Packing for a short-haul holiday with your baby or toddler

Off on holiday abroad with a baby? We've got tips on what to pack (and what to think about before you pack), plus some handy downloadable packing checklists

Baby boy looking fascinated out of airplane window

Heading off on holiday abroad with your baby or toddler? Time to get acquainted with the upside-down holiday-parenting rule that the smaller the child, the more stuff you’re going to need to pack!

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Saying that, there are definitely ways to pare down what you’re taking to a good set of essentials that won’t come even close to landing you in excess baggage territory. All it takes is a little forward-planning…

What you need to know before you pack

  • Cabin luggage only won’t be enough. The chances of fitting everything your child needs for a holiday abroad into hand luggage are slim to non-existent. Especially if your child doesn’t have their own luggage allowance – babies travelling free on an adult lap, instead of having their own seat, often don’t get hand/cabin luggage allowance (for more on this, see How much does it cost to take a baby on a plane?).
  • There are shops at your holiday destination. Unless you’re wild camping (a challenge we wouldn’t take on with a little one!), there will be places where you’re going that sell nappies and wipes. There’s no need to cart masses of them abroad. Formula brands do vary in other countries (even EU ones), though, so if you’re formula-feeding, you may want to take the brand your baby’s familiar with.
  • What baby equipment you can take with you. Different airlines also have different rules about extra items, such as pushchairs car seats and travel cots, so make sure you know the ones that will apply to you.
  • What baby equipment you can do without. If you’re going to be your sleeping in the same room as your child, will you really need a baby monitor, for example? Or maybe the place you’re staying has one you can borrow? For other key equipment questions to ask about your destination, see Flying short-haul with a baby or toddler: what you need to know.
  • You can downsize toiletries and medicines. Look out for mini giveaway pots/bottles of baby shampoo and nappy cream. And buy some sachets of baby paracetamol or baby ibuprofen, so that you don’t need to pack a whole bottle.

What to pack for a short haul trip with your baby (1 week)

For your suitcase (checked-in baggage):

Unrecognizable child with suitcase and a toy, selective focus
  • 1 lightweight buggy
  • 1 car seat (you may be able to take this on the plane, if you’ve paid for your baby to have a separate seat and it’s a car seat that will fit onto an airplane seat.)
  • 5 babygrows (2 for night, 3 for day)
  • 1 all-in-one or coat appropriate for weather at your destination (e.g. waterproof if needed)
  • 3 day outfits (including one short sleeved and one long sleeved)
  • 2 baby sleeping bags
  • 2 cot sheets, if needed
  • 1 travel blackout blind
  • 1 plug-in night-light
  • 1 baby monitor
  • 1 small packet of nappies (enough for 2 days)
  • 1 packet wipes
  • 1 packet disposable changing mats
  • 3 swim nappies (they can be washed, dried and reused)
  • 1 UV protective swimsuit
  • baby sunscreen SPF 50+
  • 1 sun hat
  • 1 pair of baby sunglasses
  • 1 towelling cape with hood
  • 1 first aid kit (to include scissors, antiseptic cream, nappy cream, sachets of baby paracetamol/ibuprofen, teething granules, teething gel, plasters, thermometer, antibacterial gel)
  • miniature samples of baby wash/ shampoo
  • 1 universal bath plug
  • 4 bottles, if you’re not exclusively breastfeeding
  • cartons of formula or a tin of powdered formula milk, if you’re not exclusively breastfeeding or using breast milk
  • 1 portable/travel breast pump plus milk storage containers, if you’re expressing
  • 1 bottle brush
  • cold water sterilising tablets or portable/travel steriliser, if you’re not exclusively breastfeeding
  • 1 small plastic box (bottle/pump size) for cold water sterilising, if not exclusively breastfeeding

For your carry-on hand luggage:

Travelling with kids. Happy mother with her child packing clothes for their holiday
  • 1 small cool bag
  • 1 beaker
  • 1 set of cutlery, if weaning
  • 1 tube of clothing travel wash
  • 1 travel power adaptor
  • a few favourite toys
  • enough nappies, wipes and nappy sacks for your journey
  • 1 sterilised bottle, if not exclusively breastfeeding
  • 1 tin of powdered formula or enough cartons for the journey plus one spare (in case of spillages), if not exclusively breastfeeding. Make sure you’ve checked all the official restrictions about what baby milk you can and cannot take on board the plane
  • 1 empty flask (ask a coffee shop beyond security to fill it up with boiling water)
  • 1 small cool bag of snacks, if weaning
  • mini first aid kit (couple of sachets of baby paracetamol/ibuprofen, teething granules and gel, plasters, damp flannel, mini tube of nappy cream, antibacterial gel)
  • 1 light sheet or snooze shade
  • 1 change of baby clothes
  • 1 change of top for you
  • 1 plastic bag for sick incidents/dirty clothes
  • small selection of books, iPad/tablet
  • copies of passports
  • insurance documents

What to pack for a short haul trip with your toddler (1 week)

Download and print out our short-haul toddler packing checklist 

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For your suitcase (checked-in baggage):

  • 1 lightweight buggy
  • 1 car seat
  • 3 day outfits (including 1 short-sleeved and 1 long-sleeved)
  • 1 all-in-one or coat appropriate for weather at your destination (e.g. waterproof if needed)
  • 2 pyjamas
  • 2 sleeping bags, if still used
  • 2 cot sheets, if needed
  • 1 travel blackout blind
  • 1 plug-in nightlight
  • 1 baby monitor (if really need)
  • 1 small packet of nappies/trainer pants (enough for 2 days), if still used
  • 1 packet wipes
  • 1 packet disposable changing mats, if still using
  • 3 swim nappies (they can be washed, dried and reused)
  • 1 UV protective swimsuit
  • toddler sunscreen SPF 50+
  • 1 sun hat
  • 1 pair toddler sunglasses
  • 1 towelling cape with hood
  • 1 first-aid kit (scissors, antiseptic cream, nappy cream, sachets of child paracetamol/ibuprofen, teething granules/gel, plasters, thermometer, antibacterial gel, insect repellent, antihistamine)
  • 1 universal bath plug
  • miniature samples of shampoo/ bath wash
  • cartons of UHT milk or a tin of powdered UHT milk, if needed
  • 1 small cool bag
  • 1 beaker
  • 1 set of cutlery
  • 1 tube of travel wash
  • 1 travel power adaptor
  • 1 toddler reins, if needed
  • a few favourite toys

For your carry-on hand luggage:

  • enough nappies/trainer pants (if still used), wipes and nappy sacks for the journey
  • 1 small cool bag of snacks (fruit/ raisins/mini sandwiches/biscuits). Make sure you’ve checked all the official restrictions about what baby food you can and cannot take on board the plane.
  • cartons of drink with a straw
  • 1 beaker
  • Powdered formula or enough milk cartons for the journey plus one spare (in case of spillages), if your child drinks milk or formula milk. Do make sure you’ve checked all the official restrictions about what formula milk you can and cannot take on board the plane.
  • mini first aid kit (couple of sachets of child paracetamol/ibuprofen, teething granules/gel, plasters, damp flannel, mini tube of nappy cream, antibacterial gel)
  • 1 change of toddler clothes
  • 1 change of top for you
  • 1 plastic bag for sick incidents/dirty clothes
  • 1 child’s inflatable pillow
  • small selection of toys/books/stickerbooks/ crayons, iPad/tablet
  • copies of passports
  • photograph of your toddler (in the unlikely event that they get lost)
  • insurance documents

Pics: Getty

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