carry-on bag flying with kids

What to pack in your Carry-On Bag, when flying with a Baby & a Toddler

I love those Capital One Credit Card Commercials. The ones where Jennifer Garner asks “what’s in your Wallet?”  As a frequent user of travel & rewards credit cards and an owner of that exact Capital One card, I guess those commercials just resonate.  Trying to impersonate Ms. Garner, I once asked another mom in the airport, “What’s in your….Carry-on Bag?”  The joke went down as well as you’d expect.

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A Minimalist Mindset

The thing is, when you start flying with kids, what goes into that incredibly precious space in your carry-on bag is so important.  The items packed could literally make or break the entire flight. If not packed right, your vacation be off to a very rocky start.  Unfortunately, I’ve been there.

We had our first child in October 2016.  Then 15 months later, baby Emily arrived. Combined, these babies have flown on 80+ flights.  Every trip has been a new learning experience when it comes to packing.  Although I don’t have it down to a science yet, I am evolving into the ultimate minimalist packer. When flying with kids, I know what never to forget, but I also pack ONLY the essentials. Between the 4 of us -my husband, James, Emily, and myself – we all share ONE carry-on back pack.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Flying with a Baby and a Toddler

Below is a list of everything that goes into this carry-on bag.

Mom and Dad’s Essentials:

  • This is the Bag we use. This carry-on bag has held up on nearly 80 flights and is great at organizing everything we bring
  • Passports/ Driver’s License
  • Wallet
  • Boarding passes/Plane tickets
  • Rental Car Reservations Documents
  • Phone
  • Chapstick
  • Contacts/eye-glasses
  • Headphones
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Large Water Bottle that clips on to carry-on bag
  • One Back-up Shirt each for emergency

Baby & Toddler Essentials

  • Snacks, Snacks, & more Snacks. Some airlines provide snacks, but I still recommend bringing your own. I usually hit up Starbucks before boarding and get a fruit cup, granola bar, and 2 cups of steamed whole milk.  
  • 1 Bottle & 1 Sippy Cup for Emily (obviously not needed if breastfeeding. Bring travel size packets instead of whole can if using formula)
  • 2 Sippy Cups for James (one for warm milk and the other for water or juice). It’s important to have them drink something when taking off and landing to reduce pressure on their ears. 
  • 1 Blanket per child
  • One back-up outfit per child (I usually bring their overnight onsies)
  • Diapers (as few as possible, but enough for unexpected blow outs)
  • Baby Wipes
  • Hand Sanitary wipes for babies (I use these)

Click HERE to learn how our family uses points and miles to travel as often as we can for cheap (sometimes even free). A step by step guide is included for you. 


  • Amazon Fire . I bring 2 -one for each child. Don’t Judge Me. It’s totally worth it when flying with kids! I download Disney movies & apps that have books and educational videos on the memory card so that the tablet does NOT need Wifi. The tablets also double as a sound machine in their rooms while on vacation. I turn on you-tube “white noise” to drown out any unfamiliar sounds. It helps them sleep better! I got a deal on Amazon for buy one get one free- here’s the link.
  • A few Hot-Wheels for James. 
  • Books (2 small paperback)
  • NEW TOY (a small toy that James has never seen before – last flight we tried these customizeable Crayons

And that’s it! Not too much crap to carry, but just enough items to call for a smooth flight. So, in an effort to sign off with my never-ending dorkiness, I have one question for you… What’s in your Carry-On Bag?

Click here for a free PRINTABLE Version of this Packing List!

Happy & Safe Travels!

Related: 8 Tips for a Calm flight with a Baby and Toddler

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