December 08, 2017 8 min read

Traveling with Kids:  Carry-On Essentials

The holiday season is one of the most wonderful - and busiest - times of the year!  And when you have family that lives in a different part of the country – or even a different part of the world – the holiday season can also mean a lot of traveling.  And traveling with kiddos is a whole different ballgame altogether.  Gone are the days of popping in your headphones and binge-watching movies for the duration of your flight.  When you travel with little people, it’s generally about keeping them happy and entertained until you land safely at your destination.  One of the best ways to ensure that your flight is smooth and fuss-free, is to make sure that you are well prepared and that your carry-on bag is well stocked with travel essentials! When my family and I moved to China with a two-year old, and a 4.5 week old, having an organized carry-on was key to surviving the long flights from Canada.  So don’t worry mama, with my top ten travel essentials– and a little gumption - you’ve totally got traveling cased this Christmas!

 


The Perfect Bag…

1.) Ok ladies, I know that finding the perfect bag for any occasion is always important, but I promise, you’ll never appreciate having the perfect bag more than when you are traveling! There are so many great options to choose from, but before you do, I recommend checking with the airline you’re traveling with to confirm baggage allowances.  In most cases, you are allowed to have your carry-on/purse, plus a diaper bag if you have an infant.  Depending on how far you are traveling, these baggage allowances may change, but regardless, when you’re traveling with kids, it’s important to maximize your carry-on space by selecting the perfect bag, in addition to your purse.  I always found it was easiest to have a roomy, cross-body purse, and then a functional carry-on.  Both your purse and carry-on should be soft enough that there’s a little give, and they are easy enough to carry without being unnecessarily heavy; however, it should also structured enough that the bag won’t collapse in on itself or be crushed in a cramped overhead compartment – especially if you have packed potentially messy items such as baby food, or breast-milk.  I also found it really helpful to have a carry-on bag that had lots of pockets for organization, both inside and out, as well as multiple access points, all of which zip-up for safe keeping.  It’s also key to select a bag made of durable material that is easy to clean, and preferably water-resistant, because you just never know what might happen in transit!  Coco+Kiwi’s Provence Bag would be an excellent choice, given the durable fabric, spacious interior, and optional back-pack style straps!  Whatever you select, remember, you don’t have to sacrifice fashion for function!  There are so many gorgeous options for moms on the go!

 

Quick Grab…

2.) When I was traveling internationally with babies and toddlers, it was really important that I had a well-organized carry-on so I could find what I needed, quickly!  For this reason, I separated all of my items by category into freezer-size all-purpose clear plastic zip-baggies.  I had one for baby food items, one for toys, one for diapers and wipes, one for a change of clothes, one for medications… I am telling you, there is nothing worse than rifling through a cluttered bag for a snack when your toddler is having a meltdown!  For me, this was a lifesaver!  Note:  those large plastic baggies can also come in handy for a lot of other issues while traveling as well – clothes that have been spilled on, extra garbage, even the occasional dirty diaper if you need to do an emergency change.  


Airplane Food…

3.) Make sure to pack lots of kid-friendly snacks for your little ones.  In my experience, a lot of airplane food isn’t very kid friendly (especially not toddler friendly), so it’s good to come prepared with your own items.  Additionally, airplane food is typically served on a schedule, and as moms, we all know that kids can’t always wait for the next meal to have their little tummy’s satisfied.  It’s also ok to use snacks as both rewards and distractions, especially on long plane rides.  Finally, depending on your final destination, those snacks might be what help sustain your child until he/she is willing to try new or unfamiliar cuisine.  Travel-friendly snacks include:  dried fruit, fruit bars, individually-wrapped packages of crackers/small cookies, squeezable baby and toddler food, nut-free granola bars, and gummy candies.  Note:  avoid bringing messy food, like chocolate or gelatin treats, as these tend to melt and get all over everything; sugary treats that may cause your kiddos to become overly excited, and anything really salty that may result in your children drinking more water and needing to head to the lavatory more frequently… which, trust me, is something you want to avoid doing too often!  

 

Quench the Thirst…

4.) Spill-proof water bottles and sippy-cups for each child are another huge must when traveling.  Airplanes typically offer a variety of beverages that are kid-friendly, but they are generally served in Styrofoam or plastic cups, which unfortunately, are not great for kids, and in my experience, have resulted in a lot of spills – especially if there is any unexpected turbulence.  There are so many great, spill-proof options available in a variety of sizes, so find what works best for you!  Note:  I also recommend bringing some bottled water onto the plane, which you can use to refill those sippy-cups, especially if your child is thirsty at a time when beverages aren’t being offered.  


Play Time…

5.) It might seem like the only option for entertaining your kids on a long plane-ride is technology – and don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a movie or a fun app for kids to enjoy for a portion of the trip – but chances are, even your children aren’t going to want to spend the whole time plugged-in.  So, in my experience, including lots of activities for your kids is essential when packing your carry-on.  When I was traveling with a baby, I always packed soothers, teething-rings, rattles, touch-and-feel books – basically anything small and sensory.   For toddlers and older children, some of the best travel toys I found included mini containers of play-dough, travel-size magnet drawing boards, flashcards, sticker books, temporary tattoos, coloring books/crayons, and a selection of small toys that your children have never seen before, which are perfect to pull out and distract your child with when nothing else seems to be working.  Note:  avoid packing anything that makes a lot of noise; not only will this begin to drive you crazy in a confined space, but may also be a disturbance to other travelers, and it’s nice to have your neighbors on your side! ;)

 

Techno-Kids…

6.) Technology is another great option for kids when traveling, especially if you are traveling a far distance.  We purchased an ipad mini before we moved overseas, because we knew it would come in handy both on the plane, and in the airports during long layovers.  We purchased a few animated films for our daughter to watch along with some really great, educational apps that she could spend some time playing as well.  Do some research prior to your trip to find the apps that you think would be best for your child, and don’t forget, if you choose to limit their screen time, that’s ok – even when you’re traveling!Note:  if you are bringing your own technological devices onto an airplane, make sure you also purchase children’s headphones so that the sound is not a disturbance to other travelers.

 

Change it Up…

7.) It’s really important that you and your kids are comfortable when traveling, especially if you are going to be traveling internationally.  Don’t feel like you need to make a fashion statement on the airplane – choose outfits that are soft, stretchy, and forgiving.  For long flights, I highly recommend packing a change of clothes for everyone, including socks and underwear, and it’s also a good idea to dress your children in layers that can be either added or removed depending on the temperature in the plane.  It’s amazing how the temperature can fluctuate from plane to plane, and even during a single flight.  Additionally, those layers can really come in handy if there are any spills or accidents throughout the flight!  

 

Comfort is Key…

8.) Comfort objects are another carry-on essential if you have room.  A favorite stuffed-animal and blanket can really help your children to feel at ease on an airplane, especially if it’s their first time flying.  Additionally, those items may help your children feel comfortable enough to fall asleep when they start to get tired.  If you’re worried you won’t have enough room for these items, consider getting your older children mini backpacks that can hold these personal items, but likely won’t be counted as official carry-on bags. At the end of the day, if your little one doesn’t even like heading to the grocery store without his or her favorite stuffed bunny-rabbit, it’s probably worth fitting into your carry-on!Note: If you’re on the lookout for a travel-friendly blanket, try Coco+Kiwi’s Mini Tassle Throw!


Just In-case…

9.) As mom’s, we try to be prepared for every possible scenario, and it can seem a little daunting when packing for a big trip.  In my opinion, it’s really important to make sure you also pack some practical toiletries and emergency items in your carry-on.  For me, I always packed children’s Tylenol in both liquid and chewable form, as well as gravol incase of motion sickness, band-aids, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.  Additionally, I made sure to pack a children’s body lotion and lip balm to help counter the dry-air on long flights, which can leave skin dry and itchy.  For myself, I made sure to pack a toiletry bag containing a travel size toothbrush and toothpaste, lotion, lip balm, deodorant, hand sanitizer, wet-wipes, extra hair-ties, and Tylenol.  Hopefully you won’t need a lot of these items, but when you finally arrive at your destination, it’s nice to have the items you need to freshen up before heading out of the airport.  Note:  make sure you check airline allowances for liquids and other toiletry items before traveling.


Wonder Wallet…

10.) Finally, make sure that you have a really great travel wallet, preferably something that is large enough to hold all your travel itinerary, boarding passes, declaration forms, and even passports if you are traveling internationally.  Having access to these crucial documents quickly will really help with the ease of your travel experience, and prevent you from feeling overwhelmed when it’s time to produce them.  My favourite travel wallet is the LUG Tango Travel Wallet. It helped keep me organized for over four years of international travel.  Having the peace of mind of knowing that our travel documents were all in one place gave me a lot of confidence as an international traveler, especially with little ones in tow.  

 

Traveling is usually a fun and exciting experience for kids, and hopefully, these ten tips will help make the experience fun and exciting for you mamas out there as well!  And remember – even if things don’t go exactly as you planned, the beautiful thing about being in transit is that there’s always a clear end in sight.  This holiday season, you and your little ones have got this whole travel thingin the bag.  ;)

 

 

Post by  Meredith Rhinas at Petite Prairie Family
I'm a born and raised prairie gal! Wife to Jeff, and mama to Isla, Benson, and Molly. I'm a teacher by profession, and as a hobby I love to craft! My favourite thing to do is travel and explore new places. Oh, and I like to write every once in awhile as well ;) Follow along in Instagram here!
  
  
  
 
  
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