Packing for Kids: what to take on planes


Packing for Kids: what to take on planes

Independence: It’s a quality I aim to foster in my children, and there are three main reasons for that. Firstly, it’s good for them! Secondly, it’s good for me (especially with a large-ish family; I can’t physically micro-manage everyone). Thirdly, it means we can do more as a family. Adventures ahoy!

One of the ways I foster independence when we travel as a family is to pack a dedicated bag that each child is responsible for. I’ve done this since my kids were young, and my older children (11 and 13) pack their own bags independently now. Depending on where we’re going (and the ages/interests of the children), we fill the bags with different things. Below is an example of a bag belonging to my 9-year-old for an overseas flight to New Zealand.

My Kids Travel Backpack List – Overseas Travel

• Small backpack – I keep a dedicated day bag for each of my kids. This is not just for overseas travel, but also for day trips and other adventures.

• Empty drink bottle – water can’t be taken on the airplane, but there are a few spots in the plane to fill a drink bottle. This way, the children can have a drink whenever they need one.

• Jumper (or something warm) – it can get chilly in an airplane, especially after sitting for a while.

• Small toys – I always pop in a few small toys for the kids to play with. Matchbox cars, small dolls, ponies, travel games and mini stuffed toys are popular with my kids.

• Drawing items – try searching online for free colouring pages or printables that are available for many regions and countries.

• Spare clothes – a pair of undies, jersey shorts and a top will fit rolled up in a sandwich sized zip lock bag (so it takes up hardly any space).

• Book – reading is an important part of our family life and we take books anywhere and everywhere.

• Something chewy/snacks (non-perishable) – this is a treat, and it gives the kids something to do if their ears get uncomfortable during assent or descent.

• Lip balm – great for long flights.

• Head pillow – I look for a pillow with a button so it’s easy to hang on one of the loops of the backpack (the less to carry, the better).

General Overseas Travel Tips

• Passports and tickets: I keep all the passports/tickets for my children in a travel wallet in my backpack. However, when we get close to an area where we’re required to show passports (like when boarding the plane), I give each respective passport to the kids to hold open at the picture page. They love it!

• Entry/Exit cards: If they can write their name, they will be required to ‘sign’ the card. My two older kids ‘sign’, and my two younger kids simply write their first name.

• Four-wheel suitcases are brilliant for kids so they can easily wheel their own bag in the airport.

• There’s (usually) a lot of waiting in lines when travelling and small toys are handy for passing the time. I Spy is another fun game to play.

• Individual travel bags have become part of our family life, because we love adventures so much, whether that be overseas travel or a day trip to somewhere new. It means the kids can learn to anticipate and plan for travel, and everyone can contribute something to building memories.

I can report, there were very few interruptions from the children on the flight to Auckland, New Zealand and it all went smoothly. Next stop: a day trip to Hobbiton. Bring it.

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Kelly Burstow

About the Author Kelly Burstow

Kelly loves life at both ends of the spectrum: wearing high heel shoes one day and hiking boots the next; sipping tea out of a pretty cup and slurping hot coffee from a camping mug; challenging herself physically and stopping for quiet unhurried moments to feel the wind on her face. Kelly and her husband Matthew seek to live a fun and adventurous life with their four children.

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