Arranging the Flight


Seating Issues

Car Seats and Strollers


Food for the Flight

Favorite Travel Toys

Equipment at Your Destination

At the Airport

In the Air

At Your Destination

Jet Lag


Be sure your carry-ons are the proper size.

Many airlines are cracking down on size and number of carry-ons. A carry-on should be a total of 45 inches (114.3cm) --length plus width plus height. The templates they have at check-in are 22" X 14" X 9". Some airlines are using this as a guideline; others (United is one) have changed the size of the opening to the x-ray machine so anything outside those measurements won't fit, and will have to be taken back to ticketing to be checked through. Check with your airline ahead of time to see how this will affect you!

Be sure to label your bags-- inside and out.

In addition to having baggage tags on the outside, make sure you have a label inside each suitcase. This will help identify your bag in case it should decide to visit a different location. An additional trick is to be sure you have at least one unusual item per bag:

My in-laws recently had a bag go missing. Turns out the handle-- to which all identifying tags were attached-- fell off. They were able to identify the bag based on two things: a professional book that they knew was in there, and the fact that they knew there were 3 shoes (the 4th was in a different bag). They jokingly told the airline rep that maybe they'd pack shoes that way on purpose next time, and were surprised to hear that it wasn't such a bad idea!

General packing tips for carry-on luggage:

  • Pack 2 diaper bags, especially when traveling with lap babies. Because of the oxygen masks, you may not be able to sit together (see Seating). You don't want the diapers to be 10 rows away! Having two bags is also more convenient in the airport, since you can each take a baby for changes. Many airports actually have changing tables in the men's room ;-).

  • Bring at least 1 spare shirt for parents. Whether it's spills or spit-up, you don't want to have to spend all of a trans-Atlantic flight wearing clothing your children have decorated.
    VERY IMPORTANT: --put a change of shirt for the GROWN-UPS in the diaper bag! I don't know how many flights we went on where I had two extra sets of clothes for each kid, but wound up covered in baby barf for 6 hours because I forgot an extra one for ME! Really nice on a croweded, hot airplane :-P
  • Make that a full change of clothes... as well as toiletries and any medicines you might need in an emergency.
    On our last trip, we were stuck in Denver an extra night-- after our suitcases were already checked through. I was really glad to have a change of clothes! BTW, the airline will not pay for your hotel if the delay is weather related (fortunately, I was staying with my mom, who was thrilled to have an extra night with her grandchildren).
  • Use pull-ups whenever possible. Since the planes don't always have changing tables, bring pull-ups if your kids can/will wear them. This will make changes much easier, whether in the (incredibly tiny) restroom or at your seat.

  • Pack in an organized manner. If you are in bulkhead seating, you will have to store the carry-ons in overhead bins which are not convenient to get to, especially if you are holding a baby. Pack things in an organized manner and in order of possible use. Before take-off, get out anything you might need to entertain the kids for the time it takes for the seatbelt sign to be turned off.

Travel light.

I admit it. When the girls were little, I always hopelssly overpacked. Trust me: that's not what you want to do!

Do not take too much carry-on luggage. It is tempting to overpack because you don't want to be caught without, but it makes it very difficult to get on and off the plane with all that to carry in addition to carrying kids. Remember that anything hanging on the stroller or in the basket will have to be carried when you leave the stroller at the door. It may not be far to your seat but it is a hassle.

We packed way too much for the flight. The extra changes of clothing were useful, but the many many spare diapers were not. And, all the reading material we brought for ourselves never got opened...

Keep in mind that many airlines are not only stricter with their carry-on limits, they're also doing away with early boarding for families with small children. If you won't be able to handle all your carry-ons without early boarding, maybe you'd better re-pack....

On the other hand, don't try to cut it too close, especially on a long flight or a trip with several connections:

Ever since the time a 1.5 hour flight took 6 hours, I make sure to have extra snacks and drinks available. That wasn't supposed to be a dinner flight anyway, but they ran out of snacks and juice while we were stuck on the runway.

How many outfits?

When packing for a vacation, there's always a question of how many outfits to bring. Do you bring enough to last at least a week, or do you travel light, and plan to use laundromats (or hand wash and air dry) extra clothes as needed? You'll find advocates for both options:

We packed way too many clothes for all of us - we only used half the clothes - a lesson learned. We had those washer/dryer-on-top units everywhere we stayed so we could wash whenever we wanted, except for a 2-night stay at Embassy Suites in Los Angeles, but even they had some washers/dryers on a different floor.

"Do you bring enough outfits to (hopefully) last for the entire trip?" Yes, this is what I always try to do, provided we're staying less than a week. Even if you're staying near relatives who have a washer/dryer, who wants to bother using them when you're on a short vacation? The million-dollar question is how many outfits do you need? I always try to pack 2 per day per baby, with some doubling-up of things like sweaters/sweatshirts/sweatpants/vests/dress clothes, which can (hopefully) be worn more than once. I *always* end up overpacking. Yet, I still feel sure that as soon as I pack lighter, we will have some diaper or dirt catastrophe which will make me regret it! Is this what motherhood is? Overpacking? To think, I once spent a week in a tent in Key West with the clothes on my back plus one shirt, one pair of shorts, one skirt and a bikini!

Be prepared for changes in the weather.

Even if you're trying to limit your packing, bring at least one warmer outfit per child in the summer, and one lighter outfit in the winter. In addition to unseasonable weather, you should be prepared for over-airconditioning and over-heating in the winter.

We just went on a 10 day vacation, 3 day cruise to Nassua and 7 days at Disneyworld. We packed enough outfits for them to each have 1 cute outfit a day and then we packed enough onsies for them each to have 1 a day. We also packed a few sleepers in case it was too cool for them. The only problem we had is thet we were expecting it to be mostly warm and the weather freaked out on us and a cold front and many rain storms came thru Florida while we were there. We didn't have very many warm clothes for the babies.

There are many web sites, such as, that give global weather reports. You may want to check before you go. But remember that the temperature can change very rapidly. We once spent a month in Paris which started with us borrowing heavy coats for the girls, and ended with temperatures near 90F (~33C).

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