Travelling with kids: a check list

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Note: buy buy BABY let me borrow all the products I wanted to demonstrate on CTV. They are also letting me take two products on an upcoming trip for review. All the product choices and opinions below are my own.

We’re making a list and checking it twice.

Just kidding! I’m nowhere near that organized. I do think after learning the hard way through many trips with our young daughter we have figured out a few key things to bring along.

Of course, you need:

  • a passport if you are leaving the country
  • clothes, pyjamas, and swimwear (if you’re going anywhere warm)
  • diapers & wipes if your child isn’t potty trained

But there are other, larger items you will want to consider if you are travelling with young children. Read my list below, and check out my previous post with tips on travelling with young children.

Here’s my list of essential travel gear:

 Baby Carrier

Our favourite was the Beco Gemini. We were able to use it from birth, and used it to travel with our son when we flew to Canada’s East Coast just ten days after he was born. It’s easy to put on (without any help), is incredibly comfortable, and can be worn with baby in front, on the side or on your back.

When your child is really young you can use the carrier instead of a stroller. It’s also great for hikes or any terrain where a stroller doesn’t work well.

We’ve used the backpack style carrier as well but the Beco Genimi packs up a lot smaller.

 Umbrella Stroller

When you’re travelling you want to have a light stroller, but you also want something that is comfortable for your child, and comfortable for you to push around town.

If you hope your little one will nap on the go, you need a stroller with a good recline and great sun shade (the stroller pictured is the UPPABaby G-Luxe)

The nice thing is, on most flights you can bring your stroller right to the gate and check it before boarding. It will be ready for you as soon as you step off the plane.

 Playpen or Travel Crib

Before you go, check with your accommodations and find out if they have a crib or playpen you can use during your say. If so, you can leave this one piece of gear at home.

That said, we have brought ours along on most of our trips.

I’m looking forward to trying the BABYBJORN Playard (pictured) because it’s incredibly light and folds up into a shape closer to a suitcase. Review to follow!

 Comfort Items

You want to bring along the things that give your children cues it’s time to sleep. Reading familiar books, wearing the usual sleep sack, and having a lovey in hand can help your child sleep in a strange place.

We also use white noise at home so we always pack either a white noise machine or portable speakers and an iPod with the sound loaded. It works in the hotel or apartment, as well as on the go when your child needs a little nudge to get to sleep.

A room darkening blind can also help encourage your child to sleep a little longer during the night or at nap time.

One important note: if your child does have a ‘lovey’ or favourite toy, like ours, don’t forget to pack some sort of leash to secure the toy to the carrier or stroller so you don’t lose it! Trust me. This is coming from a mom who has had to buy back her child’s favourite bunny from a restaurant worker in Portugal!

WATCH ABOVE: my segment on CTV Ottawa Morning Live talking travelling with kids

On the plane

Our main goal on flights now is to keep our children quiet and happy (and therefor keep the travellers around us content.).

To do that, we make sure to pack snacks if we are not being served a meal, and some items to keep our children occupied:


While at home, we are mindful of how much screen time our kids have, on a plane it’s a free-for-all. If that will keep our four-year-old happy, I’m all for it.  We download whatever shows we can through various apps so it’s ready to go.

We have also found some good educational games she enjoys to play which are a bonus. One, Ooka Island, is focused on helping children learning to read and we have definitely seen a change over the time she has played.

Child-friendly headphones

We found some headphones that are designed for small children with a volume limiting feature. My daughter likes having her own earphones and, of course, everyone else likes that they can’t hear what she’s watching or playing.

Water or magic marker activity books

If we can them entertained with things that do not have a screen, all the better. Our daughter loves the water or magic market activity books that allow her to colour the page and discover a picture or educational activity, and I love that the water pen or magic market can’t make a mess anywhere!

Small toys

When my daughter was a few years younger we used to wrap some of her own toys and let her open them up at different stages of the flight. She loved the surprise aspect of it, even though they weren’t new toys.

Somebody had suggested grabbing toys from the dollar store for this, but I really don’t think we need any more toys!

Even if you don’t want to play an unwrapping game, just having a few small toys to play with can help pass the time. Of course, be prepared to play with them. That’s what’s going to help keep their attention.


We are so lucky both our children love books. It’s another great way to hold their attention and keep them quiet for a little while. I always pack a couple of our favourites, but with our upcoming trip I think I’ll pick up a new book for our four-year-old. She loves the Thea Stilton series, especially the graphic novel version!


On our way home from Portugal, when G was just 14 months old, she was having a fit as we were preparing to land and I had to hold her in my arms. Suddenly an arm reach over the chair in front of me and passed G a small piece of paper with stickers on it. She immediately stopped crying and started playing with the stickers. It was such a relief.

Find some little things like this that can help in a pinch.


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