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  • Writer's pictureJenna van Bentum

What Do I Pack In My Kids Carry On?!

That flight…the one where you picture your little one screaming or running the aisles for hours on end and you wonder if this was a good idea? 

Many parents love the idea of showing their kids the world but when they think a little more about it, they freak out and home seems like such a better option! I get a lot of people ask me ‘how do you travel with kids?’, ‘what makes the flight bearable?’ and ‘what do I pack?!’. I would love to share with you some tips from my experience when travelling and flying with kids in the hope that it inspires you to start planning the next family holiday. You might actually enjoy that flight!

First of all, my kids both carry a back pack as their carry on. The reason for this is that they can put only enough in there that they really need and its not too heavy.

Traveling with a toddler generally means traveling with a stroller. So, instead of those cute toddler cases on wheels, invest in a good backpack that fits perfectly on your stroller! That’s one less thing to carry ? and when you do need to carry it, it’s on your back out of the way!

It is also handy having the option of putting it under the seat in front of you. This way it can be accessed at all times during the flight without have to fumble through the overhead luggage hold each time the kids want a different colouring book or toy!

So what goes inside?

Travel Pillow – Sometimes this won’t fit inside so instead I clip it onto the top of the back pack using a small hook/clip. Even though most airlines will offer you a pillow, I find that travel pillows are fantastic for the other modes of transport you may take such as the train, a car, bus etc. My kids both love theirs and have used them heaps.

iPad/Tablet – Some may call these a lifesaver, others are not so much of a fan but when travelling, an iPad is invaluable! Fill it up with the kids favourite movies, games, photos, music and if travelling with a school age child, include educational apps, such as sight words or readers, to help them keep up while they are away.

Headphones – Over-ear headphones seems to work the best for my kids. Often their little ears can’t cope with the ear-buds and in-ear headphones. Go cheap! Don’t spend a fortune on great quality kids headphones – mine were $8 from Target (pictured above). Kids always manage to break them, no matter the quality and I’ve found that the cheapest ones have lasted the longest! There is also a master volume control setting with password lock on most devices so don’t worry about getting noise control headphones as they are often too quiet for a plane anyway.

Colouring In – Pack a few colouring in books and pencils. We love the Crayola Colour Wonder sets with the colour free textas that only work in the special colouring in books – much less mess! Sticker books are also fantastic!

Little Gifts – During the few weeks leading up to our trip I keep my eye out for little toys, lego packs etc that I can sneak into their back packs and surprise them during the flight. Again, keep it cheap as they may get lost in transit.

Empty Water Bottles – Why? Keeping kids hydrated during a long haul flight helps heaps in fighting jet lag. They MUST be empty to get through security and then can be filled up air side or once on the plane. Yes it means more trips to the toilet but that is a great way to stretch their legs anyway. I always have a pull up on my toddler when flying too.

Bag Tag – I took my kids shopping and let them choose some cute bag tags for their back packs. I explained to them that we have to put their names, our address and contact details on there incase they loose their bag. I also point out that if they get lost anywhere then show a security person, police officer or shop owner their bag tag and get them to call that number!

Snacks – Pack some snacks but just enough for the plane. Little things that take a long time to eat (also known as time wasters) such as sultanas, Cheerios, rice crackers. I also find that breakfast biscuits are fantastic at filling them up when they are starving and its not quite meal time on the flight. Remember that you will have to declare any leftover food once you reach your destination.

Spare Clothes/PJs – I always have at least one spare outfit and pjs when flying. Sometimes being in your pjs can just help you nod off and when I’m trying to get my kids to sleep on the plane this does the trick!

Wet Wipes – Worth their weight!! I never go anywhere without them, no matter what age kids I have with me. I also find nappy bags very handy too.

That is about it for the carry on, just enough to keep them busy and a little bit of room for goodies collected along the way.

I hope this helps you when packing for your kids. Please feel free to ask any questions or share your favourite things to pack in your kids carry on.

Jen xx

Stay tuned for more tips when travelling with kids.


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I like to keep things simple. Not complicated. Just well thought out. Anything to make a flight more enjoyable for the kids and for us as parents too. I also like my kids learning how to be self-suffi

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