The Secret to Carry On Only Travel with Kids

Carry-on luggage is one of the essential items to pack when you travel. It not only makes moving about easier and simplifies family travel, but also ensures that your most crucial possessions are always within reach. Having the correct carry-on bag or carry on luggage stroller can make a huge difference, whether you're a frequent traveler or just going on a short trip. But when it comes to carry-on size, I encourage you to check the airlines' guidelines before flying in order to avoid circumstances such as overload or worst paying a hefty fee for doing so.


Traveling with baby and your carry on stroller


Traveling With Baby And Carry On Only

Traveling with a baby is not easy, it requires you to have all your baby's needs with you, like baby clothes, baby food, and diapers. With this in mind, whenever I am traveling with a baby; I pack light to make my travel hassle-free. Carry-on-only travel will force you to pack the most essential things for yourself and for your baby as well. To make the move to carry-on only, we first had to alter our perspective on packing. We gave up the notion that we should pack extra items on the occasion we used them. Instead, we just brought what was absolutely necessary, and for a weekend trip a carry on stroller works a treat. So always remember to think before you pack! In this article, I will share with all of you our experiences as a family of three and share great ideas, tips and benefits for traveling with a carry-on only.


Table of Contents


Benefits of Traveling with Carry-on Only

No lost luggage

It's simpler to protect one bag when you only have to worry about one. Having your carry-on with you eliminates the possibility of lost luggage. This gives you a piece of mind especially when traveling with little ones.

Read here to find out the Top 86 airlines' carry on size allowance.

Benefits of Traveling with Carry-On Only  No lost luggage 

No wasting time at baggage claim

You do not have to queue at the luggage carousel if you simply have a carry-on bag. If you're taking a taxi, be the first person in line when you get to your destination so you can whiz through the arrivals area. You don't need to wait for your luggage at baggage claim after a long long flight alongside a tired baby. Who would want to wait for half an hour just to get your luggage? With a carry-on bag, you'll be out of the airport in no time.


Easier international connections

Depending on which airport you're flying into, often if you have a connecting flight before your international flight, you are required to pick up your checked baggage at baggage claim before catching your connecting flight. Because of this, if you have a short layover between flights, claiming your baggage can cause extra stress as there is a possibility of you missing your flight. Having carry-on only makes the transition from domestic to international terminal easy and seamless. Hence, I highly suggest traveling light with carry-on only in order to have a smooth, stress-free flight.


Whiz through the airport with carry on only travel


More flexibility

Every time that I am traveling, I always inculcate in my mind that less is more. Carrying small bags with you can give you more flexibility. Light carry-on luggage permits you to wander around at a fast and effortless pace.

On this note, traveling light is really helpful when you have a baby as baby often gets too stimulated at the airport and can be tired at the end of the flight. Having the flexibility to disembark and leave the airport to your hotel at your pace reduce the stress of traveling. On top of that, you don’t want to be stressed out at the airport because your luggage may have been lost or stuck at the airport waiting for your luggage.


Planning Before Travel

If you enjoy having family travel, you'll want to make advance plans for your getaway and your ideal location. The greatest approach to an unforgettable trip is to plan ahead.

Making a plan and determining your needs is an excellent idea. Decide what type of vacation you want. Will you be staying at a resort? Will you be booking an Airbnb to get access to a kitchen and laundry facilities? Does your accommodation offer baby crib, baby high chair, or baby bottle warmer? Are you able to find baby equipment hire companies at your vacation destination? Do research on the above, decide on the type of vacation and type of accommodation and this will help narrow down what exactly you need to pack.


Buy things at your destination

For items like some toiletries, food, beverages, diapers, laundry detergent, and larger items you'll use a lot, consider purchasing these at your destination. By purchasing items at the local grocery or convenience store, this will help you reduce your bulk whilst traveling.


Buy things at your destination makes carry on only travel easy

Nowadays, it is easy to find baby supplies in many countries. Spend some time doing the research and you'll find that traveling with a baby isn't that difficult. If you’re unsure whether you’ll be able to get what you need at your destination, organize to buy diapers and formula and send them to your hotel beforehand.

This would be a great idea especially if your little one is picky with their milk or formula.


Know the airline rules

Before going on a vacation with the family, it is always on my checklist to double-check bag compliance for carry-on. Not only there are weight limitations to carry-on bags (around 15 lbs to 22 lbs / 7-10kg), there are certain dimension requirements too. The standard carry-on dimensions is 22" x 14" x 9" / 56cm x 36cm x 23cm including the wheels and handle. This size ensures that your bag will be able to fit in the overhead compartment. Keep within these limitations and you'll be fine.

Check with the airline you're flying regarding your baby's carry-on allowance. Some airlines allow one diaper bag as your baby's carry-on. For example, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Avianca Airlines all have one diaper bag allowance as carry-on for your lap infant.


Identify what is allowed in carry-on bag

Look up Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website to work out what you're able to bring in a carry-on. As a general rule of thumb, sharp items, liquids greater than 100mls, are prohibited from being packed in a carry-on. Even though TSA stipulates nail clippers are allowed in your carry-on, I've personally been stopped at security and had my nail clippers taken away. To be on the safe side, don't pack sharp items in your carry-on.

On a side note, breast milk, baby formula or baby drinks great than 3.4 ounces or 100ml are allowed in carry-on baggage. If you have a breast pump with you, it is considered a medical device so it doesn't count toward your carry-on.


Use packing cubes

Packing cubes or travel cubes are used to organize your items when traveling. Packing cubes for travel come in a variety of sizes and forms, and they are useful to organize your clothes, travel toiletries, and other belongings. Packing with packing cubes allows for organization and if you need to remove anything for screening during security, it is simple to access. You can also get a compression packing cube that reduces the bulk of your items when you pack. When you travel with carry-on only, every little space counts.


Make a last minute packing list

Make a "Last Minute Packing List" that includes essential goods you could forget to take at the last minute, such as passports, cash, credit cards, etc. By doing this, you are going through your list and confirming you have all the necessities with you. That way you are checking through your packing and ticking off all your essentials.


Las-minute packing list 

How to Travel with Carry-on Only

With all the news of lost luggage lately, traveling with carry-on luggage is growing in popularity. If you're traveling with carry-on only, take one bag and one personal item per traveler as a rule.

Some airlines do not have weight restrictions for carry on whereas some airlines restrict carry-on baggage to 7kg or 10kg. Typically, budget airlines or certain flight sectors have strict restrictions towards carry on weight. It's crucial to confirm the restrictions for any connecting flights. That way, you won't be caught with any surprises during your journey.


Can a Child Have a Carry On?

Carry-on allowance as a lap infant

An infant that needs to be carried by an adult the entire flight is referred to as a lap infant. A lap infant is a newborn or toddler who is too young to have its own place on an airline. The majority of airlines allow lap infants to fly for free, while some may charge a price.

Lap infants are normally under the age of two and must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 18 years old.

Always double-check the carry-on policy of your airlines because every airline has slightly different policies when it comes to lap infants. For example, American Airlines allow one diaper bag per child as carry on whereas Alaska Airlines does not offer any carry-on allowance for lap infants. 

Let's use another example. Air Canada allows one additional bag (up to 10 kilograms) to be brought on board for free by passengers who are carrying an infant on their lap. You can also bring a collapsible stroller for each child that you are traveling with in addition to your carry-on allowance.

If you plan to book travel with a lap infant and would like to secure an airline bassinet for your little one, read here for more information.


Baby carry on luggage allowance when your child has their own seat

A child with their own seat is entitled to the same carry-on allowance as the adult fare. A diaper bag, car seat, and stroller are often permitted for children by airlines. As usual, check with your airlines about strollers and car seats as different airlines have different policies.

Be mindful that whenever traveling, large and heavy baby carriers and strollers are subject to different regulations. As a general rule of thumb, if they do not fit the carry-on size, they will have to be checked in as hold luggage at the counter. That's where this multi award winning baby carry on luggage comes in so handy: Experience a seamless transition with TernX in under 7 seconds.


Carry On Luggage Stroller


Traveling with a young child may often make parents feel overwhelmed as there are many things to consider, bottles, diapers, toys, and all the other necessities. On top of that, figuring out their mode of transport, eg. stroller and car seat, can be challenging.

Knowing what to do while bringing a stroller or car seat on a plane can be, at best, a careful endeavor for new parents. How large can it possibly be? Does it cost more for me to bring it? Will the airline give me one so I can navigate the airport?

In order to know the different guidelines, check airlines for policies for accuracy and hassle-free travel with your kids.

For example, Air Canada strictly advises against using large umbrella-style strollers. No matter the destination, a stroller with a collapsed diameter no bigger than 25.5 cm (10 in) and a length no bigger than 92 cm (36 in) is permitted in addition to your carry-on restriction. You can check out it at the gate to have it brought to you at the door of the aircraft when your flight is over.

British Airways allows every infant and child to bring up to two of the following necessary extras checked into the hold: a completely foldable pushchair (stroller), car seat or booster, and portable cot.

Emirates, on the other hand, customers traveling with infants are allowed to bring one carry-cot or one fully foldable stroller into the cabin if space allows. They will need to be checked if there is no room in the cabin for them.


Consider Renting Car Seats and Baby Gear at Your Destination

Often, the limiting factor traveling with carry-on only is dependent on how many hands we have available to carry everything with us. Hence, the more things we can offload, the easier our travel will be. Taking this into account, it is wise to consider renting baby equipment at your destination. That will mean less stress and fewer items to account for.

Here are our top reasons why you should consider renting at your destination.


Save on baggage fees

The cost of traveling with kids can add up rapidly. Your baggage fees increase in direct proportion to the amount of baby gear you pack. Some baby supplies, like car seats, can fly for free, but if you also need to transport a heavy-duty stroller, a crib, and other bulky goods, you may have to pay more.


Less to bring on the plane

Imagine attempting to maneuver through the airport with a baby. It can be difficult managing all your belongings and your child at the same time, in a busy airport. From my own experience, the least you can take on the plane, the better. Plan, pack, and repack!


Less to carry around with you

Think about what you'll be doing when you arrive at your location. The more baggage you have, the more to carry around. You may need to look for a trolley at the airport and often they are hard to come by. If you're going to be taking public transport from the airport to your hotel or accommodation, minimal baggage is the way to go. The last thing you want is to get out of a busy airport, queue up for a taxi and not being able to fit all your baggage into the boot of a taxi. I had to call a maxi taxi once, and I had to wait for a long time at the airport because there wasn't any maxi taxi available.

If you're renting a car, you can rent your baby car seat and have it sorted out beforehand. When you pick up the car at the airport, everything will be ready for you. I have found this to be the most convenient by far, especially when traveling with carry-on only.


Plan on doing laundry

The secret to carry on only travel with kids - plan on doing laundry


Most hotels offer laundry service, your Airbnb may have washing facilities, or bring your clothes to a laundromat. Either way, washing your clothes during your vacation will ensure you and your family are equipped with enough clothing at all times. You never know when your baby is going to do a 'poonami'.


How to Pack with Carry-on Only

After traveling many times, I find that using a backpack like the unisex Travel diaper bag for dad is a good choice. By having carry-on only, we can skip waiting for baggage at the baggage claim. A backpack is among the greatest carry-on luggage options as it allows you to keep your hands free.


TernX Travel Diaper Backpack 


On the other hand, having a rolling suitcase and packing light is ideal for mom. A rolling suitcase generally gives you 30-40L of space for packing, providing plenty of space for all the necessities, including diapers, wipes, bottles, and toys.

Consider bringing a carry-on luggage stroller with you. A carry-on luggage that doubles up as a travel stroller. The TernX Carry On has about 18L of storage capacity in the luggage compartment. It is handy as you can have your child and your belongings with you at all times and all you need is this 2 in 1 multifunctional luggage stroller. Whenever your child is tired, they can easily nap in the carry-on luggage stroller.

In summary, when you are traveling as a family of three, you will have one backpack for dad, one rolling suitcase for mom, one diaper bag for baby and a carry-on luggage stroller. Throughout the airport, dad can carry the backpack and drag the rolling suitcase. Mom, on the other hand, will be pushing the carry-on luggage stroller and either carry the diaper bag on your shoulders or store it in the under basket of the cabin stroller.


Stylish diaper bags backpack with luggage pass


With this configuration, you are able to pack one week's worth of attire with ease. Now, the secret to packing light is to pack clothes that can be mixed and matched as well as layered. Wear your bulkiest clothes, jacket and shoes.

Pack 4 days' worth of clothes, which equates to about 4 tops, 3 pairs of pants, and 1 dress. Counting the clothes you're wearing, you will have 5 sets of clothes in total. As for underwear, bring 4 pairs of underwear, bras and socks.

Pack 1-2 pairs of multipurpose shoes. For example, running shoes can work for walking and running.

Choose neutral color clothes that work well when combined with other items. By doing this, you'll be able to layer your clothes and create different outfits.

Think about bringing lightweight textiles because they are convenient to carry and take up less room. Fast-drying textiles are even better since they dry quickly. This is especially helpful if you're going somewhere with high humidity or in a cold climate because lighter fabrics will allow your clothing to dry much more quickly than heavier ones would.

Transfer all your toiletry and makeup needs into travel-size containers. Use waterless shampoo and bring soap bars. Check the TSA guidelines for more information.

Pack your iPods, electrical cords, international adaptors together for easy organization.


Packing List for Traveling with a Baby

Here are the following things that you need to bring if you are traveling with your baby.

  • 4 set of clothes
  • 2 onesies
  • Sunhat
  • Swimwear
  • Swimpants
  • Baby sunscreen
  • Swaddle Blanket
  • Diaper cream
  • Diapers
  • Small toys
  • Sanitizing wipes
  • Water Bottle
  • Pumping accessories if expressing
  • Bottle feeding accessories if formula feeding
  • White noise machine
  • Baby monitor
  • Emergency kit


Comprehensive Packing List for Mom and Dad

Bring the following things with your partner.

For Mom

  • 4 tops
  • 3 pants or skirts
  • 4 sets of bras and undies
  • 1-2 pairs of shoes
  • 2 set of pajamas
  • 2-3 pairs of socks
  • 1 Cardigan
  • Swimsuit
  • Makeup
  • Toiletries
  • Sunnies

For Dad

  • 4 tops
  • 2-3 pairs of pants
  • 1 light jacket
  • 2 Pajamas
  • 1-2 pairs of shoes
  • 4 underwear and socks
  • Toiletries
  • Swimwear
  • Sunnies


For information on what to pack in your diaper bag, check out how to pack a diaper bag.

In summary, although traveling with a baby can be challenging, it can also be a positive experience with the correct planning and preparation. Take the time to prepare in advance and I assure you your trip can be smooth and full of fun. And from experience, the less baggage, the less stress. Why not try carry-on only travel. Save space, trave light and enjoy every moment.

Read here about flying with a stroller.

Happy Journeys!





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