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Take the stress out of your suitcase


IN THE BAG Win at packing by creating a reusable list.

With a little forward planning, holiday packing can be made easy

Dee Freney

Mid-term has just passed, and lots of families took the opportunity to get away for a few days – a chance to unwind, de-stress and have some fun. However, for many, one necessary evil  of going on holidays could have thrown a spanner in the works: packing.
It’s hard enough deciding what to bring for yourself, but throw a child or two into the mix, and the stress of filling the suitcases sensibly can be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled, depending on how many little ones you need to cater for. By the time you hit the road, you’re so wound up and anxious, it could take several of your valuable vacation days just to calm back down.
What you need is a helpful packing guide that can reduce those stress levels and increase the time you spend enjoying the break. As with so many things to do with the home, be it budgets or lists like this one, hardback notebooks are an invaluable resource. When you make a packing list you can then tick the items off as you pack. The same list can be used again as a handy resource for weekends away or summer holidays. Making packing choices can be daunting. How many outfits should you bring for each child? What about all the other bits and bobs that they need or want to bring? If you have a baby or a toddler, how many accidental clothes ‘malfunctions’ must you factor in? The questions can feel endless.
To start, make a separate list for each child. If your children are older teaching them how to make their own list is a great way of giving them an organisational skill for the future.
Each list should have three sections: clothing, toiletries and miscellaneous.
For the clothes, work out the days you’ll be away, and multiply out accordingly. For example, if you are going for five nights, you will need six lots of ‘essentials’ like underwear, pairs of socks and bibs; as well as two travel outfits and outfits for the four other days. Don’t forget activity-specific clothes too, like swimsuits and shorts.
Their toiletries list will include their toothbrush, sponge/cloth, specific creams and so on. (You can also create a separate ‘family toiletries’ list, which will include items that everyone can use, such as toothpaste, suncream, shower gel and so on.)
The miscellaneous list will include things like favourite teddies, chargers, sports equipment, toys that will make the journey easier and, inevitably, snacks to ward off any hunger anger.
Once each list is ready, you can then gather all the stuff and categorise each day’s clothing. Lay out exactly what they will wear, from socks to vest to hair tie. This will help reassure you that you haven’t forgotten anything, and it will also mean you’re more organised while you’re away. Less time spent hunting for missing items or deciding what to wear means more time for fun. You might even make the hotel breakfast!
A well-known holiday-packing temptation we all succumb to is the ‘I’ll pack an extra 15 outfits just in case’ logic. If the transition from this type of packing to your new streamlined packing list is too great, maybe add in an extra outfit to make you feel like your covered. Also, pack a freezer bag of washing powder, for emergency washing.
A handy investment is a wash bag that you use for medicines only – a type of medi-bag that comes out only for the holidays. In this, put a thermometer, some liquid paracetamol, syringes, some Vicks, a saline nasal spray, a bottle of antihistamine and some plasters. Travelling without these essentials can help you avoid standing in a foreign pharmacy, miming your child’s symptoms while frantically trying to use Google translate.
A top tip for keeping little minds occupied while travelling comes thanks to a new feature on the Netflix app. If you have the app on your tablet or smart phone, you will see there is now an option to download content to watch when your device is offline. This could be the answer to all your prayers!