Toddler Travel Organizer

Bambino and I have done a lot of flying together -- about every other month since he was born. Before our first international trip, I'd been thinking about making a travel organizer to keep the essentials at hand while on the plane.  Before a trip to Minnesota, I made one to try it out.  It was a fantastic tool!  I made a second one -- slightly improved -- for my niece who traveled to the UK and Ireland a month later.  My sister said she loved it, too.  So, here are the instructions for you to make your own Organizer and Play Center for the plane.


Bambino using the Toddler Travel Center mid-flight


  • a hanging toiletries organizer: I bought mine at Target and chose one with lots of pockets (partly to stash stuff in and partly for Bambino to play with)
  • 4 yards of grosgrain ribbon in various colors
  • 2 yards of trims
  • 1 package of 1" (or wider) elastic
  • 1 package of Goody Ouchless Elastics
  • A sewing machine and thread or a glue gun

Time Required: one good nap (by the baby, not you, sadly)

This project took me about 90 minutes.

Cost: about $30

A Note: Most of what I did, you could do with a glue gun. It wouldn't be as permanent, but it would work.  So, those of you who don't sew, don't despair.

Toiletries organizer as purchased

Zipper pulls replaced

All finished and ready to go!

How To

1. Replace the zipper pulls.  The pulls on the zippers were rather chintzy and probably a choking hazard, so I replaced them with ribbon which I sewed into a loop and then tied into a knot. They are now about the right size for little fingers to grab, and I'm not worried about him chewing on them at all.

2. Make 2 strips of ribbon with loops.    Here's where you can use the Goody elastics, the trims, and some of that fun ribbon.  The measurements will depend on the size of the organizer you use, and there are lots of different ways to make them.  But those loops are great for hanging toys and other necessities from, and they are also just fun to play with for little hands.  I made several versions of these strips...

Once made, I sewed these into the folds of the organizer.

3.  Sew ribbons to the top for tying.  So, here's how you hang the organizer when you are on the plane -- and they also tie it closed when it is packed up in the diaper bag.

Cut 2 pieces of ribbon -- 1 yard each in length.

Hem each end of the ribbon to prevent fraying.

Fold each ribbon in half.

Sew one to each of the top corners of the organizer.

When you are on the plane, tie these ribbons to the tray table in front of you or the child -- the organizer will hang easily and can't be pulled off or dropped.

4. Make an elastic garter (optional).  You can tie the organizer shut with the ribbons, but it also might be helpful to have an elastic belt to cinch it shut in a hurry.  Additionally, you could hang the organizer from the elastic if your child is in a rear facing car seat on the plane.

Cut a 24" piece of elastic.

Sew the ends together.

5.  Load it up! I filled mine with toys and books, snacks, diapers, hand sanitizer, pacifiers, and wipes -- everything that you may need to keep from having to dive back into the diaper bag over and over again.


A few notes: I needed this to be a fast project, so I cut a few corners, but the end product didn't suffer.  I chose one thread color -- in my case turquoise. When the thread was going to be obvious, I used the fancy stitches (that I never use!) on my machine. And the end result is pretty cute. 

I hemmed the ribbon anywhere I could to keep it from fraying.  That's one place where you could save some time.  You could use an anti-fraying product, a glue gun, or even pinking shears instead.

Enjoy!  And if you make one, I'd love to see a photo!

First published on my travel blog: Pining for Rome: Travel Organizer and Play Center