Travelling with kids can be trying at times. You need to expect the unexpected, and weathering the bumps requires a will of iron, the patience of a saint, and a well-stocked carry-on bag.
With luggage restrictions and baggage charges being what they are these days, a properly packed carry-on is more key than ever to ensure you can meet any need at any given time. The younger the travel companion, the more you’ll need to lug along, but should a need arise at 30,000ft., I guarantee you’ll agree the shoulder strain is worth it.
Regardless of the duration of your flight, if you’re flying with a baby there are must-haves that should be within reach. And if not within reach, reachable while you’re in the air. This, of course, includes diapers and wipes, as well as a drink, snacks, pacifier, and a few small toys to get you started. Inside my carry-on I keep a separate, smaller bag containing these items, and I tuck it into the seat pocket in front of me as soon as I board. I usually pack my purse and have my diaper bag do double duty, and that goes under the seat in front of me, containing my wallet, travel documents, makeup, more diapers and wipes, food, a bottle or two and a zippered baggie containing baby antihistamine, infant pain/fever reliever, a travel sized baby wash and lotion, hand sanitizer, and an oral hydration freezie pop. The last items may seem like overkill, but I’m prepared in case our flight is delayed or our luggage is lost, and saves an emergency run to the pharmacy in a strange city should one of the kids get sick in the middle of the night.
With an over-2 in tow, there’s usually at least one bag with us that is dedicated to toys. As soon as your child is old enough, have him or her select what they’d like to bring. Make sure you do a quick check before you go, to make sure there are no inappropriate toys (eg. toy guns) and that there’s a sufficient variety to keep them interested. Be sure to include their comfort item, plus a change of clothes in a plastic bag that could then be used to hold not-clean clothes. Always include crayons and colouring books, and toddler headphones for a game device, movie player, or seat-back entertainment.
Even the tiniest traveler can start pulling a wheeled bag along on your journeys, but chances are you’ll be lugging it at some point, so make sure there’s a strap for easy carrying or attaching it to one of your other bags. Luckily for us, our stroller has a large basket that can hold a bunch of our gear as we make our way through the airport.
Regardless of your well-laid plans and ultimate organization, avoid any misunderstandings at the airport by double checking both your airline’s carry-on policies and allotments, as well as the airport’s. One time flying back from New York, I had to cram my (airline-sanctioned) personal item into my already-quite-full carry-on as Laguardia Airport only allowed one carry-on item. How happy was I to be travelling solo that day?!