hey mom - what's in your carry on?

This post was originally published on February 15, 2018. The pictures are from February 2018 but the product pictures are updated. The links have changed and it has since been updated with links directly to the manufacturer's website. Please see my disclaimer.

Ah, flying with kids. One of my favorite past times! It’s right up there with getting my wisdom teeth pulled and nursing a hang over after a night of thinking I can drink like I’m 22 again.😒 We travel with kids often. We fly long flights. We fly holidays. We fly short flights. We road trip.

I bet you’re asking – Justine… why do you travel with your kids so much if you hate it? Because, friends, we are:

A. traveling to a place where my kids are loved more than me or my husband.

B. moving and we can’t leave them.

C. want to see the world with our kids but just hate traveling with our kids.

traveling with kids - what to keep in your carry on // sunnyinjune.com

I’ve done it all… flew solo with the kids, flew with Jay and the kids, flew with sick kids, flew with flawless kids, flew with tantrum-ing kids. That’s the joy of living that military lifestyle, yannowhatimsayin!?

When I travel, I normally travel with a backpack and a rollybag. The rollybag houses clothes for me and the kids and other stuff for 3-4 days just in case our luggage gets lost or something. The rollybag usually stays in the overhead bin the the entire flight and she doesn't come down until we're de-planing. Or if there's a poop emergency and I need to grab new clothes.

So here is what I keep in my survival pack… I mean, carry on. I know there are some ultra chic women out there with oversized totes lookin' all cute. But ya girl travels with a backpack. Its important to be hands free while traveling with kids. AND WHO SAID YOU CAN'T BE CUTE AND CHIC WITH A BACKPACK AND YOUR THREE KIDS SWEATING YOUR LIFE AWAY, HUH!?!??!

Anywho, the backpack I have is originally from Amazon. But Amazon is a terrible company that pushes counterfeits so don't use them. I just found out that my backpack is a counterfeit so... that's cool. Literally, the ONE TIME I stray from my tried and true backpack brand, I get a counterfeit one. ANYWAY.. I'm rambling now.

Might I suggest Herschel backpacks? I swore by these in college. My kids will probably use them when they're in school. They're versatile so whatever your style may be, these bags will totally go with whatever it is you're wearing!

herschel hertiage backpack, best travel backpack for moms // sunnyinjune.com

image via Herschel.com


Clutch - This clutch also has the option of the detachable crossbody strap. So whenever we get to our destination, this is my purse. This carries all "my stuff":

ID/credit cards/ cash


Eye Drops




traveling with kids - what to keep in your carry on // sunnyinjune.com

Headphones and Headphone Dongle - if you're like me and have not jumped on the AirPod train, no worries! Make sure to pack your headphones and dongle (that thing that allows you to plug your lighting charger into your an aux plug).

Laptop and Charger - because sometimes I have to work on stuff while we travel. But I usually try and work from my phone.

Camera - I shoot with a Mirrorless Canon M50. I'm no professional photographer, but I bring her along and just keep her kit lens on and she's great! She captures all our memories and she doesn't weigh a lot, which is helpful when I'm carrying everyone else's crap around.

Plastic Bags – You never know what you need them for. I’ve used them to keep flight trash, soiled clothes, and as a sick bag.

Change of clothes – I have three kids that travel with me so I put three separate outfits in three different gallon ziploc bags so I can grab and go. In each Ziploc I have a shirt, bottoms, socks, and a diaper or underwear. If you're a low waste parent, use a packing cube! Click here for how we try and travel sustainably.

Diaper Clutch – I have this one from Munchkin. I like this one because it's easy to clean, the pad is thick, there is enough surface area so your baby isn’t touching the gross changing table in public restrooms. There are multiple diaper pockets for maximum diaper storage (or if you have a few kids and a few sizes of diapers and you need to keep them organized).

munchkin diaper clutch, travel essentials, what to keep in your carry on // sunnyinjune.com

image via Munchkin.com

Baby Wipes – Planes are really dirty. Kids are really dirty. Before I allow the kids to touch anything, I do a full wipe down on arm rests, seatbelt buckles, window, and tray. I probably watch too many movies (like Outbreak!) where sickness spreads via air travel, but you can either get sick from a plane or be borderline psycho like me! 👌🏼

Hand Sanitizer - See above.

Tissues - You never know when you might need them. To clean up a nose or to clean up a spill!

Masks – I only started bringing these on the flights ever since I read that kids were dying of the flu. Planes are really dry so when someone sneezes it’s like an aerosol spray can of germs into the air. I was worried about the kids getting sick. I only pull these out if I hear someone hacking a lung or something like that.

Snacks – Sometimes we bite the bullet and pay $22 for chicken nuggets and fries for the kids to share. But we are *always* well stocked with snacks. We make sure to bring a variety of flavors and textures:

Fruit Squeezes

Fruit Snacks

Granola Bar

RX Bar




Probiotic – This is totally TMI but my body can tell when I’m away from home because I have trouble with my um… movements. SO! I pack enough probiotics to keep my guts happy! My supplement regimen is pretty lengthy. So I make sure to pack all my supplements in a pill organizer. I have an old lady pill organizer that I picked up from Walgreens, but this one from Port and Polish is SO CUTE!

cute pill organizer from port+polish, travel essentials // sunnyinjune.com

image via Port and Polish website

Water – I almost always bring a refillable waterbottle (my favs are CamelBak or Hydroflask) or I suck it up and buy a drink from a kiosk by the gate.

Motion Sickness Stuff - my kids get pretty sick on the plane so I make sure my backpack is STOCKED with Seabands, Dramamine, Mints, and Peppermint Essential oil!

Sheet Masks - When I fly for more than three hours, I love using a sheet mask. Yeah people look at me funny, but it's all good! Planes are incredibly drying and my skin SUCKS when I travel. So a little 20 min sheet mask isn't gonna hurt anyone!

TRTL Pillow - Honestly, could I freaking talk about this pillow anymore? I've talked about the TRTL pillow TWICE already -- here and here. I love it so much I gotta talk about it a third time okay? This pillow is SO MUCH BETTER than the traditional C Shaped Travel Pillows. It holds your neck in the most perfect position for sleeping. It kind of looks like a neck brace, but who cares when you're walking off that plane with zero neck pain!?


Socks – If I travel more than 5 hours I have to put on compression socks or else my feet are balloons by the time I come off the flight. I wear my running socks to make sure I have proper blood flow when I’m stuck in the same position for 5 hours after my children fall asleep on me.

Moby Wrap/Ring Sling – I prefer using a wrap or Ring Sling instead of a baby carrier on flights. I’m super short so when I wear a baby carrier, the carrier bunches up and the form of the carrier is all floppy. I prefer an unstructured wrap that moves with me so both the baby and I are comfy when we sit.

Layers! I’m not a fashionable traveler -- sneakers, leggings, tshirt, hoodie, and jacket is my go to. I hate my bare skin touching any part of the seat. I like to wear thinner hoodies and jackets so I can take off layers without being too hot.

** Notice that I don't have any kids toys in my carry on**

Yes! Because I make my kids carry their own luggage/carry on.

I'll be sharing what they keep in their carry on luggage in a later post!

I also don't carry any books or magazines because I'm already carrying so much. I make sure to download enough podcasts onto my phone. If I'm feeling extra ambitious, I bring my kindle fully knowing that I will probably just leave it in my bag and it will go untouched for the entire trip.

What am I missing? What are some ESSENTIALS that you must bring with you on your carry on?

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