Children’s Minimalist Packing List

children's minimalist packing list

When it comes to traveling with kids, I used to make the mistake every parent makes: I’d overly stress about which random thing my kid is going to throw a fit over when they can’t find it, so I’d over pack. Before I knew it, I was hauling a bunch of random junk through airports and trains and of course they barely needed 1/10 of what I’d packed.

I learned my lesson the hard way, so you don’t have to! Below is a list of what I now pack for my kids, and I added a few extra items to try to account for differences in families (my kids never used a binkie, but maybe yours can’t live without it). Hope this helps! Feel free to download the list at the end and print it out for yourself to check off before your trips!

Diaper Bag/Carry-on:

1.) Diapers & Wipes

Just enough diapers to get you there. The rest go in your checked bag. For the wipes, just put a small stack in a ziplock bag. They’ll be plenty to last you the flight, the rest of the wipes go in the checked bag.

2.) Baby Carrier

Choose one that’s comfy for you and baby, as you’ll likely be doing a ton of walking, and if possible pick one that condenses well when packing. That way, if you like, you can shove it in the diaper bag as soon as you get on the plane. Our favorite is the Ergo Baby 360.

3.) Stroller (optional)

When Leila was younger we never took the stroller. It was just easier to strap her in to the carrier and head out the door, but when we took her to Greece we found ourselves wishing we had another option. We visited during an unusually hot June and Leila began developing a heat rash on her back from sweating in the carrier, poor thing. With Daisy, stroller has been essential! Daisy is just 14 months old, but since she’s literally the exact same weight as her sister a year older than her, a carrier just ain’t gonna cut it.

Plus, when traveling with a couple kids the stroller is great because we load purses, duffle bags, diaper bags, and everything else onto it to make our way through the airport. It’s a like a little cart for all the extra stuff!

4.) Carseat (optional)

A few bus lines will require you to have your own carseat if you’re going to take your kid on the bus, so be sure to check first before you book the bus tickets unless you’re planning on bringing a carseat anyway. Many car rentals will have a carseat you can add-on, and and we have usually gone with this option. It helps not to have to carry the carseat through the airport, even as an attachment to the stroller.

It’s important to know though, many cab systems and uber drivers don’t have carseats available. You just hop in the back with your little one your lap, which of course isn’t ideal. If you’re planning on using an Uber or a cab to get around, you may want to bring a carseat along. Otherwise, just do what we do and rent a car with one, stick to public transportation, or just walk everywhere!

5.) A Change of Clothes

Blowouts will happen (especially on a crowded airplane, because why not?), so be prepared, And even if your kids are potty trained, turbulence combined with small spaces increases your odds of spills or accidents. Pack a pair of clothes that takes up hardly any space!

6.) Essential Distractions

We don’t pack barely any toys when we travel, party because it’s just more convenient, but also because I have this constant fear that I’m going to leave their favorite toy in a train station somewhere and I would just beat myself up over it. Plus Daisy played with the mattress tag for 30 minutes this morning so…yeah. Now, we only bring the essentials: they each get a favorite lovie (stuffed animal) and a couple of their favorite books.

7.) Blankets

Their favorite blankets are great for tucking them in on long flights and for covering them up when we have to make our way through a chilly airport or when you’ve got an hour at an outdoor train platform waiting for your next connection. Plus, its just a comfort thing. Who doesn’t love a nice blanket when traveling?

8.) ZipLock Bags

That blowout that happened earlier? You gotta put those clothes somewhere! A ziplock means you can seal them up until you reach your destination and get a chance to throw them in the wash. 

9.) Snacks

Have a few salty ones for takeoff! It makes them reach for the water just as the plane leave the runway, and helps their little ears to pop. 

10.) Bottle & Formula

If you’re nursing you might not need anything in your carry-on for short flights, but if your little one is on formula, have a bottle filled with water and the formula already measured out. For long international flights, if you produce a lot of milk you may need to pack your breast pump and an extra bottle. But this is pretty specific for those mamas who overproduce (as I was). 

11.) Water Bottle x 2

Fun fact – you can’t get through security with over a thimble of water, but say it’s for the baby or the toddler and you can take a whole gallon on the plane. Fill that water bottle to the top, put it in the diaper bag next to the formula and waltz your way through security like the cocky world traveler you are. They’ll pull the bag and run a quick check on it, then you’ll be good to go. 

Of course you could always take an empty water bottle and fill it at a drinking fountain after you make it through security too. You’ve got options!

12.) Pacifiers/Specialty Items

If your baby has a favorite paci, wears a helmet, or has an inhaler, be sure to remember it!  

13.) Children’s Tylenol

When Leila was 1 year old in Hawaii, she got a horrible fever (turns out it was Roseola), and my husband had to spend all night bouncing from gas station to gas station trying to track down some Children’s Tylenol. He finally got back to the house with some kind of Ibuprofen they don’t even make anymore. The instructions didn’t make sense (hence why they probably don’t make it anymore), we had to call the hospital to clarify, and even they couldn’t figure it out. It was complete chaos at 3:00 in the morning trying to break her poor fever. If we had just packed a damn bottle of Children’t Tylenol the whole mess could’ve been avoided. 

Feel free to pack this in the carry-on if you’re taking a quick flight. For those long international flights it’s best to keep it in the carry-on, just in case. 

14.) Sunscreen

We are the palest family you can possibly imagine. I like to joke that if you’re sunburned and I’m not, even just sitting next to you will give me a residual burn. Our kids are the same way. Sunscreen isn’t just for sunny days in our family, it’s for literally every day. A travel sunscreen goes in the diaper bag, a bigger bottle goes in the carry-on. 

Checked Suitcase:

1.) More Diapers

A couple days worth, nothing more. There are babies in many countries, and most of them wear diapers too. You’ll be able to buy them at a local supermarket. 

2.) Breast Pump/Cleaning Equipment (if you’re nursing) 

Sometimes all this equipment comes in it’s own little bag that can fit into a larger suitcase. Don’t forget extra bottles to store milk!

3.) Sleeping Supplies

We’ve never had to bring a travel bed, though we have a friend that absolutely swears by this one. In most cases, the airbnb or hotel can provide one, and in airports the girls just fall asleep on us.

4.) First Aid Supplies

Bandaids, diaper cream, burn ointment, baby oil, etc. 

5.) Baby Clothes

Everyday clothes, jammies, undies (if they’re potty trained), socks, shoes, hats, coats and mittens if it’s chilly. 

6.) Travel Baby Seat

You won’t always have a highchair, and even then it can be tough to keep baby in place. Plus, in many cities (Paris is notorious for this), they don’t have extra space next to the tables to park a stroller. The In the Pocket Baby Seat is awesome, and it’s tiny as hell so it’s easy to pack.

7.) Extra Sunscreen

We pack a lotion and a spray version. As I told you, we’re pretty pale.

8.) Relevant Travel Documents

Kids need paperwork too! Make sure all of their documents like passports, visas and vaccinations are in place before you head out the door. Check here to see the complete list!

children's minimalist packing list

Hope this helps! If there’s anything else you recommend please leave it in the comments below! Have fun on your trip!