I have worked over the past year traveling with my baby and now toddler to streamline my own carry-on bag with her’s so that I have only one bag to travel with, rather than two. It’s definitely useful to have two separate bags if you really need to bring a lot of different travel gear (such as breast pumping gear). However, on trips such as my recent one solo (e.g. without extra muscles and hands) with baby from Johannesburg to Chicago (including a 10-hour layover in Abu Dhabi), I really wished I only had one bag to lug around and worry about in addition to baby, rather than two.
So, this list is meant to be short and compact so that you can easily contain your belongings in a smaller travel bag organized within a larger travel-friendly diaper bag to make life much easier when you are en route. Sorry dad’s, I don’t mean to exclude you. You can use this as a guide, as well, minus the cosmetics (unless you’re into drag, which is fine by me), and of course the breast pumping gear.
2) Lap-top (if you’re traveling for work or really need it, otherwise consider opting for something smaller like a Kindle Fire or ipad if you just want space-saving reading material)
4) Writing utensils (2-3 pens for immigration documents, etc.) in an easily accessible top/ outside pocket
5) Cosmetics bag (lip gloss, refreshing face wipes, moisturizing eye drops, travel size of face moisturizer)- keep it simple! I like to use a sturdy, reusable bag to keep all of the liquids organized in the carry-on. I use one for baby’s liquid items, as well as one separate one for my own liquid cosmetics, both of which go in an easily accessible pocket in the carry-on diaper bag.
6) One lightweight, packable change of clothes (undergarments, dress/ pants +shirt) in case checked bags get lost or if you have a long lay-over. Consider a small compression sack to keep the spare change of clothes compact to save space.
7) A lightweight large shawl (if you are breastfeeding/ pumping)
8) Breast pump gear (only if you plan on pumping during travel or will need to pump on arrival for work and don’t want to risk not having the pump in case of lost checked baggage; I find it cumbersome to bring it along in a carry-on, and it probably will not fit into a diaper bag if you’re trying to streamline, so will need to carry it separately, which means another bag to keep track of. Consider just bringing a small manual pump and storage bags if you need to pump through air travel)