Travel Tips for Kids: What to Pack In Your Carry-On Bag for a Short Flight

Even the shortest of plane rides can turn into a “never ending” journey when kids are involved. It is really important to be prepared when you are travelling with kids because once you are up in the air there is no turning back! I recently flew from Singapore to Hong Kong with my husband and my two hyper active boys, Zayden (4 yrs) and Xavion (21 months). The flight to Hong Kong is only 3 hours and 40 minutes long, however the journey  door to door is about 8 hours long. We took an 8:30am flight, which meant that we left our house at 6:15am. The journey overlapped with 2 meals (breakfast and lunch) and finished right in the middle of nap-time.

Here is a list of  what we packed in the carry-on bag to help keep our sanity on the plane and to get us to Hong Kong in one piece.


(1) iPads: We had two fully loaded iPads with kids videos, songs, games and books.

(2) Thin Coloring Books

(3) Sheets of stickers

(4) Crayons & Color Pencils

(5) Random Goodie Bag Toys: Basically, cheap plastic junk toys that you can throw away at the end of the flight or lose along the way without feeling bad.


(6) Breakfast bags of cereal: Each of my boys got a huge bag of dry cereal. This way they could eat their breakfast on the way to the airport, in the airport and on the plane.

(7) Straw Sippy Cups: I took six Sippy bottles – there were three bottles for each kid.  I filled one with water, one with fresh milk (which they drank in the taxi and in the airport) and the 3rd one was to fill on the plane if needed. Note: I was planning to take all of those straw cups on our trip anyways, but instead of packing them in our luggage I took it in the carry-on to use on the flight.

(8) Lunch for the 21 Month Old: I knew that Xavion wouldn’t eat any of the food on the plane, so I packed him a homemade lunch.

(9) Snacks: Each of them got their own bag of snacks. All the snacks were the same for both boys –  just individually packed in snack sized bags here are some of the snacks. Some of the snacks that we packed were – freeze dried fruit, crackers, fruit bunnies, goldfish crackers, dried cranberries, raisins, organic cookies, etc. I also packed two apples and all the leftover fruit from our fridge.

Note: I did not pack lollipops or candy on this trip because my youngest son is not allowed to have any candy. The last thing I needed was a fight over big brother’s lollipop. However, if you have older kids, I recommend packing some “special” treats in for the flight to “bribe” “help” them on the flight.


(10) Extra change of clothes: I had a full change of clothes for both boys, including extra diapers and underwear. Note: I packed really lightweight extra clothes – these were for emergency purposes only.

(11) Socks: Two pairs each. As soon as we got on the plane they boys put on their socks. I brought two just in case they stepped in something yucky on the floor or in the bathroom.

(12) Hand wipes & Hand sanitizer 

(13) Tissues – Both of the boys had runny noses and Xavion had a fever the night before we left.

(14) Medicine: I only packed the infant medicine (Panadol & Zyertec). I figured if my older son got sick on the flight he could also take the infant medicine- this way I didn’t have to carry both


  • Pack everything in clear ziplock bags. It makes all your stuff easy to organize, remove from the bag and easy to see.
  • Make sure you wear long sleeves or carry a light sweater for the plane. Planes are usually very cold.
  • Before take-off, don’t forget to remove the items that you will need at the beginning of the flight from the carry-on. I would recommend taking some of the toys and at least one snack to entertain the kids. Because of a runway delay, we sat on the plane for 40 minutes before we actually took of. We had to keep our seat belts on and couldn’t use any electronic devices.
  • Pack some extra plastic grocery bags. You never know when you will need an extra bag to either re-pack dirty stuff or in order to carry things off the plane.

 How was the overall plane ride?  Since my kids rarely watch TV at home, Zayden was great on the plane. He sat there glued to the iPad the entire trip. He even ate all his plane food (he was so busy watching a movie that he didn’t realize that I was shoving food in his mouth).

Xavion on the other hand was a real handful. He didn’t understand the concept of sitting for take off and landing. He is entering into his “terrible twos” stage and thought it would be fun to scream at the top of his lungs when he didn’t get his way. We also let Xavion have his own iPad so he watched “Baby Can Read” for part of the trip. He also played with all the toys, stuck stickers all over himself and the plane, colored and roamed the aisles.  The snacks did entertain him – he loves holding the ziplock bags all by himself and eating his snacks. He did not eat any of the plane food and he took a mini-nap for about 30 minutes.

I hope reading this post will help you with any your upcoming trips. If you have any other great travel ideas I would love to hear them for my next family airplane ride.

Good Luck & Happy Travels!

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