Travel with Young Kids – Top 5 Things to Pack!

We’re full swing in packing mode preparing for our epic adventure down under. With many Christmas activities coming up in the next few weeks, time is going to fly and I hate it when a departure date sneaks up on me. It occurred to me as we head to the kids 15th country that we have taken lots of international trips with young ones. And, although our list has evolved as the kids get older, we have this packing thing down to a science. There are slight variations in our packing list with each trip. Traveling to Italy in February requires different things than traveling to Dubai in November. But the general list remains the same. And with that, these items have become indispensable on our travels, regardless of our final destination.

Tablet Entertainment

First and foremost, we always travel with the kids Kindles. And not only that, we always load new movies and games that they have not yet seen or played. This alone can bring peace when craziness starts to ensue. But even better than Kindles on an airplane is in seat entertainment. The kids love to play new games that they’ve never heard of and see what’s on offer for kids TV and movies. They could have seen a certain episode of Micky Mouse Clubhouse several times at home, but for some reason watching it on an airplane makes it more interesting. But as a family of four, we fly coach frequently, and in flight entertainment on many coach flights is non-existent. Or we have a long car ride. The importance of the aforementioned Kindle cannot be overstated. Enough said.



Yep, lollipops. Almost any sort of infliction is cured with a lollipop or the promise of one. Lollipops are a rare treat in our house. In fact, I don’t believe the kids have gotten a lollipop at home before, ever. But the kids know that these special treats are with us on the plane and throughout our vacation and they have come in handy more times than I can count. Someone trips and falls and struggles to be consoled? A lollipop makes it better. The five year old riles up the three year old due to out of control excitement on a packed train in Europe? Trading a lollipop for peace almost always works. Both kids can’t fall asleep at night due to jet lag? First one to sleep gets a lollipop in the morning! Who knew lollipops had such power! And since the kids haven’t had much exposure to lollipops, even the organic and sugar free ones do the trick.

Children’s Tylenol

While our kids have been pretty healthy throughout their lives, you never know when an illness might come on. And a child’s fever in a foreign country without recognizable OTC medications is not anything a parent would choose to deal with, absent any other alternative. So, we always, always travel with Tylenol in addition to a whole bagged pharmacy. We learned our lesson the hard way while in the Maldives that a child’s potential allergic reaction to a bug bite isn’t something that you want to deal with on an island in the middle of nowhere in the Indian Ocean. Our daughter has had negative reactions to different insect bites throughout her 4 years on earth but at 2 years old on the Maldives, her legged swelled up after getting a bug bite. Luckily, the clinic had a topical treatment along with a Benadryl like medication that seemed to work (although we learned that she is also allergic to Benedryl so the overflowing diapers was a fun side effect).

Favorite Blankie or Stuffed Animal

What would we do without doggy or blankie or quack quack? There is no way around it. Our kids are professional travelers. They do awesome on planes. We consistently get compliments on their relationship and love for one another. And as a traveling family, nothing could make us happier. But all of that goes down the toilet when settling in for the night half way around the world without their bedtime loved one. To put it mildly, bedlam ensues. I’m saddened to admit that I’ve left a friend behind at more than one hotel on our travels and I can’t think of many other things that make me more sad as a mom than to have to inform our young child that “doggy” is gone. While electronics and passports are top priority when packing to move hotels, their bedtime loved one is also at the top of the list. These guys always make the cut for carry on space and bring familiarity and comfort to the kids, regardless of where we are in this small world.



Let’s be honest, blood sugar levels for both kids and adults can have a significant impact on travel enjoyment. If it’s been a while since food has been consumed, our kids start to melt down. And, you can see it coming. That’s why we always, always have some sort of snack at our quick disposal. That includes in our carry on luggage and in the backpack we carry everywhere we go while vacationing. In Vietnam, we had tickets to a water puppet show. The place was packed and if we didn’t make our allotted showtime, we wouldn’t see the show. But, the kids were hungry. And fading fast. A Trader Joe’s cereal bar to the rescue! It’s such a simple concept, but when traveling internationally, you’re not always going to find a convenience store with anything recognizable as something your child will eat. Familiar snacks from home always do the trick! I sometimes get snickers from those who know how much food we pack for trips but little do they know how frequently such snacks come to the rescue!


Bottom line, these must “pack” items continue to make travel with our kids safe and enjoyable. And they all make the cut for precious carry on space. Regardless of what we pack, kids will be kids, but these things make those difficult moments a little more enjoyable and a little less frequent.

What are your must “pack” items when traveling with kids?


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