We’ve covered baby sleep gear essentials on the blog (in 2020 and 2022), but we haven’t talked about all of the other gear that needs to be packed when it comes to traveling with babies and toddlers (and let’s be honest, we know it is a LOT). In this post, we will be sharing our favorite single and double strollers for travel, baby carriers, bags, and other travel-related gear. We’ll be touching on gear for flying as well as for road trips and will be clear when something is for one and not the other. Hopefully this post is useful to some of you, especially new moms or moms new to traveling with multiple kiddos! Disclaimer: I’m not being paid to promote these products. We just love them!
STROLLERS & ACCESSORIES
Coming from a family that owns five strollers, it’s safe to say that we’ve figured out what works best for different purposes. While we love our single and double Bobs for running and doing things locally, they are too bulky for travel, in our opinion.
For a single stroller, we love our Baby Jogger City Mini GT. (The current model is the City Mini GT2.) It folds easily and is lightweight, making it easy to fit in the car for a road trip or gate check on a flight. When flying, you can keep your stroller with you until right before you board the plane and check it at the gate. It’s worth noting, however, that the City Mini GT is 22.5 pounds and American Airlines limits gate checked strollers to 20 pounds. While we’ve had very nice gate attendants let it slide, other airlines do not have the same restriction.
Some of the other features we appreciate are the adjustable handlebar (my husband and I are both tall), serious seat recline ability, large UV canopy, and all-terrain tires with all-wheel suspension. My only complaint about this stroller over the years is that the opening for the storage basket is too small. I can squeeze our diaper bag into the storage basket, but only if it’s not too full. I usually put whatever I need to access easily in the stroller caddy.
We also like our Summer Infant 3Dlite stroller, especially for short trips where we won’t be doing a ton of walking, but still want to have a stroller. I classify the 3Dlite as an upscale umbrella stroller. It has a good-sized canopy, recline ability, footrest, storage basket, storage pocket, cupholder, and carry strap. It’s great for travel, but it definitely doesn’t handle wear and tear as well as our Baby Jogger does.
When we need a double stroller (we are fully in this phase right now with a 4.5, 2.5, and 8 month old), we hands down recommend our Zoe for travel. I linked the current model, but we actually have the older Zoe XL2. This stroller is lightweight (under 20 pounds) and folds compactly, but its biggest selling point is that it fits through a single doorway. Read that again – it fits through a SINGLE doorway. Any parent of multiples knows how difficult it can be to push your stroller through a door, but this one does it easily. It also has great canopy coverage, individual recline ability, one big storage basket, two smaller storage pockets, one parent cupholder, two child cupholders, and one snack tray (the cupholders and snack tray are removable and interchangeable).
Another stroller alternative we often bring on road trips is our wagon. If we know we won’t be walking around a lot (for example, going to visit parents or staying near the beach), the wagon is great option. Our older kids love it and can easily climb in and out of it. It folds up compactly and takes up less space than the strollers. It’s also useful for toting all of the stuff!
If you’re flying, it’s worth getting a gate check bag for your stroller. We like the J.L.Childress brand of bags. They don’t last forever, but it’s better than your stroller taking direct abuse and protects it from dirt and germs. It folds up into a nice pouch when you’re not using it. The bag linked here is large enough to fit our double Zoe.
We also recommend getting a car seat travel bag for the same reason. We have this padded backpack, also from J.L. Childress. While the company also sells a simple bag, I think it’s worth the extra cost for the padded one to protect your car seat. The straps also make it easy to carry through the airport. We recently traveled across the country with three kids and three car seats so it was essential to be able to wear the backpack carrier (see the first picture in this post of all of our luggage for the family).
We’ve tried several baby carriers, but three babies later, the Ergo 360 is still easily my favorite for both baby and parent comfort. It’s super easy to put on and adjust. Both my husband and I can wear it for hours with no back or shoulder pain, and I cannot say the same for any other carrier out there. I’ve worn my newborn using the newborn insert, faced my older infants in and out, and even carried my toddlers on my back. This is truly the best carrier out there. Our babies also had a better chance of sleeping during travel while in a carrier.
I wasn’t always a packing cube person, but now that I have three kids, they are essential to my sanity and organization when we travel. With packing cubes, I am able to organize clothes by child and by purpose using different color and size cubes. For example, each of my sons has a cube for clothes, a cube for pajamas, and a cube for socks and underwear. Since my daughter is still an infant, I use several cubes for all of her things – clothes, pajamas, bows, crib sheet and sleep sack, burp cloths, etc. I even use cubes for myself now, mainly for smaller items like socks, underwear, and swimsuits.
When we fly, we use roller bags, which are not a part of this review. When we go on road trips, we use the LL Bean Extra Large Boat and Totes for my kids. My husband and I each have our own travel bags. Currently, we have two “Bean bags” – I use one for my boys and one for the baby. As they (and their clothes) get bigger, I anticipate that I’ll get another so that each kid has their own Bean bag. At that point I may even get one for myself! The bags are super sturdy and durable and have a zipper top to keep everything contained. I like the classic style and get them monogrammed with our last name so they all match. Side note: we moved a little over a year ago and the bags are great for moving because they are so roomy!
When we are road tripping, I create a travel diaper changing station for the baby to easily access in the car. I put diapers, wipes, diaper cream, and plastic bags in a diaper caddy, along with a travel changing pad. This way, I always have a clean place to change the baby, whether that is in the car, in a public restroom, or at a friend’s house. It also makes it really easy to have everything I need in one place so I’m not digging around. When we fly, I just use the small diaper changing pad that came with my diaper bag as a liner. Both of these travel changing pads are easy to wipe clean. I’m a germaphobe when it comes to public spaces, especially after the pandemic, so I really appreciate having a barrier between my baby and any public surface!
One item of baby gear that is not easily transportable is a high chair. And most hotels, airbnbs, and family/friend homes do not come with a high chair. Enter the portable chair. We really like this Summer Infant Pop ‘N Sit Portable Booster. It packs up into a nice carry bag, has a removable tray, and is easy to set up. It also has sturdy straps so you can safely set it up on a chair for baby to sit on an adult chair at the table. We always bring this chair when we visit friends or family and we often bring it when we are going to a brewery or somewhere we will be sitting outside. It’s easy to wipe clean and has lasted us through three babies.
We hope this post has been helpful! Traveling with babies and small children comes with challenges and a lot of stuff, but it is truly the best and is always worth it!
What are some of your favorite baby/toddler items for travel? What can’t you live without? Please share in the comments!