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The best packing tips for families - by parents themselves!

The best packing tips for families - by parents themselves!

It’s time for your family holiday and you’ll need to pack for each person - but what are the best family travel packing tips? SnoozeShade speaks to travel experts and parents.

Hurrah! School’s out and you have your family holiday coming up. Everyone is getting excited and you’re making plans for what to do at your holiday destination. But one thing that can panic many parents is what to pack for a successful family holiday.

Well, worry no more. We have some great tips, we’ve spoken to family travel experts and also to other parents with years of experience of traveling with small kids. Here are some things to consider when packing for you and your children.

Get ready early

A couple of weeks before your trip, make sure your kids have not grown out of key items like shoes, hats and swimwear. Buy, hire or borrow specialist items, such as ski wear.

Put a wash on a couple of days before your holiday, with items for each member of the family, so everyone has clean clothes. You don’t want to find that there are no clean pants or socks as you’re dragging the suitcases out. 

Make lists

A packing list is a must, on paper or your phone. Tick things off as you pack, then use it to make sure you bring all your items home with you.

That special toy…

Some kids have a toy or blankie they can’t sleep without. If it gets lost, it’s a disaster. Have spares, get a short strap to attach to your pushchair, or use a dummy clip. 

Know what’s available at your destination

Find out what laundry facilities will be available. If you have a washing machine (and maybe a tumble dryer), you can pack less and do a mid-trip wash. It’s pants to do chores on holiday but it may mean you can pack less!

Pack whole outfits

Lay out whole outfits for each day, so you have it all – tops, trousers, underwear, jumper.

Label your luggage

Make sure each case has a luggage label on it with your mobile phone number. It’s not advisable to have your home address on it. A tracking gadget can also help you find lost bags. 

Store the paperwork

Now, we know all tickets are online now and you should have those on your phone. Scan documents sent by mail and email them to yourself. But trust us, if your phone dies or you are miles from a signal, you’ll be pleased you printed off tickets and travel insurance details too. 

From the experts

The family travel expert at Oliver’s Travels advises:

  • Don’t use a different case for each person – pack some for each person in each case. That way, if you lose one, there’s something for everyone to wear.
  • Think about what you need, lay it out, then remove half. You’ll probably not wear everything. If you’ve forgotten anything, you can probably buy it.
  • Use packing cubes. They help keep everything organised and neat. 
  • Pack a spare set of kids’ clothes in your hand luggage (SnoozeShade also suggests a clean top for you, in case your baby pukes up over you). 
  • Pack a basic first aid kit.

Of course, you are the real experts, so here are a few suggestions from parents:

“I suggestion to my eight-year-old what she needs and ask her to get it out. Sometimes she gets out more than she needs, or clothes for the wrong season, so I do some negotiating! I also pack things she says she won’t need, if I think she will.”

“My daughter chooses what toys she takes - this often leads to an argument when I seek to trim it down!”

“My child would pack the kitchen sink if she could, so it’s definitely a ‘no’ to letting her pick the contents of her case. It’s ok for her to pick some toys to take along – but with limits!”

“Last summer, my eight-year-old managed to smuggle a bedside light into the outer compartment of her suitcase!”

“I always pack everything for everyone at the expense of me (forgetting basic toiletries for myself). I’m guessing you have seen the viral video if the woman who forgot to pack anything for herself on holiday and was stuck wearing a towel…”

“I let my kids pack but it constantly goes wrong and I have to do emergency shopping on holiday, which costs a fortune! It was sandals last year, leggings the year before – both things you’d think would be fairly obvious to pack for a summer holiday.”

“Like others, I do the packing for the kids and chuck mine in last-minute (inevitably forgetting stuff). As for essentials, we bought mini Yoto players for a trip to Australia and they’re now travel essentials for planes and long car journeys.”

“I always use lists – one each for my older child, my baby and me.”

“I don’t let my daughter pack but she brings me stuff. Must-haves are sunglasses and SPF for everyone. For me – I always have exercise gear clothes my workouts.”

“I always pack nice toiletries for myself; face and hair mask and so on, so I can de-stress. I also take emergency food in case we are delayed.”

“Now my child is 11, I let her pack. She ticks items as she puts them in the luggage, then I quickly go through it and close the case, so she doesn’t remove anything.”

“Calpol and Piriton are the first things in the suitcase, plus other first aid gear for kids and the grown-ups.”

“I have strict lists for each of my three kids: enough underwear for the number of nights, plus swimsuits, tops, trousers, hoodies. Footwear depends on the destination.”

“I always make sure I have international plug adapters and the kids have something to read. They can each ‘pack’ their own backpack with toys, cards, books etc.  “

“Pop your passports in the outside pocket of your luggage, so they’re not forgotten.”

“Use packing cubes – they’re a game-changer. Each person has their own and you put certain things in each cube. That way, everyone can find their clothes easily.”

“I haven’t let my son chose toys yet as he would want a huge one! I pack a mix of toys and books he hasn’t seen in a while, some of his favourites and a couple of new toys. I choose toys that entertain but don’t take up too much space!”

“I make sure we have first aid and medicines, food in case we get stuck and an iPad.”

“Always pack a change of clothes and swimsuits in your hand luggage, in case a suitcase gets lost. That way, you can jump straight in the pool on arrival!”

“We always bring pillowcases from our house so that a holiday bed smells like home – this works well for our lad who has SEN.”

Listening to what parents say, it seems that the bulk of the parents doing the holiday packing are the mums and that they leave their own packing until last. If there’s one thing to take away from this, it’s to put yourself first. Choose some nice travel toiletries and self-care items, don’t forget your accessories (they can elevate an outfit) and above all, try to make sure you get some relaxing time while you’re away!

You might also find these posts helpful:

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