baby travel essentials packing list

Going on vacation? Don’t forget to pack these baby travel essentials

Okay, so we’re in the middle of Covid, and I know that posting this article now might be unpopular. But I’m gonna do it anyway, because I’m willing to bet that some of you just might travel over the holidays to spend time with friends and family. But what travel essentials should you pack for your baby?

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m an avid planner and chronic listmaker. (If you missed my other mama/baby checklists, have a look here and here.) I simply cannot pack for vacation without a list. In fact, I need total autonomy and zero distractions while packing.

Cause one time, I forgot to pack my daughter’s American passport. NEVER AGAIN. Hint: if you hold 2 passports, remember to bring both, cause nations don’t really like it when they think you’re hiding something, even if you are only a year old.

Alright, so hopefully I’ve convinced you that having a packing list for traveling with your baby is essential. Let’s get into the items you need!

If you need a coffee as you are assembling the good stuff to go in your suitcase, grab one now and let’s get started.

baby travel essentials

What to pack in your baby’s travel suitcase


  • Baby clothes (see my post with a checklist just for baby clothes)
    • Onesies
    • Tops
    • Pants
    • Socks
    • Pajamas
  • Shoes
  • Slippers
  • Coats, hats, scarves, gloves
  • Laundry detergent if needed

When packing your baby’s travel clothes, there are 2 major things you need to take into account:

1) the climate at your destination and

2) whether laundry facilities will be available to you.

I always make sure to have a change of baby clothes with me at all times. If you are checking your suitcase and your baby has a potty accident, for example, you’ll be glad you packed extra clothes in your hand baggage.

Toiletries and Personal Care Items

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Travel changing mat
  • Hand gel
  • Tissues
  • Saline (we call this physiological serum in France—for cleaning baby’s eyes in particular)
  • Cotton rounds, cotton swabs
  • Thermometer
  • Rubbing alcohol (to clean the travel changing mat)
  • Baby soap
  • Change cream
  • Scissors and/or nail clippers
  • Baby medicine

With some of the above items, you’ll need to check with your airline about their requirements and restrictions in terms of flammable liquids (rubbing alcohol), sharp objects (scissors and nail clippers), and liquid quantities.

If you’re traveling by car, then you’re good to go!

As for diapers, you all know that we use cloth diapers. But for travel, we go with conventional disposable diapers. It’s very impractical to deal with soiled diapers that you have to carry with you before you can wash them. And who wants to spend their vacation doing laundry?! Not me.

If you’re practicing elimination communication, you don’t even need to worry about diapers!

For baby medicine, in France we give our babies vitamin D every day until age 2. Not a huge deal if you forget it, but it’s always best to have. But more importantly, I like to travel with some baby fever reducer in case. Having a dose or two will buy me time before I can purchase more wherever we are staying.

baby looking out window

Baby Food

  • Compotes (fruit purees)
  • Baby meals
  • Yogurt
  • Biscuits or snacks
  • Isothermal bag with ice or ice pack
  • Fabric seat that adapts any chair into a high chair like this one (not affiliated)
  • Bibs
  • Small utensils
  • Bottles or sippy cups with nipples
  • Dish detergent if needed

Depending on where you are going and how you’re getting there, you might not need any of these things.

But we took a trip to Ireland on the ferry with friends and our 1-year-old daughters. We stayed a week in an AirBnB and we just found it convenient, and cheaper, to bring all our own baby food as we were staying in a remote area of Ireland. Food was expensive there, and we cooked everything ourselves at home.

Obviously think about your baby’s diet as well.

Baby Equipment

  • Stroller (a compact or umbrella one would be best)
  • Baby carrier (sling, harness, whatever you want to call it)
  • Baby car seat
  • Travel baby bed with mattress, mattress protector, and fitted sheet
  • Baby sleeping bag
  • Binkies (pacifiers, dummies)
  • Loveys

If your baby has something special like a binky or favorite loveys, I suggest packing a few and spreading them out throughout your suitcases and bags. This way, if one gets lost or is inaccessible during part of your trip, you’ve still got others.

essentials for traveling with babies

Secret “Weapons”

  • Toys, toys, TOYS!
  • Books!

If you’re facing planes, trains, or automobiles, set yourself up for success by bringing some toys and books for distraction! I’ve even bought toys specifically for an upcoming trip as little surprises. You know what kind of toys specifically would do well based on the type of travel you’re facing. Don’t bring Play Doh! Don’t bring Legos.

Super Important Stuff

  • Passports!
  • Other forms of identity if required
  • Travel tickets and info
  • Baby’s health records

We have a booklet in France called the carnet de santé which contains all our baby’s health records until age 16 or so, including vaccinations. Instead of taking this precious book with me, I photographed the important bits in case I needed them.

kids looking out window of train

Pack for baby travel success

That’s about it!

Now, obviously, you’ll adapt your list from mine according to your situation: type of travel, whether you prefer to stay minimal or take everything but the kitchen sink, your baby’s age and individual needs.

But hopefully my list of baby travel essentials is complete enough so that at least you’re not missing anything when you pack!

You may not be able to travel anywhere exotic until this whole Covid mess is behind us, but here’s to dreaming of that next island vacation…

We will definitely be staying in France for the holidays this year. We’ll either be in Brittany with my in-laws or here at home in Normandy (can you believe I have NEVER spent Christmas in my own house before?).

But we have been very fortunate to travel a lot with C already. She’s been to Montana, California, and Oregon in the US, as well as Ireland and different parts of France.

Do you love planning? Want more lists? Then check out my other articles here on Mamas Café Society:

If you want me to do an article with all my best tips for traveling with a baby, let me know in the comments!


About the Author

photo of me

Jessica is an American expat living the dream in Normandy. She is wife to a French hubby and mama to a Franco-American daughter, born in 2018, and one whippet. Passionate about all stages of writing, this Francophile created her blog in 2020 to help others navigate motherhood with a focus on conscious parenting and bilingual parenting. Bonne lecture !

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vacation packing list for baby

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