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The busy holiday travel season will be here before we know it and we know that flying can be stressful and costly. I have been flying with children almost monthly for the last 8 years. I have had a lot of trial, error and wine trying to figure out the best and most wallet-friendly things to bring on the plane for my children and me. Carry-on items do not need to cost an arm and a leg, especially during the holidays. These are my top ten budget-friendly, healthy carry-on items for $10 or less for you and your children.
1. Germ-X: This comes in handy when you want to put food on the tray tables! Squeeze some Germ-X ($0.97) on a napkin and give it a good wipe down. You can also buy Germ-X Antibacterial Soft Wipes! I worked for an airline for some time and I know those tray tables aren’t always cleaned in between flights. It is also the time of year when everyone is sick so this is great to have. Always try to go for the unscented smell. You never know if your neighbor on the flight is sensitive to strong smells.
2. Sugar-free lollipops: I always have both of my kids suck on a lollipop while we take off. This will help their little ears pop. If your child will drink from a bottle, try to wait until takeoff to give it to them. It will help with their little ears. And why do I say sugar free? First, it is better for their teeth. Also, sugared-up kids have a harder time sitting still during the flight. I have found a brand called Zollipops ($6). Zollipops are sugar-free and anti-cavity.
3. Power bank: I can’t get on a flight unless I have a power bank like this one by RAVPower ($10). I will bring my iPad so the kids can watch a movie. A charged iPad makes for a silent flight!
4. Headphones or earbuds: For as low as $1 I will get headphones from the dollar store or when they are on sale. I tend to lose this item the most. Headphones are great so you don’t have the rows around you listening to whatever movie you and your kids are watching.
5. EOS lip balm: EOS brand ($5) is great because it keeps my lips smooth for a long time. You should put lip balm on the kids before the flight. The air is very drying on the flight since it is re-circulated. They have many kinds which is very nice; I personally like the coconut milk lip balm.
6. Annie’s Homegrown Gluten-Free Double Chocolate Chip Granola Bars: Annie’s Homegrown ($2.50) is a brand that I don’t worry about when giving it to my children. I usually have some type of these bars in my purse daily. This type of bar is nice because it isn’t super messy. Think about how easy the snack will be to clean up! Other favorites of my children are goldfish and pretzel crackers.
7. Reusable water bottle: As cheap as $1, you can pick up a water bottle at the dollar store. Water fountains are near the restrooms on planes. This is great so you aren’t spending $4 for one bottle of water at the airport. Bonus tip: If there’s a Starbucks at your airport, you can get a free water with orange slices if you ask!
8. Crayola Dry Erase Travel Pack: We bring this Crayola pack ($9) with us on every single flight. It is so nice to have everything in one place. We are able to play tic-tac-toe as a family or the kids can get creative. This is also something fun to have for little nervous flyers. They can draw while taking off to keep their mind off of what is going on outside since you can’t have your iPad out yet.
9. Portable Potty Seat: This foldable seat ($10) is so nice to have when you have a little one potty training and you have to travel. This gives them a little sense of stability when they have to go and it happens to be during a turbulent part of the flight. I have found that it made my trip so much nicer knowing that my son isn’t going to have an accident because he was too afraid to use to the potty. We used it at home a few days before the flight so he could get used to it. So far, no accidents! We have been on six flights since we started potty training.
10. Pilot Wings: Free! This isn’t a carry-on item but it is a fun memory for the kids. It is better to ask to see the pilots and the cockpit after your flight. Before the flight is a little hectic since they have a schedule to keep, but pilots have down time after the flight and really do love seeing little kids after the flight. You can take some pictures and earn your wings!