My first just turned 3 and my twins just turned 18 months so we're in the phase of almost constant evolution when we travel. From everyone in diapers and only the eldest feeding herself to one now potty trained and everyone feeding themselves, albeit at different levels, there's a lot to consider when taking even a weekend trip with little munchkins. Since there are many types of trips, I'm going to address a long weekend trip with an airplane flight.
Here are the essentials I pack in my diaper bag with toddlers.
(And none of these companies has any idea I exist. If they find out I exist, I'd be happy to do a review!)
- Even with toddlers, I still stick to the "onesie & leggings" plan for a change of clothes. They're simple to pack and IF we ran into a situation where a full change of clothes was needed, I wouldn't care if my 3-year old was running around in a bodysuit and Babylegs. Instead of diapers, I pack an extra pair of panties for her.
- I love thin coated bibs for traveling! (these are by I-Play) The bottom folds over to create a little pocket to catch spills and they fold up to almost nothing. They're kind of fabric, kind of plastic. It's hard to describe but the kicker is, they're really thin and I can wipe them off with a napkin or rinse them in a sink or drinking fountain and they'll dry really fast. Thick cloth bibs grab and hold spills and drips, making a mess in the diaper bag.
- The funky looking carrot in the upper RH corner is the Boon dispensing spoon. We bought it on a "let's just try it and pray it works" whim after a trip filled with mixing messy infant cereal at our table, lids popping off the travel bowl in the diaper bag and lost infant spoons. And the thing works great! We lost count of how many parents asked us what the heck it was. It has a little lid that covers the spoon and plugs the hole where the food comes out. So you just pre-mix your stuff, fill the carrot, twist on the spoon/lid and you're done. When it's time to eat you whip it out, pop off the cap, squeeze a little into the spoon and feed. Squeeze - feed - squeeze - feed. If they don't take it all, you just cap it again. For refills, we would take an unopened container of baby food and throw that away after refilling the carrot. We're now at the stage where our girls have outgrown baby food but we put this thing through it's paces for sure! We bought a hot pink one when we had the twins so that both could eat at the same time.
- The sectioned snack cup is great. Never filled with chocolate or sticky stuff that can melt and cause mega messy fingers. As I said in Part 1 of this answer, I don't haul a ton of food with me. I want traveling to be easy and I can always find something my toddlers will eat in an airport. But I never travel without a filled snack container to tide them over.
- A no-spill cup filled with water for each kid. Without handles! The handled ones don't fit in the end pockets of a diaper bag. When they're past the breastfeeding or bottle feeding stage, this is great to hand over as the plane is taking off. The drinking action helps their ears during the pressure change. So does sucking on a little sucker, so I pack a couple of Chupa Chups, my girls' favorite, or Dum-Dums in the bag too. Another perfect travel food is Brother's All-Natural Fruit Crisps. Even without teeth when they just started eating solids, gnawing on the apple slices was great. We buy the big variety boxes at Costco and the slim packs weigh absolutely nothing and are perfect for a quick meal.
- I still include their comfort item (the previously mentioned Lovies, for us) and one small story or I-Spy book. Still no toys. Should we reach tantrum level they'll enjoy something new from a gift shop more than one of their "old" toys. And I haven't yet had to buy anything in a gift shop! The moving sidewalk alone is a world of entertainment! No longer take burp cloths but I still have my neck pouch, hand sanitizer, Stain Stick, lotion and lip balm. Since they're walking, I don't take a thin blanket. Just a sweater for each of them that I can take off and toss in the bag if it gets hot. We still gate check the stroller and only pack the baby carrier in our luggage if we're planning to hike or cover some serious ground in a city.