What to pack for kids on the plane

What to Pack for Kids on the Plane (ages 3-8)

In REVIEWS, TIPS & ADVICE, Travel Gear, TRAVEL TIPS, Traveling with kids by Jurga11 CommentsTHIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS

When talking about traveling to other parents one of the main concerns seems to be flying with children and the most common question is what to pack and how to entertain kids at the airport and during the flight. We are just back from yet another trip and so I thought I’d share some tips about what our kids pack to take on the plane. Our boys are 5, 5, and 7 years old now, but their carry-on luggage looks pretty much the same since they are out of diapers. 43 flights and counting.

How to pack for a plane trip with kids

When it comes to packing for kids, remember that less is more. Take only what you really need! Don’t pack a bag full of toys. The chances are big that your kids will take all the toys out of the bag, play with them for 2 minutes and announce that they are bored or that they want that one toy they left at home. We have a pretty strict one toy per kid policy when traveling and I have to say it works pretty well. We used to take more toys with us when the kids were little, but quickly stopped doing it.

Why we never take toys when we travel with children

  • Toys take lots of space in your luggage.
  • Familiar toys are boring and they stay in your suitcase or in the hotel room most of the time.
  • Toys get lost or broken. Tears guaranteed.
  • If you have more than one child, the chances are very big that they will fight over the toys. Even more tears guaranteed.
  • Kids can play with pretty much anything when traveling: stones, sea shells, leaves, dry plants, etc. etc. Actually, not having toys stimulates their creativity and you’ll be amazed at how well they can keep themselves busy without any toys whatsoever. Try it!

Should each child have their own carry-on bag?

Do you really need a separate bag for each child? If you are not sure, don’t take it. While kids love the idea of having their own travel bag, they quickly get tired of it and you end up carrying all the bags at the airport. However, if you want to get a cool travel bag for your child which they will want to carry themselves, take a look at the amazing selection of kids’ travel items from Trunkitrunki. They have these original ride-on suitcases that any preschooler will love!

When we rent a car abroad (which is pretty much all the time), we always take Trunki Boostapakbooster (car booster seat and backpack in one) for our kids and so they each have a separate carry-on bag. This doesn’t mean, however, that they are allowed to fill it with toys.

We always take Trunki boostapak for our kids when we travel

‘Trunki’ has become an essential travel companion for our kids

What to pack for kids on the plane

Make sure your kids wear comfortable clothes which are somewhat stain-resistant. Always dress in layers and keep their feet warm as it can get cold on the plane. We never take pyjamas, joggings, or other special clothing for kids to wear during the flight. When traveling with three young children you learn to keep things simple.


First tip to successful packing is to let the kids help you pack. Make sure you have the last word though. Let them choose one toy or a travel game to take on the plane. It will keep them busy for a while as choices like that are not easy for a child, but they will appreciate the fact that you let them decide and will be more willing to co-operate. The kids will probably try to negotiate to take a few extra toys. You can let them pack more if it makes them and you happy, but remember that you have to set a limit somewhere. You can agree on some rule that you are all comfortable with, for example you could let the kids pack whatever they want as long as it fits in one little packing cubepacking cube, a ziplock bag, etc.

The following items are always in our carry-on luggage when flying with children:

  • Twistable crayons, pen and paper. If you take one item on a plane, make it this one.  Make sure you have enough paper and I really recommend twistable crayonscrayons. They don’t break easily, they don’t need to be sharpened, and they don’t make kids’ hands dirty. Ideal on a trip!
  • Workbooks. Workbooksworkbooks have always been a big success with our three boys. Read also this post for some great travel books for kids.
  • Boogie board.  Boogie board boogie boardis  just another way for kids to draw, but it does miracles when the traditional methods fail.
  • One cuddly toy, a blankieblankies, or whatever ‘friend’ your child sleeps with.
  • Lollipops. It took us many years, lots of flights and aching ears before we came up with this simple yet very effective solution. Now we always have lollipopslollipop in our hand luggage. Give them to the kids during take-off and landing and you’ll see that it does wonders. Not only do the kids sit quieter in their seats, it’s also the perfect way to help them avoid the ear pain due to the changing pressure. All three our kids had a cold when we flew to Lithuania last week and I was really worried that landing would be tough for them, but none of them complained about the aching ears this time. I still cannot believe it!
  • UNO or single-player travel games. One-player travel gamessmart games are ideal to keep older kids busy during the long flight, while UNOuno is the perfect game to keep the kids busy while waiting at the airport.
  • Digital tablet. We hardly ever use it on a plane, but it’s proven helpful a couple of times when we had to wait longer at the airport.
  • Warm socks. This is particularly useful on long-haul flights with children as they can keep their shoes off during the whole flight.
  • Medication. You don’t need to take the whole medicine cabinet with you, but make sure you always have some painkiller, nose spray and some band-aids with you.
  • Some snacks. Depending on the time and the duration of your flight, you may want to take some food with you for the kids. Apples, grapes, and cookies are always a big success with our kids. Sometimes we take sandwiches as well. Try to avoid any food or drinks that can be messy. You don’t want to deal with dirty clothes or sticky fingers on the plane.
  • Paper tissues and wet wipes. No explanation needed, I suppose.
  • On the long flights we also take one set of extra clothes. Try to pack something that would fit any of your kids and avoid having to pack a separate outfit for every child.

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15 Tips and Tricks for Traveling the World with Young Children

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What to Pack for Kids on the Plane (ages 3-8) was last modified: November 21st, 2017 by Jurga

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  1. This list helped me survive a long road trip that was 5 hours long with my three year old! He loved the boogiebaord, and I bought him one of the ride on backpacks! Our road trip was 10 times better with the items you listed! Thank you again!

  2. These tips were great! My kids had an awesome time on our way to California! I bought the boogie board and it was a big hit!

  3. Thanks Jurga

    The article was indeed very informative as I have 2 daughters- 6 and 9. They are very similar to what you have portrayed and I feel, I will try following your tips for the vacation we are off in the next 5 days.


    1. Author

      Let me know how it goes, Uma! Our kids are now similar age (7-9) and we still pack exactly the same way for all our flights. Except that now we take Kindle e-readers for each of the kids – reading books is the best way to keep them quiet at the airport, on the plane, but also in the hotels/restaurants when on holiday.

  4. Love this! My kids are accustomed to long road trips. We’re a military family and drive from NY to TN two times a year – it’s a 16 hour drive with no stops. One of my biggest tips is to start driving at night (either after dinner or after bedtime) – we knock out as much as we can while the kids are sleeping. Of course, our drive is also super super long. We usually bring video games (Leapsters, Gameboys) and little sketchy pads. It keeps them occupied for a majority of the trip 🙂

    1. Author

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Beth! 16-hour road trips must be really challenging with kids. In a way, long flights are easier as you are free yourself and can keep them busy, while in a car you have to focus on the road as well. We used to drive at night when the kids were little, but it’s so tiring… I think I would break such a long drive in two days now…

  5. This is so helpful! I am terrified of an 8-hour flight with our two kids next month. I would be really anxious to take such a long flight with only paper and some crayons, just ordered fire kids tablet for both of them, hope it will keep them busy.

    1. Author

      I totally understand you, Karen. We’re flying to the U.S. next week and I just realized that we fly during the day. Which means we’ll have to entertain the kids for about 8-10 hours as well… Digital tablets do wonders and will definitely keep your kids busy during the flight. Just make sure they are well charged! Have a good flight!

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