What To Pack In A Kids Travel Bag

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If you are traveling with kids then at some stage you will be asking yourself what to pack in a kids travel bag? It is also going to make sense that they have their own carry on.

Little Miss did have a roll along suitcase when she was 3.  It was not a good option for us as it was awkward to carry and not very efficient for packing but it was cute.

Before even packing the kid’s carry-on there are two important questions to consider.  Don’t treat these lightly; they are vital for your health and sanity during the travel hours!

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What To Pack In A Kids Travel Bag

At What Age Should Kids Carry A Carry On?- What To Pack In a Kids Travel Bag

Just as every parent differs in their parenting style, every child is different.  Any advice you get is going to be tempered with “You know yourself and your child best”  – so make your decision based on your personal intuition rather than what I say.  Or, if you are still doubtful take your child on your next shopping expedition or trip to the local park and see how they go carrying a small backpack.   If they don’t carry it the whole way then they might be too young for an airplane carry on.  Having one for them will only increase the number of bags to carry.

I asked for advice from my Facebook page followers and got advice from people saying as young as 3 and as old as 6.  For me, when our daughter was 5 she still wasn’t superb at carrying her backpack, but had it under control as a 6 year old.



What Backpack/Rolling Case Should I Get My Child?

There are lots of really cute products on the market, including those cute rolling cases which the children can ride through the airport.  We’ve never tried one so can’t comment on their success but there are others who can.  Check out this blog post by Our Globe Trotters for more information.

If you have a 3-6 year old and think that you might end up carrying their bag backpack consider getting those bags that fold away into themselves and are space efficient. That way, you can pack the kids backpack away and put their things into your own carry on.  You will appreciate one less bag to carry!  Especially if you end up carrying the child as well, as this most definitely happens!

These are both examples of small packs that work this way.  The Globite pack has carriers for the water bottles so would work well.

Globite Day Trekker Backpack

Kathmandu Pocket Pack


What To Pack In A Kids Travel Bag

What To Pack In A Kids Travel Bag Or Carry On?

Again, depending on their age you will know how much involvement you want them to have in this process or not.   As a rule of thumb I think it is easier to not ask if you later have to say no/ clean out the bag! Here is our list of what to pack in a kids travel bag.


 1.  Water Bottle (Non-Spill) Empty For International Flights

It is vitally important to stay hydrated on flights  and it is equally as important to reduce our plastic use.  Refillable water bottles are a must because you don’t have to buy water and you reduce plastic.


2.  Comfort/Special Toy

Toys on holidays are a problem – they take up space, they can get lost (think lots of tears) and they don’t get played with that much.   Limit your kids to their special toy so that they have it with them for sleep.

What To Pack In A Kids Travel Bag

3. Things to do 

As a rule of thumb, try to keep their activities simple and easy.  It will vary depending on their age.

Check out our awesome activities for Airplane activities for 21 fantastic ideas of how to keep children engaged – and screen free – on flights.


4.  Change Of Clothes

Something simple (and not white!), undies, socks, an easily rolled t-shirt and leggings.  With luck you will never take these out of their well rolled zip lock bag but you need to have them just in case.


5.  Blow Up Pillow

There are cute kids pillows around that are not blow up – but they take up lots of space and a simple neck pillow is enough to help them to sleep.


6.  Socks For The Plane

You will know whether you are the kind of person who happily walks around the plane barefoot, (including the toilet) or not.  Depending on how you feel about this, I pack a pair of socks for kids to wander about the plane in.   They can get washed when we get to our destination, even if they are icky during the flight.

7.  Wet Wipes And Tissues

Nuff said.  At all ages children can be responsible for cleaning their own faces/ wiping their sticky hands. By having these in their backpack


8.  Lollipops

My first reaction was ‘no way’ but having lollipops for landings actually works.  It is something special, they are diverted for the crucial minutes of landing, and best of all the pressure is taken off their ears for landing.  The sugar rush upon arrival is not the best, but can be put down to high spirits of being free from the confines of the aircraft.   If I find a non-sugar solution I will be sure to share!




9.  Healthy Snacks

I was in two minds whether to include this on our list of 10 things a kid must have in their carry on/ or backpack – and it largely depends on the age and responsibility of the child.  I still like to carry the snacks in my carry on so that I can dole them out at important junctures in the flight.   While we prefer healthy snacks like fruit, or home-made slices or bliss balls there is only so much you can do.   The most efficient snacks for flights are store bought items that come in their own packaging.

We have done some experimenting with muslin bags and decanting snacks but so far it hasn’t worked brilliantly!!


10.  Finally – A Stainless Steel Straw – Let’s Stop This Plastic Problem

We have started carrying our own stainless steel straws.  It feels great to do, and you will enjoy it too.  There are lots of different options; take a look below.


Starting a travel day at sunrise, you don’t want to have too much luggage!

Things the parent should have

  1. The medical kit!
  2. All the documentation like passports.



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About Us

Hi! We are a multicultural family from Peru, Nicaragua & Australia. We believe adventures can be global – and local – and are one part of our sustainable lifestyle, and raising children who are global eco-citizens.