Enough diapers, clothes, backup clothes, lovies, toys, feeding essentials…the checklist goes on… and staring down at said checklist is an overwhelmed mom wondering if this trip is even going to be worth it. That was me. The first trip I took with my daughter was when she was 4 months old and even after all my prepping, we were still underprepared and overwhelmed for our first trip with baby. I knew there had to be a better way.
From a minimalist baby registry to a minimalist playroom, I've always been a minimalist at heart.
Traveling in the past was just my carry-on luggage and small backpack. But as a mom, I wasn't sure that was an option anymore.
Besides all the stuff I needed for my little girl, I needed back up clothes based on all the baby spit up that ended up on my own outfits. I thought I was kissing light and easy travel goodbye and staring excess baggage fees in the face.
The truth is that trips and vacations will look a lot different with kids.
But the good news is, that’s not necessarily a bad thing! AND I learned you can pack light even with your kids in tow – and in some cases avoid the checked bag altogether!
How To Travel Light With A Baby + Toddler
Plan with Purpose
Any trip takes planning, but when you're traveling with minimalism in mind, you want to be intentional.
What’s the goal of this trip? Is it to bond as a family? Experience new cultures and places? Or simply take a break from routine?
Clarifying your goals will help you narrow down decisions for how you pack and for how you make plans down the road (think hotel room vs. airbnb vs. staying with friends or family; road trips vs. long flights, etc.)
Solve the Laundry Dilemma
When packing for kids (and yourself), whether your vacation is long or short, it’s helpful to pick some neutral and versatile basics that can mix and match to create a variety of outfits.
I also recommend choosing a stay somewhere that has easy access to a washing machine and dryer so you can wash dirty laundry and avoid the need to pack more stuff.
Buy it there
Growing up, I'd stress so much about packing for trips, and my mom always reminded me “if you forget it, we can get it while where there!” And that same mentality applies for additional items like spare diapers, wipes, formula, and even back up clothes if things get ruined from a blowout!
This is a great way to save a ton of space in your bag or car!
Minimalist Essential Gear for Traveling with Kids
My absolute must-have for traveling with kids is a baby carrier. I try to leave the stroller at home whenever possible when flying.
It's lightweight and compact if traveling by car. And for air travel, it's a life saver for wearing baby through airport security, discreetly breastfeeding in it, and even helping little ones sleep on the plane or while you’re out and about on all the adventures at your destination.
Baby carriers not only allow you to have both hands free and available for helping siblings or managing your carry-on bag and ID… they keep your busy toddler close and safe while you’re in a new place.
- Ergobaby Away packs compactly into its own carry pouch so you can easily store the carrier in your diaper bag, stroller, or anywhere else you’d like to keep it on hand. It’s ultra lightweight and comfortable for mom and baby. It's the perfect carrier for babies after the fourth trimester up to about 3 year olds and allows for front or back wearing.
Good for kids 12-35 lbs, 4 to 36 months. Check price here!
- Omni Breeze – My other carrier of choice is Ergobaby’s Omni Breeze. If you’ll be out on longer adventures like hikes, tours etc… Omni Breeze offers more support on your body so you can comfortably and safely carry your kids for longer periods of time. It also supports baby from day 1 through the toddler years until about 4 years old, whereas Ergobaby’s Away is not newborn friendly.
Good for kids 7-45lbs,0 to 48 months. Check price here!
Compact Travel Stroller
Compact strollers, sometimes referred to as an umbrella stroller, are compact when folded and when in use; making them great for traveling on long trips or around town.
The Metro+ Deluxe Stroller is small enough for you to walk up and down store aisles or hallways, push in and out of elevators, and even get on or off public transportation without taking up the entire space.
Plus, being so lightweight and portable, there’s no hassle taking one traveling.
It fits in the overhead compartment of most airplanes; but you may want to grab a gate check bag just in case.
While also offering some of the benefits of full-size strollers like car-seat adaptability, newborn to toddler ready, spacious storage and more!
It’s perfect for city use on sidewalks and bumpy streets. You can also take it on buses, subways, trains, and airplanes, as well as fit it into compact cars.
I love how versatile Metro+ is and how easy it is to get around wherever we’re going. My 4-year-old is too big for most baby carriers now, but we still use our Metro+ often when her legs get too tired to walk.
Here’s some helpful info about traveling with a baby carrier vs compact strollers:
One last note about baby gear and travel. In my opinion, a baby carrier and stroller are the main essentials to pack with you. If you’ll be getting in an out of a car during your travels, of course a travel car seat will be necessary as well but you can avoid this in some cities with the train station, public transportation and walking.
When it comes to a pack n play travel crib, bassinet, high chair, etc…I recommend borrowing from someone local or finding a local rental company that will deliver the item to where you’re staying – and that's if you even need it. Most hotels and Airbnbs have these items available at your request.
This will make your life so much easier when you’re in between destinations.
Toddler + Baby Packing List: Minimalist
- Birth certificate (copy) – sometimes you need this
- Pack shoes if they're walking! It's easy to forget baby + toddler shoes when you wear or stroll them onto your flight!
- Pack clothing (we usually do 1 top per day, with 1-2 extra and a few less bottoms then that)
- Coloring book like these mess free coloring supplies
- A ziploc bag or plastic bags in your carry on personal items or mom purse for soiled clothes
- Water bottle
- Opt for a travel baby carrier and/or compact stroller (remember this one fits in most overhead storage!) and remember some destinations (cities) you can skip the car seat!
- Pack snacks for toddlers or if your baby is on solid foods; TIP: Avoid the puree pouches as they tend to get everywhere!
- Breast milk can be carried through TSA if you need or any other breastfeeding essentials
The best way to enjoy family travel is with less stuff and more presence. While it's a good idea to have the essentials, avoid driving yourself crazy with too much stuff. A lightweight stroller, baby carrier, some easy to mix-and-match outfits, and a few favorite toys are all you really need!
Traveling with kids as a minimalist millennial is all about embracing intentionality and simplifying the journey. By prioritizing quality over quantity, packing light, and focusing on experiences, you can create memorable adventures that align with your minimalist values. Remember that the goal is not to eliminate all comforts but to make mindful choices that enhance your travel experience and create lasting memories for both you and your children. Happy travels!
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