Best Clothes for Trips with Kids

Toddler and preschooler sitting on pile of luggage at airport

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Dressing for Travel

Toddler and preschooler sitting on pile of luggage at airport
  • What: Clothing choices for travel
  • When: Any long trip with kids
  • Why: Reduce frustration and pack less
  • Where: On the road or in the air

Traveling with kids, whether by car or plane, involves a lot more effort than throwing my own stuff in a bag and taking off. Over the years and many many trips of varying lengths and kinds, I’ve reached a few solid conclusions about the best clothes to wear and pack while traveling.

Kids silhouetted by window at airport
My kids waiting at the airport in their football jersey and fleece pants.

I always have a change of shirt for myself, and a complete change of clothing including socks and underwear for each kid on board (or not buried in a suitcase in the trunk for car trips) with me. These clothes have come in handy on more than one occasion, like that time my infant vomited on me twice on a ten hour flight, or when we discovered my daughter gets seasick on ferries.

I’ve learned to wear skirts on board when traveling with lap kids. I can barely bend over on an airplane myself, but with a child in my lap (who can weight 35 pounds or more), it’s nearly impossible to reach the floor. My skirt will catch a lot of things that would otherwise fall into the never-neverland underneath the airline seats, and saves me a lot of hassle locating them and picking them up while holding a child in my lap.

Toddler and preschooler sitting on pile of luggage at airport
Two of my kids wearing fleece pants in the same bright color on a trip.

After losing our luggage for two days on a flight this year, I now include a pair of underwear for myself in my carry on luggage on board with me, in addition to a change of shirt. It turns out fresh underwear and two shirts can take you through quite a few days while you wait for your stuff to arrive.

Stroller loaded with stuff for travel including toddler
Our stroller fully loaded during a trip while we waited for our baggage to appear.

I also like to wear layers on top, like a tank top (a nursing one if that’s still applicable) with a t shirt and a fleece or cardigan on top. Multiple layers mean I can toss one if we spill a drink or something liquid explodes (straw sippy cups on airplanes anyone?) and still be decent, and it gives me more control over my comfort when I can’t control the temperature.

Infant wearing baby legs riding in car seat on wheels through airport
My daughter as an infant wearing baby legs riding in her car seat through the airport.

For kids still in diapers, I highly recommend baby legs for attire. They make diaper changes a cinch, since you don’t have to take pants on or off or unsnap anything. They also keep kids the right temperature. If the plane is too hot, you push them down like leg warmers or remove them entirely. For colder flights, they add extra insulation without extra fuss at changing times. For older kids, fleece pants are the only way to go.

Toddler wearing football jersey in front of baggage claim at airport
My son wearing his number 2 jersey during a trip.

If I’m traveling by myself with all the kids, I try to pick out their clothes. I prefer a nice football jersey, because heaven forbid if anyone got lost or separated, it’s easy to say “My kids is wearing such and such team with number 3 on his back” and everyone knows exactly what that looks like. Barring that, I try to dress them all in the same color, normally red, because the bright color makes them easy to pick out even in a crowd. I also try to have a photo of each kid and what they’re wearing that day on my phone, in case they get separated from me.

Child holding baby wearing red shirts
Even the baby gets the same color shirt to make it easy.

While I haven’t lost a kid yet, I’ve found these tricks and tips help me feel less stressed before and during our trips.

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