After a few requests, regarding what the kids had in their carry-on bags on our trip to AZ, I thought it would be fun to share some details and thoughts on the subject. After all, it’s one of my favorite parts of traveling! Probably because it keeps my distracted and excited mind somewhat productive while we countdown to our getaway. Just wish I could say the same thing about unpacking. HA! If you guys have any unpacking tips, puh-leez share in the comments!

One of the things I start doing 1-2 weeks before departure is throwing things in everyone’s carry-ons. My goal is always to make it fun and functional without being too bulky or cluttered. I mean, it’s hard enough maneuvering around an airplane cabin and little row of seats without having to dig through a bottomless pit to find what you really need!

Here’s a few guidelines and tech tips that have worked for us on plane trips as well as road trips. Then keep scrolling to see what each kid had in their carry-ons on our most recent trip to AZ.


  1. Function over everything
  2. Everyone gets their own necessities – like gum (minus poppy), headphones, a tech device, favorite lovie (blanket + stuffy), and snacks.
  3.  Pack at least 1 small surprise per person
  4. Give each kid an item they can share OR a responsibility, like handing out suckers, making a bucket list, etc.
  5. Bonus points for activities they can also play during any downtime on the trip — like at a restaurant!

TECH TIPS: you may not need these as we’re all pretty experienced with prepping gadgets for our little ones by now, but just in case!

  1. If your not paying for everyone to have wifi on the flight, pre download movies and apps that don’t require wifi or a network to play. Clear out some memory space if needed too!
  2. Not all tech has to be zombie inducing like a movie or game. Prompt photo ops, play with filters, record and edit videos or download a book or piano/music app.
  3. Don’t forget about music and playlists — even for the littler ones!
  4. Leave the mom-guilt at home! There is nothing wrong with throwing all your screen time rules out the window for a handful of travel days each year. Just learn to smile at anyone giving judge-y eyes and brush it off. No one knows what time you had to get up to catch your flight, what it was like to get through security, or how your child is feeling about traveling…
  5. If too much screen time makes your kids cranky (like it does mine), take turns between screen time, snack time, and activity time. Switching things up and staying engaged with them while they play, always helps!
  6. The BEST HEADPHONES FOR KIDS. Great price and they have a share port. The end.

POPPY, 3 (toddler to preschool) | a sippy-cup for when the drink cart comes around, snacks, shopkins (a favorite activity), a hoodie for an extra layer and extra leggings, bracelets (her surprise), bunny mask for being silly and because Poppy loves dress up anything, headphones, new crayons and a mini coloring book I found at peek kids.

Johan had an old iPhone in his carry on for poppy to use, stocked with music and her current favorite game – THINK ROLLS (find more of our favorite apps HERE!). She ended up not using tech on the way to AZ and fell asleep watching a movie with Griffin on the way home.

GRIFFIN, 6 (kindergarten + early elementary) | snacks, maze game, gum, new markers, mini coloring book from target $1 isle, lunch bags for making hand puppets, headphones and iPad.

Griffin tends to be the third wheel with Espen and Tilly so I gave him the dum-dums and fruit snacks to be in charge of handing them out to his siblings. He loved it and the older kids were probably a little more inclusive knowing that he was the source of treats!

TILLY, 9 (2nd-4th grade) | roller essential oils (for anxiety and a mood boost), gum, ear buds, the book PAX (love the age where they can read chapter books! Espen and Tilly are usually happy to read), flash cards, googley eyes with adhesive backs , monkey string (like wiki stix), dot stickers, bunny book + markers (also from peek kids), rainbow post-it notes

Being overly prepared seems to help ease Tilly’s anxiety so she added a few more snacks and small pillow to her bag. She’s also really good at leading activities (future camp counselor maybe!?) so I put all of the craft stuff in her bag to be in charge of.

ESPEN, 11 (tweens :) | note pad and pens, a book, headphones, iPad, playing cards, stress ball, plastic spoons (I’ll explain)

This age group is so easy! I always think it’s good to have a book and something to write on. He’s also really into card games and practicing tricks and jokes so I thought it would be a good thing for him to be in charge of. The spoons were for playing the card game spoons or for practicing hanging them from their noses.

The last couple airplane trips we have taken have gone really smoothly which probably has a lot to do with the ages of our kids. Regardless, there is always an element of surprise and unpredictability when it comes to kids (especially babies!) which can make traveling with them slightly terrifying. But I also think that kids are natural travelers and it makes me wish we could do more of it! Plus the QT is pretty priceless.

How do you guys feel about traveling with or without kids?

Do you like packing or unpacking!? Remember to share this tips with me!

xo, Rae








  1. Lori April 12, 2018 at #

    Thanks for all the great tips! Where is the plastic bag from in Poppy’s picture??? A fun plastic bag makes my day!

  2. Misha April 12, 2018 at #

    Love this breakdown of what is packed in each kids’ bag! I tend to be pretty strict with screen time and restricting sugar in the every day, but now that our oldest daughter is 3.5, it has been fun to share these as special treats when we travel!

    As for unpacking, I always unpack and separate the suitcases as soon as possible when we get home. Dirty laundry in one pile (to be separated and lined up down the hall for washing) which everyone can pitch in and help, and clean stuff in another pile to be put away within a day or two. For me, packed suitcases after a trip gives me anxiety, so it’s important for me to get the suitcases empty ASAP!

  3. Claire April 12, 2018 at #

    This is so helpful! What do you do about traveling/flying with little ones and bringing (or not bringing) their car seats? I carted a car seat with me abroad when I had one young kid, but now with a preschooler and an infant, two seats seems daunting. Did you used to bring a stroller, etc when your kids were little?

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