or I can carry the baby. The Ergo was my favorite baby carrier for travel and sightseeing with a baby.

Celine Brewer, owner of BabyCanTravel.com, is hiking in Sedona with her baby in an Ergobaby carrier.
Hiking with our baby in an Ergobaby carrier in Sedona, AZ.

The newest Ergobaby Carriers enable you to carry your baby on your front (front or forward facing), back or hip which gives you plenty of ways to keep your baby (and your back) happy.

I had an original Ergobaby carrier, so I also had an infant insert which also allowed me to use this baby carrier with my second child as a newborn.

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2. Lightweight Baby Blankets for Travel

Though this might seem like an odd item to have under must-have baby travel gear, but in my experience, swaddle blankets are one of the best traveling essentials for baby. They are just so versatile!

I highly recommend the Aden & Anais Muslin Swaddle Blankets. The reason I love them so much is for their large size and how lightweight they are.

Baby Can Travel owner, Celine Brewer, protects her baby from the sun at the White Sands National Park using a swaddle blanket.
I used a swaddle blanket to help protect my daughter from the sun at White Sands National Park.

Swaddle blankets are so versatile for traveling with a baby. They are perfect for giving your baby a place to play on the floor in that airport (if you don’t have one of these baby travel play mats), obviously they work well to swaddle or keep your baby warm, and they even work as a nursing cover in a pinch. They are one of those wonderful multi-tasking baby travel essentials!

I love Aden & Anais Muslin swaddle blankets so much, I even wrote an entire blog post on how useful these swaddle blankets are for travel with a baby!

Celine Brewer uses a swaddle blanket as a sun shade on her baby stroller.
Protecting my baby from the sun using a swaddle blanket on the stroller.

The best part is that you’ll keep using these blankets even when you are traveling with a toddler! They are a bit expensive, but they are so versatile to traveling with small kids, they are worth every penny!

3. SlumberPod Privacy Pod

In my experience traveling with babies, having a well-rested child makes a huge difference in the quality of your trip. A tired baby will be cranky and less willing to put up with the rigors of travel. Conversely, I consistently find that a well-rested baby is more willing to go with the flow and enjoy all the new experiences that travel provides.

In my early days of traveling with a baby, we stayed predominantly in hotels, which meant that we were in the same room as our daughter. One item that I wished had been available at the time is the SlumberPod.

The SlumberPod creates a private, dark environment for your baby, which would be so useful when sharing a hotel room with a baby. Even for daytime naps at the hotel or in an Airbnb without blackout blinds, this is one of the most useful baby travel products.

a boy from the BabyCanTravel.com family, lies on his inflatable travel bed inside a SlumberPod.
My little guy lies on his inflatable travel bed inside his SlumberPod.

The SlumberPod is one of those amazing new baby travel products and I consider it to be one of the travel must haves for baby! If the SlumberPod isn’t within your budget, here is my list of recommended SlumberPod alternatives.

If you prefer to get portable blackout curtains for the windows, one option I really like are Sleepout Curtains which have industrial-strength suction cups. In addition, they come with extra Sleepout pads to help stop any light from coming through on the edges! Use code “babycantravel” for a 10% discount! For more information, read my full review of the Sleepout Blackout Curtains.

Use BABYCANTRAVEL$20 to get $10 off the SlumberPod when you buy direct from SlumberPod!

Still not sure if you need one for traveling with a baby? Read my full review of the SlumberPod here.

4. Baby Travel Crib or Travel Tent

While plenty of hotels and Airbnb rentals have pack n’ plays available for you to use, owning a portable baby travel crib is the best way to give your baby a familiar sleep environment. It’s also one less thing to worry about if you plan to move around a lot during your trip.

For older babies (older than 6 months old), the KidCo PeaPod Plus Travel Bed is great baby travel bed option which we used extensively on our family trips.

a baby from the BabyCanTravel family, is sound asleep inside a KidCo Peapod tent.
Our baby sleeping in the KidCo PeaPod Plus travel tent.

On a trip to Japan with a baby, a friend recommended the KidCo Peapod Plus travel bed to us and was kind enough to lend us hers. The KidCo Peapod Plus travel tent is a lightweight, sturdy travel bed which collapses to easily fit in a typical suitcase. What’s not to love?!?

Our little guy slept great while using the Peapod Plus and it allowed us to sleep easy knowing he was safe and well contained. I was hooked! We quickly got one for ourselves and used it on all our family trips until he was too big for his toddler travel bed.

For infants and babies, the best baby travel cribs that I recommend are the Guava Lotus travel crib or the more budget friendly Chicco Alfa Lite.

I have written a full Lotus travel crib review and a review of the KidCo Peapod Plus toddler travel bed where I also share all my tips for getting your baby or toddler to sleep in it.

5. CoziGo Bassinet and Stroller Cover

As mentioned, I love the versatility of a large swaddle blanket for baby travel. One of the mistakes I’ve made traveling with a baby was using the blanket over the stroller at nap time – it just didn’t work well. It was still too bright inside the stroller, our baby was too hot and the wind kept blowing it off!  

The CoziGo stroller cover solves this problem and is one of those baby travel necessities that should be on everyone’s packing list for travel with baby! The CoziGo Bassinet & Stroller Cover works as both a cover for airline bassinets and a sun shade for strollers. It’s so versatile that it could easily go under the category of baby travel products for sleep, flying or getting around.

CoziGo Sleep & Sun Cover - travel essentials baby.

The CoziGo is now one of my top recommended baby travel products to get your baby to sleep on vacation.

a baby in a stroller with a CoziGo Stroller Cover.
Baby’s first time using the CoziGo stroller cover.

If you are wondering why I like this stroller cover so much for naps on the-go while traveling with a baby, check out my review of the CoziGo Stroller Cover.

6. Portable Travel High Chair

Another baby travel essential I’ve used extensively on our family travels is a fabric travel high chair. Eating can be a challenge while traveling with a baby and I’ve learned that having a travel high chair is very convenient for feeding a baby in a wide variety of settings. You’ll be happy to have one if restaurants, hotel rooms or your Airbnb.

Dan Brewer, from Baby Can Travel, enjoys high tea in London while his baby sits nicely at the table in a travel high chair.
My husband is able to enjoy high tea in London, with our daughter sitting nicely in her fabric high chair.

Once our baby was eating solid foods, I always traveled with a fabric high chair. A fabric travel high chair is one of the best baby travel products to pack when traveling to countries where restaurants don’t typically have high chairs.

I love that it has a 5-point harness, it attaches to the back of most chairs and if attached properly, will keep your baby securely in the chair (still never leave your baby unattended).  

As a bonus, I love that travel high chairs pack down really small, which makes it easy to bring out with you while sightseeing with your baby!

Celine Brewer, from Baby Can Travel, feeds her baby in a hotel room using a portable travel high chair.
Feeding my son in a hotel room using a fabric travel high chair.

While there are some downsides to a simple fabric travel high chair, I cover them in this post which compares all the best travel high chairs. You’ll also find all my recommendations for clip-on travel high chairs (like the Inglesina high chair) and other options that might suit your family better.

Keep in mind that if you are traveling to a country where most restaurants will have high chairs, like these best places to travel in the USA with a baby, then you may not need a portable travel high chair.

7. Diaper Change Pad

Another very simple, yet super important item I would definitely include in my list of essentials for travelling with a baby is a diaper change pad. You won’t need to worry about finding places to change your baby if you have one.

I used my portable diaper change pad so frequently that it definitely falls under the category of best baby travel gear! Find the best diaper change mat for your family from my curated list.

Celine Brewer, from BabyCanTravel.com, changes her baby's diaper on a portable change mat while hiking.
Diapers changes can happen anywhere when you have a travel change mat!

Don’t miss my best tips to turn a baby traveler into a child who loves to travel.

8. Thermometer and Baby Tylenol

Not all baby travel gear has to be flashy or exciting – the fundamentals are important too. While I hope you’ll never have to deal with your baby being sick when you travel, packing a few essentials and a baby first aid kit will be well worth it.

I always included a baby thermometer and baby Tylenol in my carry-on luggage. The last thing I wanted was to try and find these items in a country where I didn’t speak the local language!

9. Spill Proof Snack Cup

A spill proof snack cup could very well be the baby travel gear I have used most on my family travels, especially with my son. A good travel snack cup is indispensable for traveling with a baby who eats solids.

Spill-proof snack cups are excellent activities for a baby on an airplane – just fill it with Cheerios and they will spend a wonderful amount of time pulling them out one-by-one. They are equally useful for snack on the go while sightseeing. Your baby can snack away in the stroller while you walk to the next attraction!

The Munchkin Snack Catcher is my favorite snack cup – it seems like every travel picture we have of our son, he’s holding one!

You can find even more spill proof snack cups for travel and the best travel sippy cups here.

Celine Brewer, from BabyCanTravel.com, holds her baby on her lap during a family flight. Her baby eats finger foods from a spill proof snack cup.
Flying with my baby and using snacks to distract him!

10. Backpack Diaper Bag

What about your diaper bag? You could bring your everyday diaper bag from home, but my experience taught me to have something that helps keep your hands hands free, like this backpack diaper bag!

I’ve even used my regular hiking backpack as a diaper bag / carry-on for traveling with a baby, but one of these backpack diaper bags for travel will be much better for keeping your baby travel essentials organized.

Celine Brewer, from BabyCanTravel.com, is wearing a backpack diaper bag while sightseeing with her kids in Oslo, Norway.
I love having free hands when traveling with my kids. (Zoom in to see the snack cup in my son’s hand!)

See my full review of The Getaway Bag by No Reception Club. It has all the features parents need in a diaper bag for traveling with a baby.

11. White Noise Machine

You never can predict whether your hotel room will be loud or if the street noise will wake your baby. Using a white noise machine enables you to replicate your baby’s sleep environment and block out extra noise that might wake your baby.

a baby from BabyCanTravel.com is sound asleep inside a toddler travel tent while listening to a white noise machine.
My son loved his white noise machine.

I especially liked having a portable white noise machine for sharing a hotel room with our baby and we’ve even used it on the airplane. In both situations, having a white noise machine gives your baby something to focus on besides all the distracting, new & exciting ambient noise around them.

a baby from BabyCanTravel.com uses a white noise machine on a plane while sleeping on a Fly Tot travel bed.
My little guy sleeps on a flight on his Fly Tot with his white noise machine.

If you like to travel light, you can always get an app for white noise, but the big downside to this is that you won’t have your phone with you in the evening when your baby sleeps. Perhaps use an old phone?

12. Lightweight Travel Stroller

Although I listed a baby carrier as my #1 baby travel essential, that doesn’t mean I don’t like travel strollers. I’ve traveled with a baby travel stroller on many occasions, especially on trips to the US. Your travel stroller options range from simple umbrella strollers to lightweight travel strollers that have a canopy and fold up small enough to fit in the overhead bin on the airplane.

If you aren’t in the market to buy a separate infant travel stroller and your everyday stroller is too large to travel with, you can always rent a stroller at your destination. I’ve rented strollers for our family travels on many occasions – it’s a nice treat not having to bring it onto the airplane.

a mother pushing toddler in lightweight Inglesina Quid foldable stroller.
Using the Inglesina Quid travel stroller.

Many parents think they need a stroller to lug all their baby travel gear through the airport, but I think it’s easier to use a baby carrier to get through the airport. Besides, not having a stroller forces you to pack lightly, leaving your non-essential baby travel gear at home.

If you are thinking of traveling with a stroller, be sure to read my post on baby carrier or stroller for travel before making your final decision.

Again, whether renting or bringing your own travel system, the CoziGo is a must have travel item! Not only for getting your baby to nap on the go, but not having to worry about them being in the sun for too long!

13. Baby Travel Toys

While you’ll be hoping to get your baby to sleep on the airplane, you should pack a few toys to keep your baby entertained on the flight. I have written extensively on this topic, including posts on the best baby travel toys to entertain your baby on the plane and even more in this list of travel toys for babies.

Two of my favorite baby travel toys include this multi-sensory activity toy or this tactile baby book.

baby playing with nuby travel toy.

These baby travel mobiles also make excellent baby travel toys for on-the-go!

14. Baby Travel Car Seat

If you plan to bring a car seat on the airplane or need one for a rental car, then you will need to plan ahead for traveling with this essential baby gear.

The Cosco Scenera Next is the lightweight travel car seat that you’ll see recommended for travel time and time again. This one is another well reviewed lightweight baby travel car seat.

a toddler from the BabyCanTravel.com family sleeps in a travel convertible car seat in a rental car during a family trip.
My son asleep in the rental car.

If you plan to fly with a car seat and not bring it with you to your seats, make sure to keep it safe in a car seat travel bag. You can get a protective bag for strollers too, though you’ll probably be gate checking your stroller, which makes the protective bag unnecessary.

See all the best car seat travel bags here, plus more ingenious ways on carrying your car seat through the airport.

Do you need a car seat for travel with a baby? Here are things to consider before traveling with car seats on airplanes, which might help your decision on purchasing a travel car seat.

15. HALO Swaddle SleepSack

I used the HALO Swaddle SleepSack for both our babies at home, so to help maintain a consistent sleeping experience, I would also bring it every time we traveled with our babies. This comfy sleepsack was a major component of my baby’s sleep routine and I found it helped our baby get a good night’s sleep while on the road.

A baby from the BabyCanTravel.com family, sleeps in a Halo Swaddle Sleepsack with an old iPhone providing white noise.
My daughter loved her HALO Swaddle Sleepsack.
a baby from the BabyCanTravel.com family sleeps in an airline bassinet on an overseas flight. The baby wears a HALO Swaddle Sleepsack.
Our baby’s first flight!

I even used a swaddle sleepsack to help my daughter sleep in the airplane bassinet on her very first flight.

I used the Swaddle SleepSack until about my kids were about 6 months old, then switched to the HALO SleepSack without the swaddle.

16. Baby Monitor App

Once you’ve gotten your baby to sleep, you’ll want to keep an eye on them. I love the Baby Monitor 3G app for when we stay somewhere where our baby is in a separate room (family, friends or an apartment rental).

an iPad running the Baby Monitor 3G app.

The great thing about this baby monitor app is it lets you leave your bulky baby monitor equipment at home. Note that you need to have two Apple or Android devices (i.e. one with baby and one with you) and Wi-Fi for it to work. Over 1,000,000 parents use this handy baby travel app and for good reason.

17. Travel Baby Monitor

While I love the simplicity of using a baby monitor app for traveling, it’s not always the best solution. The potential downsides using a baby monitor app are that you need a strong consistent signal for it to work (not always guaranteed while traveling) and you give up the use of two phones.

a travel baby monitor sits on a bookshelf.

One alternative is to pack a travel baby monitor. Then you’ll rest easy knowing you can still keep an eye on your baby. This is especially important if you are renting an Airbnb where your baby will be sleeping in a separate room.

See all my recommended baby travel monitors here.

a child from the BabyCanTravel.com family, sleeps in a KidCo PeaPod Plus Travel Tent with a baby monitor watching.
A baby monitor watches our child sleep in a PeaPod Plus at an Airbnb in Japan.

18. Nursing Cover

While I don’t believe a woman needs to cover up while breastfeeding, depending on your comfort level or the cultural sensitivities of where you travel with your baby, a nursing cover might be a necessary item to add to your baby travel must haves.

Celine Brewer, from BabyCanTravel.com, uses a nursing cover while hiking in Sedona with her baby.
Taking a break from hiking in Sedona to breastfeed our son

For breastfeeding and pumping moms, read my post on breastfeeding on a plane.

19. Baby Bibs

Babies are very messy eaters, which can present challenges if you don’t have access to laundry facilities. When I travel with a baby who is eating solid food, I always pack bibs that are easy to clean. Having a good bib which catches most of the dropped/spilled food makes life so much easier from a laundry perspective.

You can also pack a portable baby food masher if you want to prepare your own baby food while you travel.

A baby, from BabyCanTravel.com, eats a snack while sitting in a stroller and wearing a washable bib for baby.
My kids are messy eaters. We kept our Airbnb clean by putting our daughter in her stroller with a washable bib on.

20. Silicone Table Mat

Feeding a baby finger food can get messy, especially when your baby is in the plate flinging stage. Using a silicone table mat, lets you put their food in front of them and let them practice feeding themselves.

a baby from the BabyCanTravel.com family travel website, eats from a silicone place mat while on a family vacation to Japan.
I used a silicone plate for meals in our Airbnb in Japan.

I brought a silicone table mat with me on many family trips, including going to an all-inclusive resort with a baby (where all we did was eat!). These flexible and easily washable mats are especially useful in restaurants where you don’t want to risk your baby breaking their glass plates.

See my complete guide to visiting an all-inclusive with a baby.

21. Diapers and Extra Baby Clothes

Travel days don’t always go according to plan – I’ve had many family travel days which were much longer than anticipated. Take my advice and pack more diapers than you think you’ll need and a few extra outfits for your baby. Blowouts happen and you’ll want to be prepared.

On that note, pack an extra shirt for yourself!

Celine Brewer, owner of BabyCanTravel.com, holds a baby who just pooped through his diapers on a flight.
Accidents do happen when flying with a baby. Be prepared with extra wipes and diapers!

22. Inflatable Travel Bathtub

Some babies thrive on routine and getting your baby to sleep on vacation often means replicating your bedtime routine while you travel.

If a bath is part of your baby’s bedtime routine, you can purchase an inflatable bathtub for travel. Other alternatives are to use the hotel sink or give your baby a wipe down with a warm cloth.

I share all the best baby bathtubs for travel here.

Travel Essentials for Baby – Special Trip Types

We’ve done it all from flying long haul flights with an infant, to traveling with a baby and a toddler. Trust us when I say that for flying with a baby, you won’t want the added stress of extra bags and baby travel items to lug around the airport and to find room for in your rental car.

Celine Brewer, owner of BabyCanTravel.com, flies to Phoenix, AZ with her two children - a baby and a toddler.
Flying with my two-month old and 2-year old to Phoenix, AZ.

My list of essential baby travel gear above is geared for a typical family trip, but you may be interested in a few of my other posts for these special types of trip:

Baby Plane Travel Essentials

Flying with a baby can be intimidating, especially for the first time. If there’s one place that packing lightly is important, then this is it. You’ll have enough to deal with on the plane, let alone worrying about a bunch of bags filled with unnecessary baby travel gear.

The number one item I recommend for flying with a baby is a good baby carrier. If you plan to fly with a stroller frequently, consider one of these best strollers for airplane travel with a stroller travel bag for extra protection.

Alternatives to Packing Baby Gear

If you aren’t looking to purchase one of these essentials for traveling with baby, here are the options you that may allow you to avoid purchasing or packing one of these essential travel items for baby:

  • For the bigger traveling accessories for babies, like a portable crib or a high chair, first check with your hotel or Airbnb host. Even if the high chair or pack n’ play isn’t listed in the description, your host may be able to make one available for you. It never hurts to ask!

  • If neither of those options work out, you can still avoid bringing all that baby gear and rent your must have items for traveling with baby at your destination. In larger centers, you can often find a reputable baby equipment rental company that can deliver baby travel essentials directly to your rental car, hotel or Airbnb apartment.

  • For other baby travel items, you may be able to use an alternative item – like many parents did in my post about the best travel hacks for babies and toddlers.

If you plan to travel frequently with your kids, then I recommend buying the must have baby travel items. It’s much more convenient if you have your own, plus it will be something that your baby is familiar with.

Checklist for What to Bring When Traveling with a Baby

It can seem overwhelming when you start thinking about everything you need to bring when traveling with a baby. Do yourself a favor and download this handy baby packing list so you don’t forget anything!

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Best Baby Travel Essentials

This post was written & edited by:

Celine Brewer - Baby Can Travel

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.

Read more about Celine Brewer.

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