Going on holiday with a toddler can be — let’s face it — a bit of a challenge.
Many toddlers struggle a little bit outside of their normal routines and environments, so when you’re on a trip away from home, you really want to be well prepared to avoid any serious meltdowns and tantrums.
We’ve put together this staycation packing list for toddlers to help you get organised and double check that you have everything ready before you go. We’re sure that we’re not the only family to go away only to discover that we’ve left a load of essentials at home…
Unlike going abroad where you’re generally constrained by luggage limits, you can be a little more flexible when you’re on a staycation. Obviously, you don’t want to pack your whole life into the car, but you can afford to bring a few extra changes of clothes, or their sleep routine essentials, for instance.
Of course, you may not need to bring everything on this toddler packing list — adapt it to your child’s needs as well as the place that you’re staying. You’re going to need a lot less when you’re staying at a hotel that’s already well set up for toddlers versus camping or staying in a caravan.
A Toddler Packing List for Staycations
- 1 full outfit for each day
- 1-2 full outfit change of clothes for each day (including socks, pants if necessary and any jumpers/cardigans)
- Seasonal attire — hat, gloves, scarf, sunhat, sunglasses
- Occasion-appropriate shoes — wellies, trainers, sandals
- Season-appropriate outerwear — winter coat, summer jacket, puddlesuit
Exactly how many outfits to pack is often a sticking point when it comes to packing. It can seem ridiculous to pack three full outfits for each day you’re away but we all know how messy toddlers can get…
A rule of thumb we stick to is to pack 1 main outfit for each day and then between 1 to 2 full changes of clothes for each day. Then you’re covered in case they get muddy or spontaneously vomit everywhere (why does this always happen on holiday?).
If you’re low on space, then maybe only take 1 change of clothes per day. If you’re potty training or your toddler is a very messy eater, then consider taking 2 per day instead. Or you could mix it up and go somewhere in between.
Another possible issue with packing outfits is the unpredictability of British weather.
Unlike going abroad to Southern Europe, for instance, you don’t want to rely on good weather and only pack summer dresses for your little one. We’d recommend a good mix of short and full length outfits if you’re travelling in Spring and Summer, as well as elements you can use to layer.
Even if you’re expecting good weather, we’d recommend taking a light jacket and puddlesuit — the latter will keep your toddler dry if there’s a downpour or they find a big juicy puddle to jump in. You may also want to consider bringing wellies or trainers if you’re hoping to do some walking. And, of course, you’ll want a sunhat and sunglasses if the sun does decide to shine!
If you’re going away in Autumn and Winter, make sure you take a warm coat and gloves, hat and scarf. You can buy winter puddlesuits that are warmer than the normal thin, waterproof ones — or you could simply put a coat on top of your usual one.
- Travel cot
- Bedding to fit travel cot – sheets, pillow and duvet if used
- Suitable tog sleeping bag (plus 1 spare)
- Pyjamas – 1 set per every 2 nights, plus 2 spares
- Dummy (plus 1 spare)
- White noise machine
- Portable black-out blind
- Bedtime book
One of the best ways to ensure a good staycation with your toddler is to make sure that they sleep and nap well.
That means keeping them in as close to their normal routines as possible — and recreating those routines as best you can.
So, if you normally make sure that their bedroom is completely dark, read them a story before bed, play a white noise machine, and allow them to use a dummy and a comforter in their bed, make sure that you take with you a portable black-out blind, their favourite bedtime book, white noise machine and their comfort items.
Contact the place you’re staying beforehand to see whether they provide cots and bedding before you go — you’ll be surprised at the number of places that do. Some hotels even have black-out blinds already installed.
The number of pyjamas you should bring is another open-ended question. We’d recommend bringing as many sets as you’d normally use — so if you normally change their pyjamas every other night, bring that many plus a couple of spares in case of accidents.
- Nappy cream
- Poo bags
- Portable changing mat
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Bubble bath/body wash
- Shampoo and conditioner
It can be easy to forget about toddler toiletries when we compare them to our own regimes, but there are definitely a number of essentials you should be bringing with you.
If your toddler isn’t potty trained yet, one of the bulkiest and most important things to bring is nappies.
Exactly how many to bring will wholly depend on your child and how much they usually need changing — use your experience to determine exactly how many to bring. And make sure there are some spare at the end of the pack!
Of course, if you’re staying in a town or nearby somewhere you can easily buy nappies, don’t feel pressured to over pack. They take up a lot of room and are, generally speaking, very easily found in most places around the UK. If you’re going into the wilderness, you may want to be a bit more liberal in your packing…
Aside from the usual accoutrements you need with a toddler in nappies, we’d also recommend bringing a portable changing mat. This just makes everything a bit more hygienic when you’re changing on-the-go — and protects your car seats if you need to change them in the car!
Other essentials include toothbrush, toddler toothpaste and anything you normally use to wash them — you may need to adjust this depending on whether the place you’re staying has a bath or shower. Many hotels provide toiletries to guests, but only a few will have child-friendly toiletries so it’s best to bring your own.
Make sure to pack child suncream if you’re travelling in Spring and Summer or expecting a lot of sun.
- Portable high chair
- Toddler cutlery
- Toddler plate
- Toddler cup
- Snacks (bring more than you think you’ll need!)
- Washable bibs
Whether you need to bring much ‘eating gear’ for your toddler when you’re on a staycation will really depend on your toddler.
Some young children really need their familiar gear — cup, plate, cutlery etc — to be comfortable enough to eat in new surroundings, whereas some are much more flexible. Judge your child and pack accordingly.
Check with the place you’re staying as to whether they provide high chairs or not — many do and that will keep you from having to bring your own. Similarly, child-friendly restaurants and pubs will provide these if you’re planning on eating meals out.
Thankfully, most toddlers are at the stage where they can more or less eat the same things as we do so you don’t need to deal with bringing all your own food like you may have to do during the weaning stage.
But one thing you should be bringing — and a lot of — is snacks.
We like to think of snacks as magic that can really save a holiday and avert even the worst of tantrums! Bring your kid’s favourites and it’ll bring them some comfort if they’re feeling out of sorts in a new environment or routine.
Bringing entertainment for your toddler on holiday may feel a bit ‘icky’ for some people.
But we know that a bored toddler = a big handful.
While many staycations will be packed with activities and walks to entertain all the family, chances are that you’re going to want some downtime occasionally. That goes for your toddler too.
You don’t need to bring the contents of your playroom, but a few things to keep them occupied — colouring books, normal books, maybe a tablet — can really help tide them over during quieter moments, like if you’re waiting for meals in a restaurant, for instance.
Or setting off on a long drive…
There are some companies out there that make amazing travel entertainment packs that we always bring with us on holidays and staycations.
KeepEmQuiet is one such company, selling drawstring bags full to the brim with age appropriate activities for your child. Keep them closed until you need them so there’s a real novelty and curiosity when they do finally get to open them.
The merits and downsides of tablets and screentime could be debated all day, but we think they’re a must-have when you’re travelling with toddlers. Download a bunch of their favourite programmes before you go and you’ve got a failsafe option to keep them occupied when you need some downtime.
Toddlers tend to have two speeds — loads of energy or dead on their feet.
When you’re on a staycation, you want to make sure that you’re prepared for both.
If your toddler is at the stage where they like to run everywhere and haven’t yet grasped road safety, we’d definitely recommend a leash or reins when you’re out and about. This gives them a sense of freedom but you the security that they’re nearby and can be quickly pulled from any danger if necessary.
You’ll also want to bring support for when they finally tire themselves out — whether that’s a pushchair or a toddler carrier. You may be able to forgo these if you’re content to carry them around and you don’t intend on doing too much walking.
Older toddlers may be better suited to taking a scooter or bike if they’re not happy in their pushchair anymore.
So that’s our complete staycation packing list for toddlers — do you have anything to add?
Head over to our advice section for more tips on travelling with a toddler!