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Ready to go on vacation but worried about flying with your kids? Are you stressing about what you need to survive the flight without your child having a major meltdown? Well, today’s your lucky day! I’m sharing my must have items when flying with kids to make your flight smoother. My husband and I flew with our son for the first time when he was just 7 months old. Now, at age 10, he has logged more 5+ hour flights than most adults. Over the years, I’ve learned what things are necessary so that you, your kids, and your fellow passengers can all have a pleasant flight.
Must Have Item #1: Food
Like most kids, my son is always hungry. But, he is super picky. So, he generally hates the meals and snacks served on airplanes. Therefore, packing his favorite snacks for the trip is crucial. Notice I said favorite snacks. Trust me, 30,000 feet in the air is not the place to battle your child over food. Make the flight fun by treating your child to some of their favorite snacks while on the plane. But, while you should bring your kids’ favorite snacks, there are some limits. Not all foods are appropriate for eating while flying. To find out which ones you should choose, check out our 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 need in case of any unexpected delays.
Must Have Item #2: Headphones
Another important must have item when flying with kids is a good pair of kids’ headphones. For the sake of your fellow passengers and your own sanity, get headphones for each child and make them use them! 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. And just like you don’t want your toddler hearing the R-rated action movie the guy in the next seat is watching, he doesn’t want to hear Baby Shark 250 times during the flight! So, get some good quality headphones for your kids and make everyone happier.
Must Have Item #3: Travel Pillow
Usually, the best flights are the ones where my son sleeps during all or part of it. Having his own travel pillow makes it easier for him to get comfortable and drift off to sleep. It also prevents his neck from bending at such extreme angles when he is asleep. I highly recommend a travel pillow for each kid. The neck pillows like this one work best for us.
Must Have Item #4: A Blanket
We have been on planes before, especially during longer flights, where my son froze because it was so cold. That is just a miserable feeling! So, I always travel with a small blanket that he can cover up with if he gets cold. I prefer using a baby receiving blanket because I can roll it up and throw it in my bag. Plus, there are so many other uses for it!
Must Have Item #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. Be sure to pack plenty of entertainment options for your kids for the flight. Typically, we take my son’s tablet and portable DVD player when we fly. I also pack some screen-free activities, such as a book or puzzles, just in case his electronics die or he gets bored with them. Check out our list of the best airplane activities for kids and screen-free activities for flying for ideas on what to pack. And don’t forget to bring charging cords and/or extra batteries!
Must Have Item #6: Slip-on Shoes
I learned a long time ago that it is much easier on me if I put my son in 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 they will go back on easily when it’s time to deplane.
Must Have Item #7: Change of Clothes
If you will be traveling with little ones, our next must have item when flying with kids is for you! It is a change of clothes for you and your child. From spilled food to diaper blowouts, there are so many things that can cause your child’s clothes to get messed up when you have a baby or toddler. So, pack a fresh set of clothes in your carry on, just in case. And the last thing you want to happen is for your tot to mess up your clothes right after takeoff and then be stuck in them for the duration of the flight. So, definitely bring a change of clothes (or at least a clean shirt) for yourself as well!
Must Have Item #8: Ziploc Bags
Ziploc bags are the next thing on our list of must have items 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. Use them to hold smaller toys and snacks. They are a lifesaver when you have soiled or wet clothes. You can also save your child’s half-eaten meal in one in case they get hungry later.
Must Have Item #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 must have items when flying with kids, you can confidently travel with your family and enjoy your vacation. For more flying tips, see our comprehensive guide to happy travel with kids, tips for flying with kids, common mistakes when flying with toddlers, and preparing kids for long flights. And for some tips on flying with children from TSA, click here. Happy travels!