5 Must-Haves for Flying with Elementary-Aged Kids


Our family loves to travel. Last year we even decided to homeschool in order to accommodate our plan to spend six weeks in Europe. Travel is a big part of our lives and something we’ve spent a lot of time planning and perfecting in our last ten years of parenthood. We’ve been flying with our kids since they were infants. Now that they’re 10 and 8, we’re not dragging along car seats or strollers. But they’re still kids, not mini adults. So a bit of planning can make travel as friction-free as possible.

» » » » » »  RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Ultimate Guide to Summer in Albuquerque  « « « « « «

With that in mind, these are some of the things we always take along when flying with our kids. Some are space savers, others are sanity savers, all of them are must-haves for us.

1. Kid-Sized Carry On

We help our kids to pack their own carry-on bag with the things they’ll need on the flight. We like to include a neck pillow and small blanket, light sweatshirt, snacks, water bottle, gum, a travel journal, i-pad and headphones, and activities.

I love the kids backpack from REI because it has lots of compartments for organization. It also has a chest and hip clip to keep the kids comfy carrying a heavy load.

2. Wikki Stix

Wikki Stix are the best! They’re a mess-free, open-ended activity. My daughters usually use them to design elaborate jewelry pieces. But you could build anything with them or practice shapes, letters, and numbers. They are my all-time favorite activity when flying with kids!

I like to take ours out of the original packaging and put them in a ziplock before we leave home. This way we can use them again and again.

3. RX Nut Butter

Every family has at least one person who gets hangry, right? These nut butter pouches are the perfect emergency snack. They fit in a pocket or purse. They won’t get smashed or turn into crumbs. Plus, they have protein from the nuts and egg white. And they’re delicious!

5 Must-Haves for Flying with Elementary-Aged Kids4.Travel Journal

We started this one during our homeschool year. But it’s one of those things we’ll be continuing in the future. There are a handful of companies that make great journals with prompts. But I’ve found that my daughters actually prefer basic lined journals so that they can use them for tic-tac-toe, drawing, and other free-play in addition to writing about their travel experience.

5. Library Apps

This one is free, and it doesn’t take up any extra space in your bag! Books have been a big part of our routines since our kids were tiny. But packing a variety of bedtime board books just wasn’t practical. Going digital makes reading on the go doable! We use hoopla and Libby. Both are free with your Albuquerque library card! They have picture books, chapter books, audio books, and even picture books that the app will read aloud to your kids! It’s a good way to kill some time when you’re flying with kids.

» » » » » »  RELATED READ: Flying with Kids? Read These Airline Travel Tips First  « « « « « «

I hope this list will inspire you as you pack for that summer vacation! I’m a big believer in sharing all the mom hacks!

You can find a wealth of knowledge from other ABQ moms on the topic of travel. I’m so grateful to all these wise women who share what works for them! Let me know in the comments below if there’s something you’d add to the list.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.