May 18

How to Pack a Kid’s Travel Pack

in Tips & Tricks, Travel

Traveling in Japan

We have been traveling internationally and nationally with kids since Squirrel was 3 months old . . . so just a little over nine years.  Nine years ago in March we took our first trip with Squirrel.  We traveled from Tokyo to Memphis, then from Memphis to Salt Lake City, then back to Tokyo.  Since that first trip we have done the flight between Tokyo and the US many more times, as well as other flights (some short, some not), and countless road trips, many of which required a good 10 hours of driving time.  During the past nine years I have learned a lot about traveling with kids and have developed my own techniques and tricks to make things go smoothly.  One of the things that I started about 5 years ago that has really been a hit is by packing each child their own travel pack.  So today I thought I would share with you how I do this, because it seriously makes travel easier and more fun, both for your kids and for you!

Enjoying the cherry blossoms in Tokyo

Their backpacks are filled with things to entertain them, snacks, and things that might make the trip more pleasant.  But before we talk about what to pack in the backpack, let’s talk about the actual backpack itself.  The backpacks my kids have been using for the past two years are backpacks that I purchased at Walmart.  I was looking for something smaller than the normal school pack, and Walmart had the perfect option for a great price.  The reason I wanted a smaller pack was because my kids were five and seven at the time, so a normal sized backpack would have been too much pack and they wouldn’t have wanted to wear them around.  The packs are still the perfect size.  You don’t want something huge, and actually, I would err on the side of smaller, just because these packs are meant to be carried around, not just be used on an airplane or in a car.  Once we get to our destination, the girls usually wear their packs around so that they can have something to collect interesting souvenirs in like ticket stubs, a cool leaf, a postcard, etc.  We usually also pack a snack or two as well.  Then, before we leave to fly/drive home, we repack the packs with new snacks, etc.

Visiting a temple in Japan

When I purchased the backpacks that the Fujilings are currently using, there was only one color of mini backpack available at the time (pink), so I purchased letter patches of the first letter in each of the girls’ names and attached them to the outside of the pack, so the girls could easily see which was theirs.  Plus, it just makes the packs unique and personalized, which the kids love! (You could totally add even more patches to the pack if you wanted to!)  When picking a backpack, I would also suggest picking something that is water resistant and durable.  These packs are likely going to take a beating!

Backpack for a Travel Pack

When I pack the kids’ travel packs I don’t tell them what I am packing.  The contents are a surprise and they aren’t allowed to open their packs until we get to the airport, or board the plane, or pull out of our driveway (depending on the situation).  When I pack their packs I do it with their entertainment and comfort in mind.  What will help add some fun to the drudgery of being on a plane or in a car?  What might help alleviate some of the discomfort of travel?

How to pack a travel pack for kids

Ok, now let’s talk about what to put into the pack!


Movies on the airplane or in the car will only go so far.  I like to try and pack enough variety so that they can switch between activities several times.  My kids are currently drawing obsessed, so I went with lots of art supplies.  Here are some items to consider:

What to pack to entertain

  • Drawing pad, coloring book
  • Crayons, colored pencils, pen, pencil
  • Activity book (AdLibs, word search, mazes, etc.!)
  • Deck of cards (Go Fish anyone?)
  • New little toys (Littlest Pet Shop, Shopkins, new action figure, Matchbox cars, etc.)
  • Books
  • Child-sized headphones



The food schedule on a flight and a child’s hunger don’t always meet up.  There’s also no guarantee that they will want to eat what is available on the plane.  Cars are a bit easier because you are in charge of all of the food being packed.  But even then I have found that kids love having their own personal snacks that they are in charge of and can choose when to eat.  I go for things that are individually wrapped, or come naturally wrapped, like a banana, or can be packed into a reusable bag.  I recently received several Bumkins Reusable Snack Bags to try out, and I packed a variety of dried fruit and roasted nuts in them on our trip to Japan last month and they were perfect.  Here is a list of ideas of snacks you could pack:

What to pack for travel snacks

  • Refillable water bottle (Empty, if you are flying.  You can fill it once you get through security.)
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Carrot sticks
  • Nuts
  • Individual servings of nut butter
  • Roasted soy beans
  • Plantain chips
  • Dried veggie chips
  • Dried Fruit (apple rings, bananas, pineapple, raisins, crasisin, etc.)
  • Dehydrated fruit
  • Fruit leather
  • Granola (this makes great finger food, but it’s also delicious to mix into yogurt, if you happen to be taking a flight where they serve you breakfast…they always seem to include yogurt!)
  • Trail mix
  • Granola bars
  • Lara bars
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn
  • Rice crackers
  • Individually wrapped mints
  • Chewing gum



When you are tired and uncomfortable, little things can go a long way.  Here are a few things I like to have on hand:

What to pack for staying clean and healthy

  • Sanitary wipes
  • Chapstick
  • Travel pillow
  • Fuzzy socks (It’s amazing what slipping out of your shoes and into something soft and cozy does for you!)
  • First-aid kit (This is a must have! I can’t count the number of times I was so glad that I had one on hand.  You may just want to keep this in your pack, though my kids love having a little container of their own bandaids.)


Eating onigiri in the park


*Disclosure: I received samples of Bumkins Reusable Snack Bags at no expense to me.  I was not required to write about them and have received no compensation for doing so.  All experiences and opinions are my own.

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