Help Me Mama Travel List: What’s in My Carry-On

I’ve had my head in the clouds a lot lately.  Research for my book.  But it’s got me thinking about the things I would never want to board a plane without.  My “gotta have it” list is so different than it was 3 years ago before Ty was born.  A baby really does change almost everything, but it hasn’t changed my love for lists.  Here’s the list of things I must have in MY carry on.

Mama’s “Gotta Have It” Packing List

Fuzzy Socks: I bring a pair of big, fluffy socks to put on during the flight.  Sitting in an airplane seat, drinking diet soda (or worse….tomato juice), while the cabin pressure changes around you can leave your feet puffy and tired.  Give them a snugglie sock hug.  I use the kind that are really not practical to wear with shoes because they’re too loose and too striped.  

Hand Sanitizer: Make sure it has a tight sealing cap and a scent that doesn’t make you sick.  I use hand sanitizer for the usual handy clean up.  I’ll also put a little on a napkin to wipe down surfaces like armrests and tray tables.  The alcohol is great for dissolving various sticky substances you will encounter during your journey.  But remember safety first. Don’t let your kid eat it and it is a liquid so it needs to go in your liquid holding quart size ziplock bag to clear security.

Baby Wipes:  I like Huggies Shea Butter wipes best for my bag.  I find the scent to be surprisingly sophisticated.   I put a stack of wipes about an inch thick in a ziplock bag and keep it in my tote.  They are good for wiping off hands, electronics, polishing shoes and removing spots from clothing.  This is an extra stash.  I also pack a standard diaper bag.  

Lotion: Even though the last two items are scented, I don’t like to travel with scented lotion.  Even if you love the scent, you may not love it after smelling it as you circle Philly for 45 minutes.  A unscented, hypoallergenic lotion (I like Cetaphil) is really versatile because you can put it on your children, too.  Use it on your face, eyes and lips to combat dry airplane air. Remember it’s a liquid, so pack it in your ziplock.

Book: My biggest flying fear is having a few minutes of free time and nothing good to read.  I always pack a fiction book, but a favorite magazine or a journal and pen fall into this category as well.  Make sure it’s packed in an easy to get to pocket.  An outside pocket is best. You want to be able to get to without disturbing the sleeping toddler on your lap. I put my book in the seat back pocket in front of me as I’m getting settled in.  Only do this if you’re sure you won’t forget it.  As a flight attendant, there was nothing sadder than finding a half finished book in a seat back pocket.

PS Here’s a few more things that are on my list of preferred carry on items.  A refreshing face spritz, lipgloss, tissues, Starbucks gift card (keep this in your pocket for easy access.)

What is your gotta have it?


  1. Sue Forbes says

    This isn’t for the Mama…but, for toddlers and those up to about 6-7I found a stash a stash (I used a zip lock bag) of various colored pipe cleaners cut to size to fit in the bag, provide lots of minutes of quiet play as they are twisted and shaped into different things, strung together, etc. They can be sorted by color, counted,etc. We also found these so helpful when we took our “Grands” to Disney World when they were each five while standing in the endless queues waiting to arrive at the front of an attraction. Quiet, fun, easy to use and easy to share!

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