Buy when you land – If you’re going to a traditional holiday destination, which you probably are if you’re planning to use hand luggage only, then you can buy your sun lotion and shampoo when you land. Products suited to sunnier climes, like insect repellent, are even more widely available in sunny countries than home. Those with younger children will find that supplies such as wipes and nappies are available in almost every European supermarket.
Don’t waste your liquid allowance on 50ml bottles – A strange thing about ‘travel size’ bottles in pharmacies is that they only clock in at 50mls. If you’re allowed 100mls, then take 100mls! Either decant your own into plastic bottles (try Muji) or order the (oddly few) brands that do them online in advance. Tresemme do a budget option, while Sachajuan’s range will leave your holiday hair looking better than when you left.
Ask at skincare counters for samples or swap your cleanser for posh wipes – If you’re a loyal customer of a particular brand of skincare and don’t want to downgrade for the holiday, try asking at the cosmetics counter for some samples for your holiday. Say you always buy the brand, but can’t take your full bottle through security – nine times out of ten you will be rewarded with a batch of samples that should be just enough for your trip. Alternatively, see if your favourite brand does wipes – MAC and Clinique do. Every models’ favourite cleanser, Bioderma Sensibio, comes in a perfectly sized pack of wipes for £6.99 at Boots.
Have your books delivered to your holiday destination – Books take up room and weight allowance, but are a holiday must. If you can’t borrow a kindle, or download books onto your smartphone, then have them delivered by a global bookseller like Amazon directly to your hotel or villa the day you arrive. If that’s problematic, buy some penguin classics at the airport once through security, and leave them at your holiday accommodation once you’ve read them.
Take the biggest carry on you’re allowed and don’t waste your allowance on a Trunki – Once past two, your kids get just as much luggage allowance as you do. A family of four can easily get a holiday’s worth of clothes in four cabin sized wheelie cases. But not if two of them are in the shape of novelty dinosaurs. NB: Don’t let your kids pack their own clothes – they’ll pack until the case is full. Their clothes are small, and half of their case can accommodate your own sandals etc. Sorry, kids.
Lay out everything you want to take on the bed, then put half of it back – If you’re going on holiday somewhere hot, you need little to wear – your kids need even less. Your days will be spent by the beach or pool, which means trotting about in a swimsuit, so your clothes will get worn little throughout the day. The rule of three is a good one – you won’t need more than three pieces of swimwear, three dresses, three tops or three pairs of shoes. In some cases less will do – just one cardigan or shirt is enough as a cover-up option at night. Differentiate with a little bag of holiday jewellery to give outfits a change in character.
Take multitaskers – A loose shirt can be worn over a bikini by the beach, knotted over shorts at a market, or buttoned up with a bit of costume jewellery for dinner. A pair of denim shorts can be slung on for the beach and paired with a glam top for dinner. A white cotton dress can go anywhere. You’ll know already what you’ve worn again and again on holiday – you’re aiming for a suitcase full of those wardrobe workhorses. Typically, the items in cool cottons and natural fibres are the ones you reach for on holiday.
Colour code – It helps, if you can be bothered. If everything in your wardrobe is white and black, with a touch of straw, then you’ll look put together whatever you’re wearing.
Use your beach bag as your handbag – Airlines will allow you a tote or handbag as well as a wheelie case. Transfer your essentials to a structured beach bag, making sure there’s a zip close compartment for your passports and phone.
Compartmentalise – It’s worth spending a few quid at Muji (a brilliant source of travel accessories) on a batch of zip up pouches which you’ll use every time you go away – one for cables, one for underwear, one for liquids, etc. A neatly packed suitcase accommodates more, and it’s easier to see at a glance if you’ve forgotten anything.
Ask the airline for children’s activity sets or toys – Most will have a colouring book or activity pack for children, to save you packing too many toys. And if all else fails, put a cartoon on your phone/tablet.
Wear your bulkiest stuff on the plane, but don’t over layer – Yes, it’s obvious. But if you think you’ll need a pair of jeans and a chunky knit, put them on yourself, not in your luggage. However, don’t resort to carrying clothes – it is very annoying to carry a jumper as well as a tote while wheeling a case and dragging a child. Something will get left on the plane – hopefully not the child.