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Flying with kids is definitely different and more complicated than flying without them. But, it is possible to have smooth flights with kids in tow. You just need to have the right tools. To help make this possible for you, here are some tips on how to pack your carryon when flying with kids.
Your Child’s Carryon
There are two schools of thought on family luggage. One philosophy is that each person in the family gets their own suitcase and carryon bag. The other theory is to pack family bags to minimize the number of suitcases you take.
I tend to pack family bags, so my son usually doesn’t have his own carryon. I just think it’s easier on everyone during our travel days.
If you do give your kids their own carryon bags, think carefully about what you include in them.
Don’t include any valuables in your children’s carryon bags. Kids are more likely to lost them or become victims of theft than adults. So, keep the valuables in your carryon.
Things to Include in Your Child’s Carryon
- Books-While kids tend to favor screen-based activities, it’s a good idea to have a book on hand in the event that their devices fail. For younger kids, take some picture books. If your kids are older, have them pack at least one book they are interested in reading.
- Coloring Books/Activity Books-In addition to a book to read, it’s a good idea to also bring some type of activity/coloring book for your kids. This way, if they get bored, they have something a little more active to do during the flight.
- Crayons/Pens/Colored Pencils-Of course, you can’t color or do word searches if you don’t have something to write with. So, throw some crayons or colored pens or pencils in your child’s carryon.
- A notebook-This is one of the most versatile items you can put in your children’s carryon bags. They can draw, play tic-tac-toe, make a wish list for Christmas, and so many other things!
- A deck of cards-If your children are older than 7, throw a deck of cards into their carryon. Like a notebook, a deck of cards is very versatile. They should keep your kids entertained for hours. Plus, they don’t take up a lot of space.
- Trivia cards-If you have older kids, put some trivia cards in their carryon bags. These take up little space but can provide hours of entertainment. You can either buy decks of trivia cards or take some out of a trivia based board game you have at home.
- A travel pillow-Whether you expect your kids to sleep during the flight or not, it’s a good idea to pack each of them a travel pillow. It can help them stay comfortable during the flight.
- A blanket-You should also consider throwing a small blanket into your kids’ carryon bags. Some flights are really cold. And if they don’t need it to cover up, they can use it as an extra pillow.
- A water bottle-Take a reusable water bottle for each kid. Once you are through security at the airport, fill it up so they will have something to drink during the flight, even before the flight attendants come around with snacks.
Now, let’s talk about how to pack your carryon when flying with kids. There are a few things that you will want to pack for your kids in your carryon instead of in theirs. Your flight will be smoother if you have these things in your carryon.
- Tablets/Cell Phones/Laptops-Unless your kids are teenagers, I recommend keeping their electronic devices in your carryon instead of theirs. You will be less likely to lose them this way.
- Headphones-If your kids will have video games, music, or shows to watch during the flight, they need to have some headphones to wear. Like the electronic devices, you should keep them in your bag so they don’t get lost or stolen.
- Snacks-You never know how long it will be before you get food on a flight, so I would bring snacks for your kids. See our list of the best airplane snacks for what to pack.
- A change of clothes-You should put a change of clothes for each child and at least a clean shirt for yourself in your carryon. If your child gets sick during the flight or makes a mess, you will be able to put on fresh clothes.
- The favorite lovey-Now, you may think your child’s favorite lovey should be in their carryon, but I would recommend putting it in yours. Loveys can’t be easily replaced, so don’t take a chance of losing it. Keeping it in your bag will ensure it gets to your destination safely.
- Baby wipes-I always throw a small bag of baby wipes into my carryon. They can be used to wipe up spills, wash hands when you’re not near water, and many other things.
Flying with kids can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. Knowing how to pack your carryon when flying with kids is one way to make it easier. I hope these tips help you as much as they help our family.
Also, check out the TSA’s travel tips for more information.
For more tips on flying with kids, see:
- best airplane activities
- best screen free activities for kids
- tips for flying with kids
- mistakes to avoid when flying with toddlers
- how to prepare kids for long flights
- must have items when flying with kids
- how to handle child anxiety when flying.
For more about traveling with kids, see:
- reasons to travel with your kids
- how to avoid child meltdowns when traveling
- packing tips for travel with kids
- why you should include your kids in trip planning
- how to include your kids in trip planning
- comprehensive guide to happy travel with kids
Have a great flight! Happy travels!