Contents of the Perfect Carry-On

Picking the right bag for your carry-on is important.  The key word is “accessibility”.  A bag with several compartments is a great choice.  The things you need most frequently should be in an outside pocket or near the top of the pack. Examples of these might include bottles, burp cloth, a quick snack and something to read.  Diapers, wipes and a change of clothing will not be used as frequently, so those can go deeper inside the pack.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, makes a Blanket Bag with NO pockets.  The entire bag opens to create a portable play area.  External diaper / wipes accessories can be attached to the bag to create a clever carry-on solution.

Travel Essentials

Most packing oversights can be remedied with a quick trip to the grocery store.  The following items are on the “essential” list because they are not easily replaced: airline tickets confirmations, hotel and rental car confirmations, wallet (including cash and at least one credit card), photo i.d. and passport (when applicable).

Certain carry-on items are prohibited.  For example, pocket knives, fingernail clippers, fingernail files, etc. need to be packed in your checked luggage.  For a detailed and updated list of prohibited and permitted items, visit the Transportation Safety Administration’s WEB site at

Though airline security requirements prevent you from bringing liquids through security, there are some notable exceptions.  These include infant formula, medications, and any liquids that meet the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requirements.  It’s easy to remember TSA’s rule of 3-1-1.  Bottles of liquid must be no more than 3.4 oz., contained in 1 quart-sized zip-lock baggie, and 1 baggie is permitted for each passenger.

Airlines also restrict the size, shape, and weight of carry-on baggage.  Check with your airline to make sure your carry-on bag meets their requirements.  The general rule of thumb is that your bag must fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead storage compartment.  Most airlines also have specific dimension limitations.  The most common maximum size restriction is 45 linear inches (length + height + width).


Airplanes can be cold, so you’ll want to pack a light sweater.  An extra set of clothes, including socks, for both children and adults are sure to come in handy.  As you’ll soon discover, spilled drinks are the norm when it comes to flying with children!

Feeding and Diapering

Pack twice the amount of food, formula, diapers and wipes you use in a normal day.  Though no one wants to contemplate the need to spend the night in an unfamiliar city due to a missed connection, fate is known to throw a few curve balls.

Also take into consideration the fact that your baby will drink more during travel – partly due to dehydration, and partly because that’s what babies do when they sit on their parent’s laps!  The formula is simple: more liquid consumed equals more diaper changes.


Bring a couple new toys for your baby to explore.  If your baby watches the Baby Einstein videos at home, invest in a set of Baby Einstein flashcards.  The images will be familiar to your baby.   If your child is entertained by DVD’s, consider downloading a few kids videos on your i-Phone or invest in a portable DVD player.  Other posts on this site contain great information for entertaining kids on airplanes

Health & Misc.

A light first-aid kit, including any prescription medications, hand sanitizer, tissue, infant pain reliever and decongestant, band-aids, etc. is a handy addition to the carry-on bag.  Also include Lysol wipes for airplane seats and armrests.  Please note: these are not for use on baby’s skin!  Be sure the package is well-labeled and let your spouse know the difference between Lysol wipes and skin-friendly wipes.

Though many parents are concerned about flying with children, you will soon discover that a well-equipped carry-on makes your flight an easy, enjoyable part of your trip.

Carry-On Packing List

Travel Essentials

Airline Tickets


Copies of airline and hotel reservations

Wallet – money / credit card

Photo identification


Light sweater

Extra socks

Clean outfit

Clean shirt for you and your spouse


Formula (enough for 2 days)

Bottles (2)

Water bottle (empty, to be filled after going through security)

Baby food (enough for 2 days)

Baby cereal (enough for 2 days)

Snacks (low-sugar)

Disposable bibs (4)

Pacifiers (2)


Diapers – (enough for 2 days)


Diaper rash cream (travel-size)

Portable changing pad


2-3 new toys

1-2 older familiar toys

Picture flashcards

Small board books

DVD player and DVD’s

Health & Misc.

Prescription medications

Hand sanitizer


Infant pain reliever

Infant decongestant


Zip-lock Baggies (3 quart-sized)

Lysol wipes

Wipes for cleaning hands and face

Receiving Blanket


  1. Jody Parr says:

    Excellent ideas even for older kids. You never know how long you might be stuck in the airport or on the plane so pays to be prepared. Thanks for the tips.

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