Must Have Items for Your Kid’s Carry-On Bags

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Packing the kid’s carry-on bags doesn’t have to be stressful. Having the right items in their personal item carry-on when flying will make the flight easier. It will also make it less stressful, and more enjoyable whether you are traveling my air travel with older kids or younger kids. This list of Must have Items for Your Kid’s Carry-On Bags is based on my personal experience as a mom of 4 kids.

must have item in your kid's carry-on bag

Must-Have Items for Your Kid’s Carry-On Bags

I have gone on quite a few flights with my kids and made a few mistakes along the way. This list is based on my personal experience. I have come up with the best list of items that you want to have in your kid’s carry-on bags when you are flying.

Before you start packing your kid’s items you want to make sure that it is a bag that can fit under the seat on the plane or in the overhead bin. Personally, we all travel with a carry-on suitcase and then our backpacks as our carry-on personal items. I have the kids put their backpacks below their feet under the plane seat in front of them. This makes it easy to access when they need something.

You can use a travel backpack, but I wanted ours to be useful for many purposes including our road trips and day trips so I went with one that can be used for that as well. My whole family each has a Jansport Big Student backpacks. We do not stuff them full when we are flying so they fit the weight limit and size limits on the flights. If you have a younger child you might want to go for a small backpack. The most important thing for us was the backpack having enough space for what we needed. Quality shoulder straps was also a must because there is sometimes a lot of walking.

I have found over the years that even with the little kids, it is a huge help to have everyone’s belongings in their own bags. When each family member has their stuff in one bag no one has to dig thru every bag with us to find what we are looking for.

must have item in your kid's carry-on bag


Pack healthy and easy-to-eat snacks, such as granola bars, fruit, crackers, and nuts. With that being said this is not the time to be picky with snacks. Pack the snacks the kids are actually going to eat versus things you hope that they will eat. I promise you that it will make all the difference while you are traveling. We pack these in a separate bag and place that bag into the backpack. This makes it easier for the kids to pull the snacks out when they want them. If you are on a long-haul flight then you will want to make sure you pack extra snacks.


Chewing gum is a must for take off and landing. For us, each kid has their own pack of gum in their own carry on backpacks.

Empty Water Bottles

Every one of us has our own water bottle that goes in our carry-on backpack. Then once we are thru the airport security line we find a water bottle fill station or a water fountain and fill up all of the water bottles. Fill up a reusable water bottle to keep your child hydrated throughout the flight. If you have young children instead of packing a water bottle a sippy cup might be a better option.


Pack items to keep your child entertained during the flight. Things like books, travel activity books, coloring books, puzzles, and portable electronic devices with headphones. I also like to have one of the kids pack card games. Our favorite is UNO and that can be played on the plane and while we are waiting in the terminal to board. If your kids love board games, there are many travel board game options that are smaller versions of the game that fit easily into kids’ carry-ons.

Charging Block

Every one of my kids has their own charging block. This makes it easy for them to charge their device if needed. It also stops any one from arguing about using one when everyone has their own.

Blanket and Travel Pillow

Bring a small blanket and pillow for your child to use during the flight. This will make them more comfortable and help them sleep if they get tired. I personally like to use the blow up travel pillows, they have a little case to keep them in and then you blow them up with a few puffs of air on the plane. They deflate quickly and easily to pack back up once the flight is over.

Comfort item

Each of my kids is allowed to bring one comfort item with them. I like to keep things as light as possible when we are packing and learned the hard way that my 6 year old would want to bring every stuffed animal toy that she loves if I didn’t put a limit on it.

Change of Clothes

Pack a change of clothes in case of spills or accidents. Having changes of clothes is especially important for younger children, however, traveling with older kids I have found that an extra pair of clothing is important also. It also helps to have an extra outfit just in case you check your luggage and then it gets lost. I also always put the change of clothing into a zipclose plastic bag, this way no one loses any part of the outfit and it stays neat within their bag.

child carrying a carry-on suitcase and a carry-on backpack


While having extra clothes is a must have item in your kid’s carry-on bag so is having a sweatshirt no matter what destination you are going to. Planes can get chilly at times and while wearing a sweatshirt might not be idle for the entire trip it is a must to have when you are on the plane.


Headphones are a must whether we are flying or we are taking a road trip. With 4 kids listening to or watching different things on their devices it cuts down on the noise. It is also important for when we are flying because many times the headphones and earbuds the airlines offer do not fit kids very well. 


If your child takes any medications, make sure they are packed in your carry-on bag. I used to pack them in mine, but a few times it would have been easier to have them with that child so to make things easier now each kid keeps them in their bag.

Wipes and Hand Sanitizer

Keep wipes and hand sanitizer handy to clean hands and surfaces during the flight. Even if you do not have a baby or small children baby wipes come in handy for many things while you are traveling.

Travel Documents, Identification, and important documents

If you have older children then they will be able to carry their own travel documents. All of my older kids keep their passports, ID cards, and boarding passes with them. I like that our backpacks have a small front zipper pocket that is perfect for holding them. It is also very important that you make sure your child has identification on them in case they get separated from you.

Personal Care items

Toothbrushes and toothpaste are must-haves as Items for your kid’s carry-on bags in our house. This way if for any reason our other bags get lost or if we have checked something then we have those essential items with us.

kids boarding an air france plane in paris france

Tips for Packing kid’s Carry-On bags

I have a few tips for packing the Items for Your Kid’s Carry-On Bags that will help you with making sure you have all of the important items and travel essentials in the carry-on bag. When packing the carry-on personal item I like to keep things organized. Packing cubes help to keep things in order but you can also use small bags.

  • Use packing cubes and small bags. Put the like items together in bags or packing cubes. I like putting snacks into plastic zip close bags. The spare clothing into a packing cube. Electronic charges and headphones into a drawstring bag.
  • Check weights and sizing. Each airline will have different maximum weight limits and different heights for the carry on items, be sure to check with the airline you are flying for them to make sure the carry-on items will fit. If needed you can check the sizing of the bags at the check-in desk but I suggest making sure you know this information before you get to the airport.
  • Make sure the bags are not too big for the kids to carry. Having to carry the kids’ carry-on bags along with your own when walking thru an airport is not only a pain but also can cause a lot of stress. I make sure that the kids are able to carry their own bag when we are traveling without it being too heavy or too big for them.
  • Use a suitcase attachment. If you are also using a carry on suitcase for your other luggage, then when you are traveling thru the airport being able to attach the backpack to the suitcase can make things easier.

Making sure you have the must have Items for Your Kid’s Carry-On Bags will make air travel easier and less stressful for everyone. It will make the adventure a whole lot more fun when there is less stress involved.

Tips for Traveling with Kids

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