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The essential packing list for travelling with children

The rule for travelling pre-kids always used to be take half as much as you thought you would need; once you have babies and children in tow, the rule seems to be take twice as much!

First Aid

A decent first aid kit; if you are heading off the beaten track make sure you take a sterile set too.

Calpol sachets

Tweezers and nail clippers (in your hold luggage)

Chamomile teabags. Make into a weak tea for children who can’t sleep, and throw a couple in the bath to sooth sunburn and help with insomnia.

Lavender oil.  A couple of drops in the bath and a couple more on the pillow should help everyone drop off easily!

Insect repellent and bite treatment

Homeopathic remedies

Hand sanitizer and wet-wipes

Motion sickness remedies

Suncream, sunhats and aftersun, plus sunglasses for all the family

Useful bits and pieces

Safety pins can be really handy.Use them to pin up a blanket to make a little bedroom for your child on the plane, or to erect a screen of blankets/towels one side of your child’s bed or cot so you don’t have to huddle in darkness until they fall asleep.

Pritt stick, for scrapbooking when it is pouring down outside.

Ziplock bags for wet clothes, soggy swimming costumes, picnics, snacks, crayons, lego and unfortunate carsickness events. Excellent for storing sandy shoes. I have even used them for eating cornflakes, although I would recommend you do it sitting down.

A squash ball, as many sinks abroad are missing the sink plug. You can jam the squash ball into the plughole and then use it to play a game of One Knee, Two Knees afterwards.

Disposable pocket ponchos.

Elastic bands. Very handy for keeping flip-flops together, sealing half eaten packets of crisps on bus journeys, keeping all those leaflets and tickets safely together before they are glued in a scrapbook. Roll up big jumpers and hoodies and secure with a couple of elastic bands so they take up less room.

A compass. It might sound a bit silly but it is all too easy to get horribly lost in big cities or winding back street markets, and if you have a compass you will be able stop going round in circles (especially if your husband refuses to go into a local café and ask directions…) 

Microfibre travel towels. Keep one in your daysack then if one of your party does decide on an impromptu swim or an incident involving dropping a 1.5 litre bottle of mineral water, you will always be prepared.

Little individual packets of tissues.  Much better than carrying wodges of stolen loo roll around in your daysack, which tend to get grubby and unravel embarrassingly all over the place.

Dental floss. Yes, you can use it for cleaning your teeth, but it also makes an ingenious emergency shoelace or cunning device for hanging a mosquito net from the ceiling or light fitting. Brilliant for sewing up holes in mosquito nets and makes a good washing line for knickers when strung across the bathroom or verandah. Simply cut a length twice as long as you need, tie a knot in the two ends and twist, before fixing to a handy tree or balcony. You can then just push the corners of your clothes through the washing line without needing pegs.

Cotton sarong. Not only can you wear it on the beach to cover up, it makes a great picnic blanket, beach towel or sunshade for kids. Use it as a blanket to snuggle kids up on the plane, or turn it into a handy beach bag for bringing back all those wet swimming costumes by XXXXXXXXXXXXX .

Compression sacks are great for stowing away bulky jumpers and cardigans that take up lots of room.

Those little string bags that come with washing powder tablets are excellent for keeping your soap from going squashy, as you can hang it up in the shower. Keep the soap inside and rub all over for a lovely exfoliating effect. Also handy for keeping small Matchbox cars neatly together in your handbag.

Lollipops. You can’t spill them, they are easy to dish out without everybody complaining about portion size and they should keep everyone quiet for at least six minutes.

Toys and Games

Hacky-sacks. Buy on Ebay or from kite shops as they are superb for beach or park games and take up hardly any room in your pocket.

A pocket kite. A stunt kite with two strings is far more fun and much easier to get in the air than one of those with only one line where somebody has to run along shouting and dragging the kite belong before it fails to get airborne.

Mini playing cards, dice, sticker books, jigsaws and crayons. I try to have a constant supply of small toys ready, especially for in restaurants, but don’t invest in anything expensive as it is bound to get lost or dropped.

Electronic equipment

Amazon Kindles are an essential accessory for grownups on holiday with kids. You can download books wherever there is Wi-fi and the torch built into the available cover allows you to read in bed without worrying about waking up the little ones. The screen is also pearlised so you can enjoy your favourite book in bright sunshine and it means you don’t have to take a massive stack of novels on holiday any more. There are also a huge number of free books available, so you can justify the purchase by imagining that you are saving money at the airport bookstall.

Head torch. Sleep with your torch next to your bed so you can evacuate the family from your hotel quickly in the the dark in an emergency. I always keep a little torch in my bag in case of powercuts or emergencies whilst travelling.

Travel alarm clock, if you haven’t managed to figure out how to use the one on your phone

I-pod and charger

DVD player and dual earphones, so two people can watch the same film. Take the leads so you can connect it to the hotel TV allowing you to watch DVDs when you have exhausted all the entertainment potential of the Turkish quiz shows on offer.


Photos of all your kids, in case you should become separated. Take one on your mobile if you are going anywhere crowded then you will always be able to describe their outfits accurately.

Luggage tags pinned on the inside of all your luggage, in case the external ones are ripped off.

Head torch; sleep with your torch next to your bed so you can evacuate the family from your hotel quickly in the dark in an emergency. I always keep a little torch in my bag in case of powercuts or emergencies whilst travelling.

Photocopies of all tickets, passports and insurance documents. It might sound obvious, but keep them in a separate bag from the originals!

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