Preparing for 12 hours on a plane and a month away with a 3 year old is actually really rewarding. (Crazy I know but hear me out.) Finding functional, efficient gear to make travel easier reduces my stress level in a big way. I have put together a list of our Must-Have Travel Gear, intended to make the journey as easy as possible and to make the destination feel a bit more like home.
Travel Gear Essentials
 Lightweight Travel Stroller
This choice can be overwhelming as there are so many choices on the market. The best place to start is to decide which features are important for your needs and the price point you are comfortable at.
The Uppababy G-Luxe is the perfect lightweight stroller because it’s loaded with features. We wanted a stroller that was easy to collapse, offered a large storage capacity and boasted a really big canopy (for that hot Hawaiian sun). An added feature of the G-Luxe is that the handle bar is high; perfect for tall parents.
 Travel Car Seat
For a permanent, at home car seat I absolutely love the Clek Foonf. However, it is really heavy so I can’t imagine lugging it through the airport.
We purchased a travel car seat, one that we were okay with carrying and one that, should it be lost, we were okay with losing. Most importantly, if you’re going to purchase a seat specifically for travel, is to buy one that will grow with you. We purchased the Evenflo Triumph LX Convertible Seat. It is safe, lightweight and easy to install. The short seat depth makes it ideal for those standard sized rental cars.
 Kids Backpack
Getting Reed involved in the travel preparation helps to make our journey smoother. When he knows what to expect he copes much better with the irregularity. I purchased the Classic Kanken backpack, I had originally looked at the Mini Kanken (because how cute is that?) but felt it wouldn’t be large enough to carry the toddler carry-on essentials (snacks, books, headphones, toys).
 Functional, Efficient Luggage
For the longest time Mike and I used inexpensive 24″ suitcases. Truthfully, I had never really considered the function of a suitcase. (Afterall, isn’t the purpose to simply get your stuff from A to B?) Our little suitcases served us well but on our recent trip to Alberta we struggled. Maneuvering two suitcases was way too much yet a single 24″ suitcase was simply not large enough for three people spending a week in the mountains. With that in mind, I realized it was time to consider investing in one large, functional piece. (It should be mentioned that there are some wildly talented and super spatially-aware people out there because I found some seriously clever luggage solutions!)
I landed on the Heys Bianco 30″ Spinner. I absolutely love that Heys is a Canadian company. What sold me on the 30″ Bianco is that it weighs approximately 10lbs (super lightweight) and it offers lots of organization options. As an added bonus, I purchased mine on sale so the value for your money was incredible!
 Travel Bed
Now depending on where you are going and the age of your littles, there are a couple of really great options in the world of travel beds. In the past we used a Travel Crib and I wasn’t very happy with it. Unfortunately, I didn’t give enough energy to choosing a Travel Crib when I was pregnant and settled for a substandard product. If I were to do it again, I would use the Guava Family Lotus Play Yard. The one we had was clunky and a struggle to assemble; the complete opposite to the Lotus Play Yard which is lightweight, a cinch to assemble and comes with a convenient travel bag that has both carry handles and backpack straps.
For toddlers who have outgrown the travel crib, I love the Shrunks Tuckaire Toddler Travel Bed. It is easily packed into a suitcase and has built-in inflatable side rails to keep your toddler from rolling out of bed.
As I’ve mentioned before, we are not much for television and this is especially true when it comes to Reed. As a general rule, we let Reed watch one show while we prepare dinner. It offers him a quiet moment and allows us time to focus on putting a healthy meal on the table. When it comes to travel however, it is about survival. (Okay, that may be a bit extreme.) But in all seriousness, the iPad can offer a quiet activity to help get you through those long flight lags or help to burn some time during airport delays. This is not the time to take a strong stand against screen time. We prep our iPad ahead of time by loading it with a couple of his favourite movies and a few toddler-friendly educational games (letter and number tracing are a big hit for us).
 Travel Document Wallet
What could be more frustrating than a pile of unorganized papers and passports (yuck!)? When we travelled to Alberta this year, I forgot to bring my travel document wallet. So there I was in Pearson Airport pulling crumpled papers from a zippered pocket in my carry on. I crossed my fingers that I hadn’t lost anything as I handed the unkept pile to the annoyed looking security officer. Reed was tugging on my shirt to point out the nine hundredth ‘super big airplane’ and Mike was being asked to unpack his carry-on. (Stressful, no?) A travel document wallet fixes this problem effortlessly. I purchased mine from Chapters Indigo for a really reasonable price (find it here).
I love it because it’s large enough to hold all of the passports, travel docs, luggage tags, parking slips, and even some cash (although I don’t use it for that). And it is physically large enough that I can easily find it in my carry on. Even without kids in the mix, how do people travel without this?
 Mama Backpack / Carry-on / Diaper Bag (All in one!)
I think I am the Goldielocks of carry-on bags. They are either too big, too small, too heavy, too clunky, void of pockets or just plain ugly. (Don’t we all have visions of ourselves as jet setters; calmly and stylishly traversing the airport with little effort? Ok, maybe that’s just me.) I had accepted defeat and conceded that the only way to successfully accomplish most of the carry-on must-haves was to use a backpack (a real, school days style backpack). And then I found the Fawn Design bag. This beautiful vegan leather bag that (I- kid-you-not) is actually a diaper bag, boasts all of the function of a conventional backpack or diaper bag but with a focus on chic. I love that it can be worn as a backpack, cross body or messenger for those times that you need your hands free or are already carrying something else on your back. The best part!? It is exactly the right size to bring what I need. (Big win for this Goldilocks!)
With these 8 items, you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way during your travels. Headed somewhere tropical and not sure what to wear? Check out my Capsule Wardrobe for Tropical Vacations.
What are your must have travel essentials? I would love to hear what has made your trips easier and what you can’t live without! Leave me a comment below!