Ok, so whilst I am biding time waiting for my holiday, I thought that I would share the tips for my ‘ultimate packing list.’ By no means am I teaching you to suck eggs, but I have picked up many an extra trip from fellow travel enthusiasts with younger children. These items are tried and tested, have helped me out of many a ‘sticky situation’ and have saved my time, money and sanity!
1. A travel towel. Their absorbency have improved in leaps and bounds over the last decade, and they are such a space saver. Typically they are the size of a small compact umbrella. Furthermore, on the plane they can double up as an extra blanket or pillow.
2. Wet wipes. Even though my kids aren’t babies or toddlers anymore, these still have so many practical uses from wiping surfaces to stepping in in the absence of loo roll. I mainly use them for wiping the tray tables on airplanes. They also seem to have a magical calming effect when my children hold them on cuts and scrapes. Their versitility makes them a valuable addition to the ‘ultimate packing list!’
Eye mask/travel pillow/earplugs
3. A decent quality eye mask, set of ear plugs and neck support for flying. I really don’t sleep on flights, but the nearest that I have got to getting some shut eye is when I have used a front neck support or one of the inflatable supports as opposed to the more traditional wrap around pillow. I must admit that the inflatable support makes me feel a little self concious, but it does completely stop the head from rolling forward .
If you are like me and favour sleeping in total darkness, then the eye mask a godsend for early sunrises and poorly shaded accommodation. Foam earplugs are the best for blocking noise in my opinion, and can make such a difference to quality of sleep for the sake of a few pounds.
4. Vacuum bags. For the start of the journey, these obviously help to compress clothing to allow you to maximise your packing space. For family travel it can be useful to have one small one per family member. If clothing is rolled then creasing is very much minimalised. We then tend to use them as washing bags as the holiday progresses.
5. Packing cubes. An oldie but goodie. For me these are for underwear and nightwear, sometimes swim wear. They keep suitcases so much more organised and avoid the ‘exploding suitcase’ when all of the contents seem to get spread across a hotel room. Subsequently, it makes repacking and moving on a breeze.
6. At least two pens if you are travelling somewhere where you need to fill out customs and immigration declarations for the whole family when you are on the plane.
7. A couple of carrier bags- mostly to use a a rubbish bin on the aeroplane if that is how you are travelling. It keeps the area so much clearer, and makes for a much quicker exit after landing.
8. Socks or slippers for the plane. This is only if your kids would be travelling in sandals or flip flops. The kids inevitably want to take their shoes off during the flight and then end up wandering around bare foot…including into the toilets 🤢
9. Hand sanitizer. No substitute for good old soap and water, but a useful bit of kit in the fight against all of the gross germs that I try to avoid thinking too much about during transit.
10. Ordering parcels to meet you at your destination. Not actually a packing item, but great for nappies and toiletries etc. Most hotels (and other types of accommodation) are happy to take in multiple parcels for you, providing that you drop them a courtesy email a couple of days beforehand. We used to do this all of the time when we lived in Grand Cayman and had very limited shopping facilities.