Top 10 Must Have Items When Traveling With Kids

Must Have Items When Traveling With Kids

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Table of Contents

Do you travel with kids? Don’t forget this list of top things to have items when traveling with kids. Close your eyes and think about flying alone; the ease of it all. All you need is yourself and your luggage. You may not even need to check in a bag; a backpack or carry on may do the trick. Now, think about flying with a child/ren – both younger kids and older kids. Imagine all the things you will need, stroller, car seat, carrier etc. Flying with a child requires a lot more preparation. I have tried several different things, and can confidently make the recommendations below.

Must Have Items When Traveling With Kids

(Last Updated August 2018)


Aiden and I have been on over 100 flights.

He was 18 months when he flew for the first time, and he flew as a lap baby (Children under the age of 2 are allowed to fly free with a paid adult ticket within the United States).

traveling with a baby

Kids Travel Car Seat / Kids Travel Child Restraint System

Before Aiden was born, I spent a lot of time doing research on car seat travel, car seats, and strollers. We decided on the Orbit Baby travel system. He used the G3 Infant Car Seat until he was one. We then switched to G3 Toddler Car Seat which he still uses now. I have always taken Aiden’s car seat with me when we traveled. When he flew as a lap child, I took his car seat to the gate hoping that there’d be an empty seat so he could use it on the flight. Sometimes I was lucky and sometimes I wasn’t. The Orbit Baby G3 Toddler Car Seat, even though the most amazing car seat I have ever come across, is very heavy. It weighs a whooping 40lbs. I have had to carry it on and off each flight that we have taken up until recently.

Must Have Items When Traveling With Kids

I recently decided no more, and bought the two car seats below from Amazon to try out.

1. Evenflo Maestro Booster Car Seat – FAA Approved

Weighing in at 11lbs only, is perfect for travel. Remember, this should only be used for children 2 years of age and older.

Also, it cannot be used rear facing.

Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat 

2. Safety 1st Guide 65 Convertible Car Seat – FAA Approved

Weighing in at 11.6lbs, lightweight as well and perfect for travel. This car seat can be used rear facing and forward facing. It is great for children under and over 2.

Doona Infant Car Seat & Latch Base

3. Doona Infant Car Seat & Latch Base

If you have a baby or an infant or pregnant and expecting, I highly recommend that you invest in the Doona Car Seat. This is a game changer when traveling with infants and babies. This is a car seat and stroller in one and it is very convenient.

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All 3 car seats above are lightweight and perfect for travel. Most of all, they are also FAA approved.

How To Fly With A Car Seat

No car seat, No problem.

If you are flying somewhere and you know that you will not need a car seat at your destination, another option for you is the CARES Child Safety Device. “It is the only approved harness-type restraint for children weighing between 22 and 44 pounds. This type of device provides an alternative to using a hard-backed seat and is approved only for use on aircraft” – Quoted directly from the FAA website. 

Must Have Items When Traveling With Kids

CARES Child Safety Device

Travel Booster Seats

1. MiFold Booster Seat – Not for use on Airplanes

This car seat is not approved for use on airplanes, but we do use it for short trips via Taxi/Uber/Lyft etc. I much prefer Aiden in a 5 point harness but when we travel we use public transport most of the time. So this booster seat doesn’t get used as often. Make sure you child fits the weight limits first. It it designed for kids 4 years and up weighing at least 40lbs.

BubbleBum Inflatable Travel Booster Car Seat

4. BubbleBum Inflatable Travel Booster Car Seat – Not for use on airplanes

This is an inflatable, portable and safe travel booster seat for kids aged 4 to 11 years old. It can fits kids who are up to 150cm. It is meant to be used for kids from 40 to 100 pounds.

Bubblebum Inflatable Car Seat

3. Immi Go

This is a 5pt harnessed travel car seat perfect for travel weighing only 10lbs which fits in the plane overhead compartment. It is easy to install and fits children from 11 – 55 pounds using the latch, and 22 – 65 pounds using car seat belt. We haven’t used this yet, but I plan to try it soon.

immi go travel car seat

Kids Travel Pillow

We used the 1st Class Kids Travel Pillow on our most recent vacation to SE Asia and it was a blessing. We flew for about 13hrs one way to Beijing, and Aiden slept 85% of the flight. He slept well, and he slept comfortably. It is also very easy to blow up and folds flat when the air is out. Aiden carried it in his backpack and my husband blew it up once we were in the air and Aiden was able to lay on it as soon as the seat belt sign was off. Perfect for long flights. We’ve also used it with Aiden and his cousin to Japan and the boys slept 8hrs of the 10hr flight. It was bliss, for me at least, lol. Click here to purchase it for 15% off -> 1st Class Kids Travel Pillow 15% Off.

Kids Travel Pillow | Must Have Items When Traveling With Kids

The Trayblecloth below is also great because it covers the airplane tray table cover and can also store toys/pens/pencils as needed.

Must Have Items When Traveling With Kids

Travel Car Seat Stroller

This is very essential if you are going to use your child’s car seat on the plane. I purchased the Go-Go Babyz Mini Travelmate Car Seat Stroller from Amazon. It attaches to the back of a toddler car seat and it is very easy to install. It weighs 4.8lbs and can easily fit in the airplane overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. 

Travel Car Seat Stroller | Must Have Items When Traveling With KidsTravel Car Seat Stroller

The GoGo Babyz Travelmate turns your car seat into a stroller – WATCH HERE

A few other options are:

Best Stroller For Kids

Aiden’s Orbit Baby car seat system has it’s own stroller base, the G3 Stroller Base and that’s the only stroller he has ever used. When I decided not to use his Orbit Baby car seat for travel, I had to find an alternative. It may sound crazy, but it took me weeks of researching, reading reviews and watching YouTube videos. If you know me well, that won’t surprise you, lol. I finally decided on the UPPAbaby G-LUXE Stroller. It is soft and comfortable for Aiden, stylish and easy to maneuver. It also has a great canopy for sunny days and it reclines for nap time.

Best Stroller For Kids

We also have a GB Pockit Stroller – This stroller actually holds the record for the world’s smallest fold-able stroller. No need to gate check it, you can actually take it in the plane with you and it’ll fit in the overhead bin with no problem. It is perfect for travel with 2 kids. Must Have Items When Traveling With Kids

Other lightweight stroller options (all of them weigh under 13lbs): OR Check out my post on “Top 10 Travel Strollers

Using A Carrier When Traveling With Kids (infant and toddler carriers)

This should have been the first item of this list of must haves. I do not go anywhere without my carrier. Aiden is 3.5yrs old and I still use my carrier (YES I do). It allows me to be hands free at the airport. When he was an infant, I used a Baby K’Tan as well as a Ring Sling. When he got to big for both, I bought an Ergo. After he turned 2, I bought a Toddler Lenny Lamb. Best investments I’ve ever made.

Baby K’Tan, Ring Sling, Ergo

Carrier | Must Have Items When Traveling With Kids

Toddler Lenny Lamb : He fell asleep on the flight & I didn’t have to disrupt his sleep after the plane landed

toddler Lenny Lamb

Early morning flight, toddler Lenny Lamb to save the day

toddler Lenny Lamb | Must Have Items When Traveling With Kids

lenny lamb carrier | Must Have Items When Traveling With Kids

Best Backpack For Kids and Best Luggage For Kids

Aiden’s first luggage was a Sesame Street Luggage. He loved taking it everywhere we went. It was very small, and perfect for him say. I’d say, it’s perfect for a one to two year old. I have looked everywhere for that same luggage set and cannot find it anywhere. This is the closest thing to it – Sesame Street Kids Luggage. This one looks even cooler.

When it was time for a new suitcase, a close friend of mine who knows Aiden’s love for Thomas & Friends surprised him with a Thomas the Train Kids Pilot Case Wheel. He loves this one just as much, and it goes everywhere with him.

Carry On Luggage For Kids

[ Best Carry On Luggage For Kids ]

Sometimes instead of a luggage, Aiden takes his Paw Patrol Backpack when we travel. It’s the perfect size for him to carry and has a side pocket for his water bottle. He got this as a gift from his aunt. We use this backpack on short day trips as well.

travel backpack for kids

We recently upgraded Aiden’s backpack to an Osprey Jet 12. Then, we purchased one for him and his cousin and they love their backpacks. This is the BEST backpack for kids out there. Read more here “Best Luggage For Kids

kids travel backpack

kids traveling

I use a Samsonite luggage. It has gone through a lot of TSA rough-handling and still doing well. Having a luggage with 4 wheels is a must. It makes getting around the airport with more than one ten times easier.

On our trip to SE Asia in 2016, we decided to backpack it through. We had 4 countries to visit and didn’t want to risk checking in a bag in case it got lost. My husband and I used the Osprey Porter 65-Liter and Aiden used the Osprey Pogo Daypack. The Osprey Pogo is a little on the bigger side for him, so I also got him the Osprey Youth Jet 12 Backpack (photo above) which is smaller and would work great on day to day trips.

Best backpacks for traveling

Kids Travel Headphones

Headphones are essential in keeping kids entertained on the flight and even long car rides and/or road trips. You can use headphones with a tablet, or simply to watch in flight TV. You can also download videos/songs on your phone so that your child can use. Consider keeping some white noise on hand as well to promote sleep. 

Aiden has gone through so many pairs of headphones. Kids headphones don’t seem to be made for heavy usage. Especially for a kid who uses them on a weekly basis. It’s usually a chord issue, gets stuck somewhere or pulled and then no sound.

Aiden’s first pair was Kid Safe Over The Ear Headphones – Spider-man. They worked great for a while until they broke. 

Travel Headphones

Because we travel so much and Aiden uses his headphones quite often, my husband decided to buy him durable headphones – Beats Solo2 Wired On-Ear Headphone. They’re great, and comfortable also. 

beats headphones

We also recently discovered JBL headphones for Aiden which are wireless and just perfect!!! My husband and I both use the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones (and yes it really cancels out noise and is totally worth the splurge) 

Other good headphones for kids are LilGadgets Wired HeadphonesCozyPhones Kids Headphones and Kidz Gear Wired Headphones.

Packing and Staying Organized When Traveling With Kids

How and why didn’t I know about these sooner? 

TSA always seems to go through my luggage and ramshackle things in there (my luck right). Packing cubes are an essential part of staying organized, especially when you pack only one luggage for the entire family. No more digging through bags to find things. It’s also so much easier when everyone has an assigned color.

Packing Cubes:

Shacke Packing Cubes pictured below. Seriously, I can’t imagine my life without packing cubes !! Really

Packing Cubes

Other good packing cubes are:

Space Saver Bags

Packing Envelopes 

Travel Car Seat Bag and Travel Stroller Bag

We own one of each below, one for Aiden’s car seat and one for his stroller. It is necessary when checking in a car seat or stroller at the check-in counter or at the gate. TSA doesn’t handle things very well and you may be surprised when you get your items back. So, yes this is important.

Travel Stroller Bag

Travel Stroller Bag

Travel Car Seat 

Travel Car Seat bag
If you forget your car seat bag, you can purchase one at the counter if you are flying Southwest Airlines. Other airlines also provide a plastic car seat bag.

Fun Things To Do And See In Orlando With Kids

Kids Travel Water Bottle And Lunch Container

If you have a picky eater like mine, and need to travel with food, then you absolutely need this. I would warm up his food immediately before we left for the airport and it stayed warm until it was time for him to eat. I’ve used it for oatmeal, rice, soup, etc.

I also purchased the matching water bottle which is great for keeping water warm or cold when you need it. Just remember to be careful when opening a straw bottle on the plane as it may splash due to air pressure. I actually purchased 2 sets, so 2 water bottles and 2 thermos. I only travel with one water bottle, but sometimes I need use the second thermos to pack something different.

Thermos Funtainer | Must Have Items When Traveling With Kids

If you want to avoid a possible mid airplane water spill, then I suggest one of these highly rated water bottles below that don’t have a straw. There are water stations at the airport, so you can take your bottle through TSA and fill it up as needed. When it comes to serving food before and after your flight, consider investing in a portable high chair. It will really come in handy when feeding you young children in your hotel room (or other accommodation) later.

Please contact me with any questions you may have. As time goes on I will update this page with more travel essentials.

child traveler

Kay, The Mom Trotter

Hey Fam, I’m so glad you’re here!
I am an entrepreneur and travel enthusiast who is passionate about sharing an alternate way of living surrounding travel, homeschooling, parenting and financial independence, with a mission to inspire other families.

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