PackingTot1Have you ever left for vacation and realized five minutes before the airplane takes off that you forgot to pack something? I have! I’ve lost sleep over it too. Sometimes just the thought of traveling with and packing for toddlers makes me have a mini panic attack.

It seems like everything I had to carry around when my son was a baby has since doubled (and sometimes even tripled) now that he’s a toddler (toys, snacks, books, etc). And that’s just the stuff to keep him entertained. So I polled a few close friends for their advice on packing for toddlers. This is what we came up with:

  • Start preparing to pack at least two to three days before you actually leave. Keep a notepad/checklist with you at all times for those things that pop into your head (nightlight, lovey, portable DVD player etc). Start pulling the listed things out and putting them together.
  • Pack the suitcase the same way you would pack a diaper bag as if you were going to be gone all day – and then multiply it by the number of days you’ll be gone. You know your toddler better than I do. But it’s always better to be a little over-prepared than under.
  • If you want to keep the packing light, find out ahead of time if your destination has a laundry facility and bring some laundry soap with you as well as a popup hamper or large bag.
  • Keep your toddler’s clothes in their own little suitcase. At least two outfits a day are a safe guideline unless you’re packing light.
  • Pack some of your child’s favorite toys and books as well as some new ones for surprises during the uneasy moments in the carry-on bag if you’re flying.
  • Pack a collapsible stroller. If flying, it can easily be checked at the gate and stored in the overhead compartment. It’s a lot easier to roll your tot rather than carry a 30-lb. toddler from one end of the airport to the other. Especially if the layover is short and you’re in a hurry. Consider one of these strollers to save space.
  • Keep plenty of snacks and fluids on hand. Period. Check with TSA to find out what is acceptable.
  • Have a medical kit in case of an unexpected illness or injury. (See “Traveling With A Sick Toddler)
  • You can never bring too much sunscreen or bug spray. You can pay double at your vacation destination if you end up having to buy some.
  • Don’t. Forget. Your. Camera. (and charger)
  • Bring plastic or Ziploc bags. They can be used for many different reasons and you’ll be surprised when you’ll need them. (TIP: Barf bags work just as well if you forget the baggies)
  • Bring an emergency lollipop (or two). You’ll thank me at 37,000 feet in the air when you have to change a wiggly toddler’s diaper in that teensy weensy bathroom. But only use if absolutely necessary. We don’t want them thinking they get a “reward” every time they’re rambunctious. (PS: I’m not responsible for the possible effects your child may get from the sugar, ha ha). And have some wipes or a rag with you should you have to break open the seal on the lollipop.
  • Do NOT over-pack. Keep this rule when flying: If it doesn’t fit, don’t bring it. Pack one carry-on per kid.

Obviously you know your toddler better than I do. You know the average number of outfits your child goes through in one day and you know what helps your child settle down if they’re starting to get a little wiggly. A vacation with a toddler doesn’t have to be burdensome. It just takes a little bit of forethought.

Photo Credit: Mother Goose Baby Shop.
Amanda is a freelance writer and blog owner of “The Procrastinating Mommy” – a PR friendly family blog. You can also follow her on Twitter at: @Amanda_aka_Mom or on Facebook at: The Procrastinating Mommy.