What not to bring & what to definitely bring
My kids are now 5 and 9, and each brings a wheeled backpack as hand-luggage. They're old enough now that I can allow them to bring pick out some favorite toys and books to bring, but I still have absolute mommy veto-power. I will remove any items that are:
- have tiny parts that can go missing
- too big or heavy
- pointy or sharp
It is wise to pay attention to what they pack. My kids once managed to sneak a very large plastic triceratops with very sharp horns into my son's carry-on. The security screener manning the x-ray machine did remove it to inspect it, but he allowed them to keep it. Since then, I do a thorough check of the backpacks before we go to the airport!
Another challenge I face with my daughter is limiting how many toys she brings. She loves stuffed animals, and would like to bring about 30 or 40 on each trip. I usually tell her 5 is the limit, and then we end up carting along 10 or so...
One thing I did find helpful to control this over-zealous packing, was to read Too Much Stuff! by Robert Munsch. The main character does pack so many toys she can barely carry her backpack, and I can now reference that story when I joke around with my daughter about bringing too many toys on board.
For long flights, I also pack some things into their carry-ons myself, to lighten my own hand-luggage load. These items usually include:
- snack foods
- a change of clothes for each child
- litterless juice boxes
- some parent-chosen books and activities that the kids might not think they want, but that I know from experience they'll miss if they're not there
- 2 coloring books & 2 sticker books for each child
- my daughter's current favorite puzzle book
- blank note-books for the kids to write and draw in
- 2 travel-games for each child, including a memory game and an alphabet matching games
- some favorite soft-cover books, including CS Lewis' The Magician's Nephew, Hurry Up and Slow Down by Layn Marlow, Strega Nona's Harvest by Tomie dePaola, One Is a Snail, Ten Is a Crab by April Pulley Sayre
- and several kids' books for my Kindle, including The Wizard of Oz, a couple of "Franklin the turtle" books, and Roal Dahl's James and the Giant Peach