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Traveling With Kids: Packing For Two

I’m going on a trip with my preschooler! There’s been a lot going on, so I’ve decided to pack most of what we may need ahead of time, and then add more as I get laundry done and do a final look through (where I add missing items or take extras out). I won this trip to Mesa, Arizona through Allegiant Air and Visit Mesa just a few weeks ago, and I’m super excited. I’ve never flown on Allegiant before, but a few of my friends have so I’ve heard them mentioned a lot lately. The last time I was Arizona was when I was a little kid, but I’ve never been to Mesa so it will be neat to explore the city with my little girl. Once we arrive, we’ll have a full schedule of activities to do, places to see, and foods to try!

Even though we’ll be gone for just 3-4 days, I’ve packed enough for 5-6. Not only because I never know what weather will be like (and living in the Bay Area has taught me to pack for fickle weather), but both my daughter and I are prone to spilling food on ourselves. Fortunately, toddler clothes are pretty compact, and even though she’s going to bring her own assortment of hair accessories and shoes, traveling with her now is a lot easier than when she was still in diapers and needed her own suitcase. So I get half a suitcase, and she gets half a suitcase. Then at the end of the trip, the two sides turn into the leftover clean clothes side and the dirty clothes side (I put these in a large washable bag inside the suitcase).

I could give myself more room and pack her clothes in her own little suitcase, but getting it all in one piece of luggage makes things a lot easier when I’m bringing along a stroller, car seat, and carry-on as well. Some people ditch the stroller, or opt for an umbroller on trips. Since my daughter is 3, I like to bring a regular stroller so I can throw the car seat on top, and my bags underneath while running through the airport (or put my daughter in it if she keeps running off).

Additional Ideas For Luggage:

  • Luggage that can be wiped off before going back home
  • Plastic bags for toiletries that may spill or leak during flight
  • Backup medicine
  • Extra clothes (socks, underwear, outfit)
  • Washable bag for dirty clothes
  • Backup shoes
  • Hand sanitizer/wipes
  • TSA-approved luggage locks (TSA can open in case they need to, but it keeps others out)

My carry on bag is usually a super big bag filled with activities to entertain the little one, but then I would get on board and realize I didn’t bring anything for myself. Now I bring my laptop, and I don’t bring as many small toys for her (unless someone else is with us and I have another carry on for just her). Instead, I bring books, movies, 1-2 activities for her to do, and let her choose a doll or stuffed toy for the trip.

Carry-On Bag or Backpack:

  • Laptop and charger (for in-flight movies, and because I worry it would get smashed in my luggage)
  • Camera bag (fits inside oversized bag)
  • Paperback kiddo books (I bring lightweight, thin books that fit better in the bag with all my stuff and don’t break my back)
  • iPhone, charged and loaded with a few movies
  • iPhone charger (because I’ve had to ask a stranger for theirs before in order to coordinate a ride home)
  • An extra outfit for the kiddo
  • A toothbrush and mini toothpaste for me and the kiddo
  • Snacks galore! I bring a little lunch bag with sliced fruit and veggies, and some animal cookies.
  • Money, ID for me and the little, Target card (you just never know)
  • Small activity (counting cards, coloring books, wiki sticks)
  • Small toy or doll
  • Blanket (since this trip is to a warm weather destination, it will be a lightweight blanket she can use for her baby, or I can use for her.)

What do you bring in your carry-on bag for your little one?

*This post was originally published April 28, 2014.

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