Tips When Packing Kids Carry-on Luggage

traveltips for traveling with children

Traveling with kids can be stressful. Just ask me. The first time I traveled alone with all four of my kids they were 6 and under. I had a nursing baby, 2 toddlers, and a barely 6 year-old that was afraid to fly. We were traveling cross country with two (yes two!) layovers. To say I was stressed and unprepared was an understatement. To this day I know I was only able to survive due to the kindness of strangers and an understanding flight crew. The kids were totally well behaved during the flight but I was not prepared with things to keep them busy during the layovers. If only I used these Tips When Packing Kids Carry-on Luggage  then, my hair might not have started turning gray at such a young age.

Tips When Packing Kids Carry-on Luggage

Tips for Packing Kids Carry-on Luggage

A properly packed carry-on is the most important part of making a plane ride run smoothly when traveling with your kids. Most airlines allow one carry-on per passenger, so when you pack a carry-on bag for your kids keep in mind the different needs that may arise while traveling. With the baggage fees some airlines have it is especially important to pack smart, avoid stress and save money. This is what my girls have in their carry-ons for our summer vacation this year. Here are my Tips When Packing Kids Carry-on Luggage.

Travel Essentials

The first thing that I put into my kid’s backpack is a change of clothes; you never know what might happen while traveling. A spilled drink while eating lunch while waiting for a connecting flight, an upset stomach, or lost luggage when you arrive will all necessitate a change of clothing. I also include a gallon Ziploc with smaller Ziplocs that will hold hygiene items such as toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush with hair ties attached (see picture), and any other necessary personal hygiene items for each child (deodorant, glasses, tissues, chap-stick, wet wipes, retainer, etc.). I also have a gallon Ziploc with an assortment of smaller size Ziplocs inside of it in the front pocket of the backpack. These have endless uses including but not limited to holding wet clothes or keeping leftover snacks fresh. Last but not least I throw in a pair of socks, even if the kids are wearing sandals or flip-flops. You never know when small feet will get cold and need to be covered.

Tips for Packing Kids Carry-on Luggage


If you have little kids bring empty spill-proof cups and straws to fill after you get through security. My girls are bigger so we just buy bottled water once we are waiting for our plane. Pack crackers, granola bars, pretzels and dried fruit for easy snacks that don't need to be kept cold. I like to put them all into another Ziploc (are you seeing a pattern yet?).

Tips for Packing Kids Carry-on Luggage


Kids of all ages are glued to electronic devices. Each of my girls has a Kindle that they like to bring when they travel. It works two-fold for having books to read and games to play. Most airports have free Wi-Fi service and many of the airlines now offer Wi-Fi service, which works perfectly while in the air for movies if you have an online service like Netflix or Cable-On-Demand. Make sure you pack headphones for quiet enjoyment.

Tips for Packing Kids Carry-on Luggage

Other Amusements

My kids like to be off of their electronics as much as they like to be on them so I make sure that they have plenty of other options to help keep them busy. I always pack crayons, pads of paper (not loose leaf-less mess), and stickers so they can draw or color. Since they were little, my girls have always liked to draw a picture for the stewardesses and the pilots to say Thank-you for the safe flight. I also put a card game, a small non-messy craft that doesn't need glue, tape, or scissors, and a small toy of some sort. I recently found these Play-Doh Makeables that are small kits with just enough Play-Doh to make one or two small items. After the girls make them and are finished playing we place them in a Ziploc bag. They are fun, not messy at all, and the perfect size for the carry-on.

Tips for Packing Kids Carry-on Luggage

The pictures here are of the actually things that we are taking with us tomorrow when we leave for a family trip. It may seem like a lot (Ziploc with clothes not shown) but it all fits into a small backpack that be easily carried by it's owner. Traveling alone with all four kids has come a long way since that first trip ten years ago.

What tips do you have when packing kids carry-on luggage?

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