It can be overwhelming deciding what to back when going abroad for a long amount of time. There’s a certain balance that needs to be found with what you need to bring and what can be left behind when packing for a toddler. Personally, I tend to overpack. I bring extra shirts and pairs of underwear because you just never know. I like to be prepared for all occasions. But there’s a point when being prepared is actually a disservice to you. You know, when you can’t carry your luggage. So how do you know just what to bring when packing for a toddler?
As we traveled with a toddler who is too young to carry his own luggage, all of his things had to go in my backpack. Which meant mommy had to be super selective on what to bring. I created a video going through everything that went into my carry on and Osprey Porter 65L so you can see exactly what I packed.
The way my husband and I divided up the luggage worked really well for us. I carried all of my clothes and J’s clothes. Ben carried his clothes plus the more practical items. This included our first aid kit, a mosquito net, a travel adapter, a flashlight, a filter water bottle, and all of the camera equipment. In his carry on, he had all of our travel snacks. And there were lots of snacks.
This is the detailed list of everything that went into my luggage that I showcased in the video above.
Osprey Porter 65L Backpack
3 pairs of shorts
3 pairs of socks
2 pairs of pants – 1 linen, 1 stretch pants
1 workout outfit
1 lightweight pair of pajamas
10 pairs of underwear
2 pairs of flip flops
1 pair athletic shoes
3 pairs of shorts
3 pairs of socks
1 pair of pants
1 lightweight pair of pajamas
2 swimsuits (rash guard + bottoms)
2 pairs of sandals
1 pair tennis shoes
Small diaper bag
1/3 package of wipes
5 disposable changing pads
10 swim diapers
2 toy cars
2 extra loveys
2 board books
Diaper rash cream
Travel size dish soap
Non Clothing Items
4 packing cubes
Baggie of powdered laundry detergent
Small laundry bag
An extra plastic bag
Small, foldable backpack
2 microfiber towels – large and small
TSA approved luggage lock
Carry On Backpack
Envelope for important documents
Small over the shoulder purse
Inflatable lumbar and neck pillows
2 small packing cubes
Wipe case with 20 wipes
Disposable changing pad
2 sippy cups
Extra toddler clothes – a pair of pants, 1 short sleeve t-shirt, 1 long sleeve t-shirt, 1 pair of socks, a shirt for mom
Small magnetic drawing pad
Box of stickers/activities
A couple of small toys
Stuffed bear (attached on front)
I obsessed over what to pack and I truly thought we needed everything. We didn’t. Here are the things I wouldn’t bother with packing for a toddler next time.
His Personal Backpack. It’s cute and I love it. But J was too little to carry it himself, which left us with another thing to carry. By the time we reached our first layover, we were over lugging it around. I put it in my Osprey for the remainder of the trip. We’ll try it again when he’s older.
Activities. Oh man, did I research what to bring to occupy kids on long plane rides. I asked advice from fellow moms. I combed the internet for the best kiddo distractions. I searched Pinterest. I planned out each activity very carefully. He didn’t give one hoot about any of it. Again, I think when he’s older these activities will be of more interest. But at the time we traveled, all he cared about was walking down the aisles and playing with the levers in the flight attendant’s workstation. They were very kind and let him.
Disposable Changing Pads. I loved these when J was little. They gave him added protection and me peace of mind when I had to change him on the go. I used them on planes when he was little so I thought they’d be helpful this time around too. Thing is, now that he’s a toddler he moves around a lot more. Rarely did I get him to lay down for a diaper change. Instead, we mastered the standing diaper change.
Swim Diapers. We used these a few times, but mostly we didn’t.
Headphones. He never kept these on. Not once. Plus he was not that interested in the games on the Kindle at his age. I’ve seen pictures of babies sitting quietly watching a movie with their headphones on. J is not that baby.
Small microfiber towel. This I bought specifically for J. We only used our towels for the beach and I always shared my towel with him. It was easier to wrap him up with me than giving him his own individual towel. I never took his out of the bag it came in.
Scarf. I maybe used this once. I wasn’t cold on the plane and the days we visited temples, I wore short sleeve shirts to cover my shoulders to adhere to the modest dress code. One less thing to carry around while sightseeing.
Linen pants. Again, I wore them once. Once was enough to discover that the wide-legged style just dragged in the dirt. This doesn’t bother me at home, but in Southeast Asia, it is so dirty and dusty that I felt uncomfortable. For visiting temples, many tourists opt for the aptly named ‘temple pants’ that are sold on the streets and in every corner shop. They are cute, but not for me. I purchased a long skirt in Thailand and that’s what I wore when I wanted my legs covered, which wasn’t very often.
Moneybelt. This came in handy once as well when I rode a bike into downtown Siem Reap and didn’t want to bring a purse or backpack. Was it worth it carrying for two months? Maybe. Maybe not.
Makeup. Due to the high humidity, makeup melted off my face. I spent most of the trip bare faced. This was uncomfortable for me at first, but I settled in and rocked it. (The tan helped.) Although I didn’t use it much, I would probably bring it with me next time because that’s how I roll.
Blotting Tissues. A joke.
Inflatable lumbar and neck pillows. Yeah, nope. Cool idea, but these didn’t work for me. I never got to sleep on the plane so the neck pillow was useless. The lumbar pillow was too slippery and uncomfortable. I preferred to roll up my hoodie and place it on the small of my back for support.
What I’d bring next time.
More clothes for J. I didn’t know how incredibly dirty toddlers get. A few times we found ourselves washing his shorts in the sink because all his clothes were filthy. For our next trip, I’d add another pair of shorts/pants and an extra shirt. This would also help because we lost a few things along the way as well!