What to pack in children’s hand luggage

If you are thinking of travelling with young children, it is easy to be put off by the flight.

Having travelled on many flights, both short and long haul with our children, from a few months to 7 years old, I have one resounding tip…be prepared.

Having to endure flying with children needn’t put you off travel, in fact the journey can be a fun and exciting part of your trip providing you are ready for it!

What to pack in hand luggage with kids?

So you have booked your trip, and you are now wondering how your child or baby will cope on the flight and what you should pack in your hand luggage?

Firstly, keep your own hand luggage to a minimum

Yes thats right, I doubt it would come as a surprise to most parents, but it is unlikely that you will have too much ‘me time’ on the flight. Stay optimistic and take a reading device, or book along if you are on a long haul flight – in case your child naps, but the chances are you will be all hands to the deck for the majority of the flight.

By keeping your hand luggage to a minimum, you will have all important capacity to help your child with theirs/push the buggy/hold their hand/navigate security with ease.

For the littlest variety;

Taking baby milk and food on the plane

If you are travelling with a baby or toddler the chances are they will need milk on the plane. Despite tight security surrounding the carriage of liquids on to aircraft, most airlines allow you to take the amount of milk or food required for the journey. Alternatively many people recommend the Boots reserve and collect services, available at many UK airports, which allows you to collect baby supplies after security and take them onboard. If you are using this service, be aware that should you have a connecting flight you may need to pass through security again at your transfer airport – so be wary of your allowances. In our personal experience, we have never had a problem taking milk or ready made food through security (although they did make me open and try a pouch of cold lamb casserole once *gag) and the cabin crew have always been happy to warm food and supply hot water.

A small Snuggie (or blanket)

We always take a blanket with us for our children, it gives them comfort in unfamiliar territory (both on the plane and in your destination.) Planes can be cold too, so anything that helps your children stay warm and comfy is helpful. We add a patch to the blanket for everyone of the destinations we have visited too, which the children are very proud of.

For those that need more than milk and snuggles to stay occupied;


Nothing fancy, just a huge selection of planner stickers, the round coloured dots. Stick them to plain paper, draw on them, allow them to be stuck to your face…they are a valuable time waster.

Colour magic books and pens, or a small aqua doodle

We love the Crayola magic colour books and aqua doodles, they offer mess free fun and are not too bulky to pack in hand luggage. If you opt for the aqua doodle though, fill the pen after security.

A travel “lucky dip”

One of my favourite things to do, takes a fair amount of prep but proves a great tool onboard long haul flights. Take the time to wrap small (and security friendly) items, such as blind bags, small lego sets, sweets, a magazine or some of the afor mentioned stickers and place them in a bag. Then every 1/2 hour or hour, dependant on the length of you flight you can allow your child to pick a surprise from the bag. Activity based items are best – to prolong interest.

A pre-loaded tablet

Most long haul flights have in flight entertainment for children to enjoy, however the games tend to be tricky for smaller passengers. We have a Kindle fire, which we download plenty of BBC and ITV shows too, along with educational games and plenty of just for fun stuff too. Importantly – pack headphones! There is NOTHING more annoying than listening to the constant hum of someone else’s game from two seats in front!


Dry snacks such as raisins, mini packets of biscuits, fruit snack bags and sweeties all help to pass the time and give little voices a rest…. but you know this already, you’re a parent.

Something for their ears

With the change of air pressure, little ears can suffer. For babies; time their feed during ascent and descents to alleviate the symptoms, for older children; consider packing a lolly-pop or encourage regular sips of water.

Pack a good measure of patience and keep your head!

Whilst it is good to be respectful and keep noise to a minimum, try not to worry about keeping your child silent on a flight or stressing if they do not sleep at the designated time on the plane, remember many of your fellow passengers will also be travelling with children or be parents themselves, so they know how difficult it can be when your little ones won’t play ball. When you are stressed, your child knows it and will inevitably become more difficult to settle. Keep calm.

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