Essential Baby Packing List for Family Travels! 

by | Aug 22, 2023 | Family Adventures, Travel Tips

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The first time we went on vacation with our eldest, he was about six months old. We weren’t going far – a quick passenger ferry ride to Victoria, British Columbia, from our home in Seattle. Our hotel in Victoria was a short walk from the ferry terminal along a stroller-friendly sidewalk. Truly, we were set up for success.

The issue came when it was time to pack. What to bring? What to leave at home? What if there was an emergency and we were stuck in our hotel and couldn’t buy more diapers? Did we need baby food, or could we buy it there? What if he got sick? In the end, we left the house with a laughable amount of clothing, gear and accessories – not laughable then, of course. But now, years later? Laughable. 

What you’ll find here are the baby travel essentials for your own first vacations with an infant. Extensive, yes, but you’ll have more peace of mind if you know to pack these items. There’s room to be a bit savvy here and consider purchasing or renting some of the items at your destination. This depends a little on whether you’re driving, flying, taking a ferry … and how much you want to lug with you. 

Here’s what we discovered is the must-have list of things to bring on vacation with babies, from the bottomless diaper bag to the car seat and travel stroller. This is the best baby travel gear to make your little traveler cozy so everyone can have a good time.





The Big Musts

When we say “big” here, we mean both in size and importance. Don’t leave home without these must-have items on your baby packing list or a plan for securing them at your destination. 


Baby Carrier: Whatever your carrier of choice (Ergo, Bjorn, Moby Wrap), this is an invaluable piece of gear, especially if you’re going to be in an airport for any amount of time. You’ll free up your hands, be able to maneuver through tight spaces, and move smoothly along uneven surfaces that could trip up a stroller.



Combined with a baby carrier, bringing a stroller gives you the best of both worlds. When our kids were infants, we used a two-in-one Graco setup similar to this one. If we were flying, we checked the stroller part at the gate, and carried the baby in his car seat onto the plane. If you haven’t purchased your infant a seat on the plane and are going the lap route instead, you can simply gate-check the whole stroller system. When the kids were older, we liked this Maclaren umbrella style as a travel stroller.


baby in suitcase, Essential Baby Packing List for Families

Empty suitcases are almost as fun as empty cardboard boxes!


Car Seat

Obviously indispensable. If we were headed out on a road trip, we brought it along with the Graco stroller for pop-and-go convenience. However, there were times when we flew cross-country to visit the grandparents and I held the baby on my lap for the flight, then used a car seat that my parents had purchased at the other end (just make sure they don’t try to convince you to use the one they saved from your childhood in the 1980s, as mine did at first!). If you are carrying your infant onto a flight, but need your own car seat when you get to your destination, purchase a padded car seat bag so it won’t get too banged up in transition. 


Travel Crib

We’ve gone both ways with this: brought along our own for our hotel room and also depended on the one provided by an AirBnB or relatives. If your baby craves consistency, it’s a good idea to bring the one you use at home and on every trip. Otherwise, you can usually get one free from a family-friendly hotel or make life easier by renting one from a baby gear rental company like BabyQuip. Bring along a travel crib sheet, too. Or rent it.


Keep Calm and Carry On

As in, carry on to the plane, or train, or even just into your car on road trips. Your diaper bag/carry-on bag will be your go-to throughout your travels. Here’s what you’ll want to add to your baby travel checklist for your next trip: 

  • Diapers – and plenty of them (two days’ and nights’ worth is a good number)
  • Wipes – as many of them as reasonably fit
  • Changing pad – much more pleasant than those fold-down tables in public bathrooms 
  • Diaper cream 
  • Bibs – 1-2 is fine 
  • Baby blankets – serve multiple purposes, including as a coverup when breastfeeding 
  • Bottles – if you use them 
  • Two changes of clothes for baby
  • A change of clothes for you – when the inevitable spit-up finds its way to your jeans or t-shirt 
  • Re-sealable plastic bags – for trash, dirty clothing, etc. 
  • Pacifiers – if your baby uses them 
  • Medication – or homeopathic remedies for teething and colds.
  • Hand sanitizer 
  • A beloved soft toy and a brand-new one for distraction 
  • Baby food and finger food – 1-2 jars and something like yogurt melts if your baby is eating solids


man and baby, Essential Baby Packing List for Families

Snacks make everything better on vacation. Be sure to pack a few nonperishable finger foods! Photo by Sasha Kim.


Pack for Piece of Mind

You truly never know what’s going to come at you when traveling with a baby. And it seems like big diaper blowouts or a fever only ever arise when you’re away from home.


Beyond the carry-on bag or diaper bag, here are the essential items to pack in your larger suitcase. 



DON’T MISS: 5 Best Family-Friendly Vacation the Whole Family Will Love! 


mom, baby, moving boxes, Essential Packing List for Babies for Families

Feel like you’re practically moving out but just getting on an airplane? We get it. Photo by Hiveboxx.



Other Important Baby Packing Items 

Depending on your destination and what type of accommodation you’ll be staying in, here are a few more items to consider packing when vacationing with a baby. (We told you the list would be long.)


woman, baby, airplane seat, Essential Baby Packing List for Families

Enjoy those snuggly moments when all is well. Photo by Paul Hanaoka.


Personalize Your Packing 

If you travel relatively often, start a baby travel packing list on your phone or computer. I find ours incredibly useful, and it’s a great reminder when your firstborn is in a whole new travel stage (looking at you, terrible twos) and you have another infant going along on their first vacation.


DON’T MISS: 6 Travel Diaper Bags That Have Even Royals Saying “Yaaas Queen!”


In addition to the items above, remember to pack special loveys, favorite snacks, and anything else that you know will make your baby happy. 

And good luck! You’ll all be fine, we promise.




From her home in Seattle, Michelle writes for a variety of internationally based travel companies. When not writing, she’s hiking, skiing, reading, or (in actuality) working her other job as “mom taxi.” Check out her other work at Eagle Eyes Editing.