About two years ago we went away for a few days to the Yorkshire Coast.
I was really tired and disorganised and consequently left packing until the morning we were going away. “It’ll be fine,” I thought. “We’ll just get up early, pack and go.” Which would have been fine in our old life with just the two of us. But with two whining children and only half a list, it was an absolute nightmare. It took a long time and I forgot my coat.
But it taught me a very important lesson. EVERY family holiday needs planning with military precision, no matter how short the holiday or near the destination. Also, NEVER EVER leave packing until the last minute.
Since then, I’ve learned how to pack like a pro. Here are 9 top tips for packing for a family holiday:
1. Make a list
If you’ve not already got a list, a good place to start is to write down the name of each room and list items underneath each heading. It will help you to remember what you need. Don’t forget a column for outdoors to include wellies and waterproofs if you’re away in the UK.
Take the list away with you and update it with anything you forgot to take so you remember next time.
Also make a list of anything you need to buy beforehand for the trip eg snacks, entertainment, such as cheap sticker books, sun cream etc and try to buy a week before you go.
2. Pack according to rooms
Making a list room by room means that you can take your list to each room and pack like a pro pretty quickly.
3. Pack clothes in outfits
Think small, versatile, and layers. I lay out the boys’ trousers/shorts. I work on the premise that one pair of trousers will last a couple of days, but the amount we need depends on if we have access to a washing machine.
Then I lay out one pair of socks and pants, one vest, two tops/lightweight jumper/hoodie to go on top of the trousers.
Once all the outfits are laid out and I know I haven’t missed anything, I roll up all the trousers and pack, all the tops and pack etc.
4. Use packing cubes
Packing cubes have been a game changer for us. They are squashy bags you can use to divide up some of your stuff, eliminating the stress of digging through suitcases. We use different coloured cubes for each person’s clothes and they make packing and unpacking a lot easier. Label your packing cubes so each child has one for ‘bottoms’, ‘tops’, and so on.
5. Store essentials in a rucksack
Consolidate essentials, including prescription medication, passports, accommodation details and cuddly toys the kids can’t sleep without, into one rucksack and don’t let it out of your sight.
6. Easy access bag
In addition to a day-pack full of essentials, consider carrying an ‘Easy Access Bag’, that holds everything you might need to reach quickly on the road.
If you’re taking iPads or other digital entertainment, make sure they are charged up for the journey and you pack the chargers. Download any apps, films or programmes you need a couple of days before.
8. Don’t forget your DLA award letter(s)
If you’re planning days out in the UK, it’s useful to take this. Sometimes carers get in free with proof of disability. And the discounts aren’t always advertised on the website. If in doubt, ask at the attraction.
9. Remember your medicines
Make sure you’ve got enough of your regular medicines to last the trip. Check the week before and order any more if necessary.
- If you’re planning a holiday with a child with autism, check out this advice for planning a family holiday
- Travelling by car? Check out my 9 tips for planning a long car journey with SEND kids