Packing for the first trip with a baby can be daunting. Every trip with a baby becomes an adventure vacation with a baby, not necessarily in a good way.
If you forget something for your baby, you might be in trouble. The last thing you want when you travel is to shop for missing baby items, especially in a foreign language and in a place where they might not have what you’re used to. On the other hand, you don’t want to overpack and realize that you won’t fit in your taxi.
I’ve been in both of these situations various times 😉
After numerous trips with a baby: to resorts, AirBnBs, road trips, over 60 flights with a baby, dozen more with a toddler, traveling with a baby solo, and moving to and from different countries with a baby and a cat in tow too – I’ve learned the best ways!
When it comes to the baby packing list, there’s one word you need to remember: moderation. You don’t want to be that person who travels with a baby bathtub and multiple suitcases.
Trust me, you not only don’t need it, but you won’t be able to get off the plane, through the airports and bring it all alone. It’s not worth your nerves, especially as you can easily live without it (and more importantly, so can your baby).
Traveling with a Baby: Checklist
In this blog on traveling with a baby, I decided to divide these baby packing lists into two categories: essentials, gadgets & what you do NOT need.
As it’s beach-specific, this packing list is not going to include basics from the main packing list for traveling with baby.
When it comes to packing I’m a minimalist, but some gadgets can really be helpful. While you can be perfectly fine without baby travel gadgets, sometimes it’s fun to try them out!
We traveled with babies to:
- beaches in France
- French Polynesia
- El Salvador
- Italian coast
- Greek Islands
- so I tested multiple destinations and picked what’s best 😉
Plane Travel with Baby: Carry-On Luggage Items
Since Dylan (and Holden later too) was born in a different country than we lived in at the time, we had to pack for his first trip before he was even born. Which, naturally, was daunting and we wished we had some things on our first flight it definitely taught me how little you actually need when you’re traveling or flying with a newborn.
The worst part of plane travel is getting in and out of the plane through a narrow aisle and getting through security. More often than you think, especially at European airports, you’ll have to go through flights of stairs in and out of the plane, get in and out of the bus, and so on.
Especially if you’re flying alone with a baby, you don’t want to drag a giant bag, suitcase, crib, baby, and stroller. Not always you’ll have someone willing to help you out – I experienced it way too many times.
If I traveled alone, I always made sure that I brought no more than a carry-on suitcase, a baby’s diaper bag, and a stroller. And that’s for both me and the baby. Once I brought an extra bag and let me tell you – it was a nightmare!
Essentials for Baby:
Diapers – It goes without saying that the baby needs diapers and wipes. Bring enough of them and some spares. I tend to have 10 diapers for long-haul flights including times to get to and from the airport.
If I travel with my husband we also bring a pack of diapers (for the first day or two at the destination) and spare formula in a checked bag.
If you’re traveling to places like the Italian coast or Malta you can always buy more diapers, but in Bora Bora it’s best to bring your own but that’s something you can also pick up on a bigger island (we actually ran out in Bora Bora and still managed to buy some, but it was more $$$).
Bibs – It goes without saying that your baby needs a bib, whether they eat solids or not yet. For milk, we really used whatever came our way, but for food, these ones were the only ones that survived cleaning, machine washing and catching food in the pouch.
Baby snacks – If your bub is old enough to eat, he will want snacks. Now, if you’re flying into the US you often cannot bring any berries and other small fruits, but teething waffles are always a good idea. The baby takes longer to work on them then on simple crunchies, so he’s occupied for longer periods of time.
If you’re flying long-haul you can pre-order baby meals with your airline. I wrote more tips and tricks in my post on flying with a baby. They will also provide you with spoons and forks, so you don’t need to bring your own.
Pacifiers with a leash – Binkies (or dummies as they call them in the UK) are assumed to bring with you on board, but one thing we learned to bring the hard way is a leash for it. If your child uses them.
Babies keep losing their pacifiers and when they’re older they love to throw them, so if you want to avoid cleaning them every 10 seconds get a leash. I tested many and I stand by these ones we pretty much use them exclusively after others kept breaking constantly.
Travel stroller – This one comes as a necessity because while baby carrier or sling is useful and necessary in some places, a stroller is a life-saver for extended periods of time.
Big strollers can be easily checked at the gate, but after our stroller was destroyed by the airline twice out of 4 times we brought it and once I had to wait over 45 min to pick my stroller up, I gave up and use it exclusively strollers that actually fit into an overhead compartment.
For my personal reviews of the best and worst travel strollers check out my other post.
Cupholder for the stroller – You’ll have your hands food, so you might want to put your coffee or water somewhere near you. The cup holder is one of a few gadgets I actually frequently use.
Sling / Baby Carrier – While I put mine in hold luggage because I might need it for hikes and other non-stroller-friendly spots, many parents swear by babywearing their child at the airport. You still have to take the baby out for security (and not all airlines allow you to have the baby in it for take-off or landing), so in my opinion, it’s not very helpful.
Hold Luggage for Flying with the Baby:
Medicine kit – I never put meds in a carry-on (apart from teething gel) because it’s unlikely that the baby will suddenly get a random fever. Have some baby Tylenol with you and nail clippers. We never used the suction things for nose buggers, because both kids hated them all, including electric ones.
Car seat – If you’re going to travel by car on your trip bringing your own car seat might be cheaper. Especially considering that you can check it for free whether as oversized luggage or at the gate.
I prefer to check mine at the gate, because it’s an extra item I don’t want to drag through the security and airport.
Unless you’re going to London or New York City, then forget about car seats, because you won’t be able to install them in any taxis anyway. Many times I completely avoided having to bring a car seat and used public transport – it’s totally possible, especially if you’re heading to Europe.
What Don’t You Need:
When I first saw baby packing lists online my first thought was ‘how on earth am I going to travel with all this crap?!’ The truth is, you don’t need most things listed on many blogs and websites.
I even found some ridiculous items on people’s packing lists like ‘chalkboards’, ‘window blinds’, ‘coolers’ and other things you DEFINITELY don’t need or want to drag around.
If you really feel like you cannot live without something, you can always rent any item at the destination. There are many companies all over the world that rent baby gear. They’ll deliver it to your hotel or bring it to the airport. Here are some most popular websites around the world.
Travel crib – With Dylan we’ve never used a travel crib. When Dylan wasn’t moving he slept with me or on another big bed barricaded with pillows, later on, we always picked hotels and AirBnBs that provide cribs (and actually also high chairs). It’s much better than dragging your own crib around.
With Holden as we often rented apartments for a few months at the time we got a travel crib, but never brought it on short hotel trips.
However, many smaller hotels will provide cribs, but not sheets, so make sure to have sheets or blankets with you.
Baby monitor – Unless you’re going to a giant penthouse, you’ll most likely share a room with your baby or he/she will be in a room next door. The monitor isn’t needed in these situations.
Jars of spare baby formula – We always made Dylan drink whichever formula was available somewhere and made sure to change it every 2 weeks, so he doesn’t fuss on the go. Different brands didn’t bother him, and while he’s fussy with drinking water now, a formula is a formula for him.
Beach Essentials for Baby
When it comes to going to the beach and sunny holidays with a baby you need a few more items. First and foremost:
Hat – Babies shouldn’t be exposed to the sun for extended periods of time, so a hat is a must. I found it quite difficult to find a sun hat that fits a baby smaller than 6 months (and Dylan is a giant baby, so probably 9 months in most cases if not 12). The only one that fit best was this one from Carter’s.
Salus Lifevest – While everywhere lifejackets for kids are provided they don’t have them for babies up to 1-2 years, depending on the size of the bub.
If you want to go on a boat ride, rent a pedal boat, bringing your own lifevest is your only option. Some places will allow you to have your baby in a carrier instead, but then you’re very limited and both of you will get sweaty. This lifevest was the best purchase for us and definitely put it to good use.
Baby sunglasses – Once the baby isn’t a newborn anymore he’s going to remove them faster than you put them on, but they worked well for a small baby. Plus, it was more fun for the parents.
Swim diapers – Everywhere I went I saw plenty of kids going into pools in regular diapers. We were always bringing swim diapers for Dylan, so the back of them wouldn’t fill and look ridiculous.
For those who don’t want to buy simple single-use ones, there are multi-use ones that can work as a diaper & swimsuit in one. They save space too!
Remember to change your baby out of the swim diaper right after you leave the pool – they’re only meant to hold a potential poop, not pee.
Rash guard – When your baby is small it’s safe to assume that he or she won’t be in the sun for too long, as babies under 6 months cannot use sunscreen. But, if you’re going swimming the sun is inevitable.
Thankfully, they now sell many rashguards with UPF50 so can get a full outfit protecting your baby from the sun.
Change of clothes – you might want a change of clothes for your baby and yourself at all times. In case a baby has a poopsplosion or throws up. Most places offer a washing machine or you can rinse things in the sink, so don’t overpack.
Swimways – I swear people asked about it so many times once they saw it. It was just perfect for our not-yet-sitting baby. Naturally, if your baby is already sitting up, you might want to invest in this fashionable model instead.
Matching swimsuits – This one is totally for the parents because your baby cannot care less at this stage, but I loved matching with my boy for our first holidays.
Most outfits are obviously mommy & me (AKA for baby girls) or weird tees for dads & boys, but I managed to find these cute sets from Etsy we all loved.
Any additional items from this beach baby packing list that you have doubts about? Let me know if you have any questions about traveling with a baby!