Children Carry On Tips

Packing a carry-on bag for kids

When flying with infants, toddlers or children, your carry-on will be the most important bag to pack. You must take the essentials for your children without the bag becoming too heavy for you to carry easily! Having the right supplies when traveling with kids is very important!

What should I use as a carry-on when flying with kids?

  • Backpacks are great for transporting what you need onto the plane while remaining hands-free. Many come with multiple sections as well as side compartments for water bottles, baby bottles and other items you may need to grab quickly.
  • Organize the contents as logically as you can so you don’t have to rummage too much while on the crowded plane. Combine snack/drinks/toys into one section and diapers/extra clothes in another section. Keep the organization consistent so the bag can be passed between adults as needed.

What drinks should I pack when flying with children?

  • Be sure to check TSA (Transportation Security Administration) policies before packing liquids. Most liquids you bring onboard must be purchased AFTER the security checkpoint. Plan to purchase water, milk or juice for your children BEFORE boarding the airplane.
  • Some smaller planes do not have refrigeration units and DO NOT carry milk onboard. If milk is essential for your child, be sure to have it handy. Perhaps purchasing milk and pouring into a thermos will help get you thru the flight.
  • If you have a formula-fed infant, pre-measure the formula and place into bottles at home. Without a spare set of hands this can become a juggling act on the plane (especially if you are traveling with your infant alone). Alternatively, purchase the single serving packets for easy pouring. Be aware that obtaining "warm" water on board the airplane will not be an option. Bring your own room temperature water for use with formula mixing. On long flights, the flight attendants are willing to rinse bottles with hot water from their service tap. Do not drink or rinse bottles/cups with tap water from the passenger bathroom as it is not safe to drink.
  • If your children require special cups (ie. sippy cups or bottles) be sure to bring extra. Do not drink or rinse bottles/cups with tap water from the passenger bathroom as it is not considered safe
  • Bring straws for easy drinking out of milk cartons or canned beverages the flight attendants may supply on board.

What food should I pack when traveling with children?

  • Nourishment aids patience for everyone. Don’t depend on the airline to offer sufficient snacks/meals for your kids. Pack what your kids like and bring more than you will think you need.
  • Depending on the age, preferences and allergies of your children, try the following: dried cereal, dried fruit (and nuts), carrots (cooked or uncooked), grapes, Goldfish, gram crackers, granola bars, yogurt covered pretzels. Pre-pack the snacks in small ziplock bags to hand out individually.
  • Bring a few plastic spoons (& straws).
  • "The last resort" As a parent, you know that there is a point that is reached when a child has had enough and let’s face it, you have too. They may be tired, hungry, and/or uncomfortable. Pack a special "item" that can be use for this moment alone. The item can be anything from a new book/toy to candy. Lollypops and M&Ms are a personal favorite but if candy is not your thing, it can be anything you choose that your child will enjoy and be distracted enough to settle down. M&Ms are great because you can use them as a learning tool as well as a sweet treat - you can sort them by color, count them, make patterns, trade them, time how long it takes them to melt in your mouth etc.

What toys and comfort items should I pack when flying with children?

Select small books and toys that your child has never seen before or hasn’t used in awhile.

  • Flying with babies - books, grabbing toys, soothing items (blanket, pacifier).
  • Flying with toddlers - bring anything that lights up and has buttons. Paperback books, self-inking stamps, stickers, magna-doodle or etch-a-sketch, small stuffed animals, portable DVD player with headset, a special blanket or soothing item.
  • Children ages 3-6. Bring paperback books, simple self-contained art kits, activity books (dot-to-dot, mazes), sticker books, coloring books, Wikki Stix, small stuffed animals or figures, hand-held video games, and portable DVD player with headset. A deck of cards is fun for go fish or other matching games. Help your children pack their own carry-on (something with wheels they can pull themselves).
  • Older children 7+. Put them in charge of packing and carrying their own backpack. Suggest they bring: homework, books, MP3 player, hand-held video games, deck-of-cards, brain-teaser games, find-a-words, crossword puzzles, and Mad Libs games.

What should I pack in my diaper bag when traveling with infants?

Select small books and toys that your child has never seen before or hasn’t used in awhile.

  • This is a sub-bag within your carry-on that can be grabbed easily. Gallon ziplock bags are great for this purpose.
  • This bag should contain the number of diapers you would use for an entire day plus a few extra. Plenty of baby wipes (great for wiping everything from bottoms to hands and surfaces), your lotion of choice and a changing pad or blanket. Bring extra plastic bags to put dirty diapers or soiled clothes.

How should I handle medication & special documents?

Select small books and toys that your child has never seen before or hasn’t used in awhile.

  • Bring the medications you or your child might need during your trip. Be sure to write descriptive information on the bottle and separate any liquids into your quart sized ziplock bag.
  • Passports and travel documents. Infants and children are required to have a passport if you are traveling internationally, but not required to have ID for domestic flights.