I research and evaluate all recommended products and services. This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on links I may receive compensation. Please see my Amazon affiliate disclosure at the bottom of this page or click here
Here’s a family holiday packing guide full of tips on things to pack for your next holiday. Use these tips to help you pack the essentials that you and your family will need while you’re away.
Plus use my suggested family holiday packing list for adults, kids and babies as a checklist for packing everything you need for your family trip.
Want a printable version? No problem. Scroll down the post to subscribe to Mums Make Lists to download a free printable PDF family holiday packing list and checklist for adults, kids and babies.
HOW TO PACK FOR A FAMILY HOLIDAY
Ah the joy of family holiday packing…
Don’t you just love packing suitcases for your whole family…
I find the only way to tackle family holiday packing is with a nicely thought out family holiday packing list.
Plus a good, solid packing strategy. Yes, that’s right, a family holiday packing strategy!!
To help you get your strategy in place I’ve put together a family holiday packing list of tips that I’ve found super useful since having to make the switch from packing just for myself to packing for the whole family.
I’ve also created some packing checklists, one for adults, one for kids, one for all the assorted random bits of tech and accessories you need for a family holiday, a checklist for first aid and checklists for hand luggage.
I’ve created this family holiday packing list with summer holidays and in particular, summer beach holidays in mind.
In short, I’ve tried to think of absolutely everything you need to make sure you’ve got everything prepared, packed and ready so that you can set off knowing you stand a good chance of being able to relax and enjoy your family holiday.
First up, here’s my big family holiday packing list of tips, get to grips with this list and you will become a queen of holiday packing. Then keep reading until you end up at my ridiculously comprehensive packing checklists.
How to plan your family holiday packing
Here’s a bunch of things to consider and tips to use when planning how and what to pack for you and your kids.
1. Check the weather
Always have a good idea of the weather, understand if you’ll need something for chilly evenings, even if it’s hot in the day. What’s the likelihood of rain?
2.Make a pre-packing checklist
Family holidays take a LOT of organisation, including packing for them. So get as organised as possible before you actually get to packing, to keep the whole process as stress-free as possible.
One way to keep the stress-levels down is to create a pre-packing checklist. I like to use either an excel document or a google sheet, but a good old fashioned notepad and pen is totally fine!
By creating a pre-packing checklist you will be able to see what you need to buy, how much space you’ll need in suitcases and bags to pack things and also, almost more importantly, what you can leave out.
Whilst I’m on the subject of checklists, I also use a pre-holiday checklist, to make sure that I have everything organised in the run-up to our family holiday. You can check out what is on my pre-holiday checklist for ideas on how to create one of your own.
3. Your capsule wardrobe
Even if you can’t manage a capsule wardrobe at home, it’s well worth trying to create one for your holiday.
Mix and match tops and outfits and go for dresses that can be worn dressed down in the day and dressed up at night.
Also, you will NEVER need the amount of clothes you first put out to pack!
Lay everything out, then get real and ditch a third of it!
Holidays, especially holidays with kids, are about keeping things simple.
4. Use packing cubes
Packing cubes are fabric pouches with zips that you can pop into your suitcase. They don’t necessarily save you space, but they do help keep everything in your suitcase super organised. Here’s a few ways you can use packing cubes to divide up the contents of your suitcase:
- Beach and swimwear
- Evening clothes
- Beauty and haircare
- Tech chargers and cables
- Medical kit
- Dirty laundry
This is the current best-selling set of packing cubes on Amazon, not badly priced considering how amazingly useful they are.
5. Roll don’t fold
I learnt this little tip whilst working as a fashion assistant on a glossy magazine.
I spent endless hours packing clothes for shoots and locations trips abroad.
Believe me, when you’re the one responsible for ironing the stuff at the other end, you soon learn how to minimise creasing.
Roll delicate, easy-crease fabrics in tissue paper or even use a plastic carrier bag – that can then be used as a laundry bag – rather than folding them.
Rolling clothes keeps creases to a minimum.
It’s also remarkable how much more you can get into a suitcase if you roll rather than fold clothes.
Even if you’re just going for a week it can mount up!
One tip is to only take half what you need and use hand wash to launder it to wear again.
I do like to use a packing cube specifically for my underwear and socks. But there is another method that works… simplyshove undies into the gaps in your suitcase, fill the inside of shoes with pants!
7. Ditch the footwear
I tend to stick to three pairs of footwear max for holidays.
- 1 pair of trainers or flats for wearing whilst travelling
- 1 pair of Birkenstocks or flip flops for daytime and beach
- 1 pair of heels or jazzier shoes for evenings
8. Laundry hand wash
It’s worth taking a travel sized bottle of laundry hand wash, or decanting some into a travel bottle.
Especially when travelling with babies and young children.
It can save you money for emergency washing, such as treating sunscreen stains and is also a way to cut down on taking mountains of underwear.
9. Laundry bag
I either take a large plastic bag or a large packing cube in my suitcase for dirty laundry.
There’s nothing worse than fishing for it amongst clean stuff and then ending up having to wash the lot.
Put clingfilm over bottle tops before you put them into a wash bag to avoid any spillages turning into mucky disasters.
A little pre-packing holiday tip here… keep, wash and refill travel sized bottles to help with space saving.
Travel size bottles are also useful for beauty products you rely on that have a pump rather than a lid.
Simply decant and go!
10b. Sun protection – this is one area not to scrimp on
It’s so much better to buy sun protection before you travel.
- a. because it costs a fortune, so you can look out for special offers
- b. because you know what you’re getting and you can get the factor you need – some resorts don’t go very high on sun factor.
And my final tip… only take the toiletries you can’t live without.
Buy everything else when you get there.
I have a strange liking for visiting foreign pharmacies and supermarkets, it always feels like such a novelty to have an almond scented shower gel or tropical smelling conditioner.
More: Family Holiday Pre-Holiday Checklist
11. Tech checklist
Oh there’s so much tech to remember these days, here’s a quick checklist for your travels:
- Tablets + charger
- Smart phone + charger
- Earphones / kids earphones
- Enough travel adapters for your family’s needs – I always take one in my hand luggage and pack the others in a suitcase.
Because you are likely to have at least four high powered tech gadgets with you as a family – smart phones/tablets/Kindles – there are two things you need to bear in mind with travel adapters.
- You have enough travel adapters to avoid charging arguments
- You have safe travel adapters that can cope with high powered tech gadgets
I have a couple of travel adapters from My Travel Pal, which is one of the few travel adapter brands to have adapters that pass the very strict regulatory standard BS:8546, which means they can be used safely with most electrical appliances, including smart phones, tablets, laptops, hair straighteners etc.
I have this double plug UK to Europe travel adapter that has two plug sockets, three USB A ports and a USB C port, find out more details about the safety and functions of it over on Amazon
I also have this UK to Europe Travel Adapter With 3 USB Ports, because I prefer to always have at least one single plug socket adapter in case there isn’t room to fit a double in a plug socket. This one has a single plug socket and three USB ports. Take a look at it in more detail over on Amazon.
12. Packing for the kids
Ah the meat in the family holiday packing sandwich… what to pack for the kids to take on holiday. Here are some top tips for keeping it simple and getting it right.
It can be really hard to work out exactly what to take for kids on holiday. Especially when it comes to which kids’ clothes to take. You don’t want to be overloaded with clothing, but you also don’t want to run out.
Of course, this does get easier the older your kids get. But here’s some quick thoughts on what to pack.
The one thing to max out on if you’re on a summer beach holiday is swimwear.
Kids live in their swimsuits on holiday, so it’s worth having at least two sets per child.
If you’re going somewhere really hot look at swimwear with sun protection – rash vests are popular at the moment.
Don’t overpack clothes
See above – kids are often in their swimwear, so don’t go heavy on other clothes for them.
Go for easy to wash and wear tops and bottoms.
A great tip is to pack kids outfits into separate Ziploc bags, so you don’t have to pull everything out every day. This 20 piece set of zip lock travel bags with five different sizes of bags is spot on.
Sunhat and sunglasses
A sunhat is pretty essential if you’re going anywhere hot.
Sunglasses – with UV certified lenses are a good idea as well.
They’re also useful if it’s windy on the beach, sand in a child’s eyes is no fun.
It’s a great idea to take beach shoes that kids can wear at the water’s edge, something with a strap that won’t come off in the water and float away is good.
Flip flops are great for by the pool, but opt for ones with a heel strap for little kids.
More: No-prep summer bucket list for kids
13. Essentials for family hand / in-flight bag
Clear toiletry bag for hand luggage
I have a set of clear toiletry bags for my hand luggage. It’s so much better to have anything liquid packed neatly in a clear toiletry bag rather than having to put everything in a clear plastic bag at the airport. This is the set of three clear toiletry that I have.
It’s great to travel light, but it’s worth packing a few essentials just in case suitcases are delayed or go missing: Spare pants / socks / security-friends toiletry miniatures.
It’s also worth splashing out on one bottle of sun lotion in the airport lounge (you can’t take a full-size bottle through security), just so you have it to hand without needing to raid a suitcase and wrangle tired kids at the same time on arrival.
Money saving water bottles
Save yourself a small fortune on drinks at the airport and on the plane by taking empty water bottles for each family member. I am a big fan of stainless steel water bottles for keeping water nice and cool.
You can’t take liquids through security, but you can take an empty bottle and fill it from a fountain or the free water jugs in airport lounge restaurants.
Group essential travel documents
With the exception of passports, most travel documents can now be stored on your mobile phone – Apple Wallet / travel apps – but I am a big believer in also having the most important travel documents printed out, JUST IN CASE!!
So group your passports, tickets, travel insurance and other essential travel documents together in one place, so you’re not rummaging around in your handbag to find them.
You can use a clear plastic ziplock bag – or if you want to be a little more stylish, you can invest in a travel wallet.
I’m a fan of this nicely sized family travel wallet, not least because it can be personalised, which is a lovely touch.
Always pack a scarf
Pack a big scarf or pashmina wrap or two in hand luggage to wrap around yourself or the kids if it gets chilly on the plane.
Travel neck rest or pillows
Inflatable neck pillows are very useful for getting small children comfortable – or giving them something to play with for a bit! The Fringoo inflatable neck pillow for kids are beyond cute, with a sloth, flamingo, llama or rainbow pillows to choose from.
Keep track of cuddly travel companions
Travelling is always more fun when you have a cuddly friend along – well if you’re a kiddo it is!
The only problem is, what if that friend gets lost?!
Give each cuddly toy its own identity bracelet or label in case of them wandering off…
14. Digital Travel Entertainment
What did we ever do before the advent of digital devices?!
They are now an essential part of family holiday packing.
Whilst I’m a big fan of keeping screen time to a minimum – especially on holiday – flights and long car journeys can be much more pleasant with a tech device on hand for young children.
Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other services now often allow you to download films to watch offline.
Here’s how to do it for Netflix.
Check apps to know which ones are usable offline, so you can manage expectations and minimise whinging.
Download books to Kindle / Kindle app before you go
Make sure to load up the Kindle or Kindle App with books you’d like to read before you travel.
Don’t forget, you can’t buy books through the Kindle App, so you’ll need to go to Amazon to choose a few to get you started before you go.
15. Tech-Free Entertainment
Determined to go tech-free? Here’s a couple of ideas to keep the kids and yourselves entertained:
A pack of cards is a simple and easy thing to pack – and can while away many hours!
Printout puzzles/colouring in/lists of things to spot etc… and create a folder for the kids to carry in their backpack – much more lightweight than lots of books.
Well that’s the family holiday packing tips covered off. I really hope you find them useful. I do know how stressful it can be trying to cover off every eventuality when working out what to pack and what to leave behind for a family holiday in the sun.
And now for the family holiday packing list
Next up, as promised, I’ve put together a bumper family holiday packing list. Going on holiday with kids is certainly a big transition from jetting off with friends or as a couple.
Once there are kids in the mix, there is so much more that you need to pack. It’s particularly hard if it’s your first holiday in the sun with kids or with a baby and especially hard if it’s a beach holiday. You want to make sure you have everything covered.
I’ve tried to cover off every eventuality on this list, I’m not suggesting that you need to take it all – see above tips!! – but I hope that this big list will serve as a guide to help you pack effectively for your family holiday.
The bumper family holiday packing list for parents, kids and babies
Here’s the list. Would you like a printable version? Scroll to the end to find out how to download a free printable PDF version.
|Clothing, shoes and accessories|
|Shorts / trousers|
|Jumpers / cardigans|
|Jacket / waterproof jacket|
|Trainers / walking shoes|
|Shoes for evening|
|Cotton wool pads|
|Hair styling products|
|Razor / hair removal|
|Nail polish remover|
|Feminine hygiene products|
|Anti-bacterial hand gel|
|First aid kit|
|Calpol / liquid paracetamol|
|Motion sickness tablets|
|Personal medication – e.g. hay fever meds|
|Tech and sundries|
|Phones (as if you’d forget!)|
|iPad / tablets|
|iPad / tablet chargers|
|Headphones / ear buds|
|Kindles and Kindle charger|
|Hair styling tools – e.g straighteners|
|Beach / poolside|
|Swimming towels / cuddle-dry|
|Flip flops / beach shoes|
|Inflatables – rings, lilos|
|Cover-ups / rash vests|
|Beach toys – ball, bat and ball set|
|Bucket and spade|
|Floats / armbands|
|Sun tent / windbreaker|
|Baby & kids travel equipment|
|Baby carrier / car seat|
|Kids car seat / booster seat|
|Sling / baby carrier|
|Nappy bag / day bag|
|Toddler backpack with safety harness|
|Travel changing mat|
|Feeding spoons / toddler cutlery|
|Dummy / pacifier|
|Travel cot / toddler bed|
|Bibs / dribble bandanas|
|Travel blackout blind|
|Hand luggage – kids|
|Water bottle – empty for plane|
|Kindle / book|
|iPad / tablet|
|Blow up travel pillow|
|Ear plugs for easing cabin pressure pain|
|Hoodie (wear onto the plane)|
|Travel blanket / wrap|
|Hand luggage – babies and toddlers|
|Change of clothes|
|Formula – pre-measured in bottles|
|Dummy / pacifier|
|Baby bottle for water – empty for plane|
|Snacks / pouches|
|Travel changing mat|
|Hand luggage – adults|
|Holiday documents / insurance documents|
|Credit cards / currency|
|Water bottle – empty for plane|
|Scarf of wrap|
|Blow up pillow|
|Kindle / iPad|
|Headphones / earbuds|
|Chewing gum / travel sweets|
|Ear plugs for easing cabin pressure pain|
|Medication for the family|
|Sleep mask (you can hope!)|
|Phone charger (just one, just in case)|
FREE DOWNLOAD PRINTABLE PDF: Family holiday packing list and checklist for parents, kids and babies
I know how much effort goes into preparing to go on holiday, so I’ve created a free printable PDF version of my family packing list and included a checklist, so you make note of the things you already have and the things you need to buy for your holiday.
I hope it will help you spend less time working out what to pack for your holiday with your kids. The list covers all the essentials for trips in the UK and for holidays abroad.
If you’re already a subscriber to Mums Make Lists you can go right ahead and click the image or link below to download your copy of the free printable family holiday packing list and checklist for parents, kids and babies.
Yet to subscribe? Then you’lll need to unlock this exclusive content by subscribing. It literally takes seconds.
Well there you have it, I hope that in sharing my big family holiday packing list of tips and packing list I’ve covered off everything you need to pack for an absolutely brilliant summer holiday with your family.
Ooh and if reducing stress around booking and planning holidays is at the forefront of your mind, take a peak at our Family Holiday Pre-Holiday Checklist.
It lists everything you need to cover off for the planning and organising of a happy family holiday.
Pin to save:
Luci is the founder of Mums Make Lists. She has written about all aspects of organising family life for ten years. Her main areas of expertise are family finance and budgeting, simplifying housekeeping and family admin and kids’ party planning. Read more.