Flying with kids? 8 must-have carry-on items

The idea of taking your kids on a long-haul flight might make you think about having your family holiday closer to home. Like, in the lounge room. But it’s not that scary – we promise! The secret is in clever carry-on packing. Sure, there are the obvious essentials, like a water bottle, a change of clothes and a tablet chock full of episodes of their favourite shows. But what else?

Don’t sweat! Our ultimate kids carry-on guide is here to make air travel child’s play. Here are seven must-have items to pack in your bag NOW!

1. Wet wipes. All the wet wipes!

Get the biggest pack you can find, then buy two of them. This is one item you don’t want to have to ration. Sticky hands, dirty faces and spilled juice will have nothing on your endless supply of wipes.

2. The life-changing joy of washi tape and crayons

Kids love washi tape. They can tear it up and use it like stickers, but it’s also easy for you to remove if they go a bit overboard and start decorating their tray table (hey, artistic accidents happen). As for colouring in, pencils that need sharpeners and textas that can dry out mid-flight are for rookies. Grab some twistable crayons instead – they create less mess and keep on working even if the ends break off. Bring a brand-new (and therefore super exciting) colouring book too. Pure genius!

3. Keep them fed

Break some snack rules and give the kids a treat. Chewy lollies are a multipurpose inclusion as they stop the dreaded ear pop, work well as a bribe, and allow for a little bit of quiet time as they munch away. Just watch out for the post-treat sugar high.

4. Browse a mag

You know those kids’ magazines you always say no to in the supermarket? Grab a couple next time you go through the checkout and surprise your kid/s when you get on the plane. They’ll be thrilled and who doesn’t love a good in-flight magazine? Bonus Insider Tip: Bring some magazines for yourself or even use them as a ploy to make friends with your neighbours on the plane.

5. Magic earplugs, anyone?

There’s a reason why babies and young children cry on planes. When we fly, the air pressure around us changes. As adults, our ears “pop” to equalise this pressure, but little ears with narrow Eustachian tubes (or even adult ears that are blocked by ear/sinus infections, colds, or swollen adenoids) can’t do this well. This causes pressure on the eardrum, which can hurt – a lot!

Thankfully, you can now buy special ear plugs that help regulate the pressure and reduce the pain (yay!). There are both kids’ and adult sizes available, and you can buy them at most airports (usually in the newsagent or chemist).

6. Stuck on you

Travel-size board games are great, but not if they have small loose pieces that will end up rolling down the aisle. Look for magnetic versions of these games instead, which will hold all the pieces in place, even with turbulence. Magnetic bingo, checkers or snakes and ladders will keep the kids busy (and you can teach them about magnets too!).

7. Unplugged fun

Screen-time rules can take an occasional holiday too – especially when you’re mid-flight. Hook the kids up with wireless headphones so they’re not tethered to their seat. And check with your airline before you fly about any BYO earphone restrictions or if they have any apps you need to download to access the in-flight entertainment system.

8. Cosy up

Planes can get cold, especially at night. Socks and a beanie (along with a special something to cuddle) will keep the kids cosy and content, which will make it easier for them (and you) to go to sleep.

What’s your kid’s carry-on must-have?

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