When I first started traveling with my daughter I had no idea what to pack and would pack EVERYTHING. I packed things I didn’t need and forgot to pack things that I did. It took me a long time to make a realistic list of things I might need and learn to stick to it. I am going to share my packing list for carry-on bags with you in hopes of saving you a sore shoulder and midnight trips to the pharmacy. (To make this post easier to read I am going to reference taking a carry-on bag on a flight but this list works no matter how you are traveling.)
This list for the new traveling moms out there. Ladies who are ready to go on their big adventure with their kids but are not sure what to pack and what to leave at home. Of course if you have already done a bit of traveling but always seem to be forgetting something you can use this list too.
I can fit all of these things into a drawstring backpack. Mine is a light weight canvas with a lot of pockets both on the outside and the inside. I like to keep everything organized so I can just reach and grab without having to dig through and stack stuff on counters to find what I am looking for. I am terrified of leaving something important (like my passport) on a counter somewhere because I was digging for a pen. Remember that I haven’t included the things I assume you have in your purse already (wallet, ID, Passport, tickets, phone, makeup bag, mints, etc.).
Below is my list and all the reasons I have listed each item. For a free printable check-off version > The Ultimate Packing List – Mom’s Carry-on.
– Lotion: You are going to want a small travel tube with you. I don’t know about you but I get cranky if my skin is dry and itchy.
– Brush: You are going to nap at some point. No one looks good with real bedhead, so stick a brush or comb in your carry on if there is not one already in your purse.
– Hair Ties: You know if you only have one it will either get lost or break.
– Travel Toothbrush & Toothpaste: You don’t need the full size products here, just something to help you not feel like you have moss on your teeth.
– Prescription Medications: Any meds you have a prescription for need to be in your carry-on. If you put them in your luggage, and heaven forbid it gets lost or delayed, you really don’t want the added issues of trying to talk a strange pharmacist into giving you replacement meds -especially if you travel out of the country.
– Pain Relievers: You will get a headache, backache, sore shoulder – something is going to hurt during the course of your travels.
– Tums: I like to pack these just in case I get crazy and try something new that doesn’t agree with me.
– Dramamine: This is really just for people who get motion sick. It is not just for boats – it is great for planes too. You should always pack some just in case. No one wants you to lose your lunch, and if the person next to you starts looking green you can always offer them one.
– Band-Aids: I know everyone has that one lost and abandoned bandage with a twisted wrapper floating in the bottom of their purse. But is that what you want to put on a blister or a scraped knee? No. Go get fresh Band-Aids and stick a few in your carry-on.
– Tablet/Laptop: You are going to want to watch a movie, read a book, or surf the web while you are waiting for things to happen. There are potentially hours of sitting at gates, the flights themselves, and then the down time in your hotel room.
– 2 pairs of head phones: I know it sounds like that is overkill. But they are small and take up very little room. They are also easily forgotten or misplaced because they are small and take up very little room.
– Book/Magazine: I like to read my books on my phone. I love that I can choose any of the 1300 I have in my library or buy a new one without any trouble. But there are still some airlines that make you turn off all electronics during takeoff and landing. If your flying on one of those you will want a book or magazine to look at in paper form.
– Chargers: make sure you have a charger for all the electronics in your bag. Nothing sucks worse than your phone dying in the middle of a movie.
– A pair of socks: This is mainly for people who are flying in sandals. Your feet will get cold on the flight and having a pair handy to slip on will make all the difference.
– A pair of underwear: This is a worst case scenario thing. I once had a connecting flight get cancelled and ended up stranded overnight in an airport. Let me tell you being able to put on clean undies helped.
– Jacket/Sweater: The airlines keep the planes pretty cold in flight, you will want a something to cover up with if you are prone to getting chilled.
– Baby Wipes: You can get a pack of 20 in the travel section at Target for $1. I know your thinking “I don’t have a kid, why would I need those?” There are so many reasons – your hands get sticky after a candy bar, to wash your face and freshen up, or heaven forbid you forgot the Dramamine.
– Shout Wipes: I don’t know about you but Murphy’s Law says I will dribble something on my shirt.
– Your Business Card: I know people stick these in the luggage tag and think that is good. A few years ago in a major airport they had a problem with thieves cutting the tags off of peoples bags and claiming them as their own. It was hard for the owners to prove the bags were theirs because they didn’t have a tag. Well guess what if your business card is stuck in a specific card there is no way they can dispute that with the security guard is there?
– A couple of Ziploc bags. I know it sounds crazy but you will need at least one for all your liquid stuff to get through TSA. The extra are for unknowns – dirty clothes, a pen that leaked and needs to stay away from everything else, that bag of chips you bought and can’t finish.
Things to add for your kids!
This is my go to list of things to keep with me when I travel for myself. I find that I can keep the weight light enough I can tote it around with my purse. Now if you are going to be traveling with kids make sure to pack the following for each child.
For Your Infant
Everything. You are going to want your whole diaper bag and a couple changes of clothes. Nothing is worse than your bundle of joy having a blow out in a crowded airport than having no clothes to put on after!
For Your Toddler
– 1 change of clothes. Stuff happens and kids get messy.
– Their own tablet: If you let your kids have screen time this is the perfect time to let them go a little over.
– A coloring book and crayons: You know that you will need distractions and what is better than putting them in the floor infront of you and letting them color while you zone out and regroup for a minute?
– Snacks: Pack several of what every your little likes to much on. Try to stick to snacks that won’t make a huge mess like doritos or an orange. My favorite snack for traveling is actually the little gummy fruit snacks. There will be no sticky fingers, no crumbs, and no spills.
– Kid’s Tylenol: Some toddlers won’t fly well. There is the possiblility of headaches because they don’t know how to pop their ears. You will both feel better if you can give them relief.
– 1 favorite toy. Bring your child’s favorite stuffy. You both know it is coming so just toss it in the bag.
For Your Big Kids
(Kids in elementary/middle school should be able to have their own carry on and keep up with it. Just use their school book bag.)
– 1 shirt, and 1 underwear. These kids less likely to need a whole outfit change but you would still want the safety net of a shirt and a change of drawers.
– Their own tablet, charger, and headphones.
– 1 favorite toy. I know not every kid in this age range still has a favorite stuffed animal but if they do and it is small enough to fit stick it in there too. It will be a comfort for your little if they become stressed out during the trip.
For Your Teen
These kids can have their own carry on and keep up with it. Just give them the list above and they will be ready to go. Bonus: If you run out of something you can borrow theirs!