Traveling with Babies and Children, or: Katie’s Ridiculously OCD Packing List

Okay, so by request, I am posting my overly obsessive compulsive packing list.  After a few near disasters (forgetting the binky at a friend’s wedding with our 10 week old, forgetting the car seat on a plane trip, forgetting to pack underwear for myself)  I created this list.  Please modify it as you see fit for your trips.  And please don’t judge my control-freak nature.

Here are a few of our favorite travel tips as well:

1.  When boarding an airplane, have your partner get on first, wipe down the area with clorox wipes, every inch.  Remember, your child will touch everything and then put fingers in their mouths.

2. Offer to buy the people next to you a drink on the airplane.  They may not take you up on it, but they will appreciate the gesture

3.  Prepare your children for whatever style of travel you will be doing.  If they are older tell them stories about the travel leading up to the day.

4. for road-trips, use rest ares.  Let your little ones run around.  Add enough time that you’re not in a rush.   For every four hours of expected drive time, add at least an hour per child over one years old for random ‘stuff’  and two hours per baby.

5.  Remember the boy scouts motto:  BE PREPARED.  And for parents, this is no joke.

6.  Remember also, there are no vacations, only Trips.  Change your expectation from relaxation to adventure.  You are taking this difficult care giving routine on the road.  It may not be easy, and there will be breakdowns.

7.  Enjoy the ride…


Before leaving the house:
Empty trash
Turn off wipe warmer
Empty diaper pail
Fill kitty dish and water fountain

Travel Time:

In the Car:

Mobile Mobile:  An amazing contraption that attaches to anything, and sings a super annoying song while bugs move around in a circle. Saved us on a road trip through Montana
Diaper bag
ergo carrier
Your child’s backpack (with lovey inside, stocked with age appropriate toys)
iPhone apps
lunch and snacks that are not a complete mess (avoid the freeze dried raspberries in a bag. disaster)
books on tape
older kiddoes love a DVD player

For Airplane travel:

Clorox Wipes

many of the above items from the road trip list for entertainment (only compact versions), PLUS:
CAR SEAT (hopefully your less new one, since it may get beat up)
stroller to check (snap and go works great for reclining car seat style)
umbreller stroller for older kiddoes- ideally that folds down easily, with a reclining seat for mobile napping
new never before seen toys for each hour of plane ride
something to suck on for take-off and landing, especially if not nursing anymore


wet bag
Cloth diapers
extra wipes

In Diaper bag:
Little squares (3):  these are little waterproof cloth squares that help with public restroom dirtiness.
Portable changing pad and Purell
Diaper cream
Wipes in case
spare outfit

If Potting Training:
training pants
three potties
treats for potty

If nursing exclusively:
“Hooter hider”
Burp cloths (3)
lily pads
Mastitis remedy (wishgarden happy ducts)
hand or electic pump
bottles, nipples and caps

If begun solids, in the beginning:
food grinder
bibs (2)

If eating everything we’re eating:
Bibs (3)


For sleeping:
Noise machine
monitor (cheapie from target)
extra 9 volt battery for monitor
sheet for pack and play
Pack N Play
dark blanket and push pins for windows to make darker

For hiking:
Hiking backpack or ergo
Rain gear for all

For Bathing:
Too hot turtle- temperature monitor
rubber duck
inflatable bath
bubble bath/shampoo

For baby-proofing/house:
gate for stairs


Clothing for kiddoes:
4 sleep outfits (2 feetie, 2 non-feetie)
4 pairs shorts
5 t-shirts
1 pair jeans
1 pair sweats
one party outfit
swim diapers
Warm hats
Shoes (running shoes)
Boots (rubber boots)
Sandals (keanes or crocs-wear in the car to slip on and off)
warm jacket
rain pants

Clothes for you:
3 Nursing bras
5 pairs Underwear
Socks:  2 warm, 3 light
3 cute tops
Sleepy outfits:  3 bottoms, 4 t shirts
Party outfit (if going to a party)
cargo pants
2 pairs shorts
Bathing suit
sunglasses (in purse)
hiking shirt
Running shoes (blue)
Flip flops
pillow for me

For entertainment

Books for me:  parenting and pleasure reading
Baby book to add milestones
iPhone and charger
Camera and charger
board games (whonoo, balderdash, apples to apples)


For Me:
Face lotion
Pads and tampons (if your cycle is back)
Hair oil
Hair brush
Ponytail holders
Massage cream
Baby oil
Nail file

For kiddoes:
hair brush
First aid kit
Colic ease and/or Mylicon Drops
Motrin and/or teething tabs
Sting stop
Antimicrobial salve
Kiddo sunscreen
Kiddo bug spray
Aloe vera gel

Please feel free to add, comment and let me know if I’ve forgotten anything (I’m sure I have!)  I love to learn!


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Leah Herlache
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 15:50:54

    So… I’m assuming you check bags, then? 😉 Nice list! I’ll be sure to refer to it before our first plane ride with Isaac this summer.


  2. Katie
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 17:49:15

    Yes, we do check bags! since you usually need to check a car seat, it’s easier to go ahead and check a big bag, and only have the essential things you need on the plane with you. a smaller bag that’s easy to maneuver should be your only carry-on.


  3. Heather L.
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 09:39:31

    Thanks for the tips Katie. I definitely need to go shopping before we travel! One thing you didn’t mention is how long of a trip you are packing for (a week? weekend?). Also, if it was a longer trip, did you have access to a laundry facility? We usually cloth diaper but since we’re staying in hotels most of the trip we are going to travel with disposables. Problem is, I have no idea how many we will need. (We’re going to just pack a few in the luggage and plan to buy the majority when we arrive)


  4. Katie
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 13:08:36

    our trips are usually a week. If we have access to Laundry, then we can reduce the clothes to enough for 4-5 days. Diapers and amounts are so individual. You can definitely buy them there or even have an order shipped (prices for instance on the Biodegradable Disposables – like Nature’s babycare- are better at amazon and than other places) I think I used to ration about 6/day, with some extra for the travel days. Blowouts seem to happen the most on travel days. Newborns may use as much as 10/day, and older kids may use less. In the summer, once my son was older, we actually used a longer trip to my cabin as a potty training beginning. we brought potties and training pants and spent a lot of ‘pants-free’ time. It got my son off to a great start and he was fully potty trained before 2 1/2.


  5. Ma
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 23:52:06

    HI Katie, Martina here from Santa Monica, CA (Danny now 5.5 off to Kinder in 10 days:-) – great tips. I did take many airplane trips to Europe w/Danny by myself and remember going the first time when he was not a baby that would sleep through most of the flight (11 hrs. on board with couple hours layover at least plus two extra hours on a shorter flight my Czech) thinking I have to bring a toy store with me to entertain him. Turned out it wasn’t so bad, he was very interested in everything around a lot as well, enjoyed looking out the window and playing with the window covering and checking out other people’s screens (at that age, they are still very cute and people are/were very forgiving when he came up to someone and touched their remote and switched their screen or if he came up, parked himself by someone’s side and watched their screen w/them (he was probably 2.5 to 3-ish then). Luckily, he’s always been a happy traveler be it stuck on a plane for so long or driving up to Mammoth for 6 hours with mommy. Anyway, my point is that sometimes we worry about things a bit too much and all we have to remember, if we stay calm, they stay calm and it is always fun to play silly games with hands, talk to them, read to them from the airplane magazine, use different voices, etc. Paper/crayons (given on international flight, not sure on domestic) always appreciated and used a lot.
    I recommend bringing a bottle (empty so they don’t confiscate it while going through x-ray, one for me and one for Danny) and have the flight attendants fill both of them up right away so I didn’t have to ask for individual cups of water all the time. I was very thirsty all the time especially when breastfeeding and it cut down on possible spills…
    Glad to read your blogs and hear that you are doing well:-)
    Hi to your two men:-*


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