Solo Mama + Toddler Travel Gear

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Backpacking with Toddler

Carry on only Solo Mama style! Note- my jean tote bag is holding the Eddie Bauer backpack in it while at the airport.

I’ve been traveling internationally with my little man since he was 6 months old.  Not much has changed, except that I bring even less stuff now!

I’ve written in the past about what I packed when I backpacked around Europe for nearly a month, or really any of my December trips that are always about 3 weeks. I always just use my Osprey Porter 46.  The difference is that before, I would always travel with photography gear, a laptop, an ipad, or other electronics and now I leave most of that stuff behind so that I can pack stuff for my baby.

For the past few trips I feel like I have finally found my groove.  Now, my main bag is still my Osprey Porter, but instead of using a Timbuk2 messenger (still love these for work) as my “personal item” I carry an Eddie Bauer daypack. When S was a lap baby I would either gate check my stroller or forgo a “personal item” and bring the GB Pockit Stroller into the plane as my second item.

The following is a list of stuff that I brought with us to go for 3 weeks around Vietnam.  Now that S gets his own seat on the plane I feel like we will be traveling with this same gear for the next couple of years:

GB Pockit Stroller

I bought this because it is only 9.5, has a quality build, I can push it one-handed, and it folds up so small that I can put it into a tote bag and take it on the plane with me! I love that this can come on the plane so we don’t have to wait for the crew to bring it when we land- half of the time in Indonesia we have to collect it with the luggage anyway. We can also use it going through the airport (especially immigration lines!) and it is so lightweight that it is a breeze to take through the metro stations (even if I have to lug it up a bunch of stairs like I did in Taiwan).

Ergo 360 Baby Carrier

My friend got this for me at my baby shower along with the infant insert.  I’ve used it since my baby was a couple of weeks old until this very day (at 2+ years old).  I believe we can continue wearing it until he is 30lbs and then I hope to transfer him to a toddler carrier.  It is so much easier to travel with a toddler on your back in SE Asia because sidewalks are usually impassible for strollers.  Just be sure to get the one with the “Cool Air Mesh” to help with the airflow if you live in a hot and humid country like Indonesia!


Osprey Porter 46 pic taken in 2015 before my big Europe trip

Osprey Porter 46

I have had this for several years and I can pack for a long weekend or a month… and now my son and I share it! The trick to packing less to plan on washing clothes more often.  If you give your kid a bath every night as part of his bedtime ritual (showers count too) then it isn’t a problem to wash a couple items of clothing.  If you are in a low cost of living country then it is usually pretty easy to pay by the kilo to have your clothes washed at an affordable price too.  I really cannot say enough great things about this bag!

Eddie Bauer daypack

I use this instead of a diaper bag and purse on both the airplane and on the go once we arrive at our destination city.  A few diapers, a change of clothes (for both of us), a kindle, passports, wallet, phones (I retired my old iPad and gave my son my old phone to watch Daniel Tiger on while we are on those 15-hour flights), baby books, water, and snacks. Watch for sales because I’m pretty sure I got this for about $15.

eBags Packing Cubes

I have always loved packing cubes, but now they are even more critical since I share my bag with S.  I used to keep tops and bottoms separate in different cubes, but now I simply put all of my clothes in one and his in a smaller one. Our socks, underwear, and my bras go in the netted fabric of the backpack. I’ve been lusting after the Eagle Creek Compression packing cubes for several years, but these eBags cubes are still in pristine condition after a few years so I haven’t pulled the trigger on them yet.

Hanging Toiletry Bag

I had a larger name-brand bag for about 5 years but it eventually busted over the past summer so I used the opportunity to buy this smaller bag and streamline my toiletry case (which I now share with my son).  I always keep my toiletry bag stocked with toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, BB cream, mascara, facewash bar, shampoo, conditioner, and baby head-to-toe wash. When I get home I refill the containers so I won’t run out of anything on my next trip. Note- when I go on my long trips I sometimes switch out my liquid shampoo for a shampoo bar because that tends to last longer.

What Do I Typically Pack for 3 weeks

2 pairs of capris

1 long pant

1 skinny jean (wear it on plane)

1 dress

1 tunic shirt

2 t-shirts

1 tank top

1 long sleeve (usually wear this on the plane)

1 jacket (wear on the plane)

5 underwear

2 bras (wear one on the plane)

1 set of PJs (typically athletic shorts and tank that could be used for a workout)

1 pair of Birkenstocks (generally wear this on the plane)

1 flip flop (only if I plan on staying in hostels or going to the beach a lot, otherwise only birkis)

1 bathing suit (or 2 if we are doing several days at a beach)

1 sarong

1 iPhone

1 kindle with cover

For Toddler (he gets them dirty and they are small so I bring more clothes for him)

3 pants

3 shorts

5 short sleeve shirts

2 long sleeve shirts

2 pairs of pjs

1 rashguard

1 swim trunks

1 reusable cloth swim diaper

1 sunhat

12 diapers (this is usually enough to go for a few days and then I buy on arrival)

Small pack of wipes

1 pair of sneakers (he wears these on the plane so the crocs don’t fall off and get lost accidentally)

1 pair of crocs

3 books

Old iphone

1 small hot wheels car

My goal is to pack light but still have everything that we might need. It has been working for us so far and each time I try to pack less!  Now that I have a toddler, the fight is not about clothes, but about how many toys we can take.

Please comment below! Do you travel carry on only too? What are your favorite travel must-haves? 


2 responses to “Solo Mama + Toddler Travel Gear

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