6 things we never leave the house without when traveling with kids


Our kids are under three. There are some essentials that you’ll always find in our bag when we leave the house during our trips.

We’re not including food items in this list, because we find it more fun to shop for snacks together as a family when traveling. The boulangerie is a field trip, not a task.

It goes without saying that we bring water and diapers. Hydration gives small folk that youthful glow. One of them poops in their pants.

Without further ado, the stuff in our Mary Poppins bag:

6 things we never Leave the house without when traveling with kids

1. Pen and paper

If you’re in a cafe or restaurant and you need to buy five minutes, give the little one a pen and a small drawing notebook. Pens are more fun than crayons because they seem  like they’re for parents, not tykes. We all know anything off limits is more desirable.  We vote for retractable pens because they have fun click-y parts that may prove more entertaining than drawing. Also, you won’t lose the cap.

2. Stickers

Break out the stickers when you want to sit in a cafe or restaurant for more than 30 minutes without using a screen. Dolphins. Dinos. Horses. Farm animals. Butterflies. Food stickers. Even place setting stickers. Our kids have gone through many phases, we just bring whichever hobby they’re currently over the moon about. Or something we can loop in to the restaurant concept. Don’t despair when the stickers are gone. Just break out the pen again and draw scenes around their collage and story tell together.

3. Wipes

When aren’t those small folk oozing something or spilling something? When aren’t they figuring something out by poking, smushing, or climbing? A dirty kid is a kid who is having fun. From face to bum + foreign surfaces we go through a lot of wipes.

When traveling, you often need to go from the park or other adventure to a restaurant, or some other venue change. Instead of going all the way back to base camp to freshen, wipe up their faces and put on a fresh shirt (see #6). If your kid’s skin is as sensitive as our daughter’s, you’ll want to spring for the gentle wipes like Burt’s Bees.

4. Bubbles

We like to deploy bubbles in any small patch of grass or concrete where there’s enough room to chase them. They’re particularly useful if your kids needs to stretch his/her tiny legs but is more interested in tackling their sibling or whining. It’s a joyful, welcome distraction. It attracts a swarm of kids. Our favorite brand is Pustefix, because they really work. A fairy probably dies every time a kid tries to blow a bubble and can’t.

5. Toy or book for sharing

It’s usually our plush beagle pup, a dino, an inflatable globe ball, or a car. We bring them to playgrounds and restaurants (except the ball!) because they make a nice way to start a convo with. If you’re up for enforcement… we mean teaching… you practice the ins and outs of sharing.

6. Back up outfit

We believe that a kid who’s having fun is going to get dirty. Let them. But because we’re in the situation where we go from park to restaurant (or any other venue that requires respectable attire) we bring a back up clean outfit. One of our favorite brands is Tea Collection for “world citizens” because they have beautiful prints on highly washable fabrics. They also do sensible layers and source ethically.

Another option is to dress kids in park play suits for the messy fun, and remove that before the restaurant or show. That works in cool weather when layering is comfortable.

Lead image: Ecological Cabas tote by Veja

About author

Small Folk Travel

Small Folk Travel is a family travel site by mama and travel writer Taraneh Jerven. The Jerven family (two toddlers, one bun in the oven) travels incessantly. When researching our trips, we couldn't find the family travel coverage we were looking for. We did our own research. We wrote the family travel guides ourselves. Taraneh Jerven writes for international travel publishers including RoughGuides.com and DK Eyewitness Travel. We cover good stuff for discerning parents and their little ones. Often these overlap. If they don't, we take turns.

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