MAMA NEEDED A VACATION… BAD!!
We recently returned from a nice long family vacation to HAWAII. We visited Oahu and The Big Island and had a really wonderful time!
Several people had messaged, texted and DM’d while we were there and now that we’ve returned with questions about traveling that long and far with our 10 month old, Emerson Ava. To make it easier and share links (none of which are paid ads), I figured I would put together some of my “BEYOND THE BASICS” travel essentials for you. Gear or gadgets that helped us throughout our trip with a teething, on-the-go crawling, climbing, curious, chatty infant!
And, the reality of traveling with an infant is that there just IS a lot of “stuff.” Even when you try to pare it down, like we did. Of course a lot of this stuff isn’t absolutely necessary but some of it made our travels go a lot smoother, so I hope this post helps you if you’re planning for your next trip with baby. Because it IS possible and now that we’ve done it I can say it is SO worth it!
I say “beyond the basics” because I don’t mean diapers, wipes, baby sunscreen, swaddles, lovey, clothes, PJs, sunglasses, sun hats, swim diapers, overnight diapers….you get it… we had all of the stuff! However, one of my tips, not included below, is to scout out your location for a store to stock up on diapers and wipes (especially for extended stays) and/or send some of those essentials to your destination ahead of time. We knew there was a Target in Waikiki, Oahu that would be easy to get to. We only packed enough diapers for about a day and a half and then made a quick trip to Target to stock up on our beloved Seventh Generation Diapers and Wipes and Honest Overnight Diapers (not necessary but we love these) for the week! That saved us a lot of room in our luggage too.
I also knew that our villa had a washer and dryer so I brought a few easy-to-pack Seventh Generation Free & Clear laundry detergent pods in my toiletry bag and packed accordingly, knowing we would be able to wash clothes halfway through our trip. So think ahead if you’re going somewhere that you’ll have access to a washer and dryer – many hotels have options, so definitely ask! This helped us keep packing to a carry-on sized bags each plus Karl had a backpack and I had a diaper bag. Not bad for 12 days in Hawaii with a 10 month old!
Other BABY GEAR we traveled with(that isn’t mentioned below):
- Uppababy Mesa Carseat – Ems is on the cusp of growing out of this but still fits comfortably. We did rent a car while in Hawaii so we could have saved space here and rented through the car rental company but it was easier to have it to/from the airports and she slept in it on the plane. Since she is within the safety limits and is still comfortable, we figured we’d get one more trip out of this carseat and it worked out really well. If you do bring your carseat and end up gate checking, a Gate Check bag will keep the carseat protected while under the plane.
- Uppababy G-Luxe Stroller – depending on where you are going assess whether you really need a stroller. We packed pretty light so opted for the stroller because Ems still naps well in the stroller and we knew it would give us some freedom, which was really nice on a vacation. Uppababy makes a similar stroller that is a tad lighter but we opted for this model because of the recline feature and I can’t say enough good things. It does not have a lot of storage so we added the SkipHop Traveler organizer which we love and it has a zip-off pouch for keeping cards and valuables with you. Lots of people love to Babyzen Yo-Yo because you can fold it for the overhead bin. We gate checked our stroller in the stroller bag and it was super easy, no fuss at all!
Now let’s get into some of the non-obvious travel essentials that were either shared with me by friends or other local moms, or that we found online. All of these items below aren’t absolutely necessary but they were VERY MUCH nice to have (if you know what I mean). I hope you find some new goodies to help ease your mind for upcoming travel!
10 BEYOND THE BASICS – BABY TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
- Disposable Placemats– We absolutely LOVE these and have a bunch in our diaper bag, car and in the stroller. They are GREAT to pull out and cover the surface in a pinch. We brought them in our carryon and covered the tray tables on the plane, it made it a lot easier for “meal times” on our 11 hour flight. We get them on Amazon.
- Pacifier clip Hack – at this stage and in the thick of teething, we use pacifier clips to keep teethers connected to her/us/stroller while on-the-go. Worked great on the plane! Can use for pacifiers or teethers alike.
- Sippy Cup Holder Straps – much like a pacifier clip that keeps your baby’s pacifier from falling on the floor, this is a clip for your baby’s sippy cup. A local mom in Brooklyn shared this with me and we love this item. It comes in a 2-pack and we have one clipped to our high chair and bring 1 on-the-go to restaurants to clip to the high chair. At 10 months old Emmy is in the “I can THROW things?” phase and even thinks its funny. This item keeps her sippy straw cup from smashing on the floor and nice and clean! Since I know folks will ask, we love the Munchkin Miracle 360 Cups and Lollaland Toddler Straw Cup(our current favorite!).
- FizzWizz Cleaning Tablets – made with 100% food grade all natural ingredients, these easy-to-use effervescent tablets let you quickly clean a sippy cup, bottle or water bottle on-the-go with just a tablet and water. These are easy to pack and nice to have in a pinch rather than carrying around soap and sponge, etc., and especially if you won’t have a dishwasher (like in a hotel room). I got a sample from a baby event and was quickly hooked! Also on Amazon here, woo-hoo.
- Pack-n-Play Memory Foam Mattress Insert – we started using a Pack-n-Play while traveling at around 4 months old. I had a hard time understanding how Emmy would be comfortable sleeping on that super board hard insert that comes with the Pack-n-Play so we quickly looked for other options. Another mom told us about this Milliard Memory Foam Topper that fits perfectly in a pack-n-play and we’ve never looked back. Emmy will nap or sleep overnight VERY soundly with this inset and for us this is a must-have item. Another Amazon purchase, link here.
- Travel White Noise Machine – I picked this up as an impulse buy at BuyBuyBaby and it soon became one of our essentials that I always pack while traveling. Ems is a great sleeper and I attribute some of that to keeping things consistent for her. White noise being one of those things…it is truly Pavlovian for her! This affordable travel white noise machine is light and can easily be thrown into your diaper bag. We…take…this…thing…EVERYWHERE! Purchased at BuyBuyBaby (bring your 20% Off coupon!) and also see it on Amazon.
- Small Bag of Toys and Mini Board Books – I saved a few toys from the holidays that she had not seen before and threw in a few of her favorites (think one gallon sized ziplock full – so not a ton!). She loved to take the toys out of the bag, see familiar toys and books and enjoy a few new ones. Emmy is really into the Touch-and-Feel series, we LOVE the Wild Animals book and Colors and Shapes book and they’re small enough to pack in your travel bag.
- Baby Banz – Infant Hearing Protection Earmuffs – I’ve heard some people use these for the plane but our little Brooklyn gal can sleep through a bit of noise. However, you never know when you’ll need these. Our resort had a huge firework display one night and we got to enjoy them as a family due to these safety headphones. Amazon or BuyBuyBaby
- Baby Carrier – for this trip we were gone about 12 days so we did bring an umbrella stroller (UppaBaby G-Luxe – cannot say enough good things about this!) which was helpful but we also brought two baby carriers. It doesn’t much matter which carrier you use as long as you and baby are comfortable. I’ve used this ip for several airport trips and have got to say that carrying your baby through security is the way to go – trust me that you will need both of your arms! We used our Beco Baby Carrier for longer carries and a deliciously broken in WildBird Ring Sling for short carries throughout the day on our way out at night.
- A positive attitude – this one may seem obvious (?) but you have to know that when you’re traveling outside of your home you WON’T be able to control all of the elements. It helps to go into the experience with those expectations. Depending on what stage your baby is in it’s best to know that even when you’re traveling without a baby there are elements out of your control. If nothing else, will make for some good memories and funny stories down the line!