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As most of you know I was a flight attendant before I had kids. I traveled for a living. And for fun. I was on a plane five or even six days a week. Everything I needed for a week I had to carry with me. So I tried to pack light. (Anyone that ever saw me may have called me a bag lady with all my stuff, but they knew who to call if a button fell off because I had my sewing machine with me…. just kidding…. maybe.)


Now I have to pack for 3 people and be able to carry most of it as my two traveling companions can’t carry quite as much. And as anyone who has ever flown with a three year old knows sometimes they are doing really good to even carry themselves. My husband usually meets us in the city we are traveling to, so the kids and I have to carry everything we need ourselves.

But you can’t only pack clothes with kids. I have found over our years of flying there are some items we can’t, or won’t go without. You can also check out my  resource page for our non-travel essentials of products and companies that we love! 

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You have heard me talk about the packing cubes. Packing clothes for a family of 3 in one suitcase requires lots of organization. I learned this after one too many times of having to open the suitcase and dig around for some clean clothes for the kid that has spilled an entire bottle of water in their lap. I used to pack their clothes in ziploc bags thinking it was perfect. But it really wasn’t. I had to decide which clothes were clean and find the clothes for the wet kid without showing all our dirty laundry, and have you ever thought about how many plastic bags it would take to pack all our clothes in.  I have taken these awesome packing cubes on vacations and even camping and can’t imagine going anywhere without them again.

Since the kids have to help with carrying stuff I am incredibly thankful that we have a small suitcase for them to carry. This bag is their carry-on and fits perfectly under the seat in front of them for easy access during the flight. In this bag we have a small jacket for them (even in warmer weather as you never know how cold it may be on a plane, and I NEVER use a blanket unless it is in a plastic bag… I have seen what passengers do to these and trust me my kids will go cold before using one that hasn’t been cleaned), we pack snacks, and we put their entertainment in here.

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We have a couple of things we use for entertainment. We love the Crayola Color Wonder markers and paper. The kids love them because we don’t ever use them unless we are flying. Both of my kids still love to color so its perfect. The markers won’t mark on anything except the special color wonder pages so their clothes won’t get ruined and they can’t color on the tray table. So no mess for you or the flight attendants. There are so many books and different colors, so it’s kind of exciting when a book is nearing the end of it’s days. The last time we were ready for a refill my son choose the one with blank pages. On our last trip he drew photos for the pilots, who were very happy to receive his drawings. 6 Family Travel Essentials


My husband and I both got a Kindle Fire
one year for Christmas. These things are wonderful for loading a children’s movie on from Amazon, or even having fun coloring or game apps for them to play. Now that you can use electronic devices like these below 10,000 feet I recommend everyone fly with one. My kids don’t get a lot of screen time at home, so it is like Christmas to get to play as long as they want. And I am happy that they aren’t disturbing anyone else on the long flight.

An external battery charger/portable phone charger fully charged is huge. These are great for the tablets, or even for your phones. When we went to Paris this was probably our biggest savior. We flew all night and arrived with near dead phones, but as we were able to take turns charging them we still had our phones for maneuvering and photo taking while we ventured around the city. In fact when we got back to our rooms that night our charger was the only thing that needed charged, another plus as we only had one international converter.

A good comfy backpack is a must. I carry all of our clothes in a roller board. I carry my purse and some more snack in the backpack as my carry on. The backpack is perfect as once we arrive in the city we are traveling to we can change some things around and have a bag to carry sightseeing. It is perfect for our camera, my purse, the external charger, light jackets for the kids, extra bottles of water.

Looking for more advice I have on Flying with Kids? Get my Kindle book on Amazon. Or get the free version by signing up and I will deliver it to you as well as a free printable packing list that I use for traveling.

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Do you have items you have to carry with you for every trip?

6 Family Travel Essentials