Traveling by plane with little ones can be challenging enough, and that’s without all their stuff! Add everything they need to keep them occupied while in the air, plus all the snacks and drinks they want to get for the ride – it’s a lot to keep track of. Just like you’re allowed a carry-on item, so are your kids! Pro tip: use backpacks! Yes – turn their school backpacks into instant travel backpacks. It’s easy to put on, has tons of pockets, and is the perfect size for plane travel. Give your kids a little space of their own to store everything they just HAVE to have on your next trip and follow these tips …
A 16” toddler backpack will work perfectly for your toddler or preschool-aged kid. You won’t want to fill it to be too heavy but there are definitely a few things your little one can hold on to on their own on the plane using their school backpack. Think a book, their favorite stuffed animal or little blanket to help them sleep, a little juice pouch and a package of fruit snacks. Maybe a fresh diaper and a change of clothes in case they have an accident. You may have to help them retrieve some of these things, but at least they’re packed somewhere other than your bag!
They might give you grief about having to carry their own backpack on the plane – but a rolling backpack just might do the trick! They’ll probably enjoy pulling it along and feeling like they have their very own grown-up suitcase. And if that’s not their style, go with their school backpack. When helping them pack it, think distractions. Coloring books and crayons, video game consoles or iPads (and don’t forget a pair of headphones!) Whatever you know can keep them occupied for a few hours. If your kid has a favorite blanket, pack that in the main compartment in case they get cold or want to take a nap during the flight. Or, put a sweatshirt in there. Stick a pack of gum, bandages and any medication they may take in the zippered front pocket so you or your kids can find them easily if needed. Durable mesh water bottle pockets on the sides are great for extra bottles of water or juice you buy after you go through security. Make sure you fill out the Name/Address label inside their backpack and include your phone number in case your child accidentally leaves it on the plane or if they get lost at the airport.
They’re old enough to pack their own backpacks for high school, so they can pack their backpack for traveling by plane, too, right? Plus, they may have their own ID at this age. If you want, try giving them the independence of holding on to their own cards, passports and wallets. You could even give them their own plane ticket. If they’re going to be responsible for all those important things, make sure they understand to always keep track of them and to never put them down anywhere except inside of their high school backpack. Let them choose what they want to bring on the plane - that will probably include things like their cell phone, chargers, laptop, camera, magazines, etc. But, also ensure everything they do pack doesn’t break any of the airline’s rules.
Sure, there are plenty of things that your kiddos won’t be carrying in their backpacks that you will have to fit into your carry-on, but allowing them to be responsible for a few things will make it easier for you (less to carry in your bag) and for them (snacks right in their own bag, they won’t be asking you for the iPad). Before you know it, you’ll be landing at your final destination and ready for a trip packed full of adventures with everyone’s backpacks in tow.