Planning a plane trip with kids?
It’s Cathy from My Book a Day. This summer we’ll be traveling with a 5-year-old, a 13-year-old and two 18-year-olds.
Flying with kids is always an adventure! Sometimes it’s a better adventure than others, and being prepared for the little things usually helps the trip go smoothly.
My personal flight bag has to hold everything we need to keep the family comfortable and happy during the flight. Here's what I pack in my personal item bag.
I take a tote bag instead of a purse as my personal carry-on item. My favorite tote bag is on the large side, but still fits under the seat in front of me. It has plenty of room for all the things I want to pack for the whole family. It has a zippered pocket where I can store smaller items like headphones for easy access.
Hungry kids are not happy kids. Even our teens and adults travel better when we have snacks on hand. When I don’t pack snacks, something always happens and then we have to pay a lot more for food.
I buy a big bag of trail mix, then divide it into snack bags. It's the perfect size to hand to a child or teen for a snack.
Individual fruit pouches, like applesauce, are another good travel snack. These count as liquid, so make sure the pouches are under 3.4 ounces and stored in a quart bag.
Our kids love granola bars and fish crackers too. Small candies like Pez or Tic Tacs can save you if you just need something for your preschooler to do for a few minutes.
Be sure to bring empty water bottles. You can’t take water through security, but you can fill empty bottles after you clear security. Travel is dehydrating. It's good to sip on something while you wait in the airport or before and after drinks are served on the plane.
I also like to make sure I have a package of wet wipes. We’ve traveled with the canister like in the picture above, or pouches from the travel section of almost any store. We use these to wipe down the tray on the plane and everything else that looks suspicious. They are great for hands and faces as well.
I always carry my Kindle e-reader when I travel. It holds all my books and for me, it’s a necessity.
For our five-year-old, I usually throw in a Kindle Fire. On Alaska Airlines last summer, we realized that they don’t have screens on their seats. Having the Kindle Fire was a lifesaver. You can sign in to the airplane's Wi-Fi and get tons of free movies, shows and games. Make sure to have a set of headphones as well, so you don’t drive everyone else crazy!
Traveling with two or more kids who are sharing the same screen? A headphone splitter is a must.
If your plane has screens in the seats, you’ll still want the headphones for each person. It’s just the easiest way to hear, and to keep the noise down for others. These screens are a lifesaver on long flights with kids. I know ours always love them.
Toys and Games
My kids have mostly used the in-seat screens or our electronics on family flights, so we haven’t needed a lot of toys or games. However, it's a good idea to have at least a couple of alternate activities on hand – especially for long flights.
I pack some new toys and games and some old favorites. I make a trip to the Target Dollar Spot to buy new games and toys. Target usually has games my kids like that are cheap and good quality.
I also like the Boogie Board drawing pad for travel. It’s a clean and easy way to draw and it won’t melt in your rental car the way crayons can.
Related: 10 Fun Travel Toys for Kids
What is a 3-1-1 Bag? It's the quart-size bag of liquids that you are allowed to carry on to the airplane. Liquids are limited to 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters each, all in one bag. Each person (including young children) is allowed one 3-1-1 bag.
I freely admit that we are a family of germophobes. Nothing ruins a trip faster than getting sick. I fill one quart bag full of travel-size hand sanitizer.
I also pack contact lens cleaner in my 3-1-1 bag because I would have a serious problem if our checked luggage got lost with my contact lens solution in it. Pack medications and anything that you'd have to urgently replace in your 3-1-1 bag.
I hope these tips have given you some good ideas for your personal item bag. The right bag, plus the right mix of snacks, electronics, travel games and hygiene supplies can make all the difference. Getting to your destination is half the fun, if you’re prepared!