Flying with KIDS – What to Pack

Flying with KIDS – What to Pack

Every single trip begins with a packing list…or an idea of what to pack. When it is just you and other adults you focus on outfits – comfort and fashion. If you forget something, you’ll just have the experience of shopping in your new destination, right? It will be part of the adventure! New socks (Madrid) and toothpaste (southern France) will be a fun part of the journey.


Having to replace something you’ve forgotten can make you chuckle and lead to an interesting adventure when it is YOU – the adult who is missing something. But, if you are a parent…you know the nightmare forgetting something a kid needs!

Once, while out of town, I took the kids out to dinner. My oldest, who was three at the time, took her favorite stuffed kitty cat and….left it at the restaurant. No sooner than we left the parking lot in the teeth of traffic in Houston than we realized. I circled the block and we were back in the parking lot in minutes, but I had to get both kids out of the car seats, etc before we could get inside to retrieve kitty. You can guess the rest of this story….kitty was gone. Oh, what a sad moment. My teary three year old was so shocked that someone would take kitty when *gasp* Kitty did not belong to them!!

It was near Valentine’s day and the only store near us was a CVS. I prayed they would have a cat that could replace kitty. I was NOT looking forward to bedtime without that stuffed cat!! You would have thought a cat would be easy to find, right? NO! I found llamas…gorillas…dogs of all types…and other weird and unexpected animals but not cat.

Thanks to hubby’s detective skills we found a nearby Toys R Us and rushed in the store literally minutes before closing and hallelujah, we found kitty a friend! Bedtime that night went well and I was so relieved.

Every parent can relate to a story like this one so packing carefully is the mantra of parents!!

Flying with KIDS – What to Pack – For the young – NOT potty trained flying child

All parents know that what you bring can make the difference between a fantastic flight and one of nightmares… pack wisely!

1) Bring your child’s favorite stuffed animal or comfort item and guard it with your life! After the experience losing kitty, my son had a very, very small stuffed hamster that went everywhere. It was so small I worried about losing it – and heaven knows a stuffed hamster is hard to find, so I packed an extra!

2) Pack an extra outfit for your child –  head to toe. Don’t forget shoes and socks unless kiddo is wearing a washable and dry able shoe like crocks.  If kiddo doesn’t pee pee on everything…they will spill something! Don’t forget mom! Bring an extra shirt and bra. Having been doused with formula (which smells like a cross between dirty socks and vomit) and lived in it for more hours that I would have liked I’ve been there and one that.

3) Include diapers – Count the hours you expect to be gone to plan for how many diapers you will need. When you have that number add extra in case the flight is delayed, you stay on the tarmac for some crazy reason, or baby has diarrhea. Then.. if there is any room left over at all….stuff with extra diapers!

4) Break out the snacks – Bring more than you think you will need. This is the time to break out the extra yummy, really special, “kiddo NEVER gets to have’ type treats. Sugar, chocolate…whatever serves as your child’s favorite!

5) Comfort food – Snacks are great for bribing for good behavior and rewarding good behavior, but nothing else will do when a child is hungry than real food! Dry formula travels well. Bring extra in case your spill or child is just hungrier than usual or you get delayed!

4) Remember the fun stuff – pipe cleaners, toys, small board books, sunglasses, etc.

5) Brush up on games like peek -a-boo and the lyrics of a few songs. Download the lyrics if you need. Don’t worry about others listening in. Everyone would rather hear a very soft rendition of ‘This old man’ instead of crying.

We did a lot of singing to pass the time in the car. “This old man” was such a favorite song! I would pause when it was time to say bone and my 3 year old would add that word. One day when she wasn’t in the car, my baby said it… That my son’s first word was ‘bone’.  **** Choose your song carefully in case you have to sing it 8,000 times. :)***

“As in….This old man, he played one, he played knick knack on my  bone.”

6) Of course all the other stuff you know you will need like wipes, wipes and more wipes. I LOVE clorox wipes to kill nasty germs left behind by all the travelers who have gone before you. Think I’m over-reacting? Read about germs on an airplane. The surprise was that the germiest places were the seatbelt and the air control knob above you. Don’t forget baby skin friendly wipes for kid messes and diapers.

7) Stay safe and bring a restraint system. I’m a big believer in each child having their own seat. It is expensive, but in my opinion worth it. Use the car seat for the youngest travelers. Once kiddos are over 1 year and weigh 22 pounds you can move to the CARES (Child Aviation Restraint System) which is fantastic. It is small and easy to use. Kids love it, too, because they feel so much more ‘free’ than when they are in a car seat. We LOVED ours.

CARES Overview


We flew with it for years. It is lightweight, easy to use, and the kids tolerated it well. Be prepared to show the FAA approved sticker to flight staff. It must be hard to keep up with all the new rules because we often ran into flight attendants who acted like they had never seen such a thing.

Flying with Kids – What to Pack – Kids aged 3-5

Older kiddos who are potty trained have a whole different set of requirements for packing.

1) Notebook/journal and pencils – They can write, journal, draw photos, create cartoons or comic books, play tic-tac-toe.

2) Magnetic games like checkers. You can find these at big box stores. Target has a nice selection. Magnetic is brilliant. You don’t want to be chasing small pieces that get dropped.


3) Cards – If you don’t know the rules off hand for a few games like WAR, Snap, or Go Fish, now is the time to look them up.

4) Books to read. I suggest some that kiddo can read and also one that is above their level that you can read to them. DO NOT put all your eggs in one basket and bring only things downloaded onto Kindle. Trust me that sometimes electronics fail/run out of juice/aren’t allowed while sitting on the tarmac, etc. and you need something old fashioned.

5) Snacks – Bring MORE than you think you need. There is something about sitting quietly for an extended time that makes you hungry, or think you are hungry. Munching is a quiet and harmless activity that makes everyone happy. Now is the time to break out the big guns of snack time – whatever you ration or don’t allow is perfect for a trip.

6) Electronic devices – If you normally have a cut off time for amount of time spent on electronic devices I suggest you suspend that for the duration of the flight. If that helps pass the time and keep kiddo interested, engaged, and quiet then all is right with the world. Consider a new download, movie, or app just for the flight.

7) Dollar Store ‘stuff’ – Some people love to wrap these these like presents but I never had the time.  Anything new will serve the purpose. Craft projects are good (be sure you don’t need scissors and if you need glue toss in a glue stick – not the regular liquid glue that is not allowed on flights) and so are those color on felt pitcutres. Once I bought several locks with keys and toddler sat quietly for ages and ages practicing unlocking them.

8) Painter’s tape – I never go anywhere without it. It is like the kid’s version of duct tape in that it can fix/create anything!


If you hate putting this sort of activity kit together than had over to the store section of the website and click and buy the activity kit.



Happy Travels!

Natalie, The Educational Tourist




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