The Complete Packing List for Traveling with Children


Trip to ColoradoThis month, we are taking a short road trip and spending a few nights at a hotel in Houston. Packing for my littles ones is something that never fails to overwhelm me; so I am creating a universal packing list. I intend to use this for future trips too, like the road trip to Colorado that I am already dreading. Last time we made that trip, we only had two children . . . and now we have four.

Traveling with small children really does mean packing everything but the kitchen sink. My words of advice are these: pack fewer toys and clothes.

My children are never interested in their own toys in a new environment. Chewing on a hotel room phone is way cooler than playing with a ball from home.

And a word on packing fewer clothes: This advice I have yet to follow, but I intend to do so this time! I am packing one outfit for each day away from home. Period. The exception to this rule is if your child is younger than six months and is still spitting up and drooling everywhere; then pack at least three outfits for each day.

When we made the 10 hour drive to Mississippi last year at Thanksgiving, I packed wayway too many clothes. It was such a hassle keeping up with all those clothes and finally unpacking them all when we were home. In fact, I am pretty sure it took me almost a full week just to unpack.

Like I said, packing and unpacking take so much energy and time. Therefore, it is my goal to pack less and pack only what we really need!

This list is geared toward the needs of younger children. Of course, you probably won’t need everything on this list, but it is a good starting point.

Printable version: Packing List for Children

First Aid & Toiletries

  • Digital thermometer
  • Children’s ibuprofen and Benadryl
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Nail clippers
  • Baby shampoo
  • BandAids and antibiotic ointment
  • Sunscreen
  • Wipes
  • Diapers (4 diapers per child per day)
  • Swim diapers
  • Diaper rash cream


  • Bedding linens/sheets
  • Overnight diapers (Tip: We use overnight diapers for road trips to maximize time in between needing to stop for diaper changes. I also apply diaper rash cream preventively when we fly or drive with the babies.)
  • Sound machine
  • Baby blanket, lovie, or stuffed animal
  • Pajamas (always pack extra in case someone wets through the diaper)



  • Coordinating tops and bottoms for the number of days away from home
  • Socks
  • Shoes
  • Hair accessories and sun hats
  • Swimsuits and floaties


  • Ipad with charger
  • DVDs
  • Coloring books and crayons
  • A few small toys (I usually pack a few things that are not a big deal if they get left behind)


  • Stoller
  • Car seats (if flying)
  • Bouncy seat or Bumbo (If baby is younger than 6 months, I recommend taking one.)
  • Pack’N’Play or Fisher Price Rock’N’Play Sleeper (great for traveling with newborn twins)


  • Child’s health insurance card
  • Copy of child’s birth certificate (if flying)

What do you pack for your baby or toddler? What are your traveling tips?

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Emma is the wife of Ford and mother to four: Lewis (2010), Teddy (2011), Archibald (2013), and Addie Cate (2013). She is both a biological and adoptive mom and wouldn’t have it any other way. Emma and Ford tied the knot in 2009, and quickly went from a family of two to six. Before Texas was home, she spent her college years in Mississippi; and her childhood in St. Petersburg, Russia where her parents serve as Protestant missionaries. Though she is fluent in Russian, she doesn’t find much use for it on playdates in the metroplex. When she is not buying diapers in bulk, Emma enjoys re-reading Austen and Bronte novels, napping, and the occasional visit to the Kimbell Art Museum. She dreams of one day sleeping in, but till then she is enjoying the long, lovely days at home with her crew of toddlers and babies.


  1. Gradually the pile of clothes moves almost entirely to a dirty laundry bag, but who has room for that? So I keep all regular clothes in the suitcase and put underwear and socks into the dirty clothes bag. But when an item is too soiled to wear again, I turn it inside out so I can quickly pass it up when looking for subsequent outfits.


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