Flying to Hawaii with a Baby & Preschooler

Da Kine backpack for airplane travel
My Da Kine backpack easily fit my electronics and necessities for myself, baby and preschooler. Photo credit: Julie Wirtz

My Mom lives on Kauai and I try to visit her at least once a year from our home in Seattle. Since my husband has limited vacation days, I usually just take my son with me. However, this year was my first time flying solo with both my kids. I knew I’d have my hands-full, so I needed to find a backpack that could easily fit under the seat in front of me on the airplane.

The flight from Seattle to Hawaii is usually about 5.5 hours. I’m so happy there’s a direct flight! Typically, airlines offer us several rounds of beverages and a snack. There often isn’t a built-in screen for in-flight entertainment. So, I usually have to pack food and entertainment on board. (post contains affiliate links.)

What I Pack in my Carry On Backpack

  1. Snacks, snacks, and more snacks. I feel like I probably fill half my backpack with snacks. Not only do they keep my boys’ tummies full, but they keep them quiet and occupied. I usually throw in a bunch of fruit/veggie pouches, teething crackers in the box (so they don’t crumble), puffs, Annie’s fruit snacks and cereal.
  2. Diapers and Pull-Ups. I like to pack a diaper for every 2 hours of a flight, so for Hawaii I packed 3 diapers for my 9-month-old. I also had my 3.5-year-old wear a Pull-Up on the plane in case the fasten seat belt sign was on and we couldn’t make it to the lavatory in time.
  3. 1st Class Kid travel pillow. You can read my full review of the 1st Class Kid. Basically, it extends the airplane seat so kids can lay down and sleep easier. I personally like it because it prevents my preschooler from kicking the seat in front of us.
  4. Noise canceling headphones for my preschooler and myself. The sound of the airplane wears me out and makes me a grouchy Mama. I think it does the same for my 3.5-year-old. We keep our headphones on even if we aren’t listening to anything and we usually get off the plane in better spirits than when we don’t use them. I use these Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones and my son uses these Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones.
  5. Laptop. I wish I didn’t need to add this to my backpack simply because my laptop feels so heavy. But, that’s life and if I want to blog, download photos, and access my files, it’s what I need to do.
  6. iPad. I definitely let my 3.5-year-old indulge in as much screen time as he wants when we fly. We usually download a few movies and TV shows and make sure to have some games that don’t require wifi. We also downloaded the GoGo Air app that let us watch movies and TV shows on our Alaska Airlines flight for free.
  7. Camera. Usually, I just rely on my iPhone and sweet talk my husband into bringing all his camera gear. However, when I travel solo, I also haul my camera and accessories.
  8. Wallet. I always downsize my everyday wallet to a little one with just my essentials cards (ID, credit/debit cards and Costco membership) and a bit of cash.
  9. Cell Phone. I’m finding that very few clothes seem to have pockets nowadays. Nursing clothes are one of the worst offenders. I usually fly in maxi dresses or skirts, so I rely a lot on having a spot in my backpack for my cell phone that is easy to access.
  10. Toys. I really don’t like hauling extra stuff, but I’ve found that a couple of toys can make a rough flight go a lot smoother. This past flight to Hawaii, I brought a couple of new toys that the kids hadn’t really played with before and it was a good distraction. The big winners this trip were the Fat Brain Toys MiniSpinny and Fat Brain Toys Pop and Slide Shelly
  11. Change of clothes for baby, preschooler, and myself. I live by the motto that “blowouts happen.” That means anyone in the vicinity of the baby might need a change of clothes. Better safe than poopy.
  12. Wipes. I feel like travelers of all ages should pack wipes in their carry on. Besides diaper changes, I mostly use them to clean hands/faces after snacking and wipe down anything I think my kids are going to put their mouths on.

Da Kine Prom Backpack

Da Kine Prom backpack
The Da Kine Prom backpack was easy to wear while also carrying my baby in my Tula baby carrier. Photo credit: Julie Wirtz

I’m a very thematic person, so I knew I wanted to find a backpack with a tropical vibe to carry all my essentials. A bright print would be ideal. And I didn’t want it to clash with my Tula baby carrier, since I’d be wearing them together a lot.

The Da Kine Prom backpack is awesome because there’s a spot for everything. The main zippered area features a sleeve for my laptop as well as a sleeve for my iPad. I was able to stash other electronics in this area and bulky items I wanted closer to my back. In the middle zippered area, I stored my gallon bags filled with snacks and toys. In the smaller zippered area, I kept my diapers, wipes, and extra clothes (Note: there is also a zippered area within this area that is perfect for holding used diapers.)

I ended up re-arranging a bit on the flight and put my packet of wipes on the outside pocket for easier access. I didn’t even use the water bottle pockets or the zippered areas right next to them (which would be perfect for storing keys or a small wallet.) However, I did use these pockets a lot after the flight.

This backpack fit all our needs while traveling in Hawaii. I’ve actually been using it as my regular diaper bag for the past month. It’s been durable and functional while also a bit fun! Here’s a similar Dakine Prom Laptop Backpack.

Carry On Essentials for flying to Hawaii with kidsDa Kine sent me product for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

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10 Comments

  1. I definitely travel with everything you do, minus the diapers and pull-ups. Wipes are essential and I think a change of clothes is also recommended for adult travelers because you never know if you lose your luggage. This is a great list for parents who travel with kids.

  2. These are all useful when travelling with young children. I think the headphones idea is great, even for me and I don’t have kids! The backpack looks handy too, and I like the bright colours!

  3. cute back pack, i think its rather cute that you match the print to the holiday theme. i have seen and read how challenging it is to travel abroad with small kids. my friends tell me about it all the time. you seem well-organised. I’ll def share this with my mom friends! i hope the trip was great!

  4. It must have been a flight free of hassle. Everyone has something on them to work with. My sisters would always keep their children with my mom basically because of the stress it takes to fly the kids. I think they need a dose of your post and I’d be sure to recommend to them. I like how you simplified traveling with kids as if it was nothing stressful.

    • marciecheung Reply

      It can definitely be stressful, but I’ve found that flights go much smoother when I pack my carry on smartly.

  5. A diaper for every 2 hours of the flight sounds a good idea. I used to pack either too many or not enough! I agree with you about the snacks, kids often get hungry and upset so having some healthy snacks ready is good. I agree that blowouts do happen, and at least one spare pair of clothes is required, the good thing is that kids cloths are small so don’t take up much room!

  6. This post is really handy. I am very bad at packing light and at times I almost forget things. Packing right is a major task while traveling with kids and you have made it so simple with this post of yours. Thanks for sharing

  7. This is such a helpful list for new moms. I used to pack several bags and in the end it used to be so tiresome and irritating.
    I am glad they are bringing out designs that can cater to different kinds of travelers.

  8. You are so brave for taking both kids at once and on your own! I am amazed at how organised you are in your approach although I guess you definitely need to be. This is such a practical approach and I love the rational of everything you have chosen to pack and where you have explained access points needed during the flight. Also a great move that you were able to get a direct flight rather than having to take 2 or more flights on a longer journey.

  9. Traveling with kids solo is quite a task and it certainly require preparation. It’s a great guide if you want pack quick and precise for the kids. Loved it

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