Toddler Travel Needs: What We Take for an Extended Trip

I find that there is a limit to the number of days we can be gone from home and expect to not do laundry or purchase additional diapers and wipes at our destination. For us, that’s about a week. Our current trip is 18 days long, and the trick is to strike a balance between packing too much and packing so light that we have to run errands or do laundry nearly every day. I don’t mind doing laundry a couple of times, and picking up more diapers isn’t a big deal if we’ve got plenty of time to do it. Here’s a glimpse into what we packed for Elvie and how we plan to make it work for our long trip.

  • What we pack, how much, and why

    What we pack, how much, and why

    Packing for a family trip can be daunting, especially if the trip is long.

  • The Travel Outfit

    The Travel Outfit

    I like to use the same outfit for both the plane ride to our destination and the plane ride home. As soon as we are settled in our hotel, I wash it out, hang it to dry, and pack it away. That way I’ve got a guaranteed travel outfit that I know is comfortable and that will be easy to find when all the laundry is dirty and we’re just ready to get ourselves home. The outfit itself must be comfy, and I pack shoes and a jacket for when we get on and off the plane. While in flight, I keep a couple of pairs of cozy socks handy, and Elvie can stay relaxed and comfortable the whole time.

  • Everyday Outfits

    Everyday Outfits

    I bring eight outfits that can be worn every day, and I try to pack plenty of mix and match options in case we need a partial outfit change. I’ve found eight to be the magic outfit number, plenty so that we don’t have to do a lot of laundry, but not so much that toddler clothes overwhelm our shared suitcase. To allow for different climates, I pack plenty of layers. Dresses can be worn with or without leggings underneath, and jersey knit pants can be paired with a short sleeved top or a cozier top and jacket. Depending on weather, I can choose from sandals, shoes, or boots to keep little feet comfy.

  • Accessories


    Elvie loves to accessorize, so I pack some of her favorite necklaces, headbands, and hair clips to use for fun. I pack two or three cardigans that match most of her outfits so she has something to wear during cool weather, and I bring two pacifiers on tethers – one that is our favorite, and one extra – to clip to her clothes.

  • Pajamas


    Elvie usually wears one piece footies, and I find that they’re ideal for travel. There’s no need to hunt for two separate pieces, and little toes are kept warm without also having to dig through the suitcase for tiny socks. I bring five pajamas; they are easy to wash out and dry quickly, so I don’t need more than that.

  • Nighttime and Naptime Helpers

    Nighttime and Naptime Helpers

    Elvie uses a blanket, lovey, and pacifier to go to sleep. I don’t like to put her to bed with a pacifier clipped on, so I bring two or three loose ones for sleep times. The blanket is a welcome reminder of the comforts of home, and we have two of the same kind of lovey just in case. We also have white noise on our iPhones so that we can replicate normal bedtime conditions as much as possible.

  • Toddler Basics

    Toddler Basics

    Because Elvie still takes a bottle for comfort at sleep times, not to mention refusing to drink any milk other than formula, we have to pack both items. I bring enough bottles to make it through one day without washing them (for us, that’s three), and enough formula to last the whole trip since the kind we use is not widely available.

    When it comes to diapers and wipes, they can take up a lot of space and weight, so I bring enough to last the flight and two to three more days, then plan to pick up more at each of our destinations.

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