What to pack in your child’s carry-on luggage that will keep them entertained

Recently, our family took a trip to Colorado for a family event. I am not a seasoned traveler and often become stressed just thinking about traveling. My personal stress level increases just thinking about traveling with my two small children. However, this trip was a lot less stressful and I contribute a lot of it to the kids’ carry-ons.

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What did I pack in my kids’ carry-ons?

First, each child was given a rolling backpack that was personalized to their taste (colors, animals, Disney characters). I am a huge fan of rolling backpacks because pulling a backpack (especially for little children) is just easier than carrying it.

The Kids’ carry-on should be practical and meet their needs

The carry-on should meet the child’s needs for snacks, entertainment, temperature regulation but also be light enough for them to carry and easy enough for them to manage. The carry-on must also meet the guidelines of the airline and airline security.


I allowed the children to choose a few snacks for the airport and the plane. Here are eight snacks that are easy to include in the carry-on: crackers, fruit snacks, dried fruit, goldfish, pretzels, trail mix, granola bars, applesauce pouches, and boxed candy. Often times travel occurs during meals and it may not always be feasible to have a meal prior to travel at the airport. I also packed an empty water bottle that we filled prior to departure. (If you have water in your water bottle when you go through TSA they will make you throw it away).

Headphones and Tablets

Normally, I am not a fan of technology for children, however, traveling is the exception to the rule. Make sure that the apps that you download for the children to play can be played without the internet.

Activity Binder

For this trip, I put together a binder full of coloring sheets, activity sheets (mazes, look and finds, matching, etc…).

You can find some free printables here:

Airplane Printables

Airplane learning pack

Airplane for Kids

I put them into a binder and packed some colored pencils. This was a great activity that kept them occupied while waiting for departure.

Small Games

Small games easily fit into a carry-on and can offer fun and entertainment while waiting. Here are a few suggestions. I packed Uno and it was played often on the trip.

Fidget Toys

Fidget toys offer something to do with the hands while distracting the child and holding their attention. Here are a few that are great for a plane:

Pipe-cleaners can also be a fidget toy as they can be twisted and made into many designs.

Blanket and Stuffed animal

Packing your child’s blanket and favorite stuffed animal can help ease anxiety and bring a sense of comfort and home while on the trip.


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