How to Pack the Ultimate Carry-On for Kids

Trunki Suitcases for ChildrenFamily Vacation Critic (, a family vacation planning and review site from TripAdvisor, reports that one-third of family travelers fly at least once per year with their children, according to a recent online survey.

With airlines cutting back on free perks and privileges that are important to families, such as pre-boarding and seat selections, as well as limiting free luggage allowances, families need to plan ahead to make flying with kids as pain-free as possible. One of the most important steps is to be prepared for the flight itself, so packing a smart carry-on for each family member is a must.

According to Lissa Poirot, editor of Family Vacation Critic, families should take advantage of all carry-on allocations. “Many people don’t realize that typically, even toddlers have a baggage allowance. Every person with a seat usually gets one carry-on bag, while mom and dad may also get to bring one laptop bag, purse, or diaper bag. Be sure to check in advance and use the full allowance to your advantage.”

To assist families with the packing process, Family Vacation Critic offers an interactive packing list, and also suggests this list of the best carry-on items for every age group:

For Infants: Pack a standard diaper bag complete with all items that you pack for an outing (diapers, changing pad, wipes, blanket, pacifiers, etc.). Also pack teething toys, plastic bags for soiled clothes, two extra change of clothes, a hat to keep baby warm when the plane gets cold, breast milk or formula, baby food, snacks, and a few of baby’s favorite toys. Medications should also be packed in the carry-on, along with infant pain and fever reducers, teething relief, and gas relief.

For Toddlers: Pack a backpack — preferably one the toddler can carry — with essentials including a change of clothes, diapers or pull-ups, plastic bags for soiled clothes, snacks, small books, favorite toys and your child’s “lovey” that helps them keep calm.

For School-Aged Kids: At this age, kids can carry their own backpack or wheeled carry-on bag. Put a parent’s cell phone number somewhere visible on the outside of the carry-on backpack, in case you become separated. Pack some favorite toys such as crafts, video games and books to keep the child occupied on the plane. Include a sweater in case the flight gets chilly, and some snacks and gum to help reduce ear pressure.

For Teens: Teens should be sure to have their IDs and passports on them, and a wallet with cash. Let them carry their own ticket and have a copy of the itinerary, in the event you get separated, as well as their cell phone. Put a copy of your insurance information in your teen’s carry-on, as well as their own prescribed medicines and glasses and/or a spare set of contacts.

For Adults: Be sure to carry a bag with IDs, passport, credit cards, some small cash, tickets, itineraries, insurance information, membership cards, glasses and/or a spare set of contacts, jewelry, camera, cell phone, charger, book/magazine, laptop and charger, and anything that you couldn’t bear to lose if there were an issue with the checked luggage. Stash a small first aid kit with bandages, motion sickness relief, fever reducers, pain reducers and any prescribed medicines (for kids and adults).

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