So you’re thinking of taking your next vacation or you just booked one? Oh it’s going to be amazing and SO much fun! It is so great to do all the planning and thinking about arriving and what you’ll wear but you’re forgetting the biggest piece to the puzzle. Getting there! Traveling with kids can be no joke but I feel like it can truly be so much easier if you are prepped and ready ahead of time. Whether it’s a road trip or a flight I would pack similar “carry-ons” for the kids. It’s nice that they have their own bag that they are responsible for and they can have things quickly accessible for them to keep them busy. Today we will mostly be focusing on a carry-on for a flight.
First of all, let me just say how much we love traveling with our kids. It makes the whole trip for us. We’ve actually only done 2 trips in the 11 1/2 years we’ve had kids with just us two. Its way more fun to take them and give your children the experience. Of course it’s more expensive and less relaxing but we believe we are giving them memories that they will have with them the rest of their life. The bond that they feel with one another is unlike anything else they will ever get. Having your kids love their siblings brings so much joy to us as parents.
Alright now on to what you need…
I would first of all start with backpacks that are easy to spot and easy to use. I went to the outlets and bought Nike ones so they could all be the same and easy to spot. The big Nike swoosh makes it easy. Hazy had one from a dear follower of ours that had princesses all over it with her name, and it was little so it was perfect for her. If you have multiple kids like I do, put something on them to distinguish between the backpacks like a keychain, embroidery, etc. Note: you don’t have to get new backpacks, use ones you have but I like to keep our traveling ones separate from school ones.
Now let’s start off with what to put inside. This all depends on the age of the child and what you’re okay with them doing. I haven’t always been okay with iPads and Nintendo Switches so this varies for every parent.
What to pack:
Backpack – This is a great affordable one and it folds down! Hazyl’s is from Pottery Barn.
Kindle for reading, or just a good old fashioned book (remember these are just ideas).
iPad for downloadable shows from Netflix and Disney+.
Headphones so the whole flight doesn’t have to listen to Tangled on repeat (my kids have these and they’re awesome).
EMPTY water bottle You won’t get through security with a full one.
Hand sanitizer These handy little ones attach to backpacks well.
Tissues – If I had a dollar for every time I was handed a booger!
Sticker books and some plain paper: keeps a toddler entertained for a solid 20 min. LOL!
Triangle crayons – no rolling off tray tables here!
Card games like Uno, Skip Bo, Games on the Go
Water Wow books These are amazing and make no mess.
Kanoodle for older kids.
Snacks – Go to the pantry and use what you have or buy some fun stuff they don’t normally get…Here are a few fun ideas: granola bars, fruit snacks, beef jerky, cookies, chips, fruit leathers, fruit, veggies, suckers, squeezable applesauce, popcorn.
Ziplock to put snacks in – they can also use this for their garbage when they are done too so trash isn’t everywhere.
Socks – our feet always get cold.
Jacket – as well as my feet, my body gets cold too!
Cash – I will put just a few dollars so the kids can buy themselves a little treat if they want.
Suckers or gum to help their ears pop when increasing or decreasing altitude.
If they struggle traveling you could bring a stuffed animal or blanket from home to help them feel comforted. I’ve also been told for older kids who fear flying you could use some Benadryl to calm them. ALWAYS talk to your doctor first, and check dosage for your child but it can calm them down. I’ve never tried this but this was the recommendation I got.
Also, if they are newly potty trained, it wouldn’t hurt to bring a Pull Up or a change of underwear and pants just in case (speaking from experience). Toddlers don’t put much in their bag so it’s fine to throw it in their carry-on
Tips for traveling with kids
I did a poll on Instagram about your questions about traveling with kids and I was blown away by all the questions. Let me just answer a few for you!
- Do you explain to them about health and safety – YES! We always talk to our kids about predators and the potential of being taken. They need to stay close and never wander away from us.
- What are your best tips for keeping them quiet on a plane or car journey? The key is having enough for them to do and also having real expectations of what their behavior is like. Plenty of different books, toys, games, snacks. Bring a variety!
- Do the kids pack their own bags? Madison does, but the boys don’t. They’re too little to remember everything that needs to go with them. In a few years I could give Ryler a detailed packing list and double check, but for now its easiest if I pack for them so nothing is forgotten.
- What does it feel like traveling with 5 kids? Insanity, ha ha! No really! It can feel chaotic but I try really hard to keep us organized and plan ahead.
- What is security like with all the kids? TSA Precheck has saved our lives. We don’t need to remove our shoes or take everything out of our bags. It’s been a dream, I only had a problem once where I had to have an additional level of screening. We always do it and it makes our trip much much better.
- What age would you start bringing your kids to places like Disneyland or Universal? I never think any age is too young, but they can get the most out of the rides at 4-5. Hazy was able to ride the most rides last time we went and she was just over 4 years old. Depends on if your kids are tall.
- Do your kids help you? We explain to our kids that we are only able to do things like vacations if everyone pitches in and helps. It’s too much work to do alone, so they are pretty great to help with packing, carrying luggage, and helping with the younger kids too.
- How many days before your trip do you start to pack? I usually start to pack about a week to a week and a half before. It helps me get my head wrapped around everything that I need. Gives me time for laundry and to go over my list a few hundred times. LOL.
- Do you pack the kids together or separate? I pack 2 kids in our largest suitcase, we usually travel with 5 checked bags. Depending on how long the trip is, Branden and I will each have our own and the 4 kids share 2 suitcases and Madi has her own.
- What is the worst part of traveling? Definitely making sure I have everything. The truth is, if something is forgotten it’s most likely something we can just pick up.
To watch the full video of us packing carryons click
Hey Mindy, I love this post! I was wondering if you could do a whole series on traveling with a large family. I would really be interested in any Road Trip Blogs (how to organize the Van, tips and tricks) you could post. Especially road trips that are really long (15+ hours).
I would love to! That’s a great idea!
This was perfect thank you for the tips. We will be flying for the first time this May to Disney and I have been stressing about traveling and packing bags for my two girls age 5 and 10.
This was a cool blog to read. We have travelled quite a bit with our two children and being organised is the biggest part. Can’t imagine packing for a big family, 4 is enough for me 😁 Loving the information you shared. The biggest tip I’ve used was to wash/wipe down tray tables on planes/trains to help prevent germs. Plus using the clear lunch bags was a winner too. Thanks Mindy x
where can i get those packing cubes on your lastes video
Here are the packing cubes. I’ve loved them!
Hello Mindy! I am wondering where Madi got her Toy Story shirt from in the Disney World vlog! It was so cute!
We got it at Target!
Hello this is Hannah I love watching you guys on YouTube and my mom does the same packing Strategy