As the thought of packing for the Disney Social Media Moms conference edges closer my breathing is getting a little more rapid. The thought of packing for a 5 hour flight to California with my family kind of makes me want to breathe into a brown paper bag. This is a huge experience for my children. I want to make sure they enjoy it, but at the same time plan properly so our flight goes as smoothly as possible and we start our mini vacation on a fabulous note. Packing a Carry On for Kids doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does take thought.
First tackle the question of what to carry onto the plane. The first item that should go into everyone’s carry-on is a complete, extra change of clothes, yes for parents too. Place the outfit into a Ziploc bag for kids. If your child gets ill, spills, or has an accident this extra outfit will come in handy. It’s also great if your suitcase doesn’t happen make it to your final destination with you. Fingers crossed this never happens.
Next, plan how to occupy the kids for the duration on the flight. Flying to California is a long time in my eyes as an adult, so it could be a little tough for my kids to manage, but resist the urge to over pack. Work with your child ahead of the trip to decide what they would really like to have on the airplane and at their destination. Don’t forget to pack those travel journals!
Encourage them to put the items in their bag and carry it around for a half an hour to help gauge the weight and comfort. You can adjust this technique based on age but it’s a good guideline to start. If they feel comfortable after that amount of time, then it’s probably a good amount in the bag. If not, then it’s time to sit down and re-adjust. The last thing you want is a whiny child complaining his bag is too heavy. For younger kids, packing a few surprises in your (parent) carry-on bag can help break up a long trip. Consider giving them one of the surprise gifts at the airport, and at different intervals throughout the flight. I already have some Disney related surprises that I am bursting at the seams to share with them.
Finally, be sure to add some snacks into the bags. Some parents prefer to keep all the snacks in their bag and distribute as kids request them. This works well for young children, but as they get older, giving responsibility and ownership over their own snacks is part of the travel fun. They know what they have and if they eat it all at one time, then that’s the choice they make. You can always keep some in reserve just in case…whiny, hungry kids are not good travel companions. This note also applies to husbands as well, especially if they are like mine and too cheap to buy food in the airport.
Traveling with children takes patience. Allow a little extra time for everything, and most importantly stay calm and enjoy the experience with your family. Travel is not only about getting to the final destination but to enjoy the journey along the way. Seeing the process of travel through your children’s eyes might make your view completely different!
What is a good tip for packing a carry on that you can share? I’d love to hear more!