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What to pack for a family holiday

Your essential holiday checklist

Author Clare Fisher
Categories   Family Travel Tips

The Edit

As a seasoned travel family, we’ve discovered many products over the years that have made travelling with babies and toddlers so much easier. What might come as a surprise is to learn that we don’t travel with many products at all, and this is our superpower!

We keep our gear to a minimum to save on costs and the amount of ‘stuff’ we have to lug around. Travelling with a family is hard enough carrying the bare necessities, especially through places like airport security. The last thing we need is even more of our attention taken from the children, making sure we have all our things.

So how do you know what to prioritise? There are so many products out there now, it can be a little overwhelming and some things just aren’t worth the hype! So, we’ve compiled a list of our top travel products, suitable for ages ranging from newborn to toddlers.

1. Travel system

There are many types of travel systems on the market, but we have always gone for a three in one system, with attachments that can fit onto it. The first is a car seat, which is super handy - if baby ever falls asleep and you don’t want to wake them, you can simply click the car seat onto the base. Travelling with a car seat is essential to keep baby safe and to comply with the laws of many countries around the world you may travel to. The second attachment is a carrycot for baby to sleep or lie down in. This has saved me so many times where we’ve turned up to accommodation and the cot provided just wasn’t fit for purpose. Generally, travel systems are designed to be compact, light and easy to manoeuvre, which is an added bonus for travel. Our last one had a drinks holder, a large deep storage basket underneath, a mosquito net, a rain cover, handlebar, a spacious baby bag with pram clips and accessories, a ventilated hood and much more!

2. Travel cot

It’s never fun to turn up at your accommodation and realise the cot provided for your little one just isn’t fit for purpose or that there isn’t a cot at all! My sister-in-law recently arrived at a four-star family hotel in Mexico only to be told there was a waiting list for a cot! You never know what you’re going to get and that is why a travel cot is an essential for us. It’s not just a safe place for baby to sleep, its somewhere safe for them to play while we get ready, or pack.

There are some really impressive travel cots on the market now - some are breathable, wipeable, super light and compact, so that you can slide them into the tightest of spaces. Some of them take seconds to unfold and put away, so if you arrive somewhere late at night and need to get baby straight to sleep, you’re all set to go. We use our travel cot around the house too and will do for some time, so it’s useful at home as well! Many cots are suitable for up to 3 years old, so you can get plenty of use of out of them and some even come with a detachable moses basket insert for smaller babies.

3. Ride-on suitcase

I love nothing more than having separate cases for the children, because not even packing cubes stop the carnage of mixed-up clothes within a few days. As well as keeping things separate and organised, our main bags are lighter, aren’t crammed to the seams and the kids are actually able to help carry the load. Whether they are dragging the case decorated as their favourite colourful character, or riding along on top of it, I have personally found it’s the only bag they ever actually end up transporting themselves and they have so much fun with it! They often play with them and they even come in handy as seats when waiting around.

4. Sleeping bag

Baby getting enough comfortable and safe sleep is important for everyone to enjoy travelling, so I always travel with a sleeping bag for baby. Choose ones that come in different togs for more or less warmth, and that’s easily washable on the go. I love knowing my baby has the comfort of his own bedding when we travel and that he can’t kick the blankets or sheets, usually provided by hotels, over his head.

5. Baby carrier

At first, I found the idea of baby carriers in general quite daunting. I didn’t have one with my older two children, so I figured how much do I really need it and the idea of picking one and even getting to grips with how to put it on just overwhelmed me. But after taking the time to try them out, I can honestly say a baby carrier is without a doubt, my number one most important travel baby product.

It’s a game changer, not just for travel, but in daily life and you might not realise just how life changing it is until you’ve fallen in love with wearing baby. Travelling can bring a wide range of experiences and situations where holding baby or pushing a pram just isn’t suitable, but what I never expected was the bond it helped to forge.

Look for carriers that are lightweight and machine washable. Choose darker colours to really help to hide some of the wear and tear of moving around a lot and consistent use.

6. UPF 50+ rash guard/sun protection suit and hat set

Sun protection is so important, especially for a little one’s new and fresh skin, which is particularly prone to burning. When we travel with little ones, it’s often for holidays, which can mean days on end spent on the beach and by the pool. That’s a whole ton of sun cream that needs regular topping up to ensure protection, especially if you have more than one child. Of course, we still use sun cream, but rash guards give us peace of mind that no matter how long has passed since their last application, and no matter how many times they have been in and out of the water, they always have UPF50+ protection when they wear these sets. Even in cool and cloudy weather, it’s surprising how quickly the sun can damage their skin.

7. No-spill cup

We try to grab food and drink on the go as much as we can with a large family like ours, as snacks and drinks can quickly add a whole lot of weight and mess to otherwise organised and clean bags. However, little ones need a drink on demand, so we always make sure he has his own no spill cup that we can wash and top up as we need to. Even the smallest, cutest little cup can cause actual carnage with a leak. If it’s in your handbag, it can turn your travel documents to mush and soak the nappies and spare clothes in a baby bag, so a no-spill cup is priority when travelling. Choose a cup that’s easy to put together and clean, and has a lid protecting the mouth piece from germs wherever it’s put down, or inside your bags. It even has a super soft spout that is gentle on gums if they are at that teething stage and has removable, easy grip handles.

Author Clare Fisher

Clare is a mother to three beautiful children aged, 10, 8 and 1. After losing loved ones several years ago, the family realised tomorrow isn't promised, so sold everything and decided to travel the world together. The Fisher family document their travels over on Instagram, to inspire families to have their own adventures and share the most incredible places and experiences.

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