The ultimate packing for kids guide

Packing with kids guide
Packing with kids guide

I have overpacked on so many occasions. Through trial and error, here is my packing for kids guide to help you pack smarter, faster and hopefully lighter when travelling with kids. No guarantees of having fun though.

Suitcase size and type

My aim is to do as little washing as possible, this is not to say there won’t be any laundering of clothes but this guide keeps it to a minimum. The aim is to have just enough for the trip.

No matter the duration, a medium or large suitcase for all the kids gear should be enough.

We pack a large size suitcase, so there is plenty of spare room to bring back goodies acquired on holiday.

As an indication of size and type, we have a Samsonite Lift Spinner 25, they are expandable, has 4  spinnable wheels, lightweight and lots of compartments.

Love this suitcase, slot nappies (diapers) in the front, lots of compartments, light and 4 rollaway caster wheels
Love this suitcase, slot nappies (diapers) in the front, lots of compartments, light and 4 rollaway caster wheels

 

Packing for kids – what goes in the suitcase?

Nappies (diapers)

Pack 6 nappies a day. This takes into account spares and emergencies. You may need to factor more or less depending on what phase of  pooping your child is in. With a 23 month old  ready for potty training, I pack less (4 a day). For infants you may need to pack a few more in case of poo explosions.

TIPs – for packing nappies

  • The week before you travel take a note of how many nappies  you are averaging per day, that is from the first nappy after waking up to the final nappy before bed, then add one per day for emergencies. I’ve only done it once when I had exactly the right amount of nappies for a trip. That is I was down to my last one as we touched down back home. It was a glorious moment.
  • Depending on country of destination, pack for either the duration of the trip or for the first 2 days; so you aren’t hunting for nappies in a foreign place as soon as you arrive.
Packing nappies for the duration Vs Buying at your destination
Though it takes up valuable suitcase there are advantages for packing for the duration of your stay including; having the brand you prefer, having all your nappies on hand so you don’t have to find some, having the exact quantity you need for a short stay rather than purchasing a bulk pack which can be more expensive and you may need to carry them back home. Buying at your destination means a suitcase free of bulky nappies. Depending on your destination nappies can be cheaper see my A guide to Bali with kids post. Depending on the country you are visiting, there are some companies that deliver nappies and baby supplies to your door at great prices. Check out: Amazon nappies

TIP – stow nappies on the outside pockets of your suitcase for more room

To save space, unpack your nappies and fill the outside pockets of your suitcase with them. You can fit a fair few doing this. As I take a large suitcase, a pack of nappies fit in easily.

Toilet training toddlers

If you are just starting toilet training you may want to invest in a portable toilet seat. It’s not absolutely necessary especially if you child is old enough to balance on a toilet or you are willing to assist. It’s ideal during potty training on the go.

The portable seat saves you holding your child on the toilet. I used PRI Folding Potty with handles. It’s universal and fits on most toilets, with a compact flat fold. Though they say it’s “portable”, it’s still big enough to be cumbersome and I didn’t carry it around during day trips. I used it mainly in the hotel rooms.

Great little portable toilet seat for toilet training, sturdy, folds really small with a little bag attached.
Great little portable toilet seat for toilet training, sturdy, folds really small with a little bag attached.

If a toilet seat seems bulky, use an elimination communication hold. Holding your baby facing away from you, with one hand under each thigh, straddle the toilet facing the cistern, holding bubs between your legs. Works a treat and no baby gear necessary.

Pack some antibacterial wipes to wipe down toilet surfaces on the go.

Elimination communication, Layla going potty age 4 months.
Elimination communication, Layla going potty age 4 months.

Wipes

Baby wipes come in handy for everything. Pack a full packet (60-80 sheets)  as it’s better to have a little more than not enough. This should last you over two weeks. You can always buy more at your destination.

Toiletries

  • Nappy rash cream, moisturiser, baby shampoo, toothpaste, baby wash or soap (I carry one bar of soap for the whole family), Carry these in a zip lock bag to prevent leaks.
  • Toothbrush, brush (one brush for the whole family), nail file (cut kids nails before trip), hair accessories for the girls (essential right!?).
  • Sunscreen, Insect Spray and Aloe Vera / After sun (for summer destinations)

TIPs for packing toiletries to save space

  • Try to use one product for all of the family or for multiple uses i.e. I use Paw Paw ointment as a lip balm, nappy rash cream, treating windburn and cuts.
  • There a lots of products available in sample sizes I’ve seen baby shampoo, dove soap and moisturisers in small sizes in places like Kmart. Or keep the sample sizes you find in baby bags and giveaways for when you travel i.e. sudocream tub that comes in your hospital baby bag.
  • Travel bottles are great to transport your favourite products into travel sizes such as shampoo, moisturisers and body wash. Ikea has some great multi-coloured ones.  In Australia, DAISO, Priceline and chemists stock travel bottles. For the USA check out the GoToob, these are great.
  • Use labels to ID what each bottle and easily resuse for next travels.
Inexpensive Ikea bottles, colour coded or use labels to mark contents
Inexpensive Ikea bottles, colour coded or use labels to mark contents
Handy resuable GoToob bottles to store your favourite kids shampoo, creams and bath products
Handy reusable GoToob bottles to store your favourite kids shampoo, creams and bath products

      

Medicines

Panadol (paracetamol /acetaminophen), Nurofen (Ibuprofen) and any medicines you require i.e antihistamines for allergies, puffers and inhalers.

I also pack Actilax (liquid laxative) in case the kids get constipated overseas I know this works for my kids. You can also pack any vitamins or probiotics. I always pack probiotics only because I had great luck using them in Bali and they escaped the Bali Belly. So I do this as a precaution, who knows if it actually works.

For dehydration, pack a few Gastrolite tablets, in Australia it comes in a tube with several tables (like Berocca) and you just add water. In the USA they have these handy single serving dry powder satchets called Pedialyte

Single serving sachet's these a great for travel, just mix with water to keep fluids up
Single serving sachet’s these a great for travel, just mix with water to keep fluids up

TIP – compare dosages between age groups

For Nurofen (Ibuprofen), choose the older age group than what you currently use.  You fill find that the bottle is smaller however the dosage is less. As an example, the 1-5 years Nurofen dosage for a 2 year old is 6ml compared to the 5-12 years Nurofen which is 3ml. The case is different for Panadol, sticking to the smaller age group means a more conentrated dose and a smaller bottle.

I do not pack any immodium in case of diaarhoea, it’s best to have nature run it’s course, pardon the pun.

Look for the higher age group in Nurofen. Smaller travel size.
Go for higher age group in Nurofen = smaller size, smaller doses.
Differences in dosage and size when choosing the next age group.
The 5-12 years age group is more concentrated, therefore smaller doses than the age group below. Also smaller bottle for travel.

First aid

The kits you buy are quite bulky, even the smallest kits and filled with things you may not necessarily need. Though, hikers and families going off the beaten path should invest in one.  If you are just wanting to fix a scraped knee on the go then I tend to make my own first aid up with a rolled bandage, disposable sterile / alcohol wipes x 10, a few bandaids of different sizes x 10 in a zip lock bag.

I do like these small travel first aid kit, and a first aid kit with mini scissors and tweezers do come in handy.

A very small first aid kit with just the bare essentials
A very small first aid kit with just the bare essentials
Really like this one - very compact with handy scissors and tweezers
Really like this one – very compact with handy scissors and tweezers

Food and Snacks

Food containers

Take a couple of small reusable food containers. These come in handy for snacks on the go, packing a lunch for day tripping, storing some bakery items from the buffet breakfast, storing left overs from a meal at a restaurant or as make-shift cereal bows. They do take up a bit of luggage space however, you can store bits and pieces inside the containers when packed inside your luggage.

Inexpensive sturdy containers with an ice brick to refrigerate and stackable.
Inexpensive sturdy containers with an ice brick to refrigerate and stackable.
I like this matching insulated bag because of the handle, shoulder strap and bottle holder!
I like this matching insulated bag because of the handle, shoulder strap and bottle holder!

Whichever container you take, make sure they are small enough to fit in your day bag, a little higher to fit something like a muffin, lightweight and spill proof. For versatility, take one that is microwave safe and deep enough so it can act as a bowl for breakfast cereals.

TIP – packing cutlery (or not)

Reduce travel weight and leave the cutlery at home. Choose finger foods like sandwiches, pastries and whole fruit. If you do need a spoon and fork, ask the hotel staff or take a few disposable spoons and forks when you dining in a restaurant or food court.

Otherwise plastic portable cutlery is best, steel ones onboard maybe confiscated.

Foldable plastic travel cutlery
Foldable plastic travel cutlery

Water bottles / Milk Bottles

Bring a water bottle bottle for each of your child, you can then refill them at water stations within the hotel or resort. Airlines permit kids drinks bottles to go onboard.

Water bottle for toddlers

Toddlers either like the sippy cup style or straw bottles.

There are pros and cons of each. Straw bottles for toddlers are easy once they get the knack of sucking though them and they can drink bigger quantities, they also help with popping ears on the plane using the sucking and swallowing motion. However, on an airplane, straw bottles leak due to the cabin pressure. They may not leak when it’s sealed, but once you open it, water or milk can go everywhere.

Kleen Kanteen with sippy cap spout

I like this one for toddlers, it’s got a sippy spout and it doesn’t use a straw so it is leak proof on a plane. It’s a good size for little kids.

I like this one for toddlers, it's got a sippy spout and it doesn't use a straw so it is leak proof on a plane
Kellen Kanteen, great size, sippy cup spout and doesn’t leak on plane

Polar Bottle insulated for kids

Insulated with a pop top spout makes it easy for toddlers to use and can keep milk cold for days out or longer flights by popping a few ice cubes in. It’s a little fat and bulk and may not fit in standard cup holders.

Insulated with a pop top spout easy for toddlers to use and can keep milk cold for days out or longer flights.
Polar Bottle is insulated with a pop top spout great for toddlers

Contigo Bottle for kids

Great size for kids and easy to use with the pop top, straw spout. This bottle may leak onboard though, also straws are fiddly to clean when on the go.

Excellent size, great spout mechanism and funky design, but straw bottles tend to leak on planes
Excellent size, great top mechanism and funky design

Camelbak Bottle for kids

Great size and designs for kids . The flip top spout and straw is easy to use, the chew straw might take some practice to start with but my 1 and 2 year old kids got the hang of it quickly. However not all kids do. These bottles leaked due to cabin pressure onboard.

Our camelbak was great, easy for toddlers to sip through but it leaked a little on the plane
We loved our camelbak but the spout is tricky and it leaked very slightly onboard

Water bottles for kids 4+

Contigo Trekker Bottle

Great size, slim fit and completely leak proof. Kids need to get use to pushing down to open the spout and drink at the same time. No straws means no fiddly cleaning and it’s light weight. Our three year old grasped the mechanism fine, though it took some practice.

We love these, leak proof the button might be tricky for younger kids.

Desert Ice Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle

Pop some ice cubes and you have cold milk or water at your fingertips for a long flight or day out. It’s slim and the spout is easy to use with young kids. The disadvantage is that being insulated and steel it is heavier than the BPA free plastic bottles. 

Desert Ice Stainless Steel Sports Bottle, keeps contents super cold for long times
Desert Ice Stainless Steel Sports Bottle, keeps contents super cold for long times

Shared bottle, older kids or parents water bottle

To really condense down the packing and if you don’t mind sharing, pack one larger bottle and pass it around or parents and older kids maybe interested in these great water bottle options:

Embravia waterbottle for all family members

Great size, hadny shoulder strap, one button pop, leak proof and free flowing spout is easy to use for all family members. Having no straws means cleaning is a easy. Durable, lightweight and a great slim size. An all rounder for families.

Embravia 1L water bottle is a great all round option
Embravia 1L water bottle is a great all round option

Swig Savvy Stainless Steel insuated water bottle

Great size, wide spout, easy to flip and sweat proof. Keeps drinks very cold and comes with a insulated carry case. 

Swig Savvy's Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle
Swig Savvy’s Stainless Steel Insulated Water Bottle

Collapsable travel bottles

To really conserve space these collapsible travel bottles are simple water bottle solutions for on the go.

Silicon collapsible travel bottles
Silicon collapsible travel bottles with carboner and pop top.
Vapur Element collapsible water bottle pouch
Vapur Element collapsible water bottle pouch

TIP – purchase a gallon of water to have on hand in a hotel room

If staying at a hotel room for a few days, purchase a gallon (5-10 litre dispenser) of water to refill water bottles before you head out.

What to pack specifically for infants / babies

Breastfeeding packing tips

If exclusively breastfeeding, there really isn’t much to pack. A nursing cover and burp cloths go in your carry on onboard. For nursing covers like the Udder Cover, it has a boning sewn in at the top of the apron to peer in on bubs.

Nursing cover with a peak a boo top to check on bubs - Udder Cover
Nursing cover with a peak a boo top to check on bubs – Udder Cover
Burt's Bees Baby Boy Organic Burp Cloths
Burt’s Bees Baby Boy Organic Burp Cloths

Expressing – breast pump

For those mums that express, a small breast pump or even a hand pump is ideal for travel. I have used the Medela Swing. Be mindful of your destinations electricity supply and whether a travel adapter, step down or step up converter is required. This means also packing bottles, brushes and teats. Steralise using milton tablets or boiling hot water.

Loved my Madela Swing breast pump, compact and easy to use
Loved my Madela Swing breast pump, compact and easy to use

Bottle feeding and formula packing tips

If you are bottle feeding and you can’t locate baby formula at your destination pack for the duration of your stay. If you plan on buying, pack enough for the first few days in case you can’t locate a shop that is open.

Pack enough bottles, bottle brush and steriliser bags or milton tablets to sterilise your bottles. Most of the essential items go in your onboard bag to avoid baggage delays. But I’ll highlight some essentials including the Tommee Tippe bottle warmer, which comes highly recommended. All you need is some boiling water and it can warm a bottle up on the go. Hot water can be requested from the air stewards.

Comes highly recommended is this travel Tommee Tippee bottle warmer
Comes highly recommended is this travel Tommee Tippee bottle warmer
Dr Browns bottles baby starter set
Dr Browns bottles baby starter set
Don't forget the formula dispenser
Don’t forget the formula dispenser
Bottle brush is essential for bottle fed bubs
Bottle brush is essential for bottle fed bubs

 

Muslin wraps x 2

Muslin wraps are great for everything, particularly when travelling. Use them for draping over car windows to shield baby from the sun, over the pram for a bit more cover when they nap, as a burp cloth and as a layer for warmth in cooler air conditioning. The bigger the better and the Aden + Adnais have nice designs and are very large in size.

Love Aden + Anais large muslin wraps
Love Aden + Anais large muslin wraps

Baby bedding

  • Fitted cot sheet x 1
    Though most hotels supply cot linens, there have been some we stayed at that don’t provide the blankets or sheets. So, pack a spare just in case. Also handy if little accidents happen in the middle of the night and you don’t want to call and wait for housekeeping.
  • Any sleep association i.e. a lovie or toy
  • GroBag,  Halo SleepSack or infant sleeping bag. I tend to pack the thicker “tog” and adjust the pajama layer. Hotels do supply blankets however, from experience they aren’t the best. Sleeping sack ensure they are completely warm throughout the night without it slipping off.
Halo SleepSack rave reviews
Halo SleepSack rave reviews
Heavier 2.5 tog Gro Bag to keep bubs warm

Tip – baby gear you can leave at home

Leave the port-a-cot

I do not pack a port-a-cot I often reserve a cot at the hotel which is usually free of charge or a small feee. Even the most compact port-a-cots are still large enough to be cumbersome as an extra piece of luggage.

There are some nice travel cots out there if you don’t mind lugging them, I recommend the Baby Bjorn lightweight travel crib.

As portable as this Baby Bjorn travel cot is, it still takes up space
As portable as this Baby Bjorn travel cot is, it still takes up space

Use the hotel towels

Baby towel and washer (optional, I often just use the towels provided by the hotel or resort. You can also purchase travel towels just in case.

For babies eating solids

  • 1 x baby spoon
  • 2 x water / milk bottles / sippy Cups
  • 1 x packet of baby cereal
  • Either disposable bibs or foldable plastic bibs that you can wipe down x 2.
Foldable plastic bibs with pouch
Foldable plastic bibs with pouch

  • Baby food in the squeezable pouches to last you a 2-3 days and purchase the rest at your destination. If however you prefer a brand or a supermarket is not easy to get to, pack enough for the duration of your stay. This could take up a bit of room at 3 servings per day.
Most popular reusable food pouches, seal up the top for food
Most popular reusable food pouches, seal up to pop in food

  • Travel highchair, a high chair alternative for feeding kids on go check out My Little Seat with cute fabric designs. They go over any standard dining chair with a harness to buckle your child into. They are affordable and keeps your child secure for feeding. As it’s fabric you can fold or roll it up in your bag. Just make sure bubs legs is not within easy reach of the table to push the chair back.


Snacks for toddlers and young kids

Though I pack snacks for onboard the flight. I tend to purchase snacks for toddlers and now older kids at the destination.

However, if you are heading somewhere, where the supermarket is not easy to get to or they might not stock something you absolutely need. Then take enough to last you your trip.

TIP for packing food for kids

  • For consumables always try to get it at the destination to avoid over packing.
  • Bring a couple of cup of noodles with you just in case the kids are hungry and food options are limited or hard to locate. Works particularly well if you check-in at an odd hour. Most hotels, resorts or apartments have a kettle to boil hot water.

Some great travel snack suggestions include:

  • muesli bars
  • sultanas or dried fruit
  • nuts or trail mix
  • corn crackers or yoghurt biscuits
  • cheese dips
  • biscuits
  • packets of chips or popcorn
  • Le snaks
  • cup of noodles
  • tinned tuna snacks, I’m a big fan of St Dalfour Tuna Pasta tins, they come with their own little spork and contains pasta, tuna and vegetables. In Australia, these were available at Woolworths and Aldi (limited time). In the USA they stocked them at Whole Foods.

Cleaning, laundry and sanitising

Steralise in cold water, Milton Tablets
Steralise in cold water, Milton Tablets
  • Dish liquid in travel bottle. Transfer a small amount of dish liquid to a travel bottle to wash food containers, utensils and bottles.
  • Washing detergent powder. In a ziplock bag pack a small quantity of powdered washing detergent for spot treating and hand washing clothes. I also pack napisan for soaking clothing.
  • Milton tablets are compact for travel and great for santizing water bottles in cold water.
  • Antibacterial gel, a small bottle is great when a tap isn’t near i.e changing a dirty nappy on the go or for the kids before a meal or after play.
Pack laundry detergent and napisan for washing and soaking.
Pack laundry detergent and napisan for washing and soaking.

Ziplock and plastic bags

You can never have enough of these:

  • Zip lock bags come in handy when travelling with kids, such as; storing loose items like bandaides and hair ties, zipping away a soiled infant shirt, carrying something your child found and MUST keep, storing snacks on the go, dividing snacks between kids preventing many a tantrum.

  • Plastic bags are a commodity for travel. Something as simple as carrying dirty laundry to the coin laundry, carrying beach toys, storing wet clothing and a rubbish bin in the hire car.
Plastic bags are so handy! Yes these are ones folded into triangles to save space.
Plastic bags come in handy. Fold them into triangles to save space.

Clothing – how to pack

  • Pack an outfit a day for a maximum of 6 days. Taking into account the outfit you wear and the spare set onboard, which sets you up for the whole week. This amount of clothing is the maximum amount of clothing you pack for duration of a week or longer. Aiming to launder your clothes at the end of the week, with hand washing soiled baby clothes. This I found to be most efficient because as much as you want to escape doing laundry, with kids there will be stains and accidents that require a soak regardless of if you have enough clothes.
  • Pack by outfits. Which means a complete set of clothes for each day excluding shoes and an outer layer.
    The reason I pack by outfits per day is that there is always enough for spares and emergencies. For some reason my kids, tend to get dirtier on the road and have a change (or two) of clothes each day. So by packing this way, it allows you to have a different outfit each day and a whole lot of combinations factoring emergencies. The older they get, the less you need and you can get by without the “emergencies”.
  • Extra set of “nice clothes”. An optional extra for for dining out or snap happy activity.
  • Another method, ultra light packing. There is another school of thought for packing, to pack the bare minimum. That is for each person pack 4 tops and 4 bottoms, wash, then mix and match for any duration. Pretty hardcore packing, which would mean a very light suitcase, perhaps one suitcase for a family of four instead of two.

TIPs on packing smart and light

  • Use compression bags, compresses the clothing space to half it original volume. I use these every time I travel. That’s why I can pack a little more clothing.
  • Use travel packing  capsules (boxes), to compartmentalize items. For example, chargers, adapters, toys, swimming or hair accessories.
  • Roll your clothes. If you don’t want to use compression bags, try rolling each clothing item tightly, it reduces luggage space significantly.
  • Be swim ready. If you are going to a summer destination, kids like to hit the beach or pool almost immediately. Have all the swimming clothing including goggles, hats and sunscreens in a separate packing capsule right at the top of the suitcase so it’s easily accessible.
  • Pack dark clothing , Pack clothing that are dark in color to avoid noticeable stains on kids.
  • Or, pack bright clothing, on the other hand, you can pack bright clothes so you can spot them easily. Which makes complete sense for kids prone to running.
  • Pack clothes that coordinate Pack clothing in the same tones or that coordinate with the wardrobe, so you can mix and match.
  • No iron on your holiday, pack clothing that are wrinkle resistant.

TIP – Get the rolled compression travel bags not the vacuum bags

No vacuum necessary. All you need is to place your clothes in the bag, zip the bag shut and roll to compress the air out.

Travis Travel Gear space saver bag no vac

For Aussies check out your local DAISO I have seen them stock individual compression bags or Korjo compression bag. Otherwise, check out Travis Travel Gear Space Saver bags or Samsonite Compression Bags.

Samsonite travel compression bag

If you prefer to limit washing and have some “options” especially for girls. Here is my packing list:

Clothing for infants

TIP for packing clothes for infants / babies

  • Take at least two outfits a day, drool, spew, poo, wee, food and milk need I say more?
  • Pack Onsies (All in ones), lightweight and very practical and is an entire outfit right there.

Infant boy – what to pack for summer

6 x short sleeve onesies (3 days)

2 x long sleeve onsies / long sleeve pj’s

4 x t-shirts

4 x long sleeved shirts (layers)

5 x pants / jeans

1 x collared shirt

6  x socks

1 x hoodie / coat / sweater

1 x shoes

1 x swimsuit

1 x beanie / hat

1 x mittens / gloves

1 x ski suit (for ski)

1 x warm waterproof booties.

1 x baby thermals / thicker pjama’s as the base layer (optional ski)

Infant girl – what to pack for summer

6 x onesies (3 days)

2 x long sleeve onsies / long sleeve pj’s

2 x tops

2 x bottoms

2 x socks

1 x dress

1 x hoodie / coat / sweater

1 x swimsuit

1 x shoes

 

Infant boy – what to pack for winter

6 x long sleeved onesies (3 days)

4 x t-shirts

4 x shorts

1 x lightweight pant

1 x collared shirt

2 x socks

1 x hoodie / coat / sweater

1 x shoes

1 x swimsuit

Infant girl – what to pack for winter

6 x long sleeve onesies (3 days)

4 x tops

4 x long sleeved sweater / shirt / cardigan (layers)

4 x pants / jeans

1 x winter dress

6  x socks / stockings / leggings

1 x hoodie / coat / sweater

1 x shoes

1 x swimsuit

1 x beanie / hat

1 x mittens / gloves

1 x ski suit (for ski)

1 x warm waterproof booties (for ski)

1 x baby thermals / thicker pjama’s as the base layer (optional ski)

Toddler or young boy – what to pack for summer

6 x t-shirts

2 x tank tops

2 x long sleeve tops

5 x shorts

1 x light pants or jeans

1 x collared top

1 x flip flops / crocs / sandals

1 x runner / loafers

2 x pairs of socks

1 x hoodie, coat or sweater / jumper

2 x boardies

2 x rash guards

2 x PJ’s

Toddler or young girl – what to pack for summer

6 x girls tops

6 x girls bottoms
(shorts, skorts, skirts, 3/4 leggings or pants)

1 x dress

or 6 x dresses

2 x cardigans

2 x leggings or light jeans

1 x flip flops / crocs / sandals

1 x closed toe shoe i.e. ballet slippers or dress shoe

2 x pairs of socks

1 x hoodie, coat or sweater / jumper

2 x swimsuits

2 x reusable swim nappies (if still in nappies)

2 x PJ’s (in case one gets dirty and needs a wash)

Toddler or young boy – what to pack for winter

6 x t-shirts

6 x long sleeve tops / light jumpers (pack in layers)

4 x pants

2 x jeans

1 x collared top

6 x pairs of socks

1 x flip flops / crocs / sandals (for pool or around hotel)

1 x runner / loafers / boots

1 x coat / hoodie

1 x beanie

1 x gloves / mittens

1 x thermal top and bottom (optional / for snow)

1 x full Ski suit / outfit (only for snow)

1 x snow boots (only for snow)

1 x boardie and rashie (if there is a pool)

2 x reusable swim nappies (if still in nappies)

Toddler or young girl – what to pack for summer

6 x tops

6 x long sleeve tops

2 x winter dresses

6 x leggings / jeggings / jeans / pants

6 x pairs of socks

1 x flip flops / crocs / sandals (for pool or around hotel)

1 x runners / shoes / boots

1 x coat / hoodie

1 x beanie

1 x gloves / mittens

1 x thermal top and bottom (optional / for snow)

1 x full Ski suit / outfit (only for snow)

1 x snow boots (only for snow)

1 x swimsuit (if there is a pool)

2 x reusable swim nappies (if still in nappies)

TIP – bring an outer layer

Always pack an outer layer like a coat or jacket as you never know about the weather even during summer

Swim gear

Don’t forget to pack swim gear  even for winter, your hotel might have a heated indoor pool.

Floatation devices (swim bubble, floaties, swim jacket).

Great inexpensive flotation device for little swimmers, I take mine everywhere
Great inexpensive flotation device for little swimmers, I take mine everywhere

For kids 3+ I always take a adjustable back float. It works well for me as my confident swimmer is still safely afloat whilst wrangling the other child. Aussies can get these at Rebel Sport, Kmart, Target, Big W and Toys R Us

For toddlers I’ve seen this wonderful vest in action called Sterne Kids Puddle Jumper. It has excellent stability and great reviews. For Aussies you can get them on eBay.

Awesome floatation device - Sternes Kids Puddle Jumper
Awesome floatation device – Sternes Kids Puddle Jumper 

 

Other swimming gear

Goggles, sun hats, beach bag (optional) and sunglasses (optional)

I love the Aqua Sphere goggles, big visors, anti fog and easy to put on.

AquaSphere goggles in assorted colours, big visor, anti fog and easy to put on

Beach towels – micro fibre towels

I don’t tend to pack beach towels, unless I know the destination I am going to will not have towels available. Towels are too bulky. Use the resorts or hotels.

If you are heading somewhere that doesn’t have towels of any kind available I remember using micro fibre towels that folds compacts during my backpacking days.

Altrnatively there are the  magic pop up towels that expand in water that you can get at variety stores, they are bit scratchy though.

Toys

Apart from the toys you bring onboard, leave the reset of your toys at home. There are plenty of things in a new hotel room, apartment or resort to keep the kids entertained.

TIP use hotel / resort items as toys

If you pull the telephone out from the socket including the phone line, it makes for a great toy for a toddler or baby. Other toys can include the hotel directory, cups, wooden spoons, pots and pans if in a serviced apartment.

For the bath, a few cups and empty bottles do the trick.

Umbrella Stroller

Depending on the travel destination, consider a stroller for young kids. With kids under 4 they do tire easy and often want to be carried. Taking a stroller could help young kids get their nap whilst day tripping or help you navigate through airport terminals. Particular handy when you are travelling solo.

Be mindful of your destination, there are places where strollers do not work, Bali has narrow uneven streets full of potholes and restaurants are not very stroller friendly. I couldn’t imagine China or India as examples to accomodate strollers. Take a baby carrier instead.

TIP leave your usual pram or stroller at home

I have a Bugaboo and as much as I love it for the day to day, it’s large and heavy. Leave you pram or stroller at home and invest in a affordable umbrella stroller. Ultra portable with a compact fold, inexpensive so you don’t mind it getting damaged by the airline. Not to mention airlines prefer umbrella strollers if intending to have it gate checked.

Choose a stroller that can recline for naps, has a canopy to shield your child from the sun and a basket underneath for storage on the go.

Best selling Summer Infant Convenience Stroller
Best selling Summer Infant Convenience Stroller

Car seat

Though bulky and a little cumbersome, I would recommend taking a car seat onboard, especially for long haul flights. I have had great experiences taking the car seat onboard see my Flying with a car seat post. The pro’s outweighs the cons.

If you are intending to do a large amount of driving, it maybe more economical to bring your own car seat rather than hire one at your car rental provider. I have both hired and checked in a car seat.

The main advantage of bringing your own car seat is that you know your child is in a familiar, comfortable and safe car seat as car hire companies offer a basic range of car seats. However, for a 4 day getaway to Uluru as an example, we chose convenience and hired from the hire company.

Bubble bum

Four older kids 5+ ready for a booster seat, there is a lightweight options. I have just discovered the inflatable, portable car seat called Bubble Bum. For Aussies it’s available from the Bubble Bum distributor in New Zealand.

For Americans, it’s been approved for use by the USA and EU, check out more safety information here.

Inflatable booster for use in USA and EU - Bubble Bum
Inflatable booster for use in USA and EU – Bubble Bum

On Amazon reviews and product description there is a video demonstration check it out by clicking on the image below.

Baby carrier

I always travel with a baby carrier see my reviews of my favourite carrier the ErgoBbaby here, though this would come onboard with me. Handy for being hands free, going stroller free when day tripping and navigating airports and planes.

Latest Ergo Four Position baby carrier
Latest Ergo Four Position baby carrier

Spare foldable travel bag (optional)

If you are heading to a destination where shopping is great and you need the extra room. Or if you are visiting relatives and you get an influx of presents. Consider a foldable travel bag. Perfect to use to stow all your clothes in on the trip back whilst putting your new goodies in the suitcase. I’ve also used this as a makeshift beach bag.

Foldable travel bag - expands to size of duffel
Foldable travel bag – expands to size of duffle bag

You can see something similar here Foldable Lightweight Travel Bag.

What to take onboard a plane for kids

For what to bring onboard I’ve detailed this in my Tips for flying with kids post. 

Tell me about your packing for kids tip?

Have you got a great packing for kids tip? Please comment below so we dd this to The ultimate packing for kids guide.

10 Comments

  • Hi Rene,
    I have been eagerly reading your Indonesia-Bali blogs over the last few weeks and just wanted to say a massive thank you! I am taking my two children to Bali for Christmas and it will be a first time for all of us overseas. The information you have provided is so detailed and you have answered just about every question that I had. It is greatly appreciated and I am now feeling a little less anxious. We will certainly by visiting Bali Safari Park and Waterbom and the children are so excited. Especially loved your packing tips as I didn’t even know where to start.

    Many thanks,
    Stacey

  • Fantastic blog! Any recommendations for long car trips? We are doing a driving holiday soon and never done long haul with kids (4yr and 14 month old). Thank you!

    • Thank you Kellie,

      I think the 4 year old is at a good stage for long car trips, the 14 month old is a little trickier. Car rides are much easier than plane rides. You can stop when you need to, take a break, change a nappy and have a snack and not have to worry about the fellow passengers. You can also carry allot more to mitigate tantrums. DVD player, iPad, bags of treats and more toys to keep them preoccupied.

      Go slow, take plenty of breaks and look for scenic spots to have a play. The key is to avoid trying to cover allot of ground and allow time to break the journey up.

      Oh…. and a game of eye spy! Funny how the old school methods of distraction still applies today.

      Enjoy. Let me know how you go xo

  • So grateful for this blog and the concise manner and easy layout.
    We’re traveling to USA in 3 weeks with our first born who will be 5 months and I am so glad to have come upon your tips. Can you recommend a bottle warmer that is suitable for all (at least a variety) shapes of bottles?
    Many thanks.
    Maria

    • Hi Maria, thanks for reading. I’ve been out of the bottle warming / breastfeeding game for a little bit now. But I hear very good things about the Tommee Tippee Travel Bottle and Food Warmer. It keeps the water warm. However if you are on the flight, you can ask for some boiled water to warm up your bottle in this vessel. Here’s a link: http://amzn.to/22b9GVx

      Beset of luck on the flight and happy travels to USA. Sounds like a fun trip.

      xo

  • Wow! That is so much to think about, Not having kids I cannot imagine what would be needed to pack at all, I usually travel very light with my backpack and the very essential. I can tell that when there are kids travelling too the needs change completely.
    Great tips though, very detailed and who knows sooner or later I might need to refer to them too 😉

  • Great Tips! I’m in the process of redoing mine. Every time I fly, I learn something. I was just at the Melbourne Baby And Toddler Show and came across the Mini Chair. http://www.kiekaboo.com.au. It works with any chair 🙂 I had one similar to the travel high chair you have but found that it didn’t work with a lot of chairs at restaurants. I love the Milton Sterilization Tablets. I have a 7 month year old, so, I’m reliving everything again that I already went through 3 1\2 years ago. Love the family pics. Look forward to reading new posts 🙂

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