There is a fine balance between over and under packing when it comes to carry on luggage. On one hand it is important to cater for worst case scenarios. Vomit, overflowing poo, delays, unexpected fevers and tantrums are just some of events I have encountered when travelling with my boys. On the other hand, carry on luggage needs to be manageable. This means light and maneuverable. With some careful thought and planning both are possible
As a guide, limit it to one easy to carry bag. Backpacks and wheeling bags are particularly useful. In order not to over pack start with the essentials and then add the extras gradually, assessing how heavy the bag becomes as you add things.
What you take will be influenced by your child’s age, the duration of the flight, layovers and airline you are using. The following checklist is meant as a guide to assist you in your packing.
- Change mat (disposable or non-disposable)
- Barrier cream
- Hand sanitizer
- Plastic bags which are useful for storing changes of clothes and nappies, as well as packing away soiled materials.
- Baby food, spoon and bib
- Baby carrier or sling
- Sippy cup and/or bottle
- A supply of dummies. Even if your baby does not usually take one they can be helpful in reducing in flight earache.
- Cloth which can function as a cover up when breastfeeding or serve cleaning purposes if a mess occurs.
- Change of clothes. This will depend on how long your flight is. It is better to be over-supplied than under-supplied. At least 3 for a baby or non-toilet trained toddler. At least 2 for a toilet trained child. At least one for yourself if on a long haul flight.
- A light weight blanket. Planes can often be cool. Budget airlines will not supply their own.
- An inflatable pillow. Most airlines will prioritize pillows to parents with lap children however budget airlines may have no pillows on board.
- Toys. A selection of age appropriate books, games and toys. Combine new ones with at least one comforting old favorite. Magnet toys, stickers and activity books are some suggestions for the flight.
- Snacks for yourself – it is almost impossible to eat the in flight meal with a child on your lap. Handling money to buy snacks onboard is not always easy either.
- Extra breast pads if you are nursing.
- Sanitary products. Breastfeeding mums will often not have menstruated for months. Your period can start at any time. You don’t want it to be on a flight but pack some pads or tampons just in case.
- A mini first aid kit including infant or children’s paracetamol, adult paracetamol or anti-inflammatories, band-Aids and any regular medication you or your child takes.
- If you are on a long haul flight most economy ticket holders will be given some sort of toiletries. Pack a toothbrush and deodorant for yourself in case of a plane diversion or prolonged layover.
- Portable DVD player. A few favourite DVDs and a portable player are worth considering if you have the room.
- Children’s harness. It is a parent’s worst nightmare to loose their child in a crowded airport. Worn like a backpack, harnesses now come as stuffed animals. Mum and dad just hold onto animal’s tail to keep hold of a wandering child.