Taking an airplane ride is incredibly exciting for children. To ensure you have a good trip, here are recommendations for what to pack for kids on a plane. Once the excitement of flying wears off, your kids could become bored quickly. Bored children become whiny children. So be prepared with these tips.
We have flown many times with our little ones, and we have learned some lessons along the way in regards to what to pack for kids on a plane. Hopefully, this list will help you avoid some of the pitfalls we have experienced over the years.
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What to Pack for Kids on a Plane:
As young as three years old, my kids were able to carry their own carry-on bag. The bag choice and contents did grow over the years as they became stronger and more conditioned for airline travel. Each child has their own bookbag.
Ages 3-4: Younger children want to help, but they are only capable of carrying so much. We purchased them small bookbags from Target. These bookbags held minimal contents, and mom carried the rest. The small bookbags are also nice in the event you get stuck carrying them at some point!
Ages 5+: Once my kids were five years old, they were able to walk and carry much more. Regular-sized school bookbags work, but they are often still bulky for smaller elementary age children. That’s why we love the Osprey Hydrajet 15 hiking daypack. These book bags also double as wonderful hiking daypacks when we are home. They are smaller than a regular-sized book bag, but they can still hold quite a bit. Take out the water reservoir for your vacation.
Neck pillow or travel pillow
Travel pillows can be bulky, but they come in handy when traveling with children. You can use them at your destination too. I like the neck pillows, as you can stuff things around them easily in the bookbag.
My children do not get much screen time at home, but we make exceptions when traveling. They get a lot of screen time when traveling on an airplane, and I don’t feel guilty about it. An electronic device works for multiple uses, including movies, connection to airplane wifi, music, and games.
If you don’t want to buy your kids their own device, we have used old iPhones and iPads for traveling with our kids. They still connect to the internet, even if they are outdated for daily adult use. The Amazon Fire Kids Tablet is another great option. Amazon even includes their own kid-proof warranty, no questions asked.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to headphones. For my younger children, I preferred the ones that go over their heads rather than earbuds. If you purchase headphones specifically for children, they often have limits on the volume. When the headphones have volume restrictions, you do not have to police how loud they have the volume turned up. My kids love this pair of headphones. (They especially love there is a microphone. When they are too young to hold a cell phone, this lets them talk without holding a phone up to their ears.)
Pack an empty water bottle. You can fill them up at a water filling station or water fountain once you get past security. I recommend not bringing any drinks for your children. They can be messy and sticky if spilled. Water will suffice. Once you get on the airplane, you can bribe your children with juice or other favorite drink as offered by the airline.
Something to color or write in
This is always a staple in my recommendations for what to pack for kids on a plane. Technology can fail you but having good old-fashioned pen and paper will always serve you well. I recommend letting your kids pick out an activity book, coloring book, journal, sketchpad or notebook, whatever their preference. I then pack crayons or markers in a zipper pouch or Ziploc bag. Colored pencils tend to break.
We don’t buy individual sized pre-packaged snacks often, so when we are on vacation, these are my go-to for what to pack for kids on a plane. My favorites are snacks that will not crush or break easily. We avoid Goldfish, crackers or anything that can turn to crumbs. I usually purchase fruit snacks, granola bars, and Clif Kid ZBars. The Clif Bars are nice if you have an unexpected delay, as they are more filling and can act as a meal substitute if you get in a bind.
For an added bonus, I sometimes pack lollipops in my carry-on bag. They work well for bribery and they also help little ears if blocked on take-off or landing.
One Lovey or Small Toy Figurine
Your child’s favorite lovey they could never live without is NOT what to pack for kids on a plane. However, having something they can love on when tired or for pure entertainment helps out when flying with kids. When my kids were younger, they would bring a small plush toy or baby doll. Now they are a little older, and I let them bring up to two Barbie dolls or two toy figurines. Barbies and figurines are skinny and small, so they can be crammed in between the neck pillow openings.
One word of caution: If you pack these small toys, you must be ok if they get lost. It can get chaotic when gathering all your belongings after a long flight, and there is a chance something can get lost.
Again, technology can fail you. Packing a deck of kid playing cards, UNO, Old Maid or something similar can provide hours of entertainment, and they do not take up much space. It also allows you to play with your children if you are bored too!
We always dress in layers when flying. It doesn’t matter if it is the dead of winter, it can sometimes get hot on an airplane. Our rule is a short-sleeved shirt and a long-sleeved layer. The children are responsible for carrying their long-sleeved layer if they take it off. It can be tied around their waste or crammed into their pack.
For extra clothes, I usually end up carrying these in my adult carry-on bookbag. If your kids are older and have the room, you may get away with just an extra shirt in their bag. My children are close in age, so I’ll try to pack a pair of pants and a t-shirt that could feasibly fit both children. For girls, I pack leggings. They weigh less and take up less space. Do not pack blue jeans as extra pants. They are too bulky and heavy.
Remember the 3-1-1 rule
I generally avoid any liquids when packing a carry-on for my kids. It makes airport security with kids too complicated. Pack an empty water bottle, and fill it up after security. You can check out TSA’s rules for liquids.
Enjoy your flight!
It can be overwhelming knowing what to pack for kids on a plane. Carry-on bag choices and contents change with age, but this list should cover the basics to keep your child entertained and comfortable. A happy child makes for happy adults!
For more travel tips, check out this related post:
What items do you recommend when considering what to pack for kids on a plane? Let us know in the comments below.[mailerlite_form form_id=11]