As my long time readers know, we love to travel. Always have – road trips, weekends away, and anything involving flying on a plane. In the last couple of years, my kids have traveled and flown more then my husband and I did in our entire childhoods combined! And, due to our frequent travels with little kids, we've become quite adept at packing for flights and hotel stays.
I actually have a Go Bag with our most used items already packed. I just keep them stashed in one of our carry-on bag at all times so, when it's time to pack for a trip, I just grab and go. It's convenient and makes my life a lot easier… and y'all know that I love things that are easy. Read on to learn more about my 12 must haves if you're traveling with young kids!
12 Must Haves If You're Traveling With Young Kids
Tablet: A MUST HAVE. Seriously, I will not travel without one for each of my kids. I'm not joking. One time, my niece's dog dropped his very heavy bone on Finn's tablet and shattered the screen… eight hours before we left for a flight to California! Not only did I buy a new one THAT NIGHT, I also reprogrammed the entire thing with his preferred apps and downloaded his favorite movies. That's how much I love me some tablets for traveling. My kids each have this Samsung Galaxy model and it's been heaven on planes ever since.
Tablet Cover: If you've got kids and they have tablets – get thee a cover for it! There are many, many different “kid-approved” covers on the market but, personally, I swear by these ones. The rubbery foam protects the tablets from those inevitable drops (or, let's be real here – temper tantrum throws) and the handle is chunky enough for my little guy to grip and carry on his own.
Dum Dum Lollipops: In case you're not aware, kids generally have a difficult time on planes during lift-offs and landings due to the change in air pressure – they can't “pop” their ears. That can be really painful for them and stressful for you (due to the screaming from them that will probably happen). Help avoid all that by offering babies a bottle to suck on or allowing them to nurse. Older kids can suck on a lollipop or chew gum to help them pop their ears. I like to pack a quart size Ziploc bag of Dum Dums in my carry on and ply my kids with as many as they need. I generally start handing them out once the plane leaves the gate and continue giving them until we've reached around 10,000 feet.
Wipes: If you're freaking out about how sticky your kids are going to get from all those Dum Dums – I got you, babe. I feel like, until my kids have graduated high school, I'll be schlepping a pack of wipes on every flight we go on. Not only are they excellent for wiping dirty baby butts – they're awesome for all your sticky, sloppy, icky in-flight needs. I prefer refillable ones that I can stuff to capacity with wipes from home. I refill mine before every flight we take.
Chapstick: Flying is dehydrating so be sure to pack a couple of tubes of chapstick. Why a couple? Because your kids will either “help” you lose at least one and/or eat one (don't judge me). Stash a few in each backpack or carry-on and you should be fine. I try to make a habit of applying some to my kids any time I put some on myself.
Stickers: Every parent's secret travel weapon! Should your tablets die, your flight get delayed, or your baby blow out their diaper… YOU'VE GOT STICKERS. Kids freaking love them. Bring the ones that are sold flat (not on rolls) and in 1000's in a pack. They take up the least amount of space in a carry-on and, when it comes to stickers, bulk is best. I always pack a small notebook for my kids to put stickers in to their hearts content but tend to also look the other way if they decorate their water bottles or arms (or even the tray table – most stickers scrap right off).
Refillable Water Bottle: You can't go through security with a water bottle. Buying water at the airport will cost you the same as a first class ticket to Cancun and they only give you a teeny glass of water on the plane soooooo – bring a refillable water bottle for each person. Most airports these days have a bottle filler right next to the water fountains so, as soon as you've made it through security, you can stop and fill up those bottles. Staying hydrated while flying is really important so bring those bottles!
Kid's Themed Band-Aids: Kids get boo-boos (either real or imaginary) and neeeeeeed a band-aid to feel better. Just pack 'em. Hand them out like candy. Honestly, sometimes I let my kids play with them like stickers because it's less stressful than trying to well, parent on a plane.
Crayola Color Wonder Markers and Pad: These occupy time and don't make a mess so buy lots of them. I like the ones that come with a pad and the markers attached because they take up the least amount of space in a backpack. Plus, there's very little chance of accidentally leaving behind a precious OMGMOMHOWCOULDYOULOSEIT masterpiece because you're trying to shove a bunch of loose papers in a bag.
Diaper Pouch: A diaper pouch is a handy little item if you've got a kid in diapers. I use this one and it fits my travel wipes plus four diapers. I like it because I can just take the pouch with me into the plane or airport bathroom instead of my big purse carry-on. It's a time and space-saver.
Wet/Dry Bag: If you have a messy kid, potty training kid, kids on a red eye or early morning flight – bring a wet/dry bag! I love this one because it's one streamlined bag that I can toss in the washer/dryer as needed. It has a spot for wet or dirty clothes and a smaller pocket for clean clothes and/or diapers. I generally pack two pairs of panties and two pairs of cheer shorts (for Melanie) plus a romper (for Finn) whenever we fly – just in case.
A Stroller and Sling/Carrier: I swear, I'm going to bring a stroller on every trip until my kids are in middle school. Yes, it's a pain in the ass to fold down and send through security (they make you put in on the conveyer belt and send it through the X-ray machine) but, it's AWESOME for hauling your bags AND your babies. Sometimes, my kids are just tired, uncooperative, or extra energetic. In those instances, I buckle them into the stroller and it's one less thing to think about. When my kids were babies, I also brought along a ring sling or a carrier so I could wear them on the plane worry-free (some airlines make you take them out during the flight though).