Carry-on backpack for kids: 5 tips on how to pack


Let’s face it, traveling can be stressful. And traveling with children can be even more so! The secret to a stress-free and even – dare we say it – enjoyable trip with children, is all in the packing. More specifically, it lies within that all-important piece of luggage, the carry-on backpack. From the bare essentials to the emergency surprises, find out what to pack in yours to guarantee a pleasant trip with your little ones!

1. Prioritize comfort over style

When it comes to travel, comfort is paramount. It is not the time to show off fancy outfits or matching ensembles – save those for when you’ve arrived. Instead, go for soft, breathable fabrics that will help ensure your child stays the right temperature on board, and go for layers in case it becomes too chilly or warm. Comfortable clothing not only makes your child feel at ease and minimizes complaints, but it might also make it easier for them to doze off – and that’s a win all around.

2. Pack entertainment 

It’s an undeniable fact: Kids get restless on flights. To keep them entertained and avoid the incessant chorus of “Are we there yet?”, make sure to pack a selection of entertainment options to keep them busy. While electronic devices loaded with their favorite movies or games might go down well for a while (don’t forget the headphones!), it’s always worth packing some additional non-electronic options. After all, technology isn’t fail-safe, and staying glued to a screen for several hours can create restless kids later in the day. 

Consider packing a selection of coloring books, notebooks, stickers, or puzzles for slightly older children, or “busy boards” for younger toddlers. Remember, too, that flying is a different experience that can make some children feel nervous; pack a favorite teddy or comforter to help ease the nerves and reduce the potential for a stress-induced meltdown!

What’s more, make sure everything is easily accessible in the backpack so you can pull out distractions when needed. Look for a bag with separate pockets to make everything readily accessible and organized. You can find kids backpacks of all kinds on this site. 

3. Snacks, Snacks, and More Snacks 

Hunger can strike at any time, and buying snacks at the airport can not only be eye-wateringly expensive, it can also be time-consuming and an avoidable unnecessary hassle. Prepare beforehand and ensure your child’s energy levels stay tip-top by packing a variety of snacks in their carry-on backpack. Healthy options like granola bars, fruit slices, crackers, nuts, or cheese cubes make great choices that are low on mess. 

Steer clear of foods that can spoil – such as meat sandwiches – and avoid those things that leave your child with sticky fingers or result in a need for clean clothes! Throw in a few treats too, like a small bag of gummy bears or their favorite cookies, that you can have up your sleeve as an emergency special surprise.

A refillable water bottle is also a must-have. Remember to arrive at the airport with it empty, and then fill it up after passing through security to avoid expensive bottled water purchases. 

4. Keep Essentials Handy 

Some items are non-negotiable when traveling with kids. These essentials are best within arm’s reach and separate from things like snacks and toys, to avoid them being taken out and lost during the flight.

  • Travel documents: Passport, boarding passes, and any necessary visas.
  • Medications: If your child requires any medications, keep them in their original packaging with clear instructions to keep things simple at security. 
  • Comfort items: A favorite blanket or stuffed animal can provide much-needed comfort during unfamiliar situations.
  • Wipes and tissues: Spills, sticky fingers, and runny noses are all part of the adventure.
  • Extra clothing: Pack an extra set of clothes in a resealable plastic bag, just in case.

5. Don’t Overpack

It’s tempting to throw everything but the kitchen sink into your child’s carry-on backpack, but remember, you’ll be the one lugging it around. Kids can only carry so much, and you don’t want to weigh them down with an oversized bag. Stick to the essentials and avoid overpacking. 

What’s more, make sure you stay realistic about the number of toys your child will actually use; too many options can lead to decision fatigue – as well as make for a heavy bag!

Packing a carry-on backpack for kids requires some careful planning and prioritizing. Focus on comfort, keep essentials handy, and pack snacks and entertainment to keep your little one content during your travels. 

By following these five tips, you’ll be well-prepared for your next family adventure, and you might even avoid hearing the dreaded “Are we there yet?” along the way. Happy travels!


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