Travel with Kids – Pack This, Not That

When traveling with kids, packing stuff that’s important to the child is a must because it may be important to your sanity. But sometimes there’s a fine line between the right stuff and wrong stuff.

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Read Travel with Kids – Pack This, Not That Podcast Transcript

  • Toys

Pack this: Something well-loved – and still played with and/or slept with – even if it is old and ratty.

Not that: Brand new toys that you “think” you children will like. This is fine if you know for sure your children will like this but if you’re not positive, don’t bother.

Top 10 tips for infrequent flyers

  • Reading Material

Pack this: Some kids would rather read than so anything else – or be read to. Little ones usually thrive on hearing the same story over and over. Bring the favorites (on your electronics or the actual book – children’s books don’t take up much space) or bring the latest in their favorite series.

Not that: Don’t bring sci-fi when your kid is all about biographies. If you don’t know what your child likes, ask him or her to draw up a list.

  • Snacks

Pack this: Cookies, candies and other sweets. If you ever allow sugary treats, now’s the time to haul them out as they make excellent bribes for good behavior. Yes, I know I’ll catch heck for this but what can I say? I am a veteran parent.

Not that:  Fruits and vegetables have their place (yes, they do, kids!) but maybe not on a plane, although some parents tell me they have great luck with grapes and raisins.

  • Electronics

Pack this: Some planes have seatback screens. Most do not. Bring your electronic device loaded with movie, shows and games if this is what your children enjoy.

Not that: Don’t bring an electronic device that hasn’t been charged in a while. And don’t forget the charger.

  • Baby Items

Pack this: You know what you need, from pacifiers to blankets to sippy cups. Also, the FAA recommends all children have a separate seat (as opposed to a lap) so be sure to bring an FAA-approved seat with proper restraints if that’s how you’ll travel. And, please, don’t forget to bring enough diapers.

Not that: A too small supply of diapers. Flight attendants do not have extras.

  • The Fun

Pack this in your head: Memories of your first flight, and share them with your child. Flying is an amazing experience so be sure to look out the window with your little ones and relive the magic.

Leave this at home: The attitude most of us have toward flying, that it’s a pain in the behind. Bad attitudes are catching and if you want a happy child, you be happy, too.

  • And Don’t Forget to Do This

Check flight details: Flights and but especially seat locations can change with little notice so review your itinerary on the airline site from time to time before your flight. If you see changes, contact the airline (and usually a phone call is best).

Rehearse: Airport security can be intimidating to young and old alike, so explain it ahead of time and let kids know they will have to put backpacks and stuffed animals on conveyor belts but they will get them back. The good news is, kids 12 and under do not have to take shoes or jackets off.

More from Rick Seaney:

7 Things Parents Forget on Plane Trips with Kids

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Published: March 31, 2014