A little organisation goes a long way when flying with kids.
Does the prospect of a long haul flight with a screaming baby or wayward toddler fill you with dread? Best to think like a scout and “Be Prepared”. When it comes to hand luggage, it is a fine balance – you don’t want to overload yourself (especially if travelling solo) but you do want to make sure you’ve got the essentials covered. Here at Sassy Mama, we love to travel, so whether you’re packing up the family for a long weekend or embarking on your annual long-haul pilgrimage home, we’ve got your kid’s carry-on packing list covered! Be sure to swipe through to the end to download your very own Sassy Mama carry-on checklist.
Get your kids excited (and maybe helping) as they traverse the concourse with their own special suitcase! There are loads on the market these days including ride-on and brightly coloured wheelie bags.
Our picks for ride-on are the JetKids Bedbox by Stokke and the ever-popular Trunki. The Trunki is definitely more affordable and does have more packing room (we also love the many brightly-coloured designs), but the JetKids has the added bonus that it coverts to make an in-flight bed (see more sleep aids below). Whichever you choose, your kids will love pulling along or riding on their own little luggage. Do be careful not to pull too hard or suddenly – the last thing you need is an airport injury!
Jetkids Bedbox is available at Wander Cubs, Mothercare, Baby Central and also in the Cathay Pacific inflight magazine. You can also find Trunki at Baby Central, but the best price we found was on HKTV Mall.
For an affordable, lightweight option for the kids to carry themselves, you can’t go past Skip Hop Zoo Luggage. Available in a range of designs (we love the owl and the fox in particular) there’s sure to be one to suit your child’s personality. Budding artists should check out the BenBat Go Vinci Trolley. Its hard case serves as a tabletop for some gate-side colouring and has a frame on the front where you can display the finished masterpiece! The only downside to this style of luggage is that it doesn’t give the option to rest little legs that tire easily through airports.
HKTV Mall, www.hktvmall.com
Everyone knows (and speaking from experience) travelling solo with a baby is tough! You might be all sorted with your baby in the pram through security and at the gate, but then it comes time to board. All of a sudden you have a stroller to fold up (and potentially carry on) and a bag to carry. Not to mention your baby! You’d like to rely on those trusty flight attendants, but often it’s the kindness of strangers who help you physically get on that plane.
When flying solo with a baby it can be much more practical to opt for a backpack. That way, you can have the baby in the carrier, backpack on your back and your hands-free for handing over boarding passes. Then it is just an added bonus when someone comes to lend you a helping hand to board!
If you want to ditch the pram completely (or if your kids are getting that bit too big), there are a few adaptable options on the market. The Mountain Buggy Bag Rider is a sleek, black carry-on suitcase equipped with a harness so little ones can be strapped in. Perfect if you aren’t going to need the stroller at your destination! This one suits babies who can sit unaided (around nine months) up to kids around three years old (or 15kgs). In Hong Kong, it is available from Wander Cubs and Mothercare.
Those with toddlers could also consider the Micro Lazy Luggage. Your little one (up to 20kgs) can ride holding on to the handlebars. They aren’t strapped in though so do take care! You can find this one online at Jollymap and it is also possible to redeem using Asia Miles.
Jollymap, Unit H, 4/F High Win Factory Building, 47 Hoi Yuen Road, Kwun Tong, Kowloon Hong Kong, 2342 0780
Now that you’re on the plane you need to keep little ones occupied. The key is to have a wide variety of small, quiet, new games and activities up your sleeve.
Travelling with a young baby, while daunting, is actually relatively easy. They mostly eat and sleep and so there is very little “entertaining” to do. Teething toys and necklaces are great at this age (we love this one from Aussie brand Audrey And Me), as are toys with mirrors and scarves for games of peek-a-boo.
Once they’re a little older you need to get a bit more creative! Apart from the obvious iPad (fully charged) and loaded up with their favourite movies, songs, games and books (download Epic! – Kids’ Books and Videos for access to thousands of age-appropriate books, available on iOS and Android) you could try out some of the following ideas:
- Colouring books
- Stickers – just a cheap roll of colourful polka dots can keep little fingers busy
- Finger puppets
- Soft books – we have our eye on the My Holiday Quiet Book from Little Beans Toy Chest, it has vacation-themed pages and lots of felt cut-outs to inspire holiday vibes
- Bags of colourful ribbons
- Pipe cleaners to twist into different shapes
- Gift wrap a few new toys (or old ones!) and let your kid do a “lucky dip” every couple of hours
The Li Yuen Street East and West lanes are great for cheap and cheerful options!
Audrey And Me, www.audreyandme.com.au
There is nothing worse than a hangry child. Airline food is questionable at the best of times and this is not the time to experiment with new flavours! Stick to things you know will keep your little ones satisfied. In-flight snacks are not only a necessity but are also a great way to keep children of all ages occupied. Think small foods that can be easily picked up by little fingers and that take a little coordination to get from container to mouth.
You could try cereals (just watch the concentration of a toddler getting an individual rice bubble into their mouths!), raisins or sultanas, small pieces of cheese, popcorn, teething biscuits, finger sandwiches (or cut them into fun shapes), veggie sticks with dip, fresh fruit, the list really is endless. A great way to reduce the mess is with a no-spill snack container. This one from Baby Basics fits the bill!
For young, bottle-fed babies you’ll need to bring enough milk or formula for your flight and ideally at least one to two extra just in case. Cabin crew should be able to provide you with hot water, but if you’re worried, bring a thermos of boiled water so you can mix on board. Liquid restrictions are a bit more relaxed for parents travelling with young kids.
A sleeping child on a plane is like the holy grail! Definitely, something we’re all aiming for at some point in our journey. For overnight flights try to replicate as much of your child’s bedtime routine as possible. Have them change into their pyjamas, make sure they have their favourite toy and then try and make the environment as comfortable as you can for them. If your child has its own seat, set them up for bed. A black pashmina works wonders at making an airline seat more snuggly and most importantly, you can drape it to block out cabin lights (which can be a nightmare when they are still on at 2am!).
The JetKids Bedbox by Stokke is a great option to help them get some shut eye. It slides under the seat in front for take-off and landing, can store your little one’s toys and activities and then converts your toddler’s seat into their very own mini bed. You might be sitting in economy, but at least they’ll be treated to the business class experience!
Another option is an inflatable Airplane Footrest which has the advantage of folding down quite small (you will need to huff and puff to inflate though). Do be sure to check with your airline first whether they allow devices like these.
Younger babies may be content to sleep on you, in a carrier or in the bassinet, but you could also try the SkyBaby baby travel mattress (available at Baby Basics and HKTV Mall). It is a small, lightweight roll-out mattress, that wraps snugly around baby, but also has loops for an infant seat belt. It means your bub can lie across you without resting their head on an uncomfortable armrest, or getting too hot.
Even if you intend to keep your stroller with you right up until the gate, a baby carrier can be indispensable onboard. Many young ones will manage to fall asleep on you, but will wake the second they are put down. A carrier can literally take the load off your arms while you walk the aisles. It will also come in handy if you have a long walk to pick up your stroller or need your hands free to chase after other children!
If you have a wrap or sling style (try the Moby Wrap or Maya Baby Wrap both available on Amazon) you may find it more comfortable when sitting on the plane, rather than something with too many buckles or clips.
A little pouch with must-haves for both you and the kids is essential. Be sure to have travel-sized toothpaste and toothbrush, moisturiser, hand cream and lip balm as a minimum. It is also worth packing hand sanitiser (travel can be a grubby business) and wet wipes in an easy to access compartment. You’ll, of course, need plenty of nappies and cream if your little one isn’t toilet trained yet. The last thing you want is to be caught short!
It is also worth packing a small medical kit with panadol (for you and the kids), bandaids, throat lozenges and any other medications you feel might be necessary. There would be nothing worse than getting a few hours into a long-haul flight and then discovering your child was unwell.
Children and mess go hand in hand. Let’s just assume that they (and probably you) are going to need a new outfit at least once during the flight. And if not you’ll have some nice fresh clothes to change into at your destination. Make sure everyone has at least one spare outfit and underwear packed just in case.
A waterproof or plastic bag is likewise invaluable for dirty clothes, leaking containers and any other slip-ups that might arise.
Keep all your important documents together. Obviously, you’ll have your passports and boarding passes, but don’t forget any relevant visas and a pen for filling out arrival cards. If you are travelling solo with the kids, it is also worth carrying a copy of your children’s birth certificates as well as your marriage certificate and significant other’s passport.
Some countries are getting very strict about children travelling and will ask to see a letter from the non-travelling parent stating that they know the journey is happening. Always better to be safe than sorry when dealing with immigration authorities!
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images, image 1 courtesy of Trunki, image 2 courtesy of Mountain Buggy, image 3 courtesy of Getty, image 4 courtesy of Melissa via Flickr, image 5 courtesy of JetKids by Stokke, image 6 courtesy of Maya Wrap, image 7 courtesy of Getty, image 8 courtesy of Arnel Hasanovic on Unsplash, image 9 courtesy of Jon Tyson on Unsplash.