Toddler Travel Packing

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I love this photo — showing the reality of travel with a toddler. If he would have looked up from the iPad, he would have LOVED all of the boats. Oh well! He was happy, we were happy.

If you’re friends with Tony or I on Facebook or Instagram you will know that we just spent a week in beautiful Copenhagen, Denmark. Sorry for blowing up your feeds, everyone, but it was a pretty perfect week and we wanted to do whatever we could to save the memories for us to look back on later. We’re looking forward to sharing more about this trip on the blog in the coming week, but before we get to the specifics of Copenhagen I wanted to tackle the challenge of packing for a toddler.

Now that we’ve travelled a fair bit as a family, the packing process has become so much easier. The first trip I took with Matteo was very stressful — I felt like I practically had to pack everything we owned baby-related that we might need. Its not that way anymore. While I won’t go through the process of explaining every little thing that I pack for our toddler (there are plenty of packing lists on the web that do just that), I did want to mention a few of the essentials that make traveling with our rambunctious three year old a whole lot easier:

  1. Potette Plus 2-in-1 Travel Potty – This little potty invention has been a game changer for us. While we still use our little IKEA potty at home, it was too bulky to travel easily with when we’re out and about. The legs of this little potty fold under to make it practically flat. It fits easily in a carry on, and underneath the stroller when we’re out sight seeing. The potty uses biodegradable, disposable liners. We can go anywhere if this potty is with us.
  2. Favorite blanket from home – When I was pregnant, we received two packs of these wonderful swaddle blankets as a gift. At the time, I thought they were simply adorable and couldn’t wait to swaddle my little newborn. They were used CONSTANTLY in the first few months of Matteo’s life — and pretty much everyday since . These blankets are light and thin, they pack easily, and they wash and dry quickly. Matteo instantly recognizes them as something from home and they help a hotel bed seem like his bed.
  3. A few favorite toys. When you think of traveling, you don’t think of spending lots of time in the hotel room. The point is to be out and about, seeing the city you’re visiting. The truth is that when you travel with a toddler you will need to include some down time in your trip. To keep a hotel room from being completely boring for Matteo, we bring a few of his favorite toys with us in our carry on. For him, that means a little green airplane that he loves to “fly” on every flight, a toy car, and his current obsession, some sort of Toy Story toy (this time we brought Woody — so naturally he kept asking for Buzz Lightyear). Again, this isn’t about bringing everything your child could possibly want to play with, but rather a few favorites that will make the hotel room feel familiar, like home away from home.
  4. Snacks. My child is a PICKY eater. It’s bad. The fact is there’s a list of only about 10 items that he will currently eat. Because we travel internationally, we don’t always know if Matteo’s favorites will be available. For that reason, we always pack the “essentials” – Pringles, M&Ms, goldfish crackers, and strawberry pop tarts. Healthy? No, but these foods work as bribes when he’s tired on a long haul flight and guarantee that he’ll eat something if we’re presented with a menu that has nothing kid friendly. Thankfully, fruit is the same everywhere so we load up on his favorites when we reach our destination on each trip.
  5. Children’s pain reliever. It never fails that Matteo picks up a bug of some sort on our trips. The first year it was ear infections, last year we dealt with a wretched stomach virus, and this go around he came home with congestion and a cough. I love Walgreen’s brand Jr. strength ibuprofen in the dissolving tabs (can be found in store). Matteo doesn’t do well with suspension liquid, but doesn’t fight us when it’s time to take these tablets (intended for ages 2 to 11 years). I briefly looked in a pharmacy in Denmark this past week, but the language barrier made it really difficult to shop for children’s OTC medications. I was glad to already have what I needed already in my bag.
  6. iPad and Movie. The iPad has been a lifesaver for us. Its what gave us the time we needed to enjoy sightseeing at less-exciting-for-kids locations like museums. Before a trip, we like to download a new movie or television episode for Matteo to watch on the trip. Because the material is new to him, he will happily watch it over and over again. If you’re the parent of a little one who has a favorite show or character, gifting your kiddo with a new “movie” will give them needed entertainment while you enjoy your trip. Be sure to download it to your device so that you don’t have to rely on wifi to view! P.S. The newest Toy Story movie is FANTASTIC.

Nothing groundbreaking here, but these little things make traveling with a three year old not just bearable, but enjoyable for the three of us. Do you have any tried and true packing items of your own for traveling with a little one?

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