Top Packing Tips for Family Breaks – Plus the Chance to Win a PacaPod Travel Bag
Packing for a trip with small children, even a weekend break, can be daunting: what to take, what to leave and the fear of forgetting something important can leave you almost wishing you were staying at home…
For those of you planning a family break and feeling fazed, we asked Jacqueline Waggett, creator of PacaPod – functional but fabulous travel/baby-changing bags – and an experienced world traveller and busy mum in her own right, for her tips for packing, not feeling like a pack mule and even having some fun along the way.
We’ve also teamed up with PacaPod to give one lucky reader the chance to win a travel bag of their own, worth £80 – see below for details.
Top Packing Tips for Travelling with Kids
• Choose your accommodation with your children in mind. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of terracotta tiles and spiral staircases, but search for truly child-friendly hotels or rental properties who provide plenty of equipment so that you don’t have to pack it.
• Get organised. Lists are my thing and I love how cathartic it feels when you tick something off. Itemise every piece of clothing you will realistically need according to your planned activities and the weather you might face. Pile it up and then remove a few items because everyone - without fail - packs too many clothes. If you’re holidaying in the UK, always pack swimming gear, raincoat and wellingtons - you never know which way the weather will turn.
• Involve the kids. I’ve always encouraged my girls to get involved with the holiday preparations as it should be exciting, not stressful! Give little ones maps and treasure hunts to plan and then follow the route – it’s a chance to teach them about where they are going and what’s different or unusual about this new destination or country. My girls also help with the packing and lay out ‘clothes people’ on the floor wearing different outfits – a fun way of teaching them what’s needed and what’s not. (If your child is still at the ‘I want to wear my tutu and wellingtons’ phase, this might be best avoided for a few more years!)
• Remember the must-haves. Zip-lock bags are useful for storing dirty clothes and also for dealing with many of life’s emergencies… Likewise baby wipes are vital not just for nappy duty but also dirty hands and faces plus spillages. Always keep a mini first aid kit to hand, including for days out, to deal with scrapes and cuts plus pain should a cold or fever strike. Hand sanitisers can be a lifesaver when toilet facilities are lacking, and always take a few emergency snacks, drinks and treats for when hunger and boredom strike.
• Think about the fun stuff. You won’t need many toys – your children will be much more fascinated by what’s at your hotel, which may in any case have its own playroom and/or kids’ club with plenty to do. But it’s good to have a supply of little things to keep kids amused on journeys – pens, pencils, books and stickers. Something to play with outdoors, such as a ball or boules set, is ideal for impromptu family fun, and children’s favourite dolls or action figures are perfect for stuffing in their own little bag and taking to the park or beach – as is something cuddly for comfort.
• Don’t sweat the small stuff. Unless you are travelling to Borneo, you’ll be able to buy anything you have forgotten while you are there, or possibly even borrow it from your hotel, so try not to get too worried and to look forward to your trip and making memories with your family.
For the chance to win a PacaPod Oban, head over to the Luxury Family Hotels Facebook page. Available in black, grey and gloss red, the Oban is a clever, stylish shape-shifting messenger bag that switches into a backpack in seconds and weighs less 1kg, making it a real shoulder-saver. Tucked inside the cargo section of the bag are two pods to organise feeding and changing items and these can be removed and clipped onto any buggy or taken to the baby-changing room. Unisex, Oban is perfect for sharing with a partner on family trips. The spacious parent pockets keep your valuables safe and separate from the baby paraphernalia.