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My best packing tips for your next family holiday

Packing is probably everyone's less favourite part of a trip. Most people take way too much and end up with really unhandy luggage. Here are a few tips to help you pack simply and efficiently without stress.

Use packing cubes

This is the single best purchase I made years ago for packing. I use them for every single trip and could not do without them. I wonder how we used just to throw all of our clothes together. Anyway, packing cubes are essential.

Each of my kids has one or two with their own things. We then use ours to separate clothes by category (swimwear, sportswear, nice outfits,..). It makes unpacking very easy when you arrive. It also helps to find everything very quickly.

The kids packing cubes for 1 week to 3 months

Use soft bags

I find soft bags like this simpler to pack than a rigid suitcase. You can always find a corner to stuff extra things, there is less waste of space. The only downside is that it doesn't roll, but it is a minor discomfort against the ease of packing.

No matter the length, don't pack for more than a week

And here is a big one. Packing for a week is actually as much work as packing for 3 months. This is what I packed for 3 months to Costa Rica (for myself). Providing you will not live through 3 different weather conditions, you will not need a wide range of clothing. There are opportunities for laundry everywhere in the world, if you stay in a home without a washing machine, just head to the village and find someone who can do all the laundry for you.

For example, here is what I packed (clothes-wise) for the kids for 3 months away in a warm climate:

  • 7 pairs of shorts / 3 dresses + 4 shorts

  • 7 short sleeves tee shirts

  • 7 pieces of underwear

  • 4 pairs of socks

  • 1 pair of water shoes

  • 1 pair of sandals

The kids will wear their sneakers, long trousers and a warmer jumper for the journey.

In case of doubt, always take less

Should I take that lovely dress, that extra pair of shoes or this thing I am not sure I will wear? If you question, then don't. Chances are you will not wear it. If you really need it, then buy it over there.

Let the kids pack and carry their own toys

Each of my kids carries a small rucksack for the journey. They are free to pack whatever they like for toys, legos, colouring gear and books. The only rule is that they have to be able to carry it. So taking those cute rocks we collected on the beach is a no.

Do check the bags though to make sure they haven't packed kitchen scissors you discover at security at the airport (authentic experience🤦🏻‍♀️)

Kids carry their own entertainment

Washkits and first-aid kids

No matter where we travel to, I always pack a basic first-aid kit with things we need (plasters, paracetamol, antihistamine,...). Always take medicine with you on the plane! You don't want to have a kid with a headache you cannot relieve on a long-haul flight. Unless you have extraordinary needs, you should be able to find all medicine where you travel. However, I tend to pack what we need to avoid a trip to an overpriced pharmacy.

I also always carry the following:

  • suncream

  • mosquito repellent

  • disinfectant

  • scissors

  • cream that can help with bruises and aches

  • vitamins if we will not see much sunshine

  • melatonin if we change the timezone

The specific case of babies and all their gear

Of course, travelling with babies is a bit different. When they are very small, the advantage is they need absolutely nothing. But here are some additional packing tips for this special time:

  • If you bottle feed, check that you can find a formula you are happy with in local pharmacies or shops. To save space, transfer big bulky formula boxes in clean sealable ziploc bags that you can layer in the bag

  • Babies poop everywhere: nappies are sold everywhere, don't take yours

  • The same goes for baby wipes, just have what you need for the journey

  • Don't take toys, anything can become a toy on the road

  • Muslin squares are handy for wrapping, wiping, drying and everything in between. They are light, dry quickly and take up no space.

Always inform the hotel you are coming with a small baby, the good places will have some equipment and gear ready for you.

Packing for babies

Finally, I also always pack the following from home:

  • speakers

  • a loaded kindle

  • a travel backgammon game

  • my favourite green tea

  • a card game

  • Ziploc bags

  • a laundry bag (better than a plastic bag to bring your items to the laundry)

  • one plastic container to carry food

And of course

  • reusable water bottles for everyone

  • fabric shopping bags

  • many snacks for the journey

Talking to my clients, I know packing is never a fun moment. I hope those tips have been helpful and will make your next packing adventure less painful. Don't hesitate to reach out with questions.

Bon voyage

Marta x

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