Traveling Via Carry On - Even with Toddlers

April 10, 2019

It doesn't have to be hectic

Isn't traveling so much fun? But really, I actually love traveling only because it brings you to new places. Exploring new places is one of my favorite things to do. 

I used to be an "always-check-a-bag" kind of girl before I met my husband. I had a giant leopard print suitcase set that I used everywhere I went. I packed every type of shoe and almost every outfit I owned. But that quickly changed with the vast amount of traveling we do, not wanting to wait in even more airport lines, wanting to have access to everything in our bags and my newfound skillset of being able to pack all three of us in three backpacks. If you had told me that I would be able to travel with only a backpack 7 years ago I would have laughed at you.

In our upcoming travel logs we're headed to Florida for both of Jax's Uncle's Helicopter Pilot Training Graduation. YAY! Did I mention that not only was I in the military, but so are all of my husband's siblings as well as my brother? Safe to say we do a TON of traveling. But because of my newfound skill of packing three backpacks easily and efficiently, traveling isn't as stressful.

First, we'll start with Jax's new backpack that he is obsessed with. You can find it, or some like it, at Target. In his backpack I pack the 10 things that will be useful to him throughout the flight:

1. Diapers and wipes

Make sure it is plural diapers, even if it is a short flight. Trust me, it is better to be safe than sorry.


2. Change of clothes

I have made the mistake of not packing this in the past.

As he sat on my lap (before he was 2) I felt that inevitable warm feeling on my leg and knew he had leaked through his outfit.

This is a necessity.

3. Hat

We just loop his hat around the backpack handle.

We always bring a hat (either a beanie during Winter or ball cap during Summer) with us wherever we go because we always end up needing one.

4. Snacks

I used to always pack him a bottle for takeoff because it helps soothe them and prevent gas from the altitude.

Now I try to pack a few healthy snacks that aren't full of sugar (so he won't be even more wild on the plane) that I know he likes to eat. He loves Larabars and the Bare fruit chips so that's what we will bring this week.

I throw fruit snacks in the backpack for emergency purposes 😅.

5. Cup

This kid is ALWAYS thirsty so I always bring a leakproof Munchkin cup that we can fill up once we get through security.

I love the Munchkin brand and have never had one of their cups that I didn't like.

6. Bandaids

I always have those in my diaper bag as well, just in case.

I mean, isn't it a mom thing to carry bandaids?

Sometimes I bring our travel first aid kit as well.

7. Antibacterial

Planes are gross so of course I bring the Babyganics antibacterial with me everywhere we go.

I love that it's alcohol free!


8. Ipad/Headphones/Charger

Unfortunately we're not the no screen time parents. When we want him to wind down for the night we let him watch a few shows that he likes. This also works on the plane.

My cousin recommended these awesome pair of foldable kids headphones. He tried them on already and LOVES them.

And most importantly don't forget the charger for the iPad!

9. Book

I like to bring multiple forms of entertainment with us.

If the Ipad doesn't entertain him hopefully the book will.

It's a small book (doesn't take up much room) and we now have our usual bedtime story in order to keep him in a somewhat regular routine.

10. Sunglasses

We're going to Florida, so of course he needs sunglasses.

Gotta protect his little baby eyes.


That is just his little backpack that he now wears on his own back. On top of that I pack his diaper bag backpack full of all his clothes, shoes and diapers that he will need for the trip. Count out how many days you will be there and add on 2-4 extra outfits. If you have access to a washer and dryer you won't need to bring the extras! Another HUGE detail is stroller and carseat. We usually rent carseats where we're landing or just gate check a cheap carseat (look on facebook market for these so that you don't ruin your own carseat). For strollers I use one of those $20, small, foldable one that can fit in the overhead bins. Waalaaa, easier, stress-free toddler traveling.

Now, onto adult carryon contents!

I will show you how I have learned to pack my own carryon quickly and efficiently. My husband and I do this when traveling overseas as well because we don't have to worry about losing luggage or finding where foreign baggage claims are. As you can see below, we walked around Paris with our carry-on backpacks for a whole day before we got to our Airbnb---It makes for so much more convenient travel!
The key is to look up the weather ahead of time, count the number of days you will be there and plan your outfits out.


1. Shoes
Depending on the season and where I am going I will pack 1-2 pairs of shoes. If its cold I will be wearing a pair of boots and pack a pair of my Nikes. If its warm or we're going to a fancy event I wear my Nikes, pack heels and pack my sandals. Shoes take up a lot of room so you need to decide which ones are a necessity. 

2. Shower materials
I still have that leopard print flair that I used to have, but it's now downsized to a shower bag 💁. I always bring my own shower materials in 3oz bottles. I put them in a plastic bag or my shower bag. Going through security I only have to take that one small bag out if we don't have pre-check, so it isn't a hassle to me because I put it at the top of my backpack. I also put my brush in the picture because I have forgotten it at some points and that's a huge NO for me to forget!

3. Outfits
Here I have 4 nice outfits that I can mix and match. I have two athletic wear outfits for when we have downtime and we're relaxing. I plan out my outfits ahead of time and pack one for each day, plus a lounge outfit or two. I always bring at least one type of sweater or jacket that will go with most, if not all, my outfits. This of course takes ahead-of-time planning, but it is so much easier than checking your bags. 

4. Wallet/Phone/Charger/Headphones
The essentials of course. Don't forget your charger!

I just got this wallet this past weekend and like it a lot because my phone can fit inside of it.


5. Water bottle
I usually always bring one to fill up once were through security. This reusable  Starbucks one is convenient because you can hook it to your backpack if you don't have a cup holder on the side of your backpack.

6. Hat & Sunglasses
Just like for Jax's bag I always bring a hat and hook this onto the backpack handle. Florida is sunny so I will definitely be using a hat as well as my sunglasses. I bring the case so they won't get ruined.

7. Pain medicine/Chapstick/Peppermint Oil
My chapstick is a given because I can't go half a day without chapstick. I also bring pain medicine and Peppermint Oil because these are both helpful for aches and pains, soreness from walking a lot more than usual, headaches and nausea (the peppermint oil helps stop that).

8. Book
Have you ever been stuck on a plane without some source of entertainment? I have and it's horrible. Now, no matter what, I bring a book. I may have a chance to sneak in a few pages when my son quiets down.

I just read Rachel Hollis' new book Girl, Stop Apologizing so I went out and bought her first book right away. Girl, Wash Your Face is next on my list!

And that's it for my bag! My husband basically packs the same thing before every trip as well. 

That's really all you need. It is that simple. Traveling doesn't need to be crazy or stressful as long as you plan ahead. You will never lose luggage or have late luggage with this technique---And if your baby or toddler happens to spit up or spill something on you, you now both have your change of clothes accessible right there.

***If you are traveling overseas don't forget that passport! 

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