Tips From an Organizing Expert on Traveling With Your Baby

Young family at the airport

Tonia Tomlin is an author and the owner of the organizing Company Sorted Out, LLC based in Plano, Texas. She has identical twin girls Peyton and Sydney and has been in the organizing business, her "dream job," for five years. She recently talked with LoveToKnow Baby about traveling with babies and small children.

What are some common mistakes parents make regarding travel with a baby or small children?

  • Overpacking-One of the most common mistakes is overpacking with stuff you don't need. There are few things more chaotic than trying to keep track of multiple bags of items while traveling!
  • Make lists-Too often, parents pack items they don't need and forget the items they do need. What items will you absolutely need to take with you and your children? When packing clothes for you and your family, make lists of what items you'll need before you start to pack - and stick to your list. If you don't think you absolutely need it, leave it at home.
  • Plan ahead-Another common mistake parents make is failing to plan ahead. If you're flying, go to Federal Aviation Administration's website the day before your trip to check guidelines. Also, be sure to check your airline's website for their tips and recommendations for air travel with children.
  • Check schedules-It's also important to try to plan your trip so that your child's/children's schedules will have the least possible amount of disruption. If it is possible to schedule flights/travel during the times when your children nap, do. By keeping your children on their regular napping schedule, they will be much more likely to sleep at least a portion of the trip.
  • Check flights-Make sure your flight is scheduled to depart on time before you leave for the airport. Minimizing waiting time is a good idea - especially if you have a long travel day ahead.
  • Plan seating-Try to schedule airplane seating directly over the engines. The sound of the engines serves a dual purpose, as it can lull your children to sleep and create a sound barrier between you and your fellow traveler.
  • Last minute pointers-If your children are in diapers, give each child a diaper change prior to boarding the flight. If your babies have special blankets or comfort items you can pack along, it's a good idea to bring them with you. Travel and changes in their environment can be very stimulating - sometimes too stimulating! - and they can find comfort in having familiar items around. Finally, another mistake is parents don't expect the worst. Plan ahead for possible tummy aches, meltdowns, etc., and pack accordingly!

What should parents always remember to pack?

Definitely snacks for travel, and extra change of clothes, and Tylenol or Motrin. I recommend packing/carrying on the following items:

  • Car seat for each child (preferably one with rollers)
  • Sippy cups
  • Bibs (two per child, per day)
  • One Pack-n-Play per child

When you get to your destination, you can purchase such items as food, formula, diapers, and wipes - instead of having to carry around an entire vacation's worth of these supplies.

One thing that is crucial for traveling with babies/younger children is an organized diaper bag - especially if you're traveling by plane. In addition to the usual diaper bag supplements, a carry-on diaper bag should contain:

  • At least four diapers per child
  • Wipes
  • Rash cream
  • Freezer size Ziplocs for soiled diapers (your fellow travelers will thank you!)
  • Antibacterial wipes or gel
  • Enough powder formal to make two bottles per child
  • Two changes of clothes for each child
  • An extra top for you in case of spit-up
  • Diaper changing pad
  • Snacks
  • Several burp clothes
  • Small toys and books

Whatever you do, make sure your diaper bag is small enough to fit comfortably under the seat in front of you. Do not store the diaper bag in the overhead compartment, as you may need quick and easy access.

How can parents stay organized while traveling?

Parents can stay organized while traveling by establishing some simple systems.

  1. Have a laundry bag for all dirty clothes.
  2. Stay on your routine as much as you can while on vacation.
  3. Go through your bags every other day to make sure you know where everything is, as this will help save time and frustration finding things.

One of the easiest ways to stay organized is to make sure you only bring the items you'll need - as opposed to having to lug around a bunch of stuff that you'll never use. These other tips can help you stay organized while traveling:

  • Check travel regulations before you leave. In today's world, transportation regulations are in flux. Checking travel regulations before you back can be a real time saver. Call your airline or visit their website to learn what you can and cannot pack and/or carry on the plane.
  • Protect your valuables while traveling. Protect your travel documents, small valuables and currency by packing them in an impact-resistant, watertight, buoyant container. This will prevent just about any damage, and will help you to keep all your valuables located in one easy place.
  • Practi-couture. Make a point to pack practical clothing that is easy to wash and does not wrinkle. Pack basic bottoms that can be easily interchanged with multiple tops and accessories. Traveling is much less stressful when you are not lugging around bags and bags of fashion accessories.
  • Roll with it! Since you are rather unlikely to be packing polyester, the next best way to avoid wrinkles and ironing boards is to roll your clothes rather than fold them. An added benefit is that rolled clothing takes less space than folded clothing so you can squeeze more into each piece of luggage.

What are some kid-friendly vacation ideas?

What are other travel tips would you recommend?

  • Wrap it up. One of the great luxuries of modern living is Ziploc® baggies. Use plastic baggies to wrap shoes, isolate toiletries, contain anything with "spill potential," and keep a few on hand for unforeseen situations. You will most certainly use them.
  • Plan ahead. If you are at all particular about your accommodations, be sure to make reservations prior to leaving. If you prefer spontaneity to rigid itineraries, schedule your first evening, but research and know your options for the duration of your trip before leaving home. Call potential hotels and ask about availabilities during the dates you will be visiting.

Where can we read more about you?

You can learn more about Sorted Out by visiting Sorted Out or learn more about my book, Chaos 2 Calm by visiting

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Tips From an Organizing Expert on Traveling With Your Baby