An extra set of clothing: Accidents and spills happen during travel just as much as at any other time. I typically don’t leave home without a change of clothes for my daughter, so this is no different. Keep in mind also that luggage gets lost, so you’ll want to have a spare outfit on hand, just in case.
Snacks: If you’ve ever had to distract your child with snacks while waiting at the DMV or grocery shopping, you understand the importance of having them handy at all times! While you may not be able to get them through security, you can stock up before the flight. Overpriced as airport food may be, it might be cheaper than buying in-flight.
Hand Sanitizer & Disinfectant Wipes: Planes and airports are crawling with germs, and a sink is not always readily available to wash up in. I wipe down every surface before my daughter uses it, especially the tray table. These are also great to have on hand for unexpected messes and spills.
A Sippy Cup: If your toddler or pre-schooler uses a special cup, bring it. I dare say that even if he has graduated, a cup with a lid during any travel is a pretty good idea.
A Small Blanket: Planes don’t give away freebies like they used to and this multi-use travel tool is a must-have. It can provide warmth, block light, serve as a pillow, prop up a tablet, or even serve as a towel in case of something unexpected. I always pack a light blanket that won’t take up too much space in my bag.
Headphones: I doubt anyone wants to hear any of the Disney Jr. that my daughter will jamming out to on the flight, and she may need the volume up higher than normal to compensate for the noise from the plane. Noise-cancelling headphones are my favorite.
Tablet: Assuming you don’t give your child unlimited access to one of these on a daily basis, tablets can provide hours of entertainment, so make sure yours full of apps, games and movies (that don’t require Wi-Fi) to keep him busy and the time will fly by!
Activity Books: Sometimes you just have to unplug (and sometimes that’s literally the case), so bring a few light items that don’t require batteries. I recommend purchasing a few coloring, sticker, or activity books in advance and hiding them from your child so that the novelty is still there when she sees them for the first time during your travels. Water Wow books are great because they make zero mess and can be reused over and over. Color Wonder products work similarly.
While my carry on seems more for my mini-me than me, I of course never forget my airline ticket, wallet which contains my necessary ID, credit cards and cash. After all, I'm going to need them for my vacation and we can't leave without them. Hopefully my carry-on edition will be a help for those who plan on traveling with a little one in tow.