We are only a week away from hopping on a plane and embarking on a 14-hour flight to Montreal- with a 2-year-old. I’m already strategizing what to pack so that we bring only the absolute travel essentials for our toddler. Unfortunately, gone are the days where Anthony and I can breeze through airports with just a carry-on. Now, it feels like we are bringing our entire home and more when we travel. But I am adamant about packing smartly this time around, and who knows, maybe toy around (pun intended) with the idea of traveling with 2 carry-on bags for our 2-weeks stay in Montreal.
During our recent trip to the South of France, I took notes on what our travel essentials were and things we could have done without (i.e., toys). Our main priority for this trip is to maintain our sanity by not having so many things to lug around, but to also keep our little peanut content and happy (which also mean happy mama and dada).
Here are some of my toddler travel essentials:
- TRAVEL STROLLER
Lugging around a massive stroller can be quite inconvenient especially when you spend most of your day commuting and exploring. A lightweight travel stroller is super handy for families on the go and during holiday travels. It can easily collapse and carry from one point to the next. It can be quite an investment, but there are affordable options available at Babyshop, Mamas and Papas, or the smallest GB strollers are available at Ten Little Toes. You can also borrow or rent from fellow moms on community groups on Facebook such as Positive Birth Sales Page or Positive Toddler Group. We borrowed an Uppa Baby G-luxe umbrella stroller from a friend. (it made our road trips round the South of France a lot easier).
Going out with a toddler for more than an hour requires us to bring a handful of items from nappies, to a change of clothes and snacks. We took one big backpack instead of bringing a diaper bag, my handbag, and a camera bag. It allowed us to be both hands free, and for one parent to handle either the stroller or have Naomi in a carrier. Traveling light applied as much when we were exploring as it did when flying.
This is not an everyday necessity but we took it with us anyway for times when we want to give Naomi a break from sitting in her stroller. It also came in handy when exploring a place that’s not stroller-friendly like climbing a thousand steps in Eze Village. We have an Ergobaby 360 cool air, which is made of mesh fabric so it’s breathable and particularly great for a sunny day out.
- TRAVEL CHAIR
I was surprised to discover that a lot of restaurants in France are not baby-friendly and rarely found a place that has a highchair. We got this travel chair that attaches to most chairs and even grocery pushcarts. It’s made out of lightweight fabric and can easily fold and store in our backpack. It’s also a great thing to have when visiting family and friends who don’t have a highchair in their homes.
- CAR SEAT
We rented a car during our stay in the South of France and decided to take our Cybext Aton-Q car seat with us, as we were unsure how safe the rental car seats would be. It was a bit of a hassle bringing it but it proved to be invaluable gear for us especially when going on day trips or road adventures. Naomi would instantly nap in her car seat when we were on the road, and we didn’t need to bring any electronic gadgets or other bits and bobs to keep her entertained in the car.
- NEW TOY
Before we left, we bought Naomi a new small toy that kept her interested and entertained for the most part of our holiday. A box of crayons, stickers and electronic phone that we kept in a Daiso pouch were enough to keep her busy during our flight or when we’re at a restaurant waiting for our food. From our recent experience, there’s no need to pack a bag full of toys since toddlers can keep themselves busy discovering new sights and surroundings. They are quite a resourceful bunch and can easily be entertained with flowers or chasing dogs in the park.
- SNACKS (Plenty of them)
They might not need a lot of toys when out and about, but toddlers sure need tons of snacks and you will suffer the consequences should you fail to pack any in your bag! Naomi is not the greatest eater but she’s a snacker and she’d eat pretty much anything you offer her from apples, carrot sticks, blueberries, to her favorite puffs. We made sure that we packed her favorite snacks with us like these Happy Baby puffs and teething wafers (from Monoprix) and we would pick up fresh fruit on the go.
- NO-SPILL STRAW CUP
It was only recently that Naomi learned to drink from a straw and so I got her this Munchkin no-spill straw cup. It is great for travel and keeping her hydrated especially when out and about in the sun all day.
- CREATURE COMFORT
It’s normal for us parents to worry about changing a toddler’s routine or how well they would adapt to new places, but they are much more flexible than we give them credit for. One thing that helped Naomi settle in nicely and sleep in a new room and cot was her Jellycat bunny ‘doudou’ that she can never part with. She can’t sleep without it and it gives her comfort when she’s upset. Bringing a little piece of home or something that brings comfort like a blankie, sleep machine, or favorite plush toy is something worth saving space in your luggage for.
I’m in the process of packing for our trip to Montreal and would love any tips or recommendations on what your toddler travel essentials are. If you also have any tips on flying with a toddler on a long-haul flight, I’m all ears!