I can never quite decide which I dislike more – packing for a holiday, with all the angst that entails, or unpacking after we get home and facing a mountain of washing that seems to have expanded since it left the suitcase.
Like most people I always used to take far too many clothes on holiday; ditto for the children and for my husband. Every year we find the clothes we like best, the shoes that are most comfortable and seem to eek them out for the full two weeks, leaving the too formal and uncomfortable items firmly at the back of the wardrobe.
In recent years – I think it may have been hitting my 40s that did it – I have become a lot more brutal about what I will and won’t pack. I’ve also picked up some tips from travel savvy friends and here are some of my favourites.
Make a list
Gone are the heady days when you could throw a bikini, a kaftan and some after sun into a bag and skip off to the airport. But to avoid the opposite overload I know that if I make a list of what we need for each person and for toiletries/ medical items it will save an enormous amount of time and pain later. No more arriving in sunny Spain only to find that none of the children have any underwear! And the lists remain pretty constant year by year too so you’re really only doing it once and updating.
Pack some miracle products
Years of scraping chocolate ice cream off new dresses and suffering sand filled beds have taught me a few things. Now I pack a few items that I know will be put to good use. Washing up liquid, decanted into a small plastic bottle, works wonders for getting stains out of clothes. A travel size pot of talc is great for getting sand off feet and legs. Another baby staple Sudocrem is in my wash bag too – its just one of those products that does so many things (sunburn, scrapes etc) that its really worth packing a small pot.
Pack with outfits in mind
This applies to grown ups and children so now I pack for the kids along the lines of bottom plus top plus underwear plus socks. That way you can allow for a bit of recycling (or stain removal!) but also have their clothes thought out in advance. Ditto grown up clothes. The good thing about clothes for warmer climes is that they tend to be lighter and you can mix and match for the duration of your stay.
Divide and rule
I always worry that a bag will get lost en route to the hotel. And of course it will be THE bag with all the really important clothes in – swimwear, toothbrushes etc. To avoid this happening mix up everyone’s clothes in different cases so if one gets lost at least you’ll all have an outfit and swimming costume on arrival.
In flight packing
There are some essentials that I always make sure I have with us in the plane. Socks for us all as the temperatures can really dip and we hate having cold feet! A spare outfit for each young child, just in case. I always keep any vital medicines with me too, decanting the liquids of course. And you know what will keep your children entertained best of course but we have had great success with a couple of new magazines, a pack of cards (standard and Uno) and colouring books and pencils.
It seems very 1950s but packing tissue paper around your clothes really does help them to stop creasing. The last thing you want to be doing when you get to your destination is to waste time ironing them again and you can keep them in there if you don’t wear them so they can go straight back in the wardrobe when you get home!
And if you’re really organised, when you get home shattered from the long flight, you can always call on Bright & Beautiful to pop in and sort out all your holiday washing and ironing for you!