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We’ve been lucky to have had quite a few holiday’s in the last year. After every trip I evaluate what’s been useful and what could we do with to make things easier on the next trip. I then store all my ‘packing equipment’ together in the cupboard ready for the next adventure. I revel in the moments when my husband says ‘oh this has made packing easier’ or ‘how are we packing so quickly these days?’ It used to take me hours, if not days, to pack for a holiday. But I do still leave it to the day before.
Recently I had a chat with my friend Leanne and I introduced her to packing pods. She told me that her holidays haven’t been the same since and she even took them on a camping trip last week, she’s hooked. Then this week I was having an Insta chat with the lovely Reena from Hygge for Home and the concept was totally new to her too.
So it got me thinking… doesn’t everyone know about packing pods and do I have anymore packing hacks I could possibly share?
I’ve moved away from complete cross packing, where a bit of everyone’s things would go into each suitcase, in case one suitcase got lost. Which I will add served us well about ten years ago when we lost a case on the way to Barbados. I do however still pack swimsuits for everyone in the hand luggage, if all else fails we can still go to the pool. This might not help you on a winter holiday or travelling by car though, haha.
So here are my 23 holiday packing hacks, I hope they ease your stress of pre-holiday madness. I love to listen to music whilst I’m packing too, it makes it much more fun.
Do leave a comment below if you’ve any packing tips to share please, I’m always on the look out for more efficiency!
- Packing Pods / Packing Cubes
These are my top tip for packing. Every family member gets their own colour and has either one-medium/one-small or two-medium/one-small for each trip. I go one step further and fold them all Marie Kondo style and even order by colour but then I’m OCD. Mine are all from Muji but here’s a link to similar on Amazon.
- First Aid Kit including the usual plasters, etc. But since my daughter split her chin open on a camping trip I now take steri strips and iodine. Plus charcoal tablets have been a great addition, they certainly saved us recently when we had upset bellies in Vietnam. They’re also great for natural sickness recovery.
- Portable USB Charger with two adapters. I take one of these chargers in my hand luggage, it means I can top up my devices (and the kid’s iPads/headphones) when on the road, especially on a long travel day. Plus I download some Netflix programs to watch on from the Netflix app for emergencies.
- Small Carry on Suitcase – I used to take a big bag onto flights with me, but it used to kill my back when we walked through the airport. Especially if we had that really far gate at Gatwick Airport.
So now I take a small carry on suitcase with wheels. I pack it with pyjamas for kids, change of clothes and toothbrushes if we’ve an overnight flight (in a packing pod, see tip number 1). Inflatable neck pillow, sleep eye mask, books, compression travel socks (my Dad has DVT and if you’re on a long flight I beg that you wear some, prevention is better than cure), Amazon Kindle, warm jumper, and more.
I also take a couple of scarves which we bought in Cambodia which double up as blankets for the kids. It’s something which smells of home, helps them keep them warm and to settle and sleep on long flights.
- Trunki Boost-a-Pak
This is essentially a car booster seat crossed with a ruck sack. We’ve used them so much we’ve just replaced them with our second ones. They’ve been so valuable to us for travelling and making it easier not to lug massive car seats around. We’ve tried some of the alternatives like the blow up cushion, etc but this one works the best for us. I recently found out about this new portable seat which is being manufactured call Indiegogo if you wanted an alternative for younger children.
- Fold Flat Travel Bag – on our recent trip to Vietnam we surprised our friends by whipping this out half way through the trip. We now always take an extra travel bag, of the flat pack variety, with us on trips. We get it out when space gets a bit tight and use it for dirty laundry and shoes. Giving us valuable extra space in suitcases for all the shopping we normally do. It also stops all the clean clothes being next to shoes and dirty laundry.
- Essential Oil Mixes
My friends call me a hippy but I like to make a few of my own essential oil blends for tummy ache/sleep/anxiety. Our kids know to ask for what they need and it’s really helped keep our travelling calm. (You can look essential oil blends up on pinterest)
- Cotton Laundry Bags (x1 for weekend trips, x2 for bigger trips) I’m not a fan of plastic bags, so one of the best additions to our travel routine is some cotton laundry bags. They make sure the dirty clothes can breathe and I can split the colours so they’re ready to just go in the machine when I get home. I just got mine on eBay. But I found a similar set on Amazon.
- JBL Bluetooth Speaker – this is more for hubby than me. He likes to have music wherever we go. We used to lug around a really heavy Bose speaker and it caused arguments when we packed as I saw it as unnecessary weight. But now we take along a small waterproof JBL speaker and it’s great. It clips onto a bag so we can take it to the beach or pool.
- Pack-a-Mac Rain Macs – it can still get cold on some of our travels to hot countries and it of course rains in the tropics. So we throw in a couple of pack-a-macs as they’re light and don’t take up much room. I’m quite pleased as I just found myself a leopard print one in Vietnam.
- Wet Bag/Pouch for swimming clothes. We like to swim up-to-the-last-minute on holidays but with that comes the quandary of what to do with the wet swimwear. So I recently found these bags from Decathlon which keep the wet clothes contained. They do two sizes but I’ve found I can fit the wet swimwear (and rash vests) of four people into the 7l version. Link to Decathlon here.
- String Shopping Bags – most likely you’ll do some shopping on holiday. If we’re staying in a villa we go food shopping too. So I throw a couple of macrame shopping bags in the suitcase so we can avoid using plastic bags. They’re small enough that I can have one in my handbag on sight seeing days just in case too. They go into number 17 below with other miscellaneous items.
- Pre Packed Wash Bag – my friend Vics gave me this idea from when she lived in Australia. So now I always have a travel wash bag ready to go with all the essentials in like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo. I have a tube of laundry detergent liquid in case I need to hand-wash some clothes. My kids love to spill things on their clothes and if I don’t get it out right away, I’m stuffed.
My wash bag has a metal hanger on it so it hangs from the shower door or a hook then folds back up again. Plus this makes going on a last minute holiday so much easier.
- Pouch for Sun Tan Lotion – if you’re going on a winter holiday you can probably skip this step but for summer holidays I pack a packing pod or a pouch with some sun tan lotion. It means I can easily chuck it in my day bag and off we go. I can also just as easily take it out in the evenings when we go out to dinner.
- Water Shoes – We sometimes end up on rocky beaches or those which have sea creatures which pierce your feet. So the whole family is now equipped with beach shoes.
- Salt Water Sandals
These are bar far the best sandals I’ve ever owned and I’ve just had two more pairs delivered (shhh don’t tell the husband). They’re leather sandals which are waterproof. Meaning you can wear them in the sea, in a muddy field (ugh), wherever you fancy basically and you can wash them off and wear them out to dinner. On a hot holiday I’ll take a pair of these and a pair of trainers and I’m done. I do the same for my daughter.
- Little Box to section out a suitcase – I take just one little lidless box to section out the suitcase a little and to keep the random things together, I can then also take the box out at the location and easily pack again. This can be as simple as a little cardboard box.
- Water Bottles & Charcoal Sticks – these are essential for us. We drink a lot of water and I’m fussy on the taste of water. For example Singapore tap water is safe but it has a funny taste to it, popping in a charcoal stick makes it taste so much better and it absorbs any nasties from the water. Plus I like to avoid plastic bottles and our impact on the country we travel to. So I take bamboo toothbrushes too.
- Tuppawear – I sound like my mother but I take a couple of little tuppawear boxes with me on every holiday. We make the kids a cheese roll for lunch at breakfast time and maybe pack some fruit or snacks in. Snacks aren’t always easy to find, for example we struggled to find a store which sold healthy snacks in Vietnam. Whilst we can skip lunch or wait a bit, when the kids are hungry they get h’angry. Plus it means we don’t have to always worry about finding kid friendly places to eat lunch.
- Homework Books – my kids just had ten weeks off for summer this year, so yes homework books are on my essential list. I did just 10-20 mins a day with each child to keep their brains ticking over, I’ve found them calmer as a result. It’s been something we’ve done everyday and it’s been a bit of routine for them which helps with grounding whilst travelling.
- Bug Patches – I hate mosquitos! Since we moved to Singapore I’ve discovered these fab patches from Tiger Balm. It means you don’t have to cover your kids in bug spray all the time.
- Torch – this one comes from my little man. He makes sure we pack a torch every time we travel and when we had a power cut in Bali he came to the rescue!
- Beach Tent – We bought our first beach tent almost 8 years ago and have used it loads every single summer since. We got one big enough so that a buggy could fit inside initially, that zipped up at the front so you could get changed inside and one you could fill pockets with sand or stones so it didn’t blow away. Ours has actually doubled up as a kitchen station on many camping holidays too. I couldn’t see the one we have still for sale but here are some alternatives.Bonus Tip!
- Cotton Sleep Sacks – this isn’t for every trip but if you’re doing a trip to Vietnam and you plan on taking a night train these cotton sleep sacks are essential. We whipped out our sleep sacks and I could relax that we were all sleeping in clean bedding. I had to search extensively to find some that were 100% cotton and decided on these. You can even zip them together to make a double, they unzip from the bottom to cool your feet off and you can tuck a pillow in from underneath.
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