Family Travel Tips

12 Things NOT To Forget When Flying – The Absolute Must Have Carry-On Items

Some things are just plain necessary while traveling!!  We have come up with a list of things we are never caught without. Because let’s be honest sometimes flying can be a nightmare and the last thing you want is to be stuck on an airplane without something that you realize you need. Keep reading for our travel tips about the absolute must have carry-on items.

12 Absolute Must Have Carry-On Items

1-Photocopy of Your Passport

Luckily we have never lost a passport while traveling (knock on wood)!  There is always a chance of losing or having your passport stolen while traveling.  If that does happen, a colored photocopy of your lost passport can go a long way in reducing the headache of getting a replacement.  PS Don’t ever lose your passport!!

*To read more about the travel documents you need while traveling internationally with children, click here – Travel Consent Letter, When and Why You Need One.


I’m not talking a suitcase full of snacks, but just a few things to eat if you get in a bind and are somewhere you can’t find food (expect the unexpected while traveling) or time is short and you are starving.  Trust me, those granola or protein bars have saved me more than once.

3-Hand Sanitizer

I ALWAYS carry a little bottle of hand sanitizer in my purse when traveling.  It goes a long way when you are in areas where good hand-washing facilities are unavailable.  This is key for family travel. Those little ones are always touching every nasty handrail or doorknob or (heaven forbid) climbing all over the floor, and sinks and soap are not always readily available.

4-Advil (ibuprofen) and Benadryl (antihistamine)

A travel sized container of Advil comes in handy when those unexpected aches act up.  Jet-lag and air travel have a way of bringing on a headache. My husband once got a terrible case of hives on an overnight flight and was a miserable mess for hours!  We have had allergies similar to that flare up more than once so the solution for us is to always have a few Benadryl tablets on hand.

5- A Pair of Socks

Who wants to walk around barefoot on the airplane.  So nasty. And, EW, there is nothing I hate more than having to walk barefoot (or in my regular socks) through the security lines.  I always have an extra pair of socks to quickly slip on. Use this same pair of socks to wear while on the airplane to keep your feet extra warm.  I often just throw this pair of socks away after a trip.

6-U Shaped Head/Neck Pillow

I have so often walked off of a flight with a horrible kink in my neck that lasts for days.  The solution? A U-shaped neck pillow. It aids tremendously to keep the “kinks” at bay and also to help me sleep better while flying.

7-Reading Material

I know, something in print is so antiquated but if your electronics die or the wi-fi is terrible you will thank me.  A magazine or a good book will help the time pass much more quickly!

8-Sleep Aid

If you are on a long haul flight a sleep aid can be so valuable.  Over the counter remedies work well; melatonin, Tylenol PM or Unisom can just give you that little something to help you get a few more ZZZs.  Do what you know works for you.

9-Sweater or Travel Blanket

It seems like I am always cold on an airplane.  I have also noticed (is it just me?) that the window seat is the coldest place to be since air is blowing out on the walls of the airplane.  Be prepared with an extra sweater or travel blanket to help keep your body temperature regulated. You could always ask for a blanket from the flight attendant but honestly, who knows where those have been. YIKES!!

10-Eye Mask and Ear Plugs

For those flights where you want to get some sleep (or rest) and shut out the rest of the world.  

11-Headphones or Earbuds

The quality of the headphones on the airplane are sub-par at best.  We have found it is best to carry your own. They are small, easy to pack and will make your movie viewing experience much better.  Some people (my kids) prefer to travel with noise canceling headphones to listen to their own playlists or to just get some peace and quiet.  

12-Extra pair of Underwear, Swimsuit, Clothes

If your luggage gets lost (it has happened to us more than once) it can be days sometimes before your luggage shows up.  We like to pack an extra pair of clothes, underwear and anything else that might be needful just in case our luggage gets sent off to TimBukTu.  Once when my luggage was lost, I had to squeeze myself into a pair of my daughter’s pants (she’s about 4 sizes smaller than I am). Believe me, it wasn’t a pretty sight.  It doesn’t take much room in your carry-on to pack these few extra things and can potentially save you time, money and frustration.

What are your carry-on must haves?? We would love to hear what you have to have!

*For our comprehensive list on what to take on airplanes with little kids, click here – Long Haul Flight with Kids Survival Kit for Parents!


*Don’t forget to pin this and to subscribe to our newsletter to get your FREE #coloringtheworld starter kit, travel hacks and itineraries!  *These images for this post only are from Wikimedia Commons. 
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11 thoughts on “12 Things NOT To Forget When Flying – The Absolute Must Have Carry-On Items

  1. Most definitely agree with keeping an extra set of clothes and toiletries in your carry on bag! When I traveled to Peru in high school, our luggage was lost. I hadn’t thought to pack extra clothes or anything in my bag and we were working in a remote part of the mountains. We kept thinking our luggage would arrive any day, but it didn’t come until over halfway through the trip! I had to borrow things from my trip mates until they arrived and wear the same set of clothes the whole time!

  2. Good items to have for travel on your carry-on. I would also bring the essential toiletries like toothpaste, toothbrush, and deodorant or body spray for hygiene purposes.

  3. I absolutely love that you added a photocopy of your passport to the list. That is a brilliant idea! Thanks for the tip!!!

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