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The “swimmy duck” was a huge hit in the water.

We recently took our 10-month-old baby, Isla, on her first trip to grandma’s house in Florida. It was also her first plane ride. Needless to say, I was a bit anxious about the whole experience. Fortunately, she was a good little traveler and didn’t fuss on the plane (I nursed her throughout the flight to help with ear popping).

Packing for Isla turned out to be a more daunting task than I anticipated. What should I bring with me? What should I buy when I get there? What will she need on the plane?

The most helpful tool for me was to visualize Isla’s day. What did she need/use at meal time? At bed time? During play time? Then I assessed which items she could do without on vacation and which were a MUST.

Below, I’ve created a packing guideline based on my assessment and our recent trip. Use it the next time you travel with your kids!

For Traveling

These are the basics you’ll want to have on hand, whether you’re in the car, train or plane!

  • Snacks: Bring your baby’s favorite in addition to something new that may provide a distraction.
  • Baby carrier and/or stroller: We opted to use our Bjorn to carry Isla through the airport instead of a stroller. We had a stroller at Grandma’s house, so we decided it would be easier to leave ours at home—and it was! However, if you must use a stroller, invest in a cheap umbrella stroller that is lightweight and won’t be a big deal if it’s lost (you can buy them for $15-30).
  • Sippy Cup: Babies learning to drink out of regular cups and planes/cars don’t mix. Bring the sippy!
  • Teething toys: Your child may not be teething now, but you never know when the first tooth will pop through. Keep at least one chew toy handy.
  • Ibuprofin: This goes back to the teething—when it occurs, you want to be ready. Not a bad idea to have baby Tylenol or Ibuprofin on hand anyway for fevers or ear infections.
  • Toys/activities: Like the snacks, bring your child’s favorites in addition to something new that will provide a distraction. For older kids, get coloring books or activity books to keep them busy.
  • iPad/iPhone: In general, you may not allow your child to watch TV or videos. When your kid is in the middle of an epic meltdown and you still have two hours left in the flight, it’s time to break out the iPad and show your child an Elmo video.
  • Diaper Bag Essentials: Clean out your diaper bag before you go and remove any unnecessary items. Stock it with essentials only, including extra diapers and LOTS of wipes (you’ll be wiping down plane seats and everything else your baby tries to eat).

 For the Destination

  • Pack-N-Play: Your baby needs some place to sleep. If you’re staying at a hotel or resort, they may provide this for you. If not, buy a cheap Pack-N-Play and have it shipped to your destination beforehand. We bought a super cheap one at ($40) and had it sent directly to grandma’s. Don’t forget to ship a fitted sheet as well!
  • High Chair: No, you don’t have to go out and buy a high chair for grandma’s house. But you can buy a Tot Seat. This cloth, tie-on, portable high chair is easily packed in your suitcase and can be tied to almost any chair for an instant baby seat!
  • Water Toys/Sun Protection: At 10 months, we needed something a little sturdier than arm floaties for Isla to enjoy the pool. We stopped at a local pool store (it was Florida, they were everywhere) and bought a floating ring with a seat in it for $14.99. In retrospect, this is something we could have bought and shipped to grandma’s ahead of time as well. And don’t forget to pack a sun hat! Sunscreen is essential, too, but we just bought ours when we got there.
  • Food: You’ll definitely have some food with you in the diaper bag (food pouches are great!), but you may want to either give grandma a list of baby’s favorites or plan a quick trip to the grocery store when you arrive.
  • White Noise App: Buy it and download it NOW. Our daughter is generally a great sleeper, but in a new environment with new noises, she was a disaster. We put the white noise on and she was out like a light (and stayed asleep!).
  • Car seat: If you’re lucky, grandma already has a car seat or can borrow one. You can also rent them from car rental companies or sometimes resorts rent them as well. In our case, we didn’t need to rent a car, we just needed a car seat. So instead of bringing ours with us (which we would have been charged for), I found one for $39 at I shipped it to my mother-in-law’s house, her neighbor installed it, and voila! We were in business. Grandma even took it to the local firehouse to make sure it was properly installed!

 Do you have a travel tip that makes life easier? I’d love to hear it!