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Packing for long airplane trips can be stressful. If your kids are anything like mine, somedays a small empty box entertains them for hours. Other days a roomful of toys provides “nothing” to do. It’s almost impossible to understand, but I know it to be true! So when you pack a carry-on for a long airline trip you really need to hedge your bets on what will keep them busy. (Well that and you can cross your fingers and say a prayer whatever you pack works!)

Despite being anyone’s guess as to what will keep children busy on an airplane, there are definitely a few tips to keep in mind as you pack. Here are a few quick reminders:

  • I like to pack my children’s carry-on for a long airplane trip. Typically this is a task I delegate for a road trip or short air travel. However, when it comes to extended trips, I like to be in control of the content.
  • Start with a really good quality bag. Personally, I love the Land’s End Backpack because of it’s design and comfort.
  • Be mindful of the weight. There is nothing worse that packing a bag that’s too heavy and having your children complain or struggle. I’ve been guilty of loading them down too much and then I end up carrying their bag too.
  • Also, don’t stuff it too full. Sure it’s great to take the position, more is better. But when the carry-on is so stuffed that you have to pull everything out to find items- it’s not always an advantage.

With that in mind, here are 11 things I recommend including in the ultimate children’s carry-on:

Items 1-5.

  1.  A stuffed animal or lovie (we limit our children to 1 each)
  2. Bags of crayons and/or markers
  3. An empty water bottle- You can fill it once you are past security. This also comes in handy on the plane since having a cup on a tray table can be tricky.
  4. Snacks- I avoid anything that will melt or be too messy. We bring both candy and substantial food.
  5. Neck Pillow

    Items 6-9

  6. Headphones
  7. Electronics WITH charger
  8. Flip Flops- We usually wear are largest shoes on airplanes to save room in our luggage. My kids like to take their boots off on a plane, but having flip flops makes running to the bathroom or taking a quick walk down the aisles much easier!
  9. Wipes or Hand Sanitizer- We rarely use either of these items. In fact, I’m a big fan of soap and water and prefer my children to wash their hands. However, I consider air travel an “extreme” situation. It’s nice to have the convenience of wipes or hand sanitizer on a plane.

    Item 10

  10. Activity Folder- to save on weight, I like to make a folder of activities for my children rather than bringing a bunch of different books. This allows them options- both educational and fun. I also include blank paper for them.

    Surprise items

  11. Surprises- I always try to pick up just a couple new things for my kids. These are ALWAYS the first items they “find” when they open their carry on bags and usually they keep them entertained as we kick off our travel.

What are your ‘must have’ items to pack in your children’s carry-on bag?

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