I still look back fondly on the days when I’d toss a toothbrush, bikini and camera in a bag, grab my passport and be ready for the airport. And while a lightly packed bag still sparks joy for me, my kids are notorious for trying to shove every single thing they own, except clothes, into their suitcases.
But frequent travel as a family has made me ruthless at eliminating items that aren’t essential or useful to our trip and I can pretty much ensure our family of four can live comfortably out of a single suitcase and carry on for weeks on end, without fear of us becoming, well… too fragrant. Here I share my essential tips to pack like a pro, even with kids in tow.
- There’s no sugar coating it. Travelling with kids in tow does require more planning as you need to be prepared for every eventuality. I advise families to write a comprehensive family packing list and follow it. Not only will it help ensure you don’t leave something vital behind, it helps stop overpacking too.
- Start with packing cells, which are a luggage life saver. Not only do they help conserve space, but colour coding them for each member of the family helps to keep things organised and offers faster access. And remember to roll clothes rather than folding to maximise luggage space.
- Do your research so you can pack the right type of clothes and shoes for your trip. Male sure you have at least one layer for every eventuality.
- Pack only the number of outfits you will need and choose items that travel well and go together. Clothes that can multi task like zip-off trousers, wraps and plain t-shirts are ideal, and remember your suitcase is not endowed with magical powers that make clashing items go together, so pick a single core colour and add just a few items or accessories to add a splash of colour.
- It’s just as important to know what not to pack. Unless one of you children is planning on accepting an Oscar while you’re on holiday, none of you are likely to need six formal dresses. And unless you’re travelling to shoot a Vogue spread, there’s never a reason to pack 10 pairs of shoes. Ever. Honest. We limit every member of the family to two pairs, including the ones they’re wearing, and pack them in (resuable) bags to keep grubby little soles of our clean gear.
- It’s really important to teach kids a little independence by having them pack for themselves. But always do a double check before you zip up the suitcase, because there’s every chance they’ll have packed an army of stuffed toys and a plastic viking helmet in place of undies and shoes. Or is that just my kids?
- Always pack an up-to-date travel first aid kit, and supplement with children’s paracetamol, children’s antihistamine, antiseptic cream, kid-safe insect repellent, rehydration powder, sting relief cream or spray and any necessary prescription medications. Don’t forget to pack your family health record with immunisations, medications (prescription and non-prescription), adverse reactions and allergies and the contact details for family physicians.
- When it comes to carry on, less is not more. Lost luggage happens so always pack a change of clothes for the kids in your hand luggage and, if you’re travelling with little ones, enough nappies for the time in transit plus spares, just in case your checked luggage doesn’t end up at the same destination as you.
- Whether you’re driving or flying, be sure to pack activities to keep everyone happy, including yourself. Load devices with new apps and movies and ensure they are fully charged before you leave to avoid junior having a meltdown. Oh, and to protect parental meltdowns after one too many replays of Peppa Pig, make sure you pack (kid-safe) headphones.
- Don’t forget to toss in some realistic expectations. At times travelling with younger kids can feel like herding cats, but if you hope for the best while being prepared for the worst, you’ll have an amazing trip.
Book your travel now
Now we have told you where to go, all you need to do … is GO! We are here to help you book the perfect getaway. Complete the form below and we will put you in touch with a dedicated travel manager that can help with all your travel needs.