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What to pack for the kids’ carry on luggage

As our kids get older (mine are nearly 6 and almost 8) we can entrust them with a bag each to take on the plane. Not only is this handy as they get to carry some stuff – let’s not waste that on board baggage allowance – but also it gives them some independence, and it’s exciting for them too.

The journey to your destination is all about making life as easy as possible, right? So we need lots of things to occupy them, as well as some things ‘just in case’ and finally some goodies to keep them filled up and less likely to have a meltdown right there in the security queue.

Here’s what I have just packed for my two kids as we are going away this week! Also I made a vlog about it so check that out too.

1. Reading material or colouring in books

Obviously this depends on the age of your kids. But one of mine, Artie, is rapidly turning into a little bookworm (hurrah, so happy about this). So hence we are taking two books for him to read, not just on the plane, but for night time, and on the beach too. For Bea, and younger kids like her, how about colouring books and pens, or little hardcover books that you can read to them? I also packed some mini novellas for her bedtime reading that will last over a few nights if not the whole week. A great idea when you want to pick and choose how much you read each night (some late night nights might require ‘just one page tonight’). On more energetic earlier nights we might read a page each to keep up her skills.

2. Non plug in games (cards, top trumps)

So this didn’t feature in the video (I forgot! I know, I know, must do better next time) but as I uploaded the video I suddenly remembered. We always, always take cards and most specifically a couple of sets of Top Trumps. We have animal themes, space themes, Avengers themed ones. And both kids love to play these games. They are also great for the beach or around the pool too. And it’s nice to have something that doesn’t require a battery to be charged that might keep them occupied for 5 minutes.

3. Snacks

So I will be stashing some sweeties in my own handbag for absolute emergency situations, but for their carry on I suggest some healthy snacks that keep well and will keep them full for 20 minutes if you are, say, stuck in a queue and they are getting antsy. I packed popcorn (feels fun, and might be nice on the plane with a movie!), a healthy raw fruit bar for when hunger actually strikes, raisins for nibbling when bored, and finally Pepperami as mine love them – and that protein hit will keep hunger pangs at bay whilst also not ramping up their crazy levels due to sugar – sugar induced craziness is something to be avoided at all costs in airports!

4. Hat and sunglasses

When you get there, it’s nice for them to get right into holiday mode and also be protected from the harsh rays en route to your accommodation by popping on their hat and sunnies. Nothing says ‘we’re here’ like kids with sunhats and sunglasses on too – cute Insta moment! As well as this, you will need these items just in case…

5. Spare outfit and swimmers

… as above, just in case something happens to your luggage. I know, I know, don’t even tempt fate but it happens. And if it does you have a couple of basics to hand to survive until you get your cases. A spare outfit will see you through to another day, and swimmers and goggles mean you can at least enjoy the pool and beach.

6. Headphones

My husband insisted on buying them each a set of headphones a few years ago. I didn’t get it at first but they are a Godsend. They mean they can get engrossed in their film or game on the plane (don’t forget that plane mode will be on so no internet – i.e. download films and only choose games that can be played offline!) without bothering anyone else. Plus at night if they can’t sleep, or in the morning etc as you get ready, you’ll be so grateful for these headphones they will pay for themself a hundred times over.

7. A lost child note!

It’s not even nice thinking about this one, but safety must come first. I write their names and our numbers plus where you’ve come from and your destination on slips of paper and pop them in the rucksacks. If anything should happen I also brief them about what to do: go to a shop or restaurant and find a female member of staff and tell them you have become separated from your parents. Then they can ring us. If they can’t get through then they have an airline to contact and a hotel also who can help.

8. Freshen up wipes

It’s really nice to have your own pack of wipes to clean up – plus sometimes there isn’t loo paper on the plane or at the airport cubicle and it’s always best to be prepared!

What do you always take in your older child’s carry on? Have I missed some essentials off the list?


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