5 tips for how to pack your hand-luggage to make air-travel easier

When you travel by plane with kids, you will definitely be bringing a heftier and heavier load of hand luggage than you would otherwise, and if you don't plan ahead, your carry-ons can slow you down.

Here are 5 tips for how to handle your hand luggage when flying with kids:

1. Let your kids have their own carry on when they're old enough
Once your kids are old enough to pull a wheeled backpack, it's a good idea to let them bring their own carry-on. I prefer the wheeled bags since they're more fun for kids to handle, and easier on little bodies than carrying backpacks or bags. Do check what your kids pack in their hand luggage before you leave home, and make sure they don't bring anything that will get you into trouble (it can happen!) or will be too heavy, or is completely unnecessary. (A child's opinion of what is unnecessary can differ widely from an adult's...)

That's the antibacterial wipes: always within easy reach.

2. Think about what items you'll need the most
Put any items you are most likely to need frequently within easy reach in your carry on. This includes snacks, books and any items your kids can pass the time on while you're waiting (games, e-readers, maybe some activity books or toys). Also, if there are two or more adults in the traveling party, consider dividing items up between your carry-ons: all diaper supplies and changes of clothes in one bag, for example, or all snacks and games in one bag.

Tip: If you put all items you won't be needing frequently into one bag, it will be easier to pack that one into the overhead compartment and out of the way, giving you more leg room on the flight.

3. Remember the rules for liquids
I keep reading in the news that the rules for bringing liquids on board airplanes will be relaxed. So far though, it hasn't happened. Every time you go through a security checkpoint at the airport, you will need to remove any allowed liquids from your hand luggage, and you will be asked to remove any items that don't conform to the rules. Things go a lot faster if you're ready for this.
  • You can bring liquids (including creams and gels) in containers that hold no more than 100 ml (3 oz).
  • All the liquids have to fit in a clear, 1 litre (1 qt.) ziploc bag and each traveler is allowed one such bag in their carry-on.
You have to be ready to remove this bag at each checkpoint, so make sure it's easily accessible in your carry-on.

Tip: Special rules do apply if you're traveling with a baby (you are allowed to bring food, including formula, for your baby though some restrictions apply), or if you're bringing prescription medications.

4. Put electronics where they're easy to reach
At most airport checkpoints you will also be asked to remove any electronic gadgets from you carry-on before it goes through the x-ray machine. Usually this only applies to things like laptops and other similar sized electronics, and not to cell-phones and e-readers. However, sometimes you will be asked to remove everything. Put these items within easy reach in your hand luggage in order to speed up the process.

Tip: get a cover or sleeve of some kind for electronics like tablets or e-readers. This will help protect the item from damage when you're traveling.

5. Don't wrap gifts
Christmas is getting closer, and a lot of us will be traveling to visit family and friends. Often, we will be bringing gifts. Any gifts you put in your hand luggage should not be wrapped. You might get away with it, but you might also end up spending a lot more time at security than you would like! Better to wrap everything once you arrive at your destination.

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