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Excited to travel with your kids, but worried about the flights? Stressing about what you need in your carryon to keep your kids entertained? Well, to help you out, here are the 9 best things to pack when flying with kids so you can have the smoothest flight ever!
My husband and I flew with our son for the first time when he was just 7 months old. Now, as a preteen, he has logged more 5+ hour flights than most adults. Over the years, I’ve learned what things you need so you, your kids, and your fellow passengers can all have a pleasant flight.
At the top of my list of the best things to pack for flying with kids is food! This is crucial, especially if you have small children.
But you can’t just pack any snacks, you need to pack your kids’ favorite snacks. Make the flight fun by treating your child to some of their favorite snacks while on the plane. This is important because you do not want to battle your kids over food when you are 30,000 feet in the air!
Now, while you should bring your kids’ favorite snacks, there are some limits. Not all foods are appropriate for eating while flying, especially for kids. (To find out which ones you should choose, check out my list of the best and worst airplane snacks for kids.)
Also, be sure to pack a variety of snacks and more than you think you will need, just in case you have an unexpected delay.
Another important must have item when flying with your kids is a good pair of kids’ headphones.
It is not possible to put the volume of your little one’s device at a level where they can hear it but other passengers cannot without using headphones. So, for the sake of your fellow passengers and your own sanity, get headphones for each child and make them use them!
You don’t want your toddler hearing the R-rated action movie the guy in the next seat is watching, and he doesn’t want to hear Baby Shark 250 times during the flight! So, get some good quality headphones for your kids. This will make everyone happier.
#3: Travel Pillow
Usually, the best flights are the ones where your kids sleep during at least part of it. Having their own travel pillows makes it easier for them to get comfortable and (hopefully) drift off to sleep. This is especially true if you will be flying at night after their bedtime.
A travel pillow also prevents their necks from bending at extreme angles while they sleep.
I highly recommend a travel pillow for each kid. The neck pillows like this one work best for us.
#4: A Blanket
You never know what the temperature will be on airplanes. And you can’t control it, so you definitely need to pack a small blanket for each child.
I always travel with a small blanket that my son can cover up with if he gets cold while on a plane. I prefer using a baby receiving blanket because I can roll it up and throw it in my bag when we’re not using it. Plus, there are so many other uses for it!
#5: Plenty of Entertainment
Any parent will tell you that if you want your kids to sit quietly, you need to have some good entertainment for them. Flying with kids is no different. So, be sure to pack plenty of entertainment options for your kids for the flight.
Typically, I pack both electronics and some screen-free activities, such as a book or puzzles, just in case my son gets bored with the electronics.
And don’t forget to bring charging cords and/or extra batteries!
#6: Slip-on Shoes
Next on this list of the best things to pack when flying with kids is slip-on shoes.
I learned a long time ago that it is much easier for my son to wear slip-on shoes on our travel days. Like most kids, once he settles in and gets comfortable on the plane, he wants to take his shoes off. With slip-on shoes, it’s not a big deal because it takes no time to put them back on when it’s time to deplane.
Plus, if your kids are older than 12, they may be required to take their shoes off during the airport security screening process. Slip-on shoes make this process faster to get through for you and your kids.
#7: Change of Clothes
If you have small children, one of the smartest things to pack when flying with kids is a change of clothes for you and your child.
From spilled drinks to diaper blowouts, there are so many things that can mess up your child’s clothes. So, pack a fresh set of clothes in your carry on, just in case.
And be sure to pack a change of clothes for yourself too because the last thing you want to happen is for your toddler to mess up your clothes right after takeoff and then be stuck in them for the duration of the flight. At least bring a clean shirt for yourself!
#8: Ziploc Bags
Ziploc bags are the next thing on my list of the best things to pack when flying with kids.
I usually pack several bags in a variety of sizes in my carry-on bag. They are so versatile that you may surprise yourself with how often you use them during your vacation.
You can use them to hold small toys and snacks. They are a lifesaver when you have soiled or wet clothes. And you can also save your child’s half-eaten meal in one in case they get hungry later.
#9: Wet Wipes
Lastly, you should always have a small pack of wet wipes with you when you travel with kids, regardless of how old your kids are.
You can use them to wipe hands, clean up a mess, wipe down tray tables, and cool little faces if your children get too hot. You can also use them as a last resort to entertain a restless toddler.
Flying with kids can be a smooth endeavor, as long as you have the right tools in your carry-on bag. With this list of the best things to pack when flying with kids, you can confidently travel with your family and enjoy your vacation.
For more flying tips, see my comprehensive guide to happy travel with kids, tips for flying with kids, common mistakes when flying with toddlers, and preparing kids for long flights. For some tips on flying with children from TSA, click here.