For my family, traveling and navigating the airport are second nature. Our kids are 6 and 2, and enjoy being on the go as much as my husband and I do. 

When traveling, it’s easy to think that less is more when going on a trip — and most of the time it is. However, not in the actual airport. We don’t skimp on our carry-on bags. In June alone, several delays have reminded me to not relax in my packing for flights.

My husband had a flight diverted to another city due to turbulence, which caused a missed connection, an overnight stay and an unexpected drive home from Kansas City. A family friend traveling on a trip to Georgia with us had her plane diverted to another city as well due to weather. She slept in the airport for four hours before getting on an early flight to Omaha. Another friend and her husband were flying home and because of a missed connection, couldn’t get to Omaha for hours. They were with their three young kids, so they chose to fly to Des Moines, rent a car and drive back instead.

These instances have reminded me to always have what’s necessary for my kids if we were delayed without our luggage for hours or overnight. Each person in my family carries a backpack and we bring one small carry-on suitcase. We carry all of this on top of bringing a stroller and car seat for our youngest into the terminal. Is it a lot? Yes. Is it manageable? Completely.

On top of the activities and fun items that I bring to entertain us on the airplanes, here are the must-have items I don’t separate myself from when I’m traveling by air.

1. Enough clothes for each person for two days. If our luggage gets lost, this is key. Plus, even if the luggage is just a little late, it’s great to have pajamas with you if you arrive late or a swimsuit with you if you’re heading to the beach. Or if you are delayed somewhere unexpected, this provides you with clean clothes and pajamas.

2. Diapers and wipes. I have ran short on diapers twice in airports during the last year and it was not a good feeling. Yes, I could ask someone for an extra or possibly find some in an airport, but still...always pack enough for two days.

3. Sleep essentials. My son cannot sleep without a sleepsack, and my daughter won’t sleep without her beloved bunny. No matter what, those items come in the carry-on bag with us.

4. Minor toiletries. We always have toothbrushes, hair brushes, sunscreen and a little bit of makeup for me in our carry-on suitcase. If the unexpected happens, it’s nice to at least feel like yourself.

5. Medications. You may not find Children’s Advil or Children’s Zyrtec in an airport terminal, and a very gassy baby showed me that nowhere in Chicago O’Hare carries gas drops. So bring anything/everything you could possibly need.

When traveling with little ones, always hope for the best but plan for some bumps along the way. Finding out you have to stay in the airport overnight or that you are delayed a few hours is stressful enough without realizing your youngest is running low on diapers, or has a fever and you can’t find what you need in the terminal. Worst case scenario, though, nearly every airport sells wine. So at least you’ll have that!

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Jaime Wyant is a 33-year-old Omaha native, wife to Bret and mother to Marin and Liam. She writes monthly for Momaha.com. Read more from Jaime here.

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