What to Pack Wednesday | Young Child's Carry-on

Our tried and true must-pack items for a young child's carry-on.

What to pack in a child's backpack for travel

1. Backpack | 2. Lego Pack | 3. Blanket | 4. Kindle | 5. Logic Game | 6. Water Bottle | 7. Puzzle | 8. Snacks

9. Earphones | 10. Safety Strap


We here at Happy Go Lucky Travel are a carry-on family. We rarely check any luggage, even if we have a direct flight. Having to restrict myself to smaller suitcases forces me to be more thoughtful about what we bring along on our trips. Each family member will have their own suitcase, but will also carry their own backpack for each trip. After many years of travel with a little one, we've been able to whittle down what we carry in those backpacks to the necessities - items we know we will use. Today I'm highlighting what goes into our daughter's pack for nearly every trip.

1. Burton Backpack - Our daughter is on the smaller side and we find that this pack fits her perfectly. In the past we've used smaller 'toddler' packs but found that we weren't able to fit all of the items for her into it. We love the side pockets of this bag so we can put her water bottle in it, for easy access. There is a nice big front pouch with some zippered compartments for storing smaller items, such as the snacks. The inner pocket is roomy enough to fit all the other items shown, along with an extra layer, like a sweatshirt or a packable insulated jacket, and her beloved stuffed bear. Burton bags have a lifetime warranty, too, so, we aren't worried about having to treat it too gently on our travels. We've had this one for several years now and it looks brand new.

2. Lego Pack - Like most kids, our little one is really into legos. And this doesn't seem to be a phase that is ending any time soon. With that in mind, I created this little lego carrying case that has been great for travel. The case itself is super easy to make! I simply purchased a plastic pencil case at my local craft store and a lego base plate from amazon. I cut the lego plate to fit inside the pencil case and then hot-glued it to the bottom. Voila - a mobile lego building station! For each trip we try to buy a new bagged lego set or 2 to surprise her (like this or this - or just search for bagged legos on amazon.com), and then we also bring along some of the old ones so she can rebuild them. I always store ziploc snack bags in the case, too, to keep the lego sets together once we open the packs.

3. Travel Blanket/Pillow - We love this sweet little pillow & blanket combo! Its super soft and cute to look at, and a must-have for those chilly flights!

4. Kindle Fire - We love our kindle fire for our little one! It's pretty inexpensive (compared to other tablets) so we're not too concerned about drops or spills, and it's jam packed with features. We use this device at home and on the road, and love the Kindle Free Time component. For a super low monthly price, we get tons of games and books that are age appropriate and it is all contained within the free time app on the device. We can also download movies from our Amazon library or any prime show or video! Just be sure to set it offline if you are traveling overseas, as there are some restrictions on shows that can be included with prime in other countries. As long as you download at home and then set the device to offline mode, though, you're good!

5. Logic Game - While it's pretty easy to let our kid zone out on movies and videos (on either her kindle or seat back screen), we do like to challenge her little brain, too. These logic games are great for that! They're compact, so easy to pack, and they have different levels of difficulty, so they keep her mind working. There are different games for different age groups, too, which means you can find these for all your kiddos!

6. Water Bottle - Hydration is a must on any trip! Heck, I don't ever leave home without my water bottle, whether I'm riding around town or traveling overseas. These Kleen Kanteen bottles are the best. They keep your drinks cold for hours, are easy to clean and come in many shapes and sizes. They have different tops available, too, so if your little one is prone to spills, you can get the sippy top that will keep messes at bay!

7. Puzzle - This is a great activity to do on the plane, where moms and dads can join in, too. It fits on the seat-back table when put together, which is a plus!

8. Snacks! Snacks are a must have, whether traveling with kids or without. We like to have a stash of snacks for the plane ride, since we can't always get vegan food while traveling. Here are some of our favorites:

GoGo Squeeze Organic Applesauce - It's always good to up your fruit intake while traveling, to balance out all the treats, and these little pouches are so easy to pack. They meet the liquid size requirements for air travel, too!

Clif ZBar - These tasty little treats provide a little fiber and a lot of great flavor for littles.

Fruit Leather - Sweet little pick me up that can fit in the tiniest of spaces, and they're all natural!

Amazing Grass Superfood Shake Mix - We LOVE these for travel. We actually have these at home every day for breakfast. They're packed with vitamins and minerals and one serving is the equivalent of 30 fruits & veggies. These can be mixed with water or milk.

9. Earphones - Great for use with the kindle or seat-back entertainment! They have volume control so things can't get too loud no matter how hard your kiddo tries.

10. Safety Strap - This, in my opinion, is the most important item we bring for plane travel. If your child is under 44 pounds, this is something you should pick up, too. The lap belt on planes are not meant for little bodies. If you were to encounter severe turbulence, a lap belt may not hold a smaller child in. This harness is extremely easy to pack, and super easy to install, so there is no reason not to buy one and bring it along on your next flight. While we love going on adventures, safety is always first, and we hope it is for you, too!