Once children are over the age of 2 years old you are required to purchase their own seat when flying. Although this does add to the cost of a family vacation there is an added benefit. The child is able to bring on their own carry on luggage and I highly recommend it in order to spread the load. The focus for a carry on for children should be entertainment especially if you are boarding a long flight. Generally, children under the age of 7 have shorter attention spans and while they may be able to sit through a whole movie if it interest them an activity, such as coloring, will typically only last 15-30 minutes. That is barely enough time to taxi along the runway for take off so you need to be prepared! Here are some tips for packing a carry on bag for a child:
Electronics – The biggest bang for you buck will be from small devices holding a variety of applications such as an iPad or V-Tech loaded with learning games or e-books. Just remember to charge these devices prior to departure as there may not be an opportunity along the way. I know that we have talked about limits on screen time, but there are also times when you need to be flexible with your normal screen time rules and this is one of them. It is only temporary and you will be back exploring your destination soon enough.
Activities – Essentials include crayons or markers, coloring books, small puzzles, and a few books After you’ve put in the essentials make sure your kids pick out a few of their favorite toys to bring along. It is also worth bring along a set of head phones for kids to wear for in-flight movies as ear buds are becoming more popular now, but are harder for kids to wear.
Clothing – Skip packing the pajamas they take up valuable space. Dressing your child in layers for a flight is crucial especially if you are expecting a dramatic change of temperatures from beginning to end of trip. I usually make sure I have their flip flops and a pair of shorts packed on the top of their checked luggage making it a quick change before leaving the airport in warmer climates. If landing in the late evening consider putting pajamas on top of your checked luggage instead.
Snacks – Snacks are a must if you don’t want to spend a fortune on in-flight options. Children typically can’t wait for the full in-flight service to get rolling or may have fallen asleep during the service and awake starving. Pack double what you think you might need – just trust me on this! Also bring an empty water bottle or sippy cup you can fill once you get through security, pour your child’s drinks into to it to help limit any spills during your travels.
Make sure the carry on bag is a size and weight your child can handle and wear on their own. It is not really any help to have a carry on for your child that you end up lugging around the whole time. Practicing at home with a small backpack a couple of days before your trip is a good idea and will help get them used to carrying their own carry on.
Hope you found these tips for packing a carry on bag for a child helpful, but remember above all pack your patience and sense of adventure. Happy Travels!
Photographs provided by Araya Adventures