What’s in My Family’s Carry-on? (Snacks, Activities, Emergency Kit)

Feed the kids well. Keep them busy. Prepare for emergencies.

These three things were at the top of my mind when packing for our recent trip to Hawaii. A little preparation made all the difference in the world! The kids were fantastic travelers on the 9-hour flight. My husband did pretty well too, wink.

When we returned to Atlanta, I jotted down the contents of my family’s carry-on to share with you.


Grabbing snacks on the road often means an overload of gluten, dairy, sugar and additives. I’ve never met a child (allergic or not) who thrives on this kind of diet. Take some time to fill a bag with healthier convenience snacks and make sure everyone is hydrated before boarding.

Our favorites:

  • Almond or sunflower seed butter
  • Nut Thins or other gluten free crackers
  • Udi bread
  • Kind and Nugo bars
  • Nuts
  • Hummus
  • Carrot sticks, berries, apple slices splashed with a little lemon juice to prevent browning

If traveling outside the continental U.S., plan to consume all fruits and vegetables before you land due to potential restrictions on produce.

Tip: Kids love new containers. Try packing a large pillbox with sunflower seeds, raisins, dark chocolate chips and other small treats! And don’t forget the hand wipes.


Have enough activities on hand (or in mind) to keep the kids well entertained. But keep it simple!

Here are some ideas:

  • Chess & checkers (this magnetic set is good for travel)
  • Art (blank paper & stationery, new crayons and small coloring & activity books)
  • Books & storytelling
  • Classic travel games such as hangman, tic-tac-toe, rock-paper-scissors, I spy, 20 questions
  • Get-to-know-you games. Ask questions such as “If you were going to the moon and could take only one thing would you choose bananas or apples?”

Tip: If you’re traveling with toddlers & preschoolers, wrap several small toys in tissue paper. The unwrapping becomes an activity in itself and buys a lot of time!


If you’ve gotten to know me a little by now, you can guess that I travel with an emergency kit filled with both medical as well as natural remedies. Here’s what I bring.

Also read my post on helping children sleep well on vacation.

  • Zofran, in case of motion sickness (ask your M.D.)
  • One dose of antibiotics (Amoxicillin) in case of illness while abroad (consult your M.D. before using)
  • Lavender oil for minor cuts & scrapes
  • Astragalus – we take this herb at the first sign of illness to boost immunity
  • 5-HTP and magnesium oil for sleep
  • Melatonin for sleep & jet lag
  • GFCF digestive enzymes (good for those who can’t tolerate accidental gluten & casein exposure which is common during vacation)
  • Ibuprofen or Tylenol for the unexpected fever
  • Neosporin
  • Bandaids & a couple of larger gauze pads for big boo-boos
  • Alcohol wipes

Tip: Pack your emergency kit in something durable such as a plastic first-aid box or food storage container and make sure all medications have a child-proof lid and are kept safely out of reach.

Have a healthy, happy trip!