Packing for Holiday: What to Take on a UK Holiday with Kids
Hands up if you remember the days when just picking your passport and purse and then throwing some clothes in a small holdall was all you needed to do to pack for a short holiday?
Now, surrounded by children, packing takes ten times as long, is ten times as stressful and you can guarantee something (or someone?!) gets left at home and forgotten!
Due to the pandemic, foreign travel can seem like a lifetime away and staycations and holidays in the UK are increasingly popular. However British summer weather can be hit and miss. Whilst you might have to pack more to cover ever eventuality, at least you can do so knowing you won’t have to pay an airline excess baggage charge. You just have to be able to squeeze it all in your car boot. Or roofbox. Or trailer.
This year, along with thousands of other families, we are off to the English seaside for some relaxing on the beach, spending our pennies in the games arcades and eating fish and chips on the sea front.
We have 3 children and packing for a short holiday can feel endless.
In this blog post I cover all the essentials you will need for a staycation in the UK this year.
Clothes and Shoes
The amount of everything you take with you will depend on the number of days you are going for and if you have laundry facilities. We are going to the coast for 7 nights to a self-catered cottage with a washing machine and so I hope to do a quick wash or two if something gets really mucky. But I don’t want to spend my holiday washing children’s clothes so I’m going to try to take enough to cover most of our week away without going near the washing machines!
Here’s a quick list of things you will need to take with you:
- Long trousers
- Skirt or dresses
- Short sleeve t-shirt
- Long sleeve tops
- Shoes – trainers/sandals/wellies
- Sunglasses and Sunhat
- Swimming things
Taking a baby on holiday can feel like an absolute mission – they need so many things! Check what your accommodation has before you leave as travel cots and high chairs are often in UK cottages and rentals and if they are provided this can save you much needed space in your car!
Other things you might need if you are going on holiday with a baby include:
- Wipes and nappy bags
- Travel changing mat
- Travel cot (unless provided)
- High chair (unless provided) – these can take up a lot of space so look for something that is made for travel like this Nuby travel booster seat
- Pram or buggy
- Baby carrier
- Baby monitor – unless provided
- Bottles/breast pumps/formula
Toys and other things to keep little ones entertained
With any luck, your accommodation might have a small number of toys suitable for children so you won’t need to take much with you. Don’t take huge things with you – a blanket for a tiny baby to lie on and a cuddly toy or a few card games for older children will hopefully be enough. A few things that might be useful includes:
- Colouring books and pencils
- Ipad or tablet
- Small games or puzzles – we love Dobble in our house for all ages!
Family First Aid Kit
Taking a basic first aid kit with you is essential – you won’t need much but at the very least you will need:
- Children’s paracetamol
- Any other medication your family needs
Family Toiletries and Bathroom Things
Gosh, where do you start with all the toiletries you need to take on holiday when you have children? Holiday lets often provide towels and flannel (though you have to take your own beach towels) but other toiletries are rarely provided.
This list is not exhaustive – add your own things to the list that your family might need.
- Shower gel/bubble bath
- Hairbrush and hairbands
- Towels and flannels
- Sanitary towels/tampons/reusable menstrual products
- Nail clippers
- Beach towels and bath towels
Super soft face cloths from cotton muslin are great for cleaning mucky faces after a day at the beach. Tutti Frutti wipes start at £4.50
The little things we always forget…
No matter how much you plan, how many lists you write there is always something you will forget. Here is a list of things that we have left at home over the years…
- Camping mattress. Yes, that’s right we left our blow up mattress at home when we went camping one year. My husband and I spent one very uncomfortable night sleeping on the hard ground before we could get to a camping shop to buy another one the next day. I’m not naming any names as to who left it out of the car but it wasn’t me….
- I once went camping and forgot to pack all my underwear. Luckily our friends, who we were camping with, were stopping off at a supermarket and bought me a some or I would have been handwashing a single pair of pants out every night!
- High chair – we’ve staying in places where high chairs weren’t provided and we didn’t take one. If you have a baby that sits still on your lap you might be OK but we had a very wriggly toddler and it made meal times very difficult! So don’t forget to check what your accommodation has for your baby before you set off!
When children are travel sick
If you have a little one that suffers from travel sickness, I recommend taking a Tupperware box with a lid in the car with you and some puppy training pads. When you little one needs to be sick, shove a puppy pad on their lap and give them the open box. Once they're done, pop the lid on and get to the next service station to empty the mess in a toilet and rinse the box out. Taking a box with a lid is a much easier way to contain any mess – we’ve learnt that one the hard way!
What to pack it all in?
When we go away, I like to pack as much as I can in a couple of large suitcases or holdalls. Use a large ‘bag for life’ for shoes and wellies and pack toiletries in a separate small bag. I pop shampoo/shower gel etc in a small plastic bag too just so that if they spill, they don’t go all over every thing else!
However, I do recommend packing a backpack or small bag with a change of clothes for the children and other essentials in - drinks, snacks etc. You can guarantee that at least one child will get mucky before you arrive and a change of t-shirt or shorts might just help I that situation! I’d also pack a small towel and some wipes in that bag to help clean up any spillages.
Don’t forget to have fun! I find packing before a holiday one of the most stressful parts of going away. But the memories we make on holiday far outweigh the stresses of packing – and maybe with this checklist a little bit of the stress will be taken off you!
Why other things can you think of that is essential when going away with small children? Let me know in the comments!