Packing for Trip with Toddler


It’s late at night and I’m flipping through photos of our recent trip to NYC and I came across pictures of how chaotic packing proved to be, clothes everywhere from my toddler taking folded items and throwing them in air. She was demonstrating how I really felt about the whole process. Trying to pack for yourself is stressful enough, ‘How many pants should I have? How many shirts, in case baby throws food on me or decides to randomly spit out milk? Jackets, shoes… etc.’ Then we add the, ‘Do I check baggage or just carry on? What stroller do we use? Big purse and/or diaper bag???’

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Well I’m here to tell you that though it may not be easy, there are a few tricks I’ve found only through trial and error. We have been on 6 flights with our 13 month old, visited 8 states, 3 long road trips and stayed in at least 12 hotels. So needless to say I’ve learned what to do and definitely what not to do.

I’m here to give you three main tips on things to avoid verses things to try. Per my usual, I only prefer to give out three points so as not to bore everyone with endless ideas, often ones that overlap one another. We’ll keep it simple and easy to remember for your next packing experience to be seamless.


Please, please pack light! I’ve gone both routes, at first feeling as though I should be prepared for every scenario, which meant I was a good mom, right? Not necessarily. All this did was create added stress, sore muscles trying to carry everything, and a mom who couldn’t find anything in the four bags stuffed to the brim. At this point in our travels we’ve decided to check whatever roller baggage we have as soon as we can. This lightens our load to get from point A to B in the airport. My daughter and I share a small roller bag and my husband has one small bag all to himself, sigh!

We also check our small cloth stroller right along with the bags. I know you’re all wondering why in the world wouldn’t we wait and just gate check it??? We have her front pack, the Ergo 360 carrier, that we just love and can take turns using. This simplifies things,  and I’m all about keeping it stress free.

I carry only a diaper bag with a matching clutch that slips inside, used as my wallet and for personal items. Timi & Leslie makes the best diaper bags, leather with 7 matching accessories so you can travel in style! So this means only one bag, only ONE bag ladies during the majority of your airport visit! My husband carries a backpack and sometimes helps with carrying the diaper bag.

Next is all about how to help you keep it simple and actually accomplish the less is more trick.


This one is fairly simple: formula, diapers, food pouches… just like at home, grocery stores carry them at your destination too! What a revelation, right!? Odds are you will find yourself at a department store because you forgot your razor or now are in need of a tide pen. So why not plan on making that grocery run and pick up baby supplies to get through a week. Saves room and weight, coming and going. Win Win.


My mom always told me, “It’s not how Much you have, it’s about taking care of what you Do have.” So this rule of thumb goes for our simple packing list. Make sure to pack in your checked bag a small baggy of powered laundry detergent. You never know when a hotel or the friend you’re staying with offers to let you do a load of laundry. Keep what you packed clean and fresh and you will never regret that pair of jeans you decided to put back in your closet. Also pack a small amount of dish soap!! This is a life saver.

On one trip I didn’t do this and I paid for it. I asked the hotel if I could get some dish soap and the lady looked at me like I was crazy and said “we don’t offer that to guests”. Ok, rude. I just need to clean a baby bottle! At any rate, bring your own and you will be happy you did. I also used the soap to clean out the hotel bath tubs before giving my little one a bath. You never know what chemicals they’ve used to clean those things. Spots on cloths? A little dish soap on a wash cloth will do in a pinch. Need to freshen up a onsie? Easy, just hand wash in the sink and hang near the AC unit to dry. So follow mom’s advice, take care of what you have, keep it clean and you will feel refreshed even though you’re living out of a suitcase.

So there you go! Easy once you get the hang of it and wrap your mind around the “less is more” mentality. I don’t miss the days where I could barely zip up my luggage and always worried the zipper would break revealing my mad packing skills to everyone in the airport. Now I focus on what really matters while traveling, having fun and enjoying moments, not things.

Check out post on Traveling with a Toddler next!

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