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How to pack the perfect suitcase
18 July 2018
Packing for the family? Panic not with these easy steps from mum of three
and seasoned packer, kidswear editor Maggie Davis
If ever the ‘less is more’ rule needs to be adhered to, it’s when packing for the family. With three children under the age of 10, including a toddler still in nappies, it’s very easy to overpack. Over the years and with quite a few family holidays under the belt from weekend breaks to big, long-haul trips, I’ve come to realise some things are absolutely essential – like lots of clean underwear, which doesn’t take up too much space – and others are not, such as heavy colouring books and large toys they won’t even play with once the pool is in sight. Bulky jeans and sweaters stay at home but a good hoodie for everyone is a must – not only useful for the plane but handy for evenings out when the temperature drops.
Happily, you needed forego style when packing sensibly. Quiet the reverse. Instagram fashion blogger Alex Stedman of The Frugality, pictured above, who recently went away with her four-month-old baby, Peggy, says: “I tend to pack for holiday with a colour pallet in mind. I pick around four colours and try and pack using those. That way, everything you pack matches and you don't have to think too much on holiday, leaving you time to relax instead.” Sound advice.
1. Start by selecting your luggage. If you are travelling by plane, go for a good family-sized but lightweight suitcase with four wheels like one of these that will be easy to wheel through the airport. I’ve learned to share all our stuff between two suitcases. That way, you only have two cases to take around the terminal. For more ideas on what to pack, check out our Pack like a pro feature.
2. At least a week before your holiday, start to lay things out, ideally on a double bed so you can see what’s what. Organise everything by person. I ensure that the kids each have two pairs of shoes – a pair of practical girls’ or boys’ sandals and a pair of flip-flops (with trainers for travelling in). If your kids are going to be swimming a lot, in the pool or the sea, I also find goggles and at least two or three swimsuits per boy or girl, essential. A small beach towel for each child, then some lightweight outfits; girls’ summer dresses and boys’ shorts. If you’d like more ideas on what to pack, see our Countdown to the holidays feature.
3. I always take lots of clean underwear for everyone; boys, girls, mum and dad, as this doesn’t take up much space and what with beach trips and evening jaunts, there will often be multiple changes in one day. I stick to about five T-shirts each, a few pairs of shorts and one smarter outfit for those nights when you might want to go to a more dressy restaurant.
4. Once you are ready to pack, split the case into compartments in your head – I allocate one half to me and the other to my toddler and one half of my husband’s case to him and the other half to the girls. I do a final edit and ensure I’m only taking clothes that will be worn and avoid anything heavy like denim. The I roll everything up neatly – that way it takes up less space and is less crumpled when you unpack the other end.
5. Think about all the other things. For me a travel family first aid kit is essential, one of us has always needed it. Clear cosmetic bags are a great idea for the whole family because you can easily identify what’s in each one. If you are going anywhere in Europe, ensure you have mosquito spray, sunscreen for the whole family, as well as after sun, and for me, baby wipes are an essential for the hand luggage.
6. Keep things simple with a rucksack for everyone –the kids can carry their water bottles, colouring-in books and pens, you can take the passports and travel documents, snacks, baby wipes and other essentials – I always make sure there are enough nappies and clean underwear for the plane journey. Once you are on that plane, sit back, relax (even if just for one minute before tending to the children again) and enjoy.
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