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Hawaii Packing List: 18 Must-Haves for Flying with Young Kids

Hawaii Packing List: 18 Must-Haves for Flying with Young Kids

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Planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands with kids? Get my ultimate Hawaii packing list for babies and toddlers. I include essentials for both the flight and your big island vacation!
This Hawaii packing list for babies and toddlers was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

When flying with babies and toddlers, start your Hawaii packing list with a solid carry on for a successful flight!

Moms ask me all the time what to pack for Hawaii, but especially for the plane ride. It can be scary when you don’t know how your child will handle a long flight, or if people will be understanding if they cry.

And for a lot of families, Hawaii is a long-haul flight with lots of time to spare! What can you bring for a peaceful plane ride? And what do you need to bring from home for your Hawaii vacation?

Don’t worry! I’ve got your covered with my essential packing list for Hawaii below!

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. See my top tips for flying with a baby.

Want a Hawaii travel guide? I’ve got detailed guides and 7-day itineraries!

How to Pack for Hawaii When Traveling as a Family

With family in Hawaii and a love for travel, we’ve braved flying since my first son was born! I’ve learned by trial and error what to bring. The main thing? A good carry on and some basics for the ground.

My husband can’t always go with us because of work, so I’m often flying to the Hawaiian Islands by myself with kids! I want my hands to be free and important papers at the ready, so I start with a really good carry on.

Once you land, things get a bit easier, but I’ll tell you that traveling to Hawaii with little ones is no easy feat. You want to pack light, especially if you’re going to bring car seats.

Make sure to check out this post on flying with babies and this one on flying with toddlers. They’re packed with all kinds of great travel tips that will help you survive flying with little ones!

So, what are the essentials on my Hawaii packing list? Keep reading for my tried-and-true must-haves.

What to Carry On When Flying with Young Children

Start your Hawaii packing list with what you’ll have with you on the plane. I suggest making your carry on a good backpack that you can keep at your feet.

And most major airlines don’t count diaper bags towards your carry-on allowance, but always check the policies of the airline you’re flying with your specific rules.

1. Bring Lots of Snacks!

No one is crankier than a hungry child! Make things easier with an arsenal of snacks on hands. I usually throw in a bunch of fruit/veggie pouches and teething crackers in the box (so they don’t crumble).

Snacks like puffs, Annie’s fruit snacks, and cereal are also great. And flight attendants can bring you water or juice to add to sippy cups.

Prepackaged food can go through TSA, and fruit pouches meet the ounce limit for gels/liquids. And if your child takes purees, breastmilk or bottles, you just need to let TSA know when you go through security.

Book a Family Photo Shoot

Whenever we travel, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND guarantee that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.

2. Lots of Changing Supplies

I like to pack a diaper for every 2 hours of a flight. So, if it’s a 6-hour flight to Hawaii for you, pack 3 diapers per child.

If your toddler is potty trained, have them wear a pull up just in case the fasten seat belt sign is on and you can’t make it to the lavatory in time!

This also includes things like wipes, creams, and single-use plastic bags or a waterproof dry bag for any potential messes.

I like to have extra wipes on hand because I use them for other things, like cleaning hands/faces after snacking. They’re also great for wiping down anything I think my kids are going to put their mouths on!

3. Extra Clothes (For Both of You)

Don’t skip this next item on my Hawaii packing list. I live by the motto that “stuff happen.” That means anyone might need a change of clothes, whether it’s a blowout, motion sickness, or something else!

Better safe than sorry! That means I packed an extra set of clothes for the baby, the toddler, and myself. For potty trained toddlers, this also means extra shoes and socks (if you know, you know).

4. Lots of Entertainment

I’ve learned that a few toys can make a rough flight go a lot smoother! For a good distraction, I suggest buying a couple of new toys that the kids haven’t played with before.

For toddlers and babies, Fat Brain Toys are great! Both their MinniSpinni and Pop and Slide Shelly have been hits for us on past plane rides.

Sometimes pacifiers and teethers are just the thing for younger toddlers and babies. And Melissa and Doug Water Wow! Activity Pads work wonders at keeping toddlers quiet.

Also, don’t shy away from bringing and iPad or Tablet. This is a great time to let your kids indulge in some screen time if it helps distract them when you fly.

You can download a few movies, TV shows, and games that don’t require Wi-Fi. And if you fly Alaska Airlines, there’s the GoGo Air app that you can download and watch movies and TV shows for free.

Pro-tip: bring a universal portable phone charger or 2. Sometimes you don’t even end up using it, but the last thing you want to stress is your phone or iPad dying!

 5. A Comfort Item/Lovie

If your child has a lovie, you know how much it can help when emotions run high. Keep it close for take offs and naps on the plane.

While you pack for Hawaii, ask your toddler to pick out a comfort item to bring along. You’ll be surprised how much this helps them get excited for your trip!

Even for babies, a comfort item that smells like home can be helpful. This might be a blanket, stuffed animal, a t-shirt you wear, or something else.

Plus, while flight crews are super helpful about bringing blankets to you, a blanket from home will always be much cozier!

6. Sleep Aids

It’s hit or miss if your child will sleep on the plane. However, there are things you can do to help them be more comfortable when they get tired.

Dark-colored nursing covers and blankets are helpful to put babies to sleep. You can drape them over you if you have the baby in a carrier or over the car seat.

Other thing you could add to your Hawaii packing list is an inflatable footrest. Basically, it extends the airplane seat so kids can lie down and sleep easier.

We loved the inflatable 1st Class Kids Travel Pillow during a long-haul flight to Paris. I felt it kept my son from kicking the seat in front of him! You can read my review on the 1st Class Kid here.

7. Noise-Canceling Headphones

Noise-canceling headphones are sent from heaven. I have a pair for my toddler and myself. If the sound of the airplane wears me out and makes me a grouchy Mama, I know they do the same for my toddler!

We keep our headphones on even if we aren’t listening to anything! And they’re said to also help with changing air pressure that can hurt little ears.

I use these Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones and my son uses these Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones.

8. Age-Appropriate Car Seat

Over 2, you’re required to book your toddler their own seat on the plane. And while the FAA doesn’t require them to be in a car seat, they recommend either a car seat or approved harness system.

I’ve personally had bad experiences with car seats on airplanes. Then I had a chance to try out the CARES Safety Harness System.

CARES is the only safety harness system of its kind approved of by the FAA. It gave me complete peace of mind and I loved it for both of my sons!

Whatever option works best for you, I do recommend getting your toddler their own seat when flying to Hawaii. While kids under 2 fly for free in the US if they sit in your lap, you’re not going to get a toddler to sit on your lap for 6+ hours!

9. First Aid Kit

Again, “stuff happens,” and you should be prepared! While the plane will have First Aid available if you need it, it’s good to keep a small TSA-approved First Aid kit in your diaper bag or carry on.

Any medications you’ll need just need to be within appropriate size limits. If you or your child might need access to meds, it’s best to bring them on the plane rather than in your luggage.

You can also add motion sickness aids and ear pain aids to your medication kit! Dramamine can be used for children ages 2 and up.

If you prefer something more natural, you could try SeaBands for kids (for 2+), which use acupressure points to relieve nausea. And EarPlanes for kids (for 1+) work well to lessen ear pain caused by fluctuating cabin pressure.

10. Baby Carrier or Stroller

When my sons were little, we loved our Tula baby carrier. It allowed me to use my hands, and I could wear a backpack with it as my carry on.

Baby carriers are also great for helping babies and young toddlers sleep on you on the plane.

If you want to bring a stroller, just make sure their light and fold down easily. You can check them at your gate, so you have use of them before you take off and right after you land!

11. Essential Travel Documents

The Hawaiian Islands are part of the US, so you don’t need a passport to go there. But you’ll need a government ID and a way to prove your relationship to your child.

If you have a lap child, you’ll need to prove their age, as well. So just bring a copy of their birth certificate and you’re covered.

All of this should be in a handy place in your carry on where you can pull it out when necessary.

Essentials for a Hawaii Vacation with Babies and Toddlers

Next on my Hawaii checklist are just a few things you’ll need for you and your little one to start your Hawaii vacation!

12. Lots of Sun Protection

A must on any Hawaii packing list is reef-safe sunscreen. Hawaii has a list of sunscreens that it’s banned because of chemicals that cause coral bleaching.

These days, it’s more common to find reef-safe sunscreen that’s clearly labeled, but the term isn’t regulated. Here’s a list of ingredients to look out for. ThinkBaby and Badger are 2 brands selling reef-safe sunscreen that’s great for kids.

Also remember that kids under 6 months can’t wear sunscreen. And additional sun protection is always a plus for everyone in the family! Here are a few suggestions:

13. Swimwear

Chances are you’re going to spend a lot of time on the beach when you visit Hawaii! The key here is to plan ahead. Swim diapers are helpful for little ones.

When it comes to water shoes for babies or toddlers, you have your pick of great brands. For toddlers and babies, I recommend sticking with aqua socks. They’re great for young walkers with their soft soles and wide toe boxes.

And nothing is worse than pulling on a damp bathing suit! Humid island weather means it takes a bit longer for things to dry out. Bring at least 2 swimsuits or swim trunks and rash guards for each member of the family.

14. A Beach Bag

A good Hawaii packing list includes a beach bag with a plan. You’ll enjoy beach days more if you know what to bring and how to avoid getting sand into everything (though it’s inevitable).

A good sand-resistant beach towel is a good place to start. Your hotel might offer complimentary beach towels as well.

Include a few waterproof dry bags too. They’re ideal for throwing anything wet inside till you get back to your hotel. Think snorkeling gear, used swim diapers, or wet bathing suits.

Also, full face snorkel masks are illegal in Hawaii and you can’t buy them (or use them on tours). But if you bring your own you can use them on the beach.

Sand toys are tons of fun for little ones. And I suggest tossing in a waterproof phone case and an affordable underwater camera for making memories.

15. Thermal Water Bottles

Chances are, you’re going to experience hot weather when visiting Hawaii. Keep the kiddos hydrated with a thermal water bottle.

They’re better than plastic water bottles that harm sea life in Hawaii. Just fill it up before you leave your hotel, and they stay cool for the day.

Concerned about size and want to save space? This collapsible silicone one is easy to throw in your luggage and doesn’t leak.

16. Breathable Clothing

When taking a look at your Hawaii packing list, think about what kind of clothing you’ll bring with you for yourself and the kids. Lightweight, breathable, and comfortable clothing suitable is best the warm Hawaiian climate.

Think resort wear, like shorts and t-shirts or a swimsuit cover up and sandals. And Hawaii benefits from warm weather year-round, but what you bring might depend on a few things.

Visiting Hawaii in the winter or spring? Each of the Hawaiian Islands enjoy a sunny and warm east coast and south shore, while the north shore gets the most wind and rain! So, bring layers and maybe a light rain jacket.

17. Sandals AND Sneakers

Don’t just bring sandals or water shoes on your Hawaii vacation and think that’s enough! There’s so much do, and you’ll be doing plenty of walking.

Flip flops are fine for the boardwalk or hotel, and water shoes are great for rocky beaches. But please don’t forget dry sneakers if you’re going to walk around.

If you plan on doing any hiking with the kids, consider hiking shoes for everyone! They could be hiking boots or hiking sandals (KEEN is a great brand to look at for babies, toddlers, and adults).

Hiking sandals are great because you can go from the beach to the hiking trail. And if they get wet? No big deal!

18. Sleep Essentials

One of the trickiest parts of traveling to a different time zone is maintaining your child’s sleep routine. Keep things as easy as possible with a few familiar items.

Bring the nightlight your child can’t sleep without, as well as a white noise machine. If you’re getting a vacation rental or villa, make sure to bring th baby monitor, too.

For infants, sleep safely with a tested travel bassinet like the Munchkin Brica Baby Travel Pod. And travel blackout curtains work well in vacation rentals.

(Most hotels have windows that are too big for these, and some already have blackout curtains anyway.)

Also, check with your hotel before you go to see what baby gear they carry! A lot of hotels carry items just for families like cribs, bottle warmers, and more.

And don’t be afraid to reach out to the owner of your vacation rental. They might have things like baby gates or pack n plays, or can pick them up for you!

FAQs on Flying to Hawaii with Babies and Toddlers

Can I bring baby food or formula on the flight to Hawaii?

 Yes! Both pureed infant food and formula is considered medically necessary items for your child. You just need to let them know you have them in your carry on when you go through security.

Should I bring a car seat on the plane for my toddler?

 On US flights, it’s not necessary for children 2 and up to be in a car seat. Most airlines also offer restraint harnesses for young children. Both have been approved by the FAA and the American Academy of Pediatrics. If you choose to bring a car seat, flight crew can help you install it on the plane.

Do kids need birth certificates to fly to Hawaii?

Yes, bring your child’s birth certificate on your Hawaii vacation. From Mainland US, a flight to Hawaii only requires you to have a government issue ID. However, if there’s a reason you need to confirm your relationship with your child, you’ll use both of these for that. Also, if you have a lap toddler, you’ll use their birth certificate to confirm their age.

Are there any toddler-friendly activities in Hawaii?

There plenty of things to do in Hawaii with both babies and toddlers! There’s the Dole Pineapple Plantation on Oahu. If you’re visiting Maui, consider a hike at the ʻĪao Valley State Monument. And the Big Island has great cove beaches with powder soft sand and calm waters that are perfect for young kids.

Use My Ultimate Hawaii Packing List When You Fly with Babies and Toddlers

Now you have my Hawaii packing list for flying with babies and toddlers. Next? Take a deep breath and remember that there are going to be bumps along the way!

When you fly with young children, you prepare as much as you can and wing the rest of it. The key to calming those nerves is to plan and let everything else go!

Soon, the flight will be over, and you’ll be on the ground making memories. And you’ll be so happy you packed that sun hat and extra swimsuit!

Need more inspiration for traveling Hawaii with kids? Check out these posts:

Kid-Friendly Guide to the Best Kauai Beaches, Hotels, Activities + More!
Aulani Tips to Maximize 2 Nights at Disney Aulani Resort in Hawaii
Polynesian Cultural Center Offers Family Activities on Oahu
Honua Kai Resort Maui Review
Baby Friendly Activities and Experiences on Kauai

Carry On Essentials for flying to Hawaii with kids
Hawaii Packing List for flying with babies and toddlers

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Stephanie

Wednesday 21st of March 2018

I can across this article as I'm about to take a trip to Hawaii with my 9 month old. Curious to know what carrier you find the best fit for the plane for your wearing your baby?? I have an Ergobaby right now and thinking it's a little bulky for the plane. Yours looks a little slimmer. Thank you :)

marciecheung

Wednesday 21st of March 2018

I really like my Tula baby carrier. It's similar to an Ergobaby, but there's a lot more padding on the shoulder straps. Tula fits my frame the best. I never could get ring slings to feel comfortable, but I know a lot of Moms that love flying with their babies in a ring sling. They take up less space and are pretty adjustable. Have a great trip!

Swati Jain

Monday 9th of October 2017

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

Nicole Anderson | Camping for Women

Sunday 8th of October 2017

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.

Indrani

Sunday 8th of October 2017

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.

FS Page

Sunday 8th of October 2017

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

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