Kids Can Carry On

By Kim Orlando of

Kids need their own carry-on when traveling. It's like having their own personal treasure chest. My kids started packing (and pulling) their own bag around age 3. They figured out pretty quickly that ALL of their stuffed animals wouldn't fit and, in my son's case, that 25 die-cast cars & planes made his backpack really heavy. Not that it fazed them. When they were really small, my husband and I would have to "edit" the stuff they packed. Now that they are older (11, 9, 7), "editing" can incite major drama. Instead, we remind them to bring paper, pencils and crayons, and usually their portable DVD player. Sometimes I can get them to pack an extra pair of shorts in case of spills. After that, there's not much room for more.

Here is a list of "Must Pack" items from

Model Magic by Crayola
This genius product looks and feels like Play-Dough, comes in assorted colors and can be found in drugstores and craft stores. The biggest benefit is that it does not stick to the seats or carpet. Most flight attendants are horrified when they see the kids playing with Model Magic because they think it is Play Dough. Biggest drawback? Model Magic cannot be reused.

Once your sculptors have created their masterpieces, they can be stored in a barf bag. The bags are lined so the Model Magic will not stick. Once you arrive to your destination, you can take the masterpiece out of the bag and let them harden. Color with markers or, if you are really brave, paint.

Earphones for Child-Size Ears
This item is important! Many airlines offer TVs or music and will usually include a set of earphones at no charge. The problem is that the earphones provided are too big for most kids 8 years of age and under. They either fall out or if they wrap around the head, they will land well below the ear. We like Magnavox earphones that fold - which can be found Target for around $6.99.

I always add gum, lollipops and a PBJ to each of the kid's bags when we travel. The gum and lollipops are for their ears. The chewing and sucking actions help to keep their ears from getting too clogged with pressure. The PBJ is for layovers or if the plane food is inedible (likely). Note: not all airports will allow a homemade PBJ through security.

Mini Band-aids and First Aid Kit
Include a variety of sizes of Band-aids and wipes. In case of emergency, these handy adhesives can also be used as stickers or for stuffed animal repairs.

Kim Orlando is the founder of, an online travel resource and magazine committed to making life's trips easier for moms.

Also see:
Traveling with young children
Traveling with an infant