21 Things Every Parent Needs in a Travel Bag

Every parent knows there are certain things that you absolutely must have when traveling with kids. Here are our top picks that make any vacation easier.

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Plastic Bags

Keep a couple of plastic grocery bags or gallon-size plastic storage bags in your bag. They’re perfect for tossing dirty diapers or when you need to clean up your row just before landing (plastic snack wrappers, everywhere). Just throw all the trash into a plastic bag and toss it out all at once.

Baby Wipes

It doesn’t matter how old your kids are, it’s always a win when you keep a travel-size container of baby wipes in your bag. Kids are messy and whether they’ve spilled their slushie on their shirt or ice cream has melted all over their hands, pre-moistened baby wipes always come in handy when traveling with kids.


This one may not seem obvious, but earbuds are a complete lifesaver when there are competing iPads in a tight hotel room or in the backseat of the minivan during a family road trip. Try LilGadgets BestBuds earbuds. They’re tangle-free and come with a carrying case. Even better, they come with different sizes of earbud tips to ensure a good fit for your child.

Reusable Water Bottle

Are kids ever not thirsty? The short answer is no. So keep at least a half-full reusable water bottle in your travel bag at all times. It really is only the times when you don’t remember to bring along a water bottle while out sightseeing that your kids will have an insatiable thirst, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Portable Charger

You don’t want to be on the road or on a plane with an iPhone with a low battery, or worse, any of the kids’ electronics with low power. Try the Smart Power Basic Portable Charger from ZILU. It’s about the size of a business card and can quickly charge a variety of devices, including most smartphone and tablet brands.

Gift Cards

Round up those gift cards that you have lying around the house that were a thank you for coaching the soccer team or serving as field trip chaperone. Grab a quart-size storage bag to put them in and keep them in your bag so they’re always on hand when you need to make a pit stop during a road trip. It's a great money-saver, too.

Lip Balm With SPF

For long days in the sun SPF protection is a must. But kids and teens might forget to protect their lips, too. Keep lip balm with atleast SPF 15 in the car, in your travel bag, in your coat pocket, in your kids' suitcases. Keep it everywhere.

Sugar Free Chewing Gum

For little ones flying for the first time, changing air pressure popping ears can be a weird and scary feeling. Combat popping ears before take off by chewing gum.


Most grocery stores have a section of travel-size toiletries, including sunblock. Since you may forget about actually applying sunblock until you’re at the beach or the theme park, it’s a wise idea to keep even just a travel-size container in your bag at all times.

Cell Phone

Well, a cell phone is kind of a duh. But, it's something every parent needs in their travel bag less to make phone calls and more to serve as entertainment and a way to help break-up fights, like when one child remembered to power up and bring their tablet on the plane and the other did not. Have at least a few kid-friendly apps and games that don't require a wi-fi connection.


Shh, don’t tell your dentist, but candy is a must-have. Avoid chocolate, so you don’t wind up with a sticky mess at the bottom of your bag. Steer clear of chewy and sour candies too. Instead, opt for sugar-free lollipops to give you a boost or tide over little ones before the next stop on a roadtrip.

Kids Snacks

We all know that kids only become hungry once it's wheels-up and your flight has taken off, even if they literally just ate lunch. It’s just a fact, so always keep a few healthy snack options in your bag. A few good picks include low-sugar granola bars, trail mix and pretzels, as well as pre-packaged peanut butter crackers.

Hand Sanitizer

Kids are always touching and picking up things that aren’t as clean as you might like them to be, especially when you travel and are out exploring new places. Keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer with you at all times. As a bonus, you can use hand sanitizer to clean up minor cuts and scrapes when in a pinch.

Facial Tissues

There’s always a need to have a pocket pack of facial tissues in your bag. One of the kids will have a runny nose, a bloody nose, a need to spit out their gum, or some combination of all three, but only after the plane doors have shut and you can't get out of your seats. Pick up a 12- or 36-pack at the nearby superstore before you leave for a trip.

First Aid Kit

One of your kids will get a blister on a hike or trip in the hotel parking lot and scrape their knee, so save yourself the trouble and put together a first aid kit to keep in your bag. Toss in a few bandages of different sizes, a little gauze and some antibiotic ointment, as well as a children’s pain reliever.

Kids Sunglasses

Most of us can remember to put on sunglasses when we go outside for a day of sightseeing or to play at the beach, but kids aren’t quite as good at this. Unless you want to give up your own sunglasses or keep hearing about how bright it is outside, it’s a wise idea to keep a couple of extra pairs of gender-neutral kids sunglasses in your bag.

Bluetooth Headset

You’re pulling two suitcases down the concourse while holding one of your child’s hands when the phone rings and you realize it's deep in your bag. Combat the airport hustle with a Bluetooth headset. It allows for multi-tasking at its finest while in transit with your kids.

Hand Lotion

Hand lotion is what every parent needs in their travel bag, especially in drying airplane cabins. Try Gold Bond Ultimate Hand Sanitizer Moisturizer for a hand location and a hand sanitizer all in one. Even better, hand lotion will double as a hair gel when you need some for you or your kids on the fly.

Small Swim Towel

Add a small microfiber swim towel to your bag, like a colorful one from Aurorae Aqua. They’re super absorbent and are perfect for cleaning up spills and drying hands. They’re a lifesaver when traveling with kids who don’t like the loud hand dryers in public restrooms.

Fast Food Toys

It’s tempting to toss them out, but hold onto a few of the toys you pick up in kids’ meals at fast food restaurants, particularly if you want your kids to have some screen-free time during a family road trip. These small plastic toys can keep your kids entertained, at least until you get to the next exit on the highway.

Hair Ties

Bring along a few hair bands, if only so you can open the car windows without hearing from the kids in the very back that they’re getting too much wind. Just toss them a rubber band to pull their hair back. Sometimes something as small as this can bring peace to the minivan when road tripping as a family.

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