Our top travel must-haves for having a stress-free journey and family holiday:
Any parent will understand what you are talking about when you say that packing for a holiday with kids can be a headache. Deciding what to pack and what to leave behind can be tricky at the best of times but more so, when you are travelling as a single parent with only one pair of hands for your family’s suitcases, bags and documents.
Of course, some items may be feasibly bought while you are away, but others are vital to being able to enjoy the journey and have a relaxing break. So, making a list of items that are travel must-haves for your family is essential. Try to find travel accessories that are light, take up little space and are ideally multi-functional. Those should be your top essential travel accessories for your next holiday. To help you get started, here is our list of items that we think you should never leave behind when you go on a holiday with kids:
You should always take your sunglasses with you, especially if you are going abroad, hiking, or on a ski holidays with kids. When we go abroad, we perceive the sun to be much stronger than back home. However, comfort is not the only reason we might want to keep our sunglasses handy. Sunlight can cause retinal tissue damage and macular degeneration over time, especially during prolonged periods of exposure, and the higher the altitude, the more harmful the UV rays. So don’t risk going away without quality sunglasses for yourself and your children. If your little ones find them uncomfortable or are prone to losing them, consider getting straps. When buying a new set of sunglasses, make sure to buy UV-blocking lenses to protect sensitive kids’ eyes from permanent damage.
2. A travel first aid kit
Although you may hope that the resort, you are travelling to has adequate first aid supplies, it is a good idea to bring your own kit, especially if injuries occur whilst en route and away from your accommodation. If you know what to put into a first aid kit, you could make up your own, so that you can deal with any cuts, scrapes, bites, and other minor injuries yourself. Don’t forget to check hand luggage rules if you are travelling by air and planning to take your first aid kit on the plane.
3. Wet wipes
Any parent knows that baby wipes are a life saver, but why do we stop using them when our little ones are no longer babies? To avoid your kids being mortified when you clean their grubby hands with a baby wipe, find a different brand – from hand wipes and travel wet wipes to washlets-to-go, there are many products on the market that both parents and children will happily use when a sink is nowhere to be seen. Whatever you call them in your house, they are such multi-functional items, that you should never leave the house without them.
Wet wipes are great for car, train and plane journeys, days out to the beach, in the woods, etc. Children get messy eating and playing and making them presentable again is just one reason these wipes come in handy. You can also use them to clean little hands before eating, so your kids are able to eat without sand or dirt getting in the way. Unfortunately, most wet wipes are not biodegradable, so do use them sparingly and always dispose of them in waste bins. Flushing them down the toilet causes sewers to block and damages the environment, as does littering. If you can find biodegradable wipes, do buy them even if they cost a little extra. Obviously, whilst COVID is around, alcohol-based ones are a good idea but beware that they dry sensitive little hands out.
4. Travel blankets
Whether you’re going on a long-haul flight with kids, or an overnight train or road trip, temperatures can quickly plummet when you travel late at night. If your children are cold and uncomfortable, they will find it difficult to settle, causing your stress levels to rise before you have even reached your holiday destination. Bringing along travel blankets is the perfect solution. They are light and roll up small, taking up a minimal amount of space. Best of all, they keep your kids warm and snug and will encourage your little ones to take a nap.
5. Chargers and adapters
There is nothing worse than packing your kids’ favourite gadgets but leaving chargers behind. Think carefully which electrical items you are taking with you, and which cables and adapters you may need. Your phone(s), Kindle(s), hair straightener(s), the kids’ DVD player, tablet, and night light – you will be surprised how many items you are carrying and how many adapters you will need. If you are going on holiday with teenagers, buy them their own adapters if you want to avoid arguments on holiday! Check if some items can be charged with the same cable, but make sure you take at least 2 or 3 adapters, as you will often have more than one items in use at a time. Also consider buying a power bank. They take up next to no space but will save you and the teenagers panicking should a travel gadget run out of battery en route.
6. Travel Toys
Whether you are going on a road trip or flying abroad on holiday, chances are, you are limited for space and unable to fill up your suitcase with too many toys. Younger kids will have a favourite cuddly toy that they can’t sleep without, so make sure to pack this in your hand luggage. In addition to their favourite toy or comforter, bringing along a few travel toys that will keep your kids entertained both en route and at the hotel during the evening is a no brainer. There is really no need for buying specific travel toys, simply look through your kids’ bedrooms and choose a few favourites that are small, portable, and light (such as card games, books, and colouring books). Add a new activity pack or magazine to the mix, and you have your very own travel toy set saving you both time and money.
7. Audio books
Instead of bringing along bulky books that take up precious room and luggage allowance, download a few audiobooks and stories for yourself and your children. An engaging story can help pass the time and keep the little ones distracted and can be enjoyed through headphones on the plane, the car stereo, at bedtime, or at the pool. This will give you a much-needed break when you are travelling solo. You could ask your children to choose their own books before your holiday, keeping them involved and excited throughout the packing and planning stage.
8. A travel document holder
There is nothing worse than juggling hand luggage and several different boarding passes and passports when you arrive at the ticket gate. If you don’t have a way of keeping everyone’s travel documents safe, you will almost certainly end up misplacing one or two essential documents in your rucksack or handbag. While these are usually just packed into a different compartment of your case, having a passport holder or travel wallet means there is no need to panic every time you have to pull out your documents. Don’t forget you now have to add vaccine passports, PCR or flow test results and passenger locator forms to the pile of paperwork. If you fly, you must always have them handy as they will be checked several times before and after departure.
9. Child-sized suitcases
If your children are old enough to be responsible for their own luggage, buy them a small hand luggage suitcase that they can pull themselves or a Trunki that they can both pull along and sit on. This can make the journey much more fun for them, especially if they can wheel around at the airport with their siblings. This will also mean you have a lot less to carry at the airport, and after check in. Remember you need your hands free for your family documents and your own hand luggage. Just be sure that your children will take responsibility for their bags because carrying their luggage as well as your own is no easy feat.
10. Drinks and snacks
Bringing along drinks and snacks might sound like a no-brainer, but when you are busy getting ready to leave the house, these can easily be forgotten as they belong to those last-minute items that are left in the fridge ready to take the next morning. Make sure to include them on your list of essential travel items, so you have to tick them off before you leave! Most kids won’t be able to go for long stretches without a drink or food, and you want to be prepared to have something with you as you wait to check in or board trains or ferries. Just checking in for your flight can currently take up to an hour thanks to all the COVID paperwork. There is nothing worse than a meltdown in a never-ending queue, so be prepared.
Going on holiday with kids is great fun and can be stress-free and relaxing even if you are travelling solo with your little family. We hope that our list of essential travel items was useful and will help you start your own. Planning and packing well ahead of time can avert that meltdown at the gate. So, always have your list handy, add to it as you pick up new tips and tricks and tick items off the list as you pack. This way, you will not be left stranded at the airport without an essential item, like your kid’s comforter.