20 Best Baby Travel Essentials

By Published On: November 30th, 2023

Prime picks for your baby’s vacation checklist.

Please note that some products listed are linked to affiliate websites and we may collect a small commission on your purchase.

Regardless of your preferred travel season, family vacations tend to be on parents’ minds (and, hopefully, on the horizon). Whether you’re road-tripping to the nearest beach or jet-setting on a European holiday, having the necessary gear is essential when traveling with a baby (or two) in tow.

Vacation prep involves much more than tossing baby clothes into a suitcase when you have a baby. Packing as a parent often involves bringing many of the same items you use in everyday life but in smaller, more travel-friendly versions. Optimal travel gear needs to be lightweight, portable, and convenient. While caring for your little one away from home can add extra challenges, there are, fortunately, plenty of baby travel gear products that are likely to make your trip more successful and enjoyable. After all, vacationing with kids is really just parenting in a new (prettier, more exciting) place.

For Meal Times

No matter where you go, baby’s gotta eat when they’re hungry.

Clip-On Travel Highchair

Great for kitchen islands, countertops, and restaurants alike, these go-anywhere chairs fill the gaps for establishments without highchairs. The lobster-style claws on the portable Inglesina Fast Table Chair are gentle on surfaces and easy to adjust. What’s more, it has a shoulder harness for keeping climbers safely seated and comes with a travel bag. Just pack a bib, a sippy cup, and some baby food, and you’re all set.

Travel Placemat

Babies don’t tend to discriminate when it comes to the surfaces they’ll eat off—including questionable tables in airports or quick-stop restaurants. The Tiny Placemat from EZPZ offers a safe, clean, and reusable space to spread out your little one’s food without worrying so much about germs. The silicone mat even comes with a travel strap to roll the placemat up and take it on the go.

Cloth Harness Portable Highchair

The liuliuby Harness Seat isn’t an actual highchair but a safe way to attach your older baby (6 months and up) to whatever chair is available. It can be rolled up to fit inside the diaper bag and is machine washable should (let’s be honest, when) major messes ensue.

Handheld Pump

A breastfeeding parent’s milk supply waits for no one, so don’t get caught in a security line moving at a snail’s pace without a manageable way to pump. The Medela Harmony Breast Pump is a parent favorite and small enough to toss into your purse.

Travel Nursing Pillow

A comfortable place to nurse is a must, but adding a standard nursing pillow to your cargo can take up a lot of space. Luna Lullaby’s travel nursing pillow is a smaller option, measuring just 20 inches wide. And, as a bonus, it’s the perfect size to use as an airplane pillow for yourself on a long-haul flight when you’re not feeding the baby.

Formula Bottles

These 9-ounce formula mixing bottles from PopYum allow you to store formula in the upper compartment of the bottle and water in the base. Once your babe is ready to eat, simply release the formula and gently shake for a fresh, ready-to-drink meal in seconds.

For Sleeping

With these helpful travel items, you can turn any room into a baby-safe sleeping environment.

Portable Play Yard

A play yard is a great solution for safe sleep and play while away. The super lightweight design of Silver Cross’ Slumber model boasts an effortless setup with a simple shake (no assembly required!), which is exactly the kind of travel buddy any parent needs.

Video Monitor

If your home-away-from-home provides baby with their own room, you’ll want to add video monitor to your baby packing list to keep an eye out from afar. And should your current nursery monitor be wall-mounted, consider purchasing one just for travel (or as a backup). The plug-and-play HelloBaby Video Baby Monitor is super easy to operate at half the price of similar products; features include remote control camera rotation, two-way talk, temperature monitoring, night vision, and more.

Sleep Sack

No parent wants to stay in a hotel room with poor temperature control with a newbie who’s too young for a blanket. A sleep sack offers warmth and comfort without the hazard of loose bedding. For lodging with unpredictable HVAC systems, we love Halo’s Ideal Temp wearable blanket. Its smart fabric is designed to regulate baby’s temperature to keep them warm while also preventing overheating.

Portable Sound Machine

Let this be your new vacation mantra: I will not participate in family travel without a portable sound machine—ever. A white noise machine can be a miracle worker for jet-lagged tots missing the familiarity of home (or thrown off by the unfamiliar sounds of your in-town Airbnb). The 2-in-1 Portable Sound Machine by Frida measures 3.25 inches by 3.25 inches and comes with a strap so you can easily move it from the car seat to the stroller to the playpen to help ensure quality sleep for your baby.

For Transporting

You’ve finally arrived at your destination! Now, make sure you can keep on cruising.

Travel Stroller

If you want a travel stroller that takes up less packing space and is still equipped with top-of-the-line features, the Britax Brook+ Stroller is a great choice. Offering a true one-step fold, a generous sunshade, a spacious reclining seat, and a large storage basket, this lightweight stroller is excellent for travel (and everyday life, if we’re being honest).

Travel Double Umbrella Stroller

Umbrella strollers are awesome for all types of travel because they are undoubtedly the most compact option—especially if you’re toting two littles around. While they may lack some of the bells and whistles of regular strollers, they make the best travel option since you’ll never have to worry about one fitting in your trunk. If you don’t already have a go-to umbrella stroller, consider the G-Link V2 from UPPAbaby.

Baby Carrier

Looking to pack minimal gear? The Away Carrier by ergobaby allows you to forgo a stroller while remaining hands-free. Weighing in at around 1 pound, this carrier is designed for comfort for the parent and baby, is equipped with easy-to-access storage pockets, and offers two ways to carry your little one.

Car Seat

When shopping for a car seat for air travel, think lightweight and simple. We love the Radian 3R by Diono because it converts and grows with your child from birth to up to 120 pounds, and it features a slim, foldable design that’s TSA-approved and ideal for air travel, whether you want your child to use it in-flight or stow it away until you reach your destination.

For Hygiene

Avoid less mess with durable diapering made for on-the-go changes, and keep your little one so fresh and so clean with travel-ready bathing and grooming products.

Diaper Backpack

If flying, your carry-on diaper bag has to withstand the grimy floor under your seat or in the overhead compartment bin. Choose one that’s well-organized so you can quickly find your baby’s pacifiers, changing mat, and a change of clothes. You’ll also want to make sure your bag of choice cleans well and is easy to carry, such as the Square Diaper Bag by Fawn Design.

Portable Diaper Pail

Real talk: Diaper blow-outs don’t follow an itinerary, nor do they wait for an ideal location with a trash can. If forced to perform an extra-dirty diaper change on the side of the road, the PurePail Go will help keep the stink away until you find proper disposal.

Travel Size Portable Tub

If your wee one hasn’t mastered sitting up on their own, the Puj Flyte can offer a cradling, soft barrier in the sink during bathtime that helps keep them in place on their back. It folds flat for easy packing and is mold- and mildew-resistant. For the best fit, use a sink that’s 19 inches (left to right) by 12 inches (front to back) and no more than 7 inches deep.

Grooming Kit

Touted as a “head-to-toe detailing kit,” the FridaBaby Grooming Kit will ensure you cover the basics of baby’s hygiene and appearance for all those upcoming family holiday pics. It includes nail clippers, a nail file, a hair brush, a styling comb, and a finger toothbrush.

What’s (Maybe) Worth the Splurge

Although it’s debatable whether these products would be considered necessities, they sure do make traveling easier.

Sleeping Tent

What’s more stressful than trying to get your child to sleep in an unfamiliar environment? The SlumberPod sleep tent will black out your baby’s sleep space regardless of location; with the addition of a sound machine, they’ll think they’re at home—and will hopefully sleep soundly.

Hands-Free Breast Pump

While it’s true you can pack any breast pump, a hands-free, wireless, wearable option, like the Elvie Pump, may be more comfortable to use when pumping at the airport or in flight. (Some airports have lactation rooms/pods for mothers to breastfeed and pump, but they’re never guaranteed.) These products are often expensive but offer more discretion and convenience than traditional breast pumps.