The Parent's Essential Holiday Packing List

It's that time of year again!
No, not Christmas.

It's time to pack your case for your holibobs - summer holidays are here!
Now, there isn't an inch of the blogosphere, magazine space, or newspaper articles that aren't telling you the essentials to pack on holiday; the essentials for baby, the must have holiday items for trendy young things, which fake tan is best...but what about us parents? What must we remember?
Yes, you need ALL these bags
Now with two kids under my belt (or under my sling), I can safely say I have only just mastered the art of parental packing.

First holiday abroad with just one stick on baby

I can pack for kids easily. With the precious firstborn we used to pack EVERYTHING.
You know the drill; a selection of noisy plastic stuff (toys), the massive baby bath, four baby outfit changes a day, nappies in three different types just in case they er, grow, get torrential diarrhoea or there are no shops outside of the UK that stocks nappies.

But now with two, we have got  it down. By got it down, I mean I still have ANSA-panties (Abroad Nappy Supply Anxiety) with a case lined with suspect nappy packages.
Think back to those days, pre-children...Do you remember, going shopping for outfits for summer holidays? clearing out boots summer 3 for 2 on suntan lotion, insect repellent and Imodium? (the last one is probably just for my sensitive holiday tum).
Packing your case, neatly, outfits for the beach, for evenings out, for sightseeing, even for the on-site gym? Even though you knew that was probably never going to happen.

Look at those smug child-free gits
Maybe it's the sleep deprivation, maybe it's your wobbly bit worries, maybe you haven't got the time or inclination to care anymore, but inside your case now looks decidedly different.
But anyway, I digress, onto how to fill you OWN case with must-have (and must not forget) items.
  1. A COMPLETE Outfit

It's easy to pack an outfit, but is it easy to pack a COMPLETE outfit? This is a rhetorical question.
I have gone on holiday with only one sandal, a going out strapless top (but no strapless bra, I know it's shocking, but it was my ONLY nice going out top and hence rendered completely useless by lack of strapless boulder holder) and many other incomplete fashion faux pas.
An artists representation of breasts post breast feeding (only less firm in real life)

     2. A NORMAL Bag

This means not a baby change bag.

You may be lucky enough to go out for the evening without the kids. You do not want the whole classiness of happy hour to be ruined by ginormicon change bag complete with toddler crumbs and a green scarf of nappy bags spilling out of the side. Although having said that nappy bags can be exceedingly useful to bring home a lightly fragranced doggy bag.

And while your at it, chuck in a beach bag. Carrying your beach supplies in some Spar carrier bags does tend to ruin the holiday mood.

     3. A GOING OUT Outfit

Obviously bringing said Going out outfit ensures that you will probably not go out.

But if you don't bring it, you definitely will have opportunity to go out and for this rare occasion the baggy nursing top and leggings combo is  just not going to cut it.

You want to feel special and free like old times, if only for one night (one night, one night, one night in heaven, as Heather Small used to say), pack that nice little going out top and sucky-inny jeans.

  4. Think Toiletries

Now you will bring toiletries, but actually remember to bring all of them. Shampoo AND conditioner? Face cream AND body Lotion? A razor, just one of those will do?

I mean, you can just get by with half of the stuff plus the free bathroom goodies in the hotel, but it will mean you have crunchy dry hair, a greasy face that smells like cocoa and mallow.

Please don't forget the razor - yeti legs may go unnoticed but having to hold a baby over your groin every time you go swimming to cover your abominable bikini line can get tedious.

Yup, this is actually one of my holiday snaps

   5. Knickers

Possibly a throw back from my youth, but when I first starting packing my own luggage age seven to visit Granny, I was told to pack enough knickers of every day of the week, plus one for accidents.

Whether it's you now weak pelvic floor or a potential torrential baby sick accident: Pack enough knickers for you holiday, maybe plus three, just to be super safe.

Yes, you need that third pair to cover the fan's glowing display. #ThiftyKnicks


   6. Nothing white.

You will sit melted chocolate and have to spend the rest of the day convincing people its not poo. Then wonder, maybe it is?

   7. Room snacks

Sure as heck, you will of packed 36 Ella's pouches, many packets of puffy wheat thingies, and boxes of pre-mixed milk...but when the lights are off, the tele is set on low and the kids have finally succumbed to sleep, you are going to be ruddy hungry.

Once you pop...

You can't afford expensive room service or for them to wake the kids up, so Pringles for tea it is.
Actually, they are too loud, maybe just pack some extra pouches.

   8. YOUR Passport

Pretty much the last 6 months has been spent fussing over the baby's passport. You finally managed a picture where they had their eyes open/weren't smiling/your hands weren't showing/they didn't look like Carlos the jackal (see pic below of Firstborns first passport pic).

Now don't forget to check yours is in date and to bring it, or you'll be singing Alanis Morissette's 'Ironic' all the way back home.

Baby Carlos

   9. Something to Numb the Pain

Of course you've packed that Calpol just in case....and baby rehydration sachets...and teething granules...and baby cool spray... but have you remembered your own pills?

There's nothing like a nice dehydration headache (ahem, possibly cocktail induced) after a day on the beach with children screaming/eating sand. You will NEED that analgesia.

Mummy's little sand consumer

   10. Sunglasses

After a night of someone creeping into your bed, and doing the solo horizontal samba between you, culminating in trying to find something at 3am for this little tinker to watch on Spanish TV (hmmmm, BBC news 24 or Spanish soap opera?) - you may need something to cover up those baggy eyes with some faux Jackie-O grace...and to look good for the Facebook pictures.

Ah, a comfortable night for*adorns sunglasses*

   11. Money

Specifically small change. As with any resort made for kids, comes those addictive little rides strategically placed to hurt your purse. Get some small change to make your holiday easier. NB: You have precisely 2 minutes to nip to the bar until this ride cuts out.

This may look cute, but he's actually shoving me off. Note the essential sunglasses.

   12. Hair tools

Yes, you too can look like a Kate Middleton Female impersonator

Keep it simple by remembering at least your hairbrush, but keep it comfortable by remembering your hair bobbles, hair bands, hair clips, hair spray, straightening irons (and protector spray).

That seems like a lot of hair related items, but in reality, do you want to be faced with the choice of tying your hair up with a manky elastic band you found under the bed or pinning it back with a Frozen Tiara?

   13. Contact Lenses/glasses

It is always useful to be able to see on holiday. Always.

When you wake up in the middle of the night in a strange new room, slightly delirious from travel exhaustion and devouring the minibar, you want to make it to YOUR bathroom, not that leery bloke's down the hall. Even if that leery bloke is your husband.

   14. Beach Towel

Undoubtedly you have packed an array of kids hooded towels, poncho towels, themed towels, baby super soft towels...but what about your beach towel?

Unless you want soggy sand in your crevices and having to do that Mr Bean getting changed dance with even less modesty, pack your garish adult sized beach towel.

Though, hey, you left that modesty at the delivery room door anyhow, who cares if the Costa del sol sees your white bits?


   15. Don't forget your OWN toothbrush!

We all remember the TV quiz show...Well, ahem, some of us do.

After you made sure that the correct age ranged toothbrush and corresponding fluoride loaded tooth paste are packed, remember to pack your own. Unless you want to hear, very innocently, "Mummy, why do you have dragon breath?"

So there it is - your holiday essentials.
You're welcome.
Of course you could pop to the shop to buy all of this stuff when you get there... said no parent ever.
What do you facepalm on forgetting to pack?

The List

Modern Dad Pages


  1. Perfect! I've always had a bit of packing angst an my dad used to say,as long as you have your passport and knickers you're okay (I'm not sure how he thought I'd pay my why but whatever) This is my new essentials list, will print off and laminate. Calpol and snacks go in first!

    1. I'm honoured that this list (maybe virtually) laminated in your house. I'm with you on the snacks, I'm always swiping the pack of kettle chips I've bought for the hotel room away from my husband before we go.

  2. Haha great list! We've travelled with Emma twice now and I seem to pack way too much for all the 'just in case' moments ;) #wineandboobs

    1. It takes at least 3-4 years to pack less, then you have another child and it just multiplies again. So, basically, there's no hope really.

  3. ha! This is great - and witty, as always! I forgot soooo many things on our holiday. I used to be a very good packer, but I forgot the most random things that I knew I'd need. Luckily most things can be purchased. The essentials of money, passports, prescription glasses & my iphone were with me lol #TwinklyTuesday

    1. IPHONE!!!! Of course *the* most important thing, how could I forget it on my list! This is what motherhood does to you - makes you a naff packer!

    2. Oh yes, it's not a holiday without the iPhone, forgetting that would be like forgetting one of the kids! lol Congrats on Huff Post - it's well deserved, this is a fantastic post!

  4. You've just reminded me of a few things I need to add to my list.

    I'm useless with packing nowadays. I can pack for the kids but seem to have lost the ability to pack for myself!

    Thanks for linking up with #wineandboobs

    1. Exactly, no-one tells you when you have children, that you will lose your packing ability (and sanity, style and your life). Still at least the kids look great on holiday!

  5. Just discovered your blog. You are one feisty funny lady! Love the taglines in your blog header!

    1. Thanks, that's a great compliment *puts direct quote onto CV*. I think I peaked at my blog header though!