What to pack for holidays with babies and toddlers

Packing for holiday used to be so simple, didn’t it? Clothes, undies, toiletries and books. img_4362Then you had children. And now it feels like you’re packing your whole house, and then some, into your suitcase. Are we right? On a recent holiday to Barcelona, Lauren found her suitcase space dedicated pretty much in its entirety to her 20-month old daughter. She managed to pack knickers, toiletries and shorts, but that was about it! Cue a shopping trip on holiday to stock up on tops (any excuse ;)). But, this is an extreme example and possibly down more to Lauren’s belt and braces approach to going on holiday with everything her daughter might or might not need (bar the kitchen sink).

We’ve put our heads together here at Tales from the Mother Side, and streamlined our lists of what to pack. Here are the things our experiences have shown to be necessities when going on holiday, and which will hopefully leave you plenty of space for your own holiday needs!

Our Essentials…

The flight:
Everything you could possibly want to know (we hope) is in this post.

Clothing:
Depending on how long your holiday is, take maybe take 8-10 outfits. And remember to take both cool and warm clothes. Think layers – evenings can get chilly and you’ll need them for the return to Blighty if you’re coming from a hot country! (a cardigan and some socks in your hand luggage will have this covered)
2-3 pairs of shoes/sandals – comfort is key here, as much as it is for adults who might be doing a lot of walking.
Hats – sun hats for hot countries, woolly hats for cold climates; both essentials. Pack a couple – they’re notoriously easy to lose.
Sunglasses – Infant peepers are delicate. Protect them with some BabyBanz or similar.
Washing powder
lessen the amount you need to pack by giving yourself the means to wash clothes while you’re away. You can even do vests etc in the bathroom sink if that’s all that’s available.

Swimwear/On the beach:
Swimsuit / trunks – pretty self-explanatory, but you can also get UV versions of these, often with legionnaires hats included that are good for protecting delicate baby skin in the sunny weather.
Swimming aids – if your little one needs them, don’t forget to take arm bands or swim rings; they’re not always available to buy.
Beach/poolside shoes – either Crocs, waterproof sandals or beach shoes are brilliant when sand/poolside paving is hot or the sea bed is covered with sharp shells and stones.

Sleep:
Travel cot
 Check with your accommodation for hire costs. Sometimes it’s cheaper to take your own; other places provide them FOC.
Blackout blind – not all children need absolute darkness to sleep, but many do and it can mean easier bedtimes and more/better sleep for little ones. So consider taking a blackout blind, especially if you use one at home. (If you don’t have one, grab some tin foil and stick it to the windows with water)
If you use red lights or aromatherapy scents, be sure to take these too.
Gro bag or blanket (if you use these at home) – even if you’re going to a warm destination, pack a sleeping bag (0.5/1 tog). If you have air con, you’ll need something warmer for your little one as it can feel quite chilly plus, if you use them at home, your little one will be used to the feel and it may help to sleep better in a new environment. Lauren has even been known to take a sheet with her from home so her daughter’s bed smells like home and Jo takes Primrose’s sheepskin – takes up extra space but makes travel cots feel like home.
Baby monitor (and don’t forget plug adaptors!!) – if you’re staying in an apartment or house with multiple rooms, don’t forget your baby monitor.
Bedtime book – if you use the same book regularly, DO NOT forget to take it. Sleep on holidays can be disturbed due to the alien environment and the more familiarity you can provide, the better. Have any bedtime music loaded onto your phone, too.
Comforter / favourite toy – Does your little one have a favourite teddy? Take it with you…but look after it at all costs! You don’t want a lost toy on holiday.

Getting around:
Buggy – depending on the age of your little one, you can take a buggy with you (most airlines allow you to use it right up until boarding, when they take it to stow away in the hold) OR you can often hire buggies; you can normally book either through your hotel or search online to find a local shop that can help.
Snooze Shade (or similar) if you have one to protect little ones from the sun if they’re kipping in the buggy. Remember that covering buggies with muslins or blankets is incredibly dangerous, so these products are a godsend.
Car Seat: This is a tricky one. Different countries have different laws regarding child car safety and, therefore, you will want to research online what the laws are at your destination. If ordering taxis, you can request a taxi with a child car seat in many countries, though they are allowed to drive you without one.
If you are hiring a car, you will need one. However, take your own and it may get bashed in the hold. Hire one and you have no guarantee of its age or safety. Jo took a backup seat to Italy last year (a friend had finished with their Maxi Cosi and didn’t mind us having it), wrapped it for the flights and used it in a hire car.

Eating:
Muslins and bibs – these are self-explanatory, but easily forgotten (especially the bibs, which both Lauren and Jo have forgotten on trips before!).
Food – Obviously not an issue if your baby is under 6m but, if you’re using purees, one reader recommends Ella’s Kitchen pouches with the spoons attached for easy feeding until you get your bearings. BLWers may also want to take finger foods until you’ve had time to check out the local eateries or supermarkets. Also take a couple of sets of your children’s cutlery and crockery, as many places don’t specifically cater for children in this way.
Milk – If you’re breastfeeding, you’re sorted. If you’re pumping, you’ll need to make space for your pump, storage bags and bottles. If you’re formula feeding, orders can be placed to collect in the airport departure lounge (usually a Boots), so this can be taken as hand luggage. Think about space for your sterilising equipment (again, don’t forget your adaptor!) and bottles; you may also be able to save yourself space by hiring these at your hotel, check before you travel as this can be a huge help. Also remember steriliser tablets, which are uber handy for sterilising anything from drinks bottles to dummies.

Toiletries:
Sun protection
– check out this past post for tips on staying safe in sunny climes.
Nappies – take a few to get you through the first few days, but – if you’re somewhere with shops nearby – consider buying what you need out there. It’ll save you a huge amount of suitcase space. And take swim nappies with you; they’re light and cheap and don’t take much space.
Bath supplies, tooth paste and tooth brush (if applicable!) – sponge, shampoo, body wash, towel, rubber ducks, anything you use at home. Of course, you can buy these at your destination but you may find it easier to take your own, especially if your little one has sensitive skin.
Nappy creams, change mat, change bag, wet wipes – anything you normally use. Wipes can be purchased on holiday to lessen your packing load; just take one pack to keep you going until then.
First aid supplies – no one wants to think of accidents or illnesses on holiday, but they do happen. For any scrapes etc, have some plasters, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitiser, healing cream, calamine lotion, insect bite cream and dioralyte packed. Just in case.

Miscellaneous:
Books / toys – take a couple of favourite books and toys, in addition to whatever you pack for your flight (again, see our article on flying with babies and toddlers for more info on this).
Blanket – take one of these in your hand luggage, as they are great for the travel to and from your destination (especially on planes, which can get chilly for a sleeping bab), and are generally handy while you’re away; especially if they’re a comfort blanket your child is familiar with.
EHIC card – If you’re travelling within the EU, ensure your little ones have their own EHIC card, in case any medical assistance is needed. They are not protected by your card.
Trunki – these are ride-on suitcases for toddlers and one of our readers highly recommends them for transporting a toddler (they’re fun to ride on), giving them a fun bit of independence for their holiday and as extra space for their own items.

We hope this helps you to pack and, if we’ve forgotten anything, let us know what you’d add!

Love, the Mother Side xx

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