Wednesday 5 July 2017

The Unconventional Guide to Packing a Suitcase with Young Kids

You may have read my recent blog post called, The Unconventional Guide to Flying Long Haul with Young Kids, (if you haven't pop over and read it, it's a good one). Many of you enjoyed it and therefore I have decided to turn it into a full blog series. I will be presenting you with my unconventional guides for all aspects of family travel such as hotel stays, the beach, camping, road trips etc.

Next up in the series is my Unconventional Guide to Packing a Suitcase with Young Kids. This in my opinion, is one of the most stressful parts of going on a family holiday. Read on for my tips. As always these are all very serious and sensible tips but told in the reality that actually occurs.

1) Buy a fancy new notepad to start making lists
Before you go anywhere start making lists. Lists of things to buy, things you like and then packing lists by person. All these lists of course, require a fancy new notepad from somewhere like Paperchase. 
You'll then find you can't keep up with your notepad so you'lI start making some visual lists to place on the fridge and also some on your phone. That should do it.
After making all these lists you'll realise that you've spent so much time writing said lists and making them pretty that you actually haven't managed to tick anything off. You'll hate yourself for how unproductive you've been when you thought you were such an organised person.

2) Play a game of Jenga with yourself for 3 weeks
If you've got the room in your house then I'd always recommend starting to compile separate piles of clothes for each person going on your trip. Depending on when you start this (if you're truly hardcore you'll probably start 3 weeks in advance) then your piles of clothes become exceptionally high. For the next few weeks you'll find yourself engaging in what can only be described as the worst game of Jenga you have ever played. 
You'll add clothes to the pile, it becomes higher and higher. You realise you need something from the middle of the pile, you take it out and wham, you're at the bottom of a heap of swimwear, vests and various other clothing essentials. Whilst you're underneath the heap you start to sympathise with the various people you've squashed during an encounter of pile on in your childhood years. You start to realise how awful it is to be at the bottom. 
Up you get and you start the whole process again. Time for the next round of Jenga, round 212.

3) Find someone muscular to wrestle with the suitcases
If you're like me then your suitcases are in the attic or placed somewhere ridiculous that you can't easily get to. Find yourself someone that resembles 'The Rock aka Dwayne Johnson' and send them up into the attic on your behalf. 
If you've ever had to wrestle the suitcases out of attic you will know that finding someone else to do it should be top priority. Let them get the sweat on and enjoy watching them struggle and inevitably start swearing.

4) Pour yourself a glass of wine
Packing for an one adult is stressful enough, packing for everyone including young kids is the stuff of nightmares. You'll thank me later for the wine.

5) Use ulterior motives to keep the kids busy but productive
Make sure the kids have a suitcase of their own for the cabin section of the plane, something like a Trunki. You can then get them to pack their own hand luggage whilst you're packing the suitcase. This will be the most exciting task you've ever asked them to do. 
This task has lots of benefits:

  • It keeps them busy and entertained whilst you're concentrating. Winner!!
  • It saves you a job later on. Winner!!
  • They've packed what they want to take so they can't get upset when they've not got something. Just remember they packed it not you. Winner!!
  • They become very attached to their case and will remain responsible for it throughout the holiday meaning you won't have to carry it. Double Winner!!

6) Keep receipts of new clothes
Remember all those fancy new outfits you bought for the kids? Well make sure you try them on. We went on holiday last year and absolutely nothing (not exaggerating here) fit our baby at all. All the new shorts, skirts. vests etc, all wasted and baby spent most of the holiday in her nappy. Parenting fail. 

7) Find bigger suitcases
Whether you're aiming to take 1, 2, 4 etc suitcases, you will need more room. The little people in your life take up so much space. For such small people they certainly require a lot of stuff. 

8) Make your suitcases pretty
There is nothing worse than standing around at baggage claim looking at what feels like 5001 black suitcases wondering which one's are yours. The kids wanna be on the move, you'll be sick of hearing are we there yet? Let's Go, I need the toilet, so make sure your suitcases are easily recognisable. 
Either get some coloured suitcases or start decorating yours. This is another tip for keeping the kids excited and entertained. They will love adding ribbon etc to the cases.

9) Keep the important stuff up high
When you're packing the important bits like passports, tickets, insurance documents, basically anything you cannot go on holiday without, make sure they are out of arms reach. Actually, just make sure they are as high up and as far away as possible. If your kids are like mine then they do some fantastic Spiderman impressions. Literally jumping off the walls and climbing anything and everything in sight. If they know there is something very important in one of those bags, they will seek it out and believe me they will find it.

10) Learn to become an expert at shape sorting
You know those games you used to play when the kids were very little, the shape sorting ones, where you put various shapes into holes in a tub and then tip the tub back out and start again. Well packing suitcases with young kids is just like that, except the gigantic version that'll send you into fits of despair. 
You mould everything into different shapes, you stick and stuff them into tiny spaces in the case, then you take them all back out and start again. This process will be repeated about 100 times.

11) Never ever leave the suitcases unattended
Unless you want your child to pull everything out of that neatly packed case, just like they do with their own wardrobes and drawers, then make sure the zips are fully closed and locks are on. If they can get in that treasure chest (that's clearly what they imagine the suitcase to be), they'll be in it and emptying it faster than they've ever done anything.

12) Take a break
Remember that glass of wine I was telling you about earlier. Step away from the case and pour yourself another. All that packing is exhausting. You need the rest.

13) Remember you are not going to the Amazon
Unless you're going on holiday to the Amazon rainforest or the Sahara desert just remember that things can actually be bought once you arrive. Don't stress when trying to cram 440 nappies and 20 packets of wet wipes into a suitcase, simply buy more when you are there.

14) Pack industrial stain remover
Remember all of those lovely new outfits we were referring to earlier? Unless you want them permanently etched in sun tan lotion, ice cream, poo, sick, tomato sauce and any other stain you can think of, make sure you pack a stain remover. It'll save you the bother of crying over  a ruined £20 outfit from Next which they've only worn once. 

15) You don't need it
A phrase which I need to embrace more. You're going away for 7 days so that means you each need 28 outfits, yes? Seriously we've all been there. We tend to overpack and over compensate. Our favourite phrases are 'just in case'. There's being cautious and there's being plain stupid. Say it with me 'YOU DON'T NEED IT'.

That's it from me. Enjoy your travels and happy packing.



  1. These are great tips on packing. Thanks!

  2. Haha I love it Kerry. I see myself in many of those points, especially the "just in case" 28 outfits! And the shoes to go with them!

    1. Thanks. Haha we all do it. I take sooooo many outfits x

  3. Haha, this is brilliant! I'm off camping this weekend and packing everything tonight is on my to do list. But it's ok, I have wine! I'm on to a winner, right?! x

  4. Although I'm not travelling with a child these tips will definitely come in handy when I pack for my holiday to Florida this month. Such an informative post, thank you x

  5. Great post, very informative and funny,I'm a last minute packer myself !

    1. I'm either mega organised or completely last minute x

  6. LOL! I definitely do number 2 for at least a couple of weeks beforehand. I'm going to Sweden next month and I'm already dreading the prospect of packing my sons case, will absolutely be getting wine and a new notebook.

  7. You are a packing pro! But also love the humour here some fab tips thanks for sharing x

  8. Love this! We booked a holiday last night, so I'll be referring back to this soon :)

  9. This really made me laugh. Number 11 is so true!

  10. This is such an entertaing post haha I love your take on This, It took me 2 weeks to have mine done finally and I felt perfect once it was done.

    Jordanne ||

  11. 😂 Brilliant! I love number 1 as I never need much of an excuse to buy notebooks and number 4 as alcohol always helps 😉 x

  12. This is a great post. You sound like a holiday pro. I love packing but hate unpacking!

  13. I plan and write lists or else I forget something crucial. When we last went to my mother in law's. I forgot Zach's bedding and food!

  14. Haha love this. I have a bright blue flowery suitcase

  15. How funny.
    I get my kids to help that way if it's forgotten I'm not to blame

  16. Hahahahah.. the wine is the most essential part I think! lol

  17. Great packing tips!! we are going abroad with the kids for the first time this year......I'm scared!!!!

  18. Yesssss always have to buy a fancy new notebook it makes me feel productive 🙈

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