With two little kids, it is often hard to pack light. Nevertheless, I make it my mission to travel with less whenever possible. One of my secrets to traveling lighter without leaving behind essential kid gear is taking along space-saving versions of items we use daily. If it can fold up, collapse, or inflate, it is probably high on my list.
The space-saving products that have come out in the last several years are impressive. So many of these products are perfect for travel, even on airplanes where extra bags cost you a pretty penny.
(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and a few of the listed products were provided free to me for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own.)
Here are my favorite space-saving products for travel with kids. I’ve personally used most of these, but have included a few well-reviewed extras that have caught my eye too.
1. Bitybean Ultra-Compact Baby Carrier ($54.95)
Baby carriers are travel essentials if you have infants or toddlers. The Bitybean carrier is as small as it gets without sacrificing comfort – it’s the size of a bottle of water and held up well in my family even for a Grand Canyon hike with a squirmy 18 month old. I’m in love – check out my full review of Bitybean if you have any doubts.
2. Bubble Bum Booster Seat ($29.98)
Once your child reaches that magical age of 4 years old and magical weight of 40 pounds, you can leave behind the bulk of air travel with car seats and use a booster instead. I love the Bubble Bum because it is inflatable and can fit in my carry-on or suitcase.
3. mifold Booster Seat ($35; available March 2016)
The Bubble Bum may soon have a serious travel booster competitor in MiFold, which is not yet available in the USA. It looks like it will be the most compact travel booster on the market, and you can now contribute to its IndieGoGo fundraising campaign to be first on the list to get one.
4. Packable Pails ($19.95)
5. KidCo PeaPod Travel Crib ($69.95)
The PeaPod is the most compact toddler travel bed on the market. It’s similar to a small sun tent with a very thin padded mattress that sits underneath the tent. We have used our PeaPod for naps at friend’s houses, at the beach to keep a crawling baby contained, and even as a backup travel bed if we are staying in hotels where we are unsure if a crib will be available. (Note that the PeaPod is only approved for 12 months and up).
6. Shrunks Travel Bed ($58.95)
For slightly older toddlers and younger kids (our 6 year old still fits in hers just fine), this toddler air mattress is a comfortable extra bed solution for hotels, vacation rentals, or grandma’s house. Why pay those expensive rollaway bed fees in hotels anyway?
7. Bago Travel Backpack Daypack ($19.99)
This isn’t exactly a kid product, but it’s a product that travelers with kids may find quite helpful. I often find I need an extra bag as a trip goes on – our family picks up souvenirs and snacks and our while we get lazy about packing our bags as efficiently as we did at the start of a trip. This super-compact backpack is a great option for luggage overflow or simply to use as a daypack on excursions or family outings.
8. Cozy Cover Portable Easy Seat ($18.75)
Unless you want to dine with a toddler on your lap at all times on vacation, having a highchair or travel booster is a nice thing. The Cozy Cover Easy Seat is a super-compact cloth harness that functions as a travel highchair for restaurants or in hotels and condos on vacation. Check out my full review for more details.
9. My Brest Friend Inflatable Nursing Pillow ($23.95)
I was never very good at nursing my kids without a positioning pillow, but all the nursing pillows on the market were so bulky on airplanes. Luckily, this product came out in time for my second child and I took it with me on several trips during my nursing days. It inflates in seconds and makes nursing so much easier, especially at the infant stage where babies can’t hold their own heads up. When I wasn’t traveling, I kept this in my trunk for nursing while out running errands. Highly recommended!
When traveling with babies and toddlers, the work of cleaning those sippy cups, bottles, and breast pump pieces doesn’t stop. This little drying rack with included bottle brush is compact and provides a clean space for your items to dry.
11. Tiny Love Take Along Bouncer ($39.99)
Both of my children spent a lot of their pre-crawling days in bouncy seats – so much so that we bought multiple seats for different places we traveled often. If only this compact bouncy seat perfect for travel had been around earlier! It folds flat and can be thrown in your trunk or even packed in a suitcase for your next trip.
12. Go-Pod by KidCo ($49.95)
My kiddos loved their exersaucers and jumperoos back home, but face it – those are way too large to take on a trip. KidCo has come up with a portable stand up play station that folds similar to a folding chair. This is a particularly useful tool to contain your baby or toddler while you need to take a shower in places that might not be childproofed like a hotel room or at grandma’s house. Attach a few toys and you have instant entertainment with containment.