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Going on vacation as a family is one of the best things you can do, but before you even get to your destination, you must face one of the greatest hurdles of family travel: packing. While packing for one is easy, packing for yourself plus the entire family is a different story. The easiest way to combat this stressor, even before it becomes a problem, is to decide to travel with carry-on items only. Whether you are looking to learn to travel light, save on costs, or just going on a weekend trip, this carry-on packing list is for you. 

Step 1: Know your airlines 

The Ultimate Carry On Packing List
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First things first before even getting started on your carry-on packing list, it is important that you are familiar with your airline’s carry-on baggage policy. For most airlines, carry-on items are limited to one bag (e.g. luggage, duffle bag, or suitcase) plus one personal item (e.g. purse or backpack). Each traveler with a ticket is allowed each of these items.

So if you are a family of four with two parents, a 4-year-old, and a lap infant, yourself, your partner, plus your older child are permitted each of these items. Because your baby is considered a lap infant, they do not get any bags for themselves. It is also important to note that each airline has their own carry-on luggage size restrictions as well, so be sure to double check with your airline for those restrictions before the packing begins. 

Step 2: Choose your bags 

The Ultimate Carry On Packing List

Once you are familiar with your airline’s carry on baggage policy, it’s time to choose the right bags to maximize what you are packing. The length of your trip and the type of trip you are taking may help determine how much stuff you will really need, and in turn, the type of bags you are taking. As a parent, it’s safe to always have extra space so the best thing to do would be to get luggage that reaches the maximum size limit in your airline’s oversize bins.

As for your personal item, it would be wise to travel with a large backpack or oversized purse versus your everyday medium sized crossbody purse or tote. If you are traveling with a lap infant, it is likely that your child’s baby bag will become your personal item, so the best thing to do would be to just switch that baby bag over to a diaper backpack or regular backpack to service both you and your child

Step 3: Make a list 

The Ultimate Carry On Packing List

Now that you’ve chosen the right bag for each person in your family, it’s time to get packing.  Here is a carry-on packing list for everyone in the family. 

Carry-on packing list for babies

  • In Diaper Backpack 
    • Comfort items: small toys, pacifier, blanket 
    • Diaper items: diapers, baby wipes, diaper rash cream 
    • Feeding items: baby bottle, formula dispenser, snacks, fruit pouches, bib 
    • Extra outfit 
  • In Luggage 
    • One outfit a day 
    • 2-3 extra bottoms 
    • 2-3 extra tops 
    • 2-3 pajamas 
    • Diapers* 
    • 1 jacket/sweater 
    • Socks and shoes 
    • Swimsuit (if needed)

*Diapers: Depending on the length of your trip, you may decide to purchase diapers at your destination to save space in your carryon baggage. If your trip is just for the weekend, you may decide to just pack enough diapers for the trip. 

Carry-on packing list for toddlers

  • In Small Backpack 
    • Coloring Books
    • Small pack of crayons/colored pencils 
    • Stuffed animal or blanket 
    • Headphones 
    • Snacks 
    • Empty water bottle 
    • First aid kit
  • In Luggage 
    • One outfit a day 
    • 2-3 pajamas 
    • Underwear 
    • 1 jacket/sweater 
    • Socks and shoes 
    • Swimsuit (if needed

Carry-on packing list for older children

  • In Backpack 
  • In Luggage 
    • One outfit a day 
    • 2-3 pajamas 
    • Underwear 
    • 1 jacket/sweater 
    • Socks and shoes 
    • Swimsuit (if needed)

Carry-on packing list for Mom/Parents

  • Diaper Backpack 
    • Cellphone 
    • Empty water bottle
    • Travel size essentials: chapstick, lotion, aspirin, tissues, other necessary medication 
    • Small handbag* with wallet and travel document

*Tip: to go around the “one personal item” rule, carry a small handbag that fits in your diaper bag/backpack. When you go through security, keep your handbag in the larger bag. 

  • In Luggage 
    • One outfit a day 
    • 2-3 pajamas 
    • Underwear 
    • 1 jacket/sweater 
    • Socks and shoes 
    • Swimsuit (if needed)
    • Small toiletries bag of all travel size items: toothbrushes for everyone in the family, toothpaste, size shampoo, body wash, lotion, deodorant, sunscreen, contact lenses
    • Small make-up bag 

Other items you might need:

  • Camera 
  • Laptop 
  • Headphones for yourself 
  • Powerbank 
  • Kindle 
  • Extra ziplock bags 

Step 4: Double-check your carry-on packing list

The Ultimate Carry On Packing List

Ta-da! Now you are all set. This list is a very simple version of the essentials so you may have to cater a little bit to your needs. But for the most part, this should be everything you and your family will need. Double-check your packing list to be sure you did not miss anything. 

Do not forget that traveling with the entire family can be a lot of work in itself so there may be a chance you will forget something. But even if you do forget one thing, do not fret! You are on vacation after all. If you forgot an essential item, you can always consider buying it at your destination. 

WANT TO READ MORE?

There is still plenty of time to travel this summer. If you haven’t had a chance to get away yet, be sure to also check out Packing Essentials for Your End of Summer Getaway.

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The Ultimate Carry-On Packing List

Photo Credits: pexel.com