A mon outside with a baby in the Ergobaby Omni Breeze baby carrier

Traveling with a baby is both exciting and stressful. But with proper preparation, including a packing list with all the essentials, you can make the process much easier. It’s important to pack everything you’ll need for baby while you’re away. But it’s equally important to pack what you’ll need for the duration of the transport to the destination. That’s no matter if it’s by car, plane, train, or another method. Plus, it’s a good idea to pack things you might need and extras just in case.

Here are helpful tips for making holiday travel with a baby easy.

Set up a detailed packing list

Before you head out to your destination, devise a detailed packing list of the items you’ll need. Here’s a simple one to get you started.

Stroller and car seat

Woman putting a stroller in the trunk

When it comes to a baby stroller, make sure to bring something lightweight and foldable. It should be easy to pack up and put into the trunk of a car or to gate check on a plane. If the child is old enough, an umbrella stroller is ideal. If not, bring the base for a stroller that the car seat can snap onto. That’s a common set-up with baby travel systems. You can use the car seat in the vehicle or take that one a plane (checked as well).

If you plan to rent a car at your destination, consider just bringing the stroller base and requesting a car seat that matches the brand (if available) to lighten your load. But most airlines will check a car or booster seat and stroller for free.

A stroller will also make it easy to navigate the airport with your baby before a flight. This is especially crucial when the airport experience involves long lines and wait times. Make sure to write your name and address on the stroller and/or car seat, just in case it gets lost or misplaced.

Diaper bag and essentials

Parents with a baby and diaper bag at the airport

A diaper bag is necessary for any outing with a baby. But that’s especially so while traveling. It should be filled with essential diaper bag accessories. You’ll want one that’s backpack style if possible so it’s easy to carry. It should have lots of compartments for storing items separately. Bring baby bottles with lids (for mixing formula or storing pumped breast milk) and nipples. Grab plastic ones for travel versus glass ones you might use at home. If you are using formula, portion out an individual serving (or two depending on travel time). Put the rest in your luggage for when you arrive. If nursing, pack a nursing cover for privacy in the bag if desired.

Add a few wash clothes, wet wipes, and plenty of diapers. It’s a good idea to bring more than you think you’ll need for travel time. Load up the luggage with plenty more.

Also for changing, bring wipes, diaper rash cream, sanitary baggies for dirty diapers, and a foldable change pad. This will be helpful for sanitary reasons in public restrooms. Ideally, get one that is thick and made of material that’s easy to wipe down.

For babies who are already eating solids, bring packaged snacks and a baby-friendly spoon. For creams, ointments, and other liquids, buy a set of travel friendly-sized containers and pack what you need in each one, clearly labeled. Pack sunscreen in your checked luggage for a flight so it isn’t confiscated.

Portable crib

Baby Bjorn play yard lite

Depending on where you’re going, most hotels and even resorts have portable cribs for babies. But chances are, they aren’t the most comfortable option you’ll find. There are plenty of portable cribs from which to choose that will ensure your baby gets a good night’s sleep. I used the Baby Bjorn Play Yard with my son for years, and it was perfect for weekend sleepover getaway and travel. It’s super easy to put together. And it packs up neatly into a lightweight, travel-friendly briefcase style case.

These are handy for beach vacations since you can bring them to the beach placed on a towel or beach mat. It’s an instant place to keep baby cool and protected and when you need to give your arms a break. Consider also baby beach tents. These have sun covers for a dedicated and safe place for baby to play with supervision.

Clothing and swimwear

Zoochini baby swimsuit

Pack lots of clothing for your little one. You never know when accidents might happen. From a spill to a diaper explosion, spit-up, and more, outfits can get ruined. Double the outfits for the number of days you’ll be away, so if it’s a five-day trip, bring 10 complete outfits. Include hats (winter or sun, depending on the time of year and destination), gloves (protective or for warmth), a light jacket or sweater, shoes or booties, and more. Bring outfits that are easy to change the baby in and out of, including ones that clip and unclip at the bottom, or zippered onesies. These can be a lifesaver when you’re in a hurry or trying to change baby in a tight place like an airplane bathroom or seat.

Don’t forget plenty of socks and special wear depending on where you’re going, like a swimsuit or formal dress or suit. For beach vacations, if you have baby sunglasses and a puddle jumper, throw those into the bag, too. Don’t forget the item parents often forget: swim diapers! I’d recommend putting at least one outfit in the diaper bag for easy access in case of emergency.

Toys and entertainment

Baby with a toy

Lightweight and small baby toys will keep the baby engaged, entertained, and distracted. Pull and activity toys are a perfect option because they don’t make loud noises, have tons of activities and sensory aspects, and can keep a baby busy for hours.

Also consider teething toys, rattles, soft books, stuffed animals, and more. Additionally, download a few favourite TV shows or movies to your tablet or phone to keep baby occupied if they are fussy. These can be a lifesaver if your flight is delayed and you’re stuck in the airport for hours.

Health and safety tips when traveling with a baby

Even with older kids, it’s a good idea to keep baby health products, like essential medicines, with you at all times. This might include everything from rash cream to fever medicine, a nasal aspirator or saline spray, and more. If the baby is teething, pack teething toys to help sooth them. It’s better to have items you don’t need then not have ones you do. This means you won’t have to rush around looking for a store that sells Baby Advil, for example.

Frida baby saline mist bottle

So, think of everything. Allergy medication (appropriate for the baby and approved by their pediatrician), rash cream, tissues for runny noses, sunscreen, and more. Even though my son is 12 years old, I still always pack a large Ziplock filled with meds and emergency items for both him as well as adults just in case.

Chances are uou can buy items when you arrive or on the way. But some items be hard to find, and depending on where you are, they can cost an arm and a leg. So it’s best to bring them from home. Just make sure to limit what’s in carry on to ensure you meet requirements (if you’re flying). All medications should be in clearly labeled bottles or packages and meet size/amount requirements.

Entertainment and comfort baby travel essentials

Baby blanket with blanket toy

Beyond the essentials, you want your baby to be happy, healthy, and comfortable while traveling. Thus, bring things like a cushioned head pillow, pacifier and teethers, and small baby blanket. To prevent distracting a driver or others on a plane, consider quieter toys with bright, flashy colours versus louder ones. With that said, if there’s a specific toy that you know comforts your child and happens to make noise, bring it along. Others around you will appreciate a squeaky toy over a crying baby.

If you aren’t able to time your travel around the baby’s nap, of you’re traveling for a long period of time, anything you can bring along to make them comfortable and wanting to rest is worth packing. This could include baby earmuffs with soothing music or white noise. Or it could be a downloaded movie or TV show. That will keep their eyes glued to the screen for a short time. (Don’t feel guilty: you’re allowed to do this every now and then!)

Advice for different modes of travel

What you bring along might differ depending on how you’re traveling. Here’s some advice for the most common methods.

Road trip traveling with a baby

Baby window cover for the car

Naturally, you’ll want a good car seat with a head rest so baby can get some sleep. Make sure to get a window cover for the car to prevent beams of the sun from disturbing baby and hurting their eyes. A tablet holder for the back of the front seat is useful. Mount the device and play downloaded content to keep baby entertained. Download baby-friendly music or white noise as well that you can play from your smartphone connected to the car’s speakers.

Toys are essential along with a blanket, hat, and plenty of snacks for babies who are eating solids. It’s a good idea for one parent, older sibling, or another friend or family member to sit in the back with the baby to tend to their needs.

Plan your route ahead and check for rest stops that will be nearby based on your baby’s usual feeding and changing schedule. If you know where and when you’ll stop, this can make things easier. Use a navigation app on your smartphone or car’s built-in system. This will make it easy to find the nearest rest stop should you unexpectedly need one.

Traveling with a baby by plane

For air travel, note the items mentioned above, including a lightweight and foldable stroller as well as a car seat. In some planes, you can use a car seat on the plane with the purchase of an extra seat, depending on the age of the child. Some airlines offer baby bassinet rentals. For babies two years and under in arms, you’ll need to hold them for the duration of the flight. So pack as light as possible for yourself so you have room to move. Don’t be afraid to ask the airline upon check-in if there are upgrade options. You might be able to get a seat with more leg room, or book these in advance. The few extra bucks could be worth it for your comfort, and that of the baby’s.

Medela baby bottle set

Bring along items like toys that can be easily placed in the seatback pocket. These include books, toy rings, and stuffed animals. Don’t forget to pack sanitary wipes. Wipe down the entire surface area before you settle in. This includes the seatback entertainment screen and buttons, front pocket, tray table, head rest, arm rest, and even the seatbelt buckle. This will help reduce the possibility of germs.

Make sure you know the rules about what you can bring on a plane. When traveling with a baby, Transport Canada notes that you are permitted to bring breast milk in quantities greater than 100 mL. You can also bring gel and ice packs to refrigerate the breast milk or other medically necessary items that require refrigeration.

You can also pack baby food, formula, medications, milk, water, and juice. But check with the specific airline before you arrive to make sure. Ideally, pump breast milk ahead of time. Keep it in the freezer until you’re ready to leave the house. Then pack it in a cooler with ice packs so it will defrost even more slowly. Keep all liquids in one spot, like a transparent Ziplock bag, for easier and faster inspection.

Know the best ways to navigate the airport. In many cases, there are special needs lanes for families traveling with young children. These can help you bypass longer lines. Most airlines will also prioritize your boarding. So, make sure to be at your gate ahead of boarding and listen for the announcements.

International flights with a baby

Baby wearing earmuffs and sleeping

All the tips noted above apply to international flights, too. But there are some additional considerations if you’re traveling overnight or on an especially long fight. For longer flights, one of the best tips for flying with infants is to plan the trip around your baby’s sleep schedule. Ideally, you’ll want them to be able to go down for a nap near the beginning of the flight. This way, you can settle in and get some shut eye as well. Make sure they are fed and changed before you hop on the plane. It might be some time before the seatbelt sign comes off. Keep the diaper bag at your feet versus in the overhead bin for easy access.

Don’t forget to charge up all electronic devices. Or bring along portable chargers or charging cables (some airline seats have USB ports) so you can use screen time if all other methods fail.

Consider asking flight attendants for help as needed. They might be able to warm a baby bottle or rinse one out after use. Chances are that many will be happy to oblige if they can, especially on longer international flights.

Don’t forget the passport!

If you are traveling outside of the country, your baby, no matter their age, will require a passport. It’s also a good idea to bring along the birth certificate. If you’re traveling with only one parent, bring a parental consent letter. For road or sea travel from Canada to the U.S., you may only need the baby’s long-form birth certificate if they don’t yet have a passport. But all air travel requires a passport. Order the passport long before your trip. It can sometimes take weeks before it arrives unless you pay an extra “rush” fee.

Happy and safe travels!

Check out plenty more gear for traveling with a baby at Best Buy Online

Christine Persaud
With 20+ years of experience in trade and consumer tech journalism, I have covered the tech space since before social media was a "thing" and the smartphone as we know it was even invented. Writing for various technology, lifestyle, and entertainment sites, I have covered and reviewed hundreds of tech products, from home appliances to wearables, fitness tech to headphones, TV entertainment products and services, and more. I'm also a passionate foodie who loves to cook and bake, a TV show fanatic (happy to give what to watch recommendations!), and proud mother to a 12-year-old son.