From Japan, South Korea, and Dubai to Las Vegas, Georgia, and Hawaii, we’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world as a family. And while I can certainly call myself a seasoned traveler, one thing is for sure: traveling with kids is just as stressful as it is exciting.
Keeping kids comfortable and entertained can make the trip bearable for parents and caregivers, as well as other passengers. As I learned when I was making our Japan packing list, packing the right items can help you survive the flight.
Letting kids have their own carry-on bags also means extra storage space for their stuff. So today, I’m sharing a packing list that kids can bring in their own carry-on bags.
Kids Carry On Packing List
If I had to say which item on this list was the most important, it’d be this one. No matter whether you’re traveling with a toddler or a teen, snacks are crucial. As parents, we know first-hand how difficult it is to deal with a hungry child. Avoid a hunger-induced meltdown by packing plenty of snacks. Check out this post for some great snacks to take on a plane.
I also recommend packing snacks in a travel-friendly container. They’re not only good for keeping your snacks organized in your kids carry-on bag, they can make snack time fun for younger kids. Here are a few of my favorite snack containers for kids:
Empty Water Bottle
I highly recommend designating an empty water bottle for each member of your family. Keep them empty until you make it through security, then fill them with water before you board. You can even pack some drink mix packets if your kids are appalled by the thought of drinking plain water. Oh, the horror!
When flying with kids, a good pair of kid’s on-ear headphones is a must-have. I like this pair because they fit comfortably over my kid’s ears and can be folded in for convenient storage without taking up too much space. Although they’re so lightweight that your young traveler might just carry them around their neck until the flight attendant gives them the OK to use them.
Coloring Books And Activity Books
This recommendation is geared more toward younger kids, although there are plenty of great activity books for older kids as well.
Activity books and coloring books are great for keeping kids entertained during your flight. Store a few in their carry-on bag, then pull them out once you can use your tray tables.
Here are a few of my go-to coloring and activity books for travel:
- Water Magic activity pads
- Melissa & Doug Water Wow!
- Disney coloring book set
- Dinosaur coloring book set
Pouch With Crayons Or Colored Pencils
Don’t forget to pack coloring utensils to use with the coloring books! I recommend packing crayons or colored pencils. This way, you don’t have to worry about your kids marking up other items or trying to find lost lids.
Crayola Twistables are perfect for travel!
If there is ever a time to be lenient about screen time, it’s when you’re traveling. I recommend downloading a few episodes of their favorite show or a movie a few nights before your trip just in case there isn’t reliable wifi. You could also download a few games that don’t require wifi.
Make sure the tablet is fully charged before the flight and then turn it off before stowing it in your kid’s carry-on bag. This way it won’t turn on while it’s in the bag. And don’t forget to do this for the flight home as well!
For family-friendly entertainment that can occupy your children and parents, pack a few card games or travel-size versions of their favorite games.
Here are some games to consider for your next trip:
- Matching memory game
- Eye Found It card game
- Guess In 10
- Search and Find activity books
- Portable travel games and activities
Stuffed Animal And/Or Blanket
Especially for younger kids, don’t forget to pack their favorite personal item, like a stuffed animal or blanket. Bringing a comfort item will help little ones feel more relaxed and potentially even help them take a nap during the flight. I recommend double-checking that it’s stowed away in their carry-on before you leave the house, as well as before you board and deboard the plane.
You’ve probably thought to pack a travel pillow for yourself, but they make great neck pillows for kids too. Stick one in your kid’s carry-on bag so that if they miraculously decide to nap during the flight, they’ll be able to get comfortable in their seat.
Jacket Or Sweatshirt
I can’t be the only one who always gets cold on airplanes. Chances are, if you’re like me, your kids also get cold from the air conditioning blasting on them throughout the flight. A blanket can help, but I recommend packing an extra jacket or hoodie in their carry-on to keep them comfortable.
What are your must-haves for airplane travel with kids?
Do you swear by something that I didn’t include? Tell me in the comments! Also, be sure to share any game-changing travel hacks you might have!
Then, head over to the blog for more travel tips and destination ideas!