Packing Cabin Baggage For Kids

Recently, someone asked me what we pack into our hand luggage when flying with kids. Specifically, what happened was my father hoisted our bag into the car at the airport, exclaiming, “Heavens above! What have you got in here?” and as a blogger I’m going to run with it.

Here you’ll find, as requested, a full summary of the stuff I keep handy for flights (car trips, long-distance trains and buses, etc) WITH BONUS TIPS on how we pack it and what we pack it in, which I’m sure were my father’s next questions.

Cabin baggage for kids: what to pack, how to pack it | Journeys of the Fabulist

What We Pack

For Babies

  • Nappy bag with one change of nappies/clothes plus wipes, nappy cream, nappy disposal bags
  • Spare nappies, clothes, wipes, etc
  • Warm layer of clothing – footed, long-sleeved onsie, singlet, beanie or hood, grobag, wrap (it can get cold on those planes)
  • Sling or carrier
  • A few baby toys or books
  • Formula or baby food (if using)
  • Feeding equipment – bibs, spoons, bottles (if using)
  • Plastic bags for wet/soiled clothes or rubbish

Optional:

  • Infant capsule – a car seat is always safer, but you’ll need to buy an extra ticket for kids under two
  • Nursing/breastfeeding shawl
  • Infant panadol – in a small container to meet airline restrictions (usually less than 100ml)
  • Spare change of clothes for adults (in case of some horribly stinky accident) – with thanks to Joanne of House By The Water for this one.
This baby is too cute, so we can't show you his face on the internet (he tells us).

This baby is too cute, so we can’t show you his face on the internet (as he tells us).

For Toddlers

  • Nappy bag with one change of clothes, plus a change of nappy if still using
  • Spare clothes (spare nappies, wipes, etc)
  • Warm layer of clothing – socks, long-sleeved trousers, long-sleeved shirt, singlet
  • Cuddle toy
  • Lots of entertainment options. Just go crazy on that one. Go bark raving insane.
  • Travel snacks
  • Feeding equipment – bibs, spoons, water or milk bottles, snack catcher
  • Booster seat (if own seat) for safety, and to help reach the seat-back in-flight entertainment system
  • Plastic bags for wet/soiled clothes or rubbish

Optional:

  • Carrier
  • Headphones (or use this travel hack)
  • Flight safety harness – some parents use these for toddlers as an alternative to car seats
  • Walking harness – for navigating through the airport without losing or killing anyone
  • EarPlane thingies so they don’t get sore ears from the pressure (has anyone tried these?)
  • Infant panadol – in a small container to meet airline restrictions (usually less than 100ml)
  • Spare change of clothes for adults (in case of some horribly stinky accident)
I'm not sure that Æ's praying in this photo, but I'm not sure he isn't, either.

I’m not sure that Æ’s praying for strength in this photo, but I’m not sure he isn’t, either.

For Kids

  • Warm clothes
  • Snacks and water bottle
  • Entertainment
  • Plastic bags for rubbish

Optional:

  • Cuddle toy
  • Booster seat
  • That outfit great grandma sent you and wants to see on them at the arrivals hall (change into it in the baggage claim hall and not beforehand)

For Flying With Siblings

  • Invisible magic anti-rivalry dust
  • Invisible magic anti-egging-each-other-on dust
This is the invisible magic dust we use. Also pictured: the effect it seems to have.

This is the invisible magic dust we use. Also pictured: the effect it seems to have.

For Adults

  • Passports and other travel documents
  • Purse/wallet (with local currency if applicable)
  • Pen (for filling out immigration cards and so on)
  • Phone (switched to airplane mode) with kids’ apps or guide book apps
  • Water bottle
  • That book you always wanted to read. Haha. No, I’m kidding. You don’t get anything else.

How We Pack Everything

  • I make an emergency kit, which can be easily located and separated at boarding, and is small enough to be stored under my seat or the seat in front. Emergency supplies: water/milk bottle, snacks, wipes, plastic rubbish bags, and one emergency change for the toilet (a nappy with wipes or spare underpants).
  • I make sure I can easily locate the cuddle toy upon boarding. Heaven help me if I can’t locate the cuddle toy.
  • I put everything else in categories, then put each category in a separate waterproof ziplock or plastic bag. The waterproof bit is important. It is. This stuff goes in the overhead lockers.

What We Pack Everything Into

  • We usually use an adult-sized backpack and/or a child-manageable pull-along suitcase. This helps keep our hands free (or theirs occupied).
  • Our most popular choices are our trunki boostapak, which doubles as a booster seat once in the air, and our trunki pull-along suitcase, which doubles as a stroller through the airport and a footrest in the air.
Cabin Baggage: What To Pack With Kids | Journeys of the Fabulist

Booster seat. Stroller alternative. Cuddle toy. Baggage.

Related:

  • Teaching kids to pack. (Update: this actually seemed to work a bit, in that 6yo P was able to pack his clothes independently for this trip! Alternatively, what worked was forgetting to pack him underpants for Thailand, and shorts for Pulau Sibu.)

Did I miss something vital? That happens from time to time. Although as we’ve learnt this year, some things (shorts, underpants) aren’t as vital as they first appear. Not your things, though, I’m sure. Your things should definitely go on the list.

Disclaimer: The only compensation I’m getting for this post is the smug sense of self-satisfaction that comes from dispensing one’s unsolicited advice.

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