discover purely mommy.

A cheekily honest documentation of my mission to achieve peak #mindfulmotherhood status. Purely me. Purely Mommy. 

  • Kelsey Hogan

My Top Tips for Traveling with Littles

Updated: Sep 4, 2018

Since my husband works out of a Chicago suburb and our family is currently based in Detroit, my son and I recently traveled to Schaumburg, IL to spend time with Daddy during the week. This meant staying in a small, stale, corporate one-bedroom apartment (think brown walls, brown carpet...just brown) with said Daddy and toddler for (gasp!) a week, in a new-to-us city.

As a (mostly) SAHM, my top priority at home or away is to fill the days while hubby works. Being trapped in a small space with a 2.5-year-old all day? No gracias.

Pre-planning for this kind of trip is critical. And guess what? I’ve done the dirty work for ya! Here’s a quick list of some of my top tips for traveling with a little(s) in a new town. Now, we were basically on a business trip with my husband, but these ideas are mostly universal for your varying travel scenarios.

1.) airbnb-It

When traveling with littles, I find it SO much more convenient to stay in an AirBNB type situation over a hotel. The amenities - including working kitchens, washer/dryers, separate bedrooms, etc. - for families are just better. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a luxury suite with a view, but that’s better suited for travel sans kiddos, IMHO.

2.) #TargetRun

Once we arrive, we do an inventory of the space, and then pretty much immediately, a Target Run. I like to stock up on all the essentials: soft toilet paper (to replace the generic hard stuff. Your bum with thank you); small toys like coloring books that can be used as fun “surprises” in case of emergency, #ALLTHESNACKS, a case of bottled water, air freshening spray (big fan of Febreze ONE - no aerosols, dyes, or heavy perfumes), anything else you forgot to pack from home, and of course, a Starbucks for mommy. I’m not even a Starbucks person, but when traveling without my Keurig, I hop right on that basic train. Choo Choo girls!

2.) Pack His Pillow (and Yours)

Ok, so this might sound like a no-brainer, but when the rush of getting ready to leave is in full swing, it’s sometimes easy to remember such simple items. I ALWAYS make sure to check and double-check that I bring every comfort of my son’s at-home bed (currently a crib) with us to our new destination so that I can recreate this familiar setting for him. This list includes: the two blankets he always sleeps with, lovey, Fishies (a.k.a. His aquarium-themed soother), sound machine, pillow, bedtime stories, and sheets (depending what his bed situation will be). The more homey the feel, the better naps and sleep we get!

all the comforts of home in a makeshift closet bedroom!

And, don’t forget your own pillow as well! I know I have issues getting comfy without my special mama pillow and am forced to use the generic ones found on most beds.

3.) Google and Facebook Are Your New Besties

I literally search “parks near me” on Google and start scrolling the list. The user-uploaded photos make is super easy to see what the park is all about, and if it’s a fit for my little family.

Another great resource is local mommy Facebook groups. I try to join a couple in advance of traveling. This way, I can ask questions about top local attractions and have ideas of where and what to do before we even arrive. And, if anything pops up during the trip, I have a bevy of local experts at my disposal. #ItTakesAVillage

4.) Practice Flexibility and Patience

No, I’m not talking about yoga poses (though bringing your mat to practice during nap time isn’t an entirely awful idea!), I’m talking about approaching each day with an open attitude about what might come your way.

We all know kiddos tend to act a little cuckoo when they aren’t in their regular setting (they can’t help it, you guys! Their little brains are trying to process and take everything in as much as they can). I always find that I need extra patience when we’re away from home, and I like to remind myself of this...often. I really try to be go-with-the-flow and just enjoy the adventure that is travel.

We all have our moments. Trust. I do too. So, just be mindful. Know that everything (probably) won’t go as planned. Don’t let your stress rub off on the littles. That’s a recipe for disaster, as we all know.

5.) Double-Stock that Diaper Bag

Or, as I like to call it, my mommy kit; An amazing backpack that has room for pretty much everything. I was pretty much rid of the whole diaper bag scenario until my toddler started potty training, but when traveling, I always bust it back out. Here’s a quick list of the items I include:

  • Extra pull-ups, underwear, diapers (whatever stage your child is in)

  • At least one full change of clothes, including socks and shoes (more pants for us, because potty training)

  • Antibacterial hand wipes and diaper wipes; anti-bac hand spray (I like EO brand)

  • Sunscreen / Hat / Bug Spray


  • Extra water for everyone (or drink of choice)

  • Cash

  • Favorite toys

  • ...what else?

send wipes. and then, more wipes. and a new shirt.

Basically, pretend you are heading to a deserted island, and pack for that ;)

After a week in Schaumburg, IL, I can’t say that I’m not relieved to be home - in our own house, own beds, with all our toys and clothes and showers with water pressure. Despite my preconceptions about the trip, Reese and I had SO.MUCH.FUN. And props to myself for my in-advance prepping per the list above, we were not at a loss for things to do, or ever unprepared in a kiddo emergency (i.e. - my shoes are sandyyyy) type scenario. Win, win!

I hope this helps you for any upcoming trips! What else are your must-haves for travel with littles? I am always looking for new ideas.

Until next time ladies...