carry on items

Carry On: 15 Items to Pack for Kids

These 15 items can fit in your carry on when traveling with kids

(Updated 04/14/2021) – As a parent of 2 children (7 yo & 4 yo), I’m always looking for ways to improve our travel experience, especially when flying.  If you don’t come prepared on the plane, it can make for a LONG flight.  I have learned a few hard lessons along the way (e.g. my son not making it to the toilet mid flight), so why not learn from my mistakes!  LOL!  Here is a list of items I pack in my carry-on luggage to help improve any child disaster that is thrown at me.

My carry-on luggage of choice is a durable backpack.  Not only can I fit a ton of stuff in it (which has lots of different pockets), but it is easier to carry and store on the plane.  I also have my kiddos carry their own backpacks so I’m not stuck with the whole load.  So let’s get started…..

  • Face Masks – These are required if you are flying on commercial airlines. I packed three (3) face masks per person on our last trip. We have lost a few face masks or they just get stinky after continued use especially if you don’t have access to a wash machine. I also add a few drops of essential oils to keep them smelling fresh.
  • Medicine – Our daughter has a peanut allergy so an epi-pen and benadryl is crucial.  We also pack a small amount of liquid children’s ibuprofen and children’s dramamine.  I also pack a small bottle of ibuprofen, and sinus-cold tablets. I’ve flown a few times without these and it made for a LONG flight.
  • Empty Re-Useable Water bottles – This a great tip to save some extra money.  Make sure your bottle is empty before going through security.  After security, most airports have a water fountain or filling station for water bottles.  Our kids can’t wait for beverage service so this is a great fix.
  • Small blankets – We let the kids bring along their favorite blanket and have them packet in their backpack.
  • Snacks – No matter how many meals I give our kids, they are always hungry on the plane.  It could be a 1 hour flight and they just ate before we boarded, and will still be hungry!  I usually pack goldfish crackers, string cheese, apple slices, carrot sticks, or anything else I have in the house. Plus, some airports are still not that busy because of COVID. Which means that not all restaurants are open to grab food.
  • Extra clothes – As I mentioned earlier, accidents can happen!  I usually pack a shirt, pants, underwear, and socks (for myself too).  Even if your kids are beyond the potty training years, spills can happen.  Plus, you never know, the airline could lose your luggage, or cancel your flight. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that you have a back-up change of clothes?
  • Wipes – I usually pack 2 kinds of wipes: antibacterial and flushable wipes.  You can get travel size packs at any store and they are perfect size for your backpack.  The antibacterial I use to wipe down the tray table and arm rests. We are in the middle of a pandemic so any extra sanitation is helpful.  My kids can be messy and sometimes other people leave messes too.
  • Plastic bags – These have come in handy some many times I can’t keep track.  They can fit in just about any pocket of your backpack, and I usually pack 2 or 3.  They are great for garbage, wet clothes, carrying souvenir, etc.
  • Ziploc bags with sliders – I usually pack 2 gallon size and 2 quart size.  The airline usually provides a snack so I will empty the snacks into the ziploc bag for the kids hold.  Otherwise half the snacks fall on the floor, between the seats, or other random places.  They come in handy when we aren’t on the plane.  We have used them to store left over food from restaurants (grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, etc) while on the go.
  • Cell Phone / Tablet charger – Nothing is worse than being stuck in an airport with only 5% battery remaining.  As I mentioned earlier, if your flight is delayed or cancelled it is peace of mind to know you have it. I also pack a few extra battery packs too.
  • Print your travel reservations – I know there is an app for everything, but what happens if you lose your phone?  My husband has experienced this twice in his travels.  He was so glad he had back-up documents printed and in his backpack.
  • Photocopies of Passport – Driver’s License – Birth Certificate – Once again, if these important documents go missing how do you prove who you are?  My copies never leave my backpack, even after I return home.
  • Pull-ups (if necessary) – Our son is potty trained but still requires one at night.  As I mentioned earlier, your flight could be cancelled and delayed…you never know!
  • Dollar Tree treats – I usually try to find some new little toys to bring along.  The kids are excited because it’s new, and I may get 5 minutes to unwind!
  • First Aid kit / Sewing Kit – My kids always seem to manage a cut or 2 when traveling.  A travel size first aid kit can be found at most big box stores. Again, a travel size sewing kit is perfect for those lost buttons or broken zippers.

There you have it!  It may seem like too much to pack but I have some how managed to fit it all in my backpack with room to spare.  On most trips, I usually use about 95% of the items listed above.

What items do you always pack in your carry-on when traveling with kids? Visit my other blog post, 12 Tips when Flying with Kids.  

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