Flying with kids · Travel tricks & tips

Carry On Luggage Essentials Packing Guide

When it comes to packing my carry on luggage I usually follow the philosophy of ‘Less is More’.  It’s a balancing act between not packing everything but the kitchen sink vs being prepared and organised, which generally equals comfortable and happy little travelers.

In this blog post I have put together a packing guide for the essentials to pack in your carry on luggage. Be sure to also download my free checklist here.  Some products I mention are sponsored however we only work with brands and products that we genuinely love, use and are happy to recommend to our friends, family and readership.

Carry on Luggage Essentials
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My husband and I usually pack two Carry on bags.  Our back pack stays with us under our seat.  I prefer a back pack because I like to organise my goodies into the little compartments. Everything we might need during the flight is in this bag.

The second bag is our wheely carry on suitcase.  This usually contains a change of clothes for us all and valuables/breakables that we wouldn’t want to put in our checked in suitcases such as my camera.  This is usually stored above us and isn’t really used during the flight.  (Except that one time Monkey spewed everywhere).  Thank goodness for the spare change of clothes!

The munchkins each have their own bags so they can grab what they want when they want.  I like them both to have back packs so they can carry them on their back and keep their hands free to wheel their own suitcases.

” I get ideas about what’s essential when Packing my suitcase” – Diana Von Furstenberg

Download your free copy of my Carry on luggage Checklist here.

-The ultimate carry on luGgage

Carry on Luggage packing guide:

The Essentials

  • Boarding pass
  • Wallet with cash, credit card and ID.
  • Printed copy of travel docs.
  • phone and or camera
  • Passport ~ I also like to take a screen shot of our passports on my phone (just in case).  I love this little case I purchased from Typo.  There are 3 compartments which fits our passports, boarding pass and a pen in perfectly.

carry on luggage essentials packing guide 9

For Entertainment

  • Books ~although now I prefer to pre-download my reading material on iBooks on my iPad.  This way I can have heaps of books without them weighing my luggage down and taking up space.
  • Busy bags ~ Busy bags are light, fun and entertaining pouches I prepare for the kids on the plane.  When the kids are happy and entertained it helps me relax and makes it possible for me to read that book.  You can read all about my busy bags here on my blog post Keeping Kids Entertained on a Plane.

    aeroplane games for kids, aircraft games, plane games for kids, aeroplane activities, busy bags, tips ideas for kids on long flights

  • Magazines
  • iPad
  • Head phones ~ These are usually provided on most flights however we like to back our own comfy pair.  Monkey usually has ear plugs in her ears so she can’t put the provided head phones inside her ears.
  • Colouring materials ~  This is for me as much as it is for kids.  I like to pack my own adult colouring book to keep myself entertained.  Especially on flights that don’t provide in flight entertainment.  Also handy to kill time when waiting around at airports.
  • Kids Travel Journal.  My kids like to keep a journal when we travel.  It keeps them both busy on the plane and is great for them to look back on. You can download my free kids travel journal here.
Free digital kids travel journal
Download your FREE Kids Travel Journal!

For Comfort

  • Cozy socks ~ I generally wear socks and shoes when flying.  Mainly because I like to wear my heaviest shoes to save room in my suitcase.  Once i’m on board I fling my shoes off and like to keep my cozy socks on.
  • Neck pillow
  • Change of clothes. Trust me on this one.  When we boarded the plane to LA they served us dinner straight away.  Monkey was put off by the smell and spewed all over her dinner trey, her lap and MY lap.  In her defense she was only 2 a the time.  Thankfully I had packed us all a change a clothes otherwise it was going to be a long 15 hours!
  • Eye masks~ again provided on some flights but not as cute as these I found at Typo. (yep a little addicted to that shop).  Plus good to use when napping at airports or not so dark hotel rooms.

Carry on luggage essentials packing guide 10

  • Sunglasses/reading glasses ~ this depends on what time we will arrive at our destination.  If I know we are arriving at night, I will pack my sunnies in my suitcase.

“Remember less is more so only pack the essentials”

  • Plane Pal ~  This is a must have if you’re travelling long distances with kids.  It comes with a handy pump and once inflated is placed in their leg space.  This helps to extend the little ones chair and enables them to lay more flat and sleep! The handy little pouch makes it easy to carry and well worth packing if you can get an 8 hours sleep out of them!

Carry on luggage essentials packing guide 11

For Health

  • Any prescription medication
  • Pain reliever ~ nothing worse than a headache on a long haul flight
  • Ear plugs~ I seriously don’t take off without them.  Monkey really used to suffer from ear pain.  I now pop these little plugs in her ears before take off and landing and she hasn’t had any dramas with her ears since! You can find these at most chemists.

carry on luggage essentials packing guide 6

  • Tissues
  • Travel sick medication.  I’ve tried so many brands however Kwells are my favourite and works best for us.

carry on luggage essentials packing guide 5

  • Wet ones.  I use antibacterial wipes.  I go a little crazy when I first board the plane and wipe EVERYTHING down.  The dinner tray, the seat belt, arm rest…It embarrasses my husband, he rolls his eyes every time I do it,  but i’m not wasting money on a well deserved holiday just to get sick.   Planes are notorious for being riddled with germs.  Also great for sticky fingers and chins after eating, and by this i’m referring to Greg and not the kids!
  • Sea Band ~  Another must have product which has really helped Monkey with her motion sickness.  Sea-band is an innovative knitted acupressure wristband that has been clinically tested to reduce symptoms of travel nausea and vomiting. Monkey was terribly ill during every flight we had been on.  For our last flight to NZ I popped some sea bands on her before we took off and she wasn’t sick once! We did a motor home tour of the South Island and she wore them the the whole time and felt great.  Monkey gives them a two thumbs up! Check them out here….

Carry on luggage essentials packing guide 12Carry on luggage essentials packing guide 14

  • Band aids
  • Lip balm ~ I don’t usually wear make up when flying (comfort first), so a little tinted lip balm helps keep my lips from drying out and makes me feel a little pretty.

For Toiletries

  • Hair Brush
  • Deodorant

For Snacks

  • Gum ~ we always chew during take off and landing to help alleviate ear pressure pain.
  • Water bottle ~ for domestic flights only.  International flights won’t allow liquids on board.
  • Mints ~ I don’t bother packing a toothbrush…mints will do 😉
  • Snacks ~ I like to place snacks in zip lock bags so they don’t spill out everywhere.  I pack snacks that are not hard, round, large and well…choking hazards.  I like to also pack snacks that are not going to leave the kids dirty and sticky.  For example I would choose plain flavoured pringles over orange twisties or cheesals.

carry on luggage essentials packing guide 7

I hope I was able to give you some tips on what essentials to pack in your carry on luggage.  I would love to know if you have any tips or questions so please comment below. What’s your best Carry on luggage packing tip?

If you are flying with kids you might also like to read my Flying With Kids Survival Guide!

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Thanks for reading and safe, happy travels xx

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