What to Pack in your Child’s Carry On #FamilyTravel

Many families are heading on vacation this March for Spring Break.

My kids are now aged 4 and 7. When we travel they have their own carry-on bags. The fact that they are responsible for their own bags lets me enjoy my trip a lot more.

What to pack in a child's carry on?

Here are things every child should have in a carry on bag:

1. Snacks!

I always make sure my kids have a large ziplock bag filled with snacks. I don’t regulate how much they eat and when they eat when we’re on a long flight. I think it’s part of the experience to let them choose what to eat and when. We always pack granola bars, goldfish crackers, and fruit leather. Since going on a trip is extra special I also usually pack a small bag of candy for them to enjoy.

2. Electronics.

Yes, my kids pack their LeapPads and InnoTabs when we fly. There is usually a movie option on long flights but sometimes kids just want to have a few extra minutes on their electronic devices. My kids love getting extra time to play on their tablets when we’re traveling. I also recommend that chargers be packed in the carry on and extra batteries if required (in a ziplock bag so they don’t get lost in the luggage).

3. Favourite blanket/stuffy.

NEVER pack your child’s favourite blanket or stuffy in the checked bags. Can you imagine how terrible it would be if their special blanket was LOST. My children always have their special blanket in their carry-on. They don’t usually take it out of the bag but they know it’s there if they need it.

4. Change of clothes.

I’ll never forget the time we checked into our resort and my daughter was wearing pajamas – at 2 in the afternoon. I’m sure it’s not the craziest thing check in staff has seen but still… a change of clothes is not a bad idea. Kids get dirty, they have accidents (yep, that happened to us once) and they get warm. Packing a change of clothes might be the best thing that you do.

5. A swimsuit.

If you’re going to a warm destination each child should have a swimsuit in their carry-on. This way, if your checked bag gets lost they are still ready to jump in the pool. We traveled to Disneyland for 4 days one year and our bag showed up on day 3. Thankfully we were prepared!

6. Colouring books, crayons and more.

Kids get bored on planes. I don’t quite understand this because I myself LOVE being on a plane. So, pack a few extra activities, because sometimes the movies, electronics and snacks are just not enough. I often make a fun activity bag for my kids. This always keeps them busy for hours!

7. An empty water bottle.

Who wants to pay $5 for a bottle of water after going through security? No one. Pack an empty water bottle in your child’s carry-on and once you’re through security fill it up at the water fountain. Bonus: I also pack sippy cups to use during the flight. I give them to the flight attendant to fill when they come around with the beverage service. This alone has saved us many drink accidents on the plane.

What to pack in a child's carry on

I strongly believe that your child will have a great flight with these goodies in their carry on. I always have backups in my bag but for the most part, they are in charge of their own things.

I’d love to know, what do you put in your child’s carry on?


  1. some good ideas here, sippy cups are a must, no one wants their child to spill drinks on someone else. Unfortunately it’s not always a case of you can sit next to your child/children. I vividly remember one flight where we were all (8 of us in separate seats, heaven knows why!). Thankfully someone was willing to swap seats so that my 3yr could sit next to me. I dread to think how much noise there would have been otherwise.

  2. This is a great list! I never thought of packing their swim suit in a carry on but that makes tons of sense! I lost my luggage once. Luckily it was on the way home so I didn’t stress too much. Since then I always pack differently!

    1. Yep, I always pack their suits now. I know we could go buy a new one if our bags were lost but I don’t want to go shopping first thing when I get to my destination.

    1. I know right? I often look at other parents with little ones on the plane and wonder why they didn’t pack sippy cups! There are always spills if they don’t have one.

  3. Something we have done for long trips is to purchase a few fun activities at the dollar store (that the kids don’t know about ahead of time) and put them in their bags to pull out when they are getting restless. The new items get their full attention and excitement!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *