Universal fact: Small people come with a lot of crap.

Wherever you go,the small people go, and therefore their crap.

But going on holiday?  You need a week off just to pack the crap.

Remember when you used to fill a whole suitcase with your own stuff?  All the clothes that you bought especially for your holiday, and justifying the fact they cost nearly as much as your holiday because you will wear them loads (you won’t).





Nowadays you pack the bare essentials for yourself.  A bulging make-up bag has been replaced by a concealer and a travel sized mascara.  You don’t pack any shoes as the only pair you will be wearing all week are the ones on your feet.

If only it were that simple when it came to packing for the small people.  Heaven forbid you should forget anything.  That would make you the worst mother ever.  Especially if say you forgot your sons teddy bear. You know the one he sleeps with every night and has done since he was born.  The one he calls you to come get in the middle of the night when it falls out of bed.  The one he whispers too before he goes to sleep.  The one that has helped nurse him through illness and been casualty to sickness bugs and survived the washing machine.  Yes that one.  What kind of mother would forget such a thing.

2015-07-26 09.29.07Yes OK, it was me.  In my defence my husband also forgot the teddy.  It can’t be all my fault surely.  I realised OUR mistake 2 and a half hours into our 3 hour journey to our holiday destination.  I shouted at my husband.  A lot.  I wept.  A lot.  I berated myself for being a terrible mother.  I felt sick thinking of my poor little boy and how he would cope. I hadn’t brought nearly enough wine to cope with the sleepless nights we were bound to endure without bear.


As it happens my child is apparently very fickle and didn’t even bat an eyelid at going to sleep with a random teddy I found in the car.  Poor bear.

But since that day I have lived by the boy scout motto when it comes to packing: “Be prepared”.

Pie Chart


Stuff you Need

The essential things like nappies (a whole case full) and wet wipes, clothes, toothbrushes, passports and wine.  The stuff you are going to be pretty stuffed without.  Bear.  Don’t forget the bear.


Random Kids Stuff

Toys that they can’t bear to leave at home but will stay in the case until your return. Colouring books, story books, buckets and spades, scooters, games, balls.  A stick that the big one found and insists on taking with you.  An insane amount of stuff to keep them entertained in your home away from home.

Of course they won’t use any of it and you will instead spend an insane amount of money on lots of ‘holiday purchases’ – aka ‘cheap crap toys’.  Which you will then have to bring home again, where they will be immediately forgotten along with all the other magazine tat and pound shop purchases that were deemed essential at the time.


Apocalypse Snack Stuff

If your small people are anything like mine they are bottomless pits and seems to constantly be grazing.  Holiday destinations are not known for being close to a reasonably priced food store.  Hence the suitcase full of food that could feed a small army, but will probably not last the week with two small boys and a growth spurt.  At least it will be empty before you return home and you will have space for all the cheap crap toys you have purchased.


Whatever the Weather Stuff

Holidaying in this country can be tricky when it comes to the weather.  So you prepare for every eventuality.  The suitcases are full of shorts and t-shirts, sun-cream and sun-hats but you will also find jumpers and hoodies and rain-coats and umbrellas.  Don’t forget the wellies!  You will curse packing all this ‘whatever the weather’ stuff because you know you won’t use it.  But if you didn’t pack it, you would need it, and curse yourself for not packing it. It’s a win win packing dilemma!


Just in Case Stuff

All the stuff you might need but probably won’t.  Extra pants for the big one in case of accidents (even though he hasn’t had an accident for 3 and half years).  Blankets for the little one in case it’s cold at night.  A Magazine to read when you have some chill out time (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha).


Emergency Stuff

Plasters for scrapped knees, Calpol for fevers,  Savlon for insect bites, treats for bribery, stain remover, and an extra bottle of wine.


Extra Just In Case Stuff

A few more PJ’s.  Some extra nappies.  A few bath toys.  Tea Towels.  Toilet rolls. The arm bands the big one has always refused to wear.  Anything else that will fit in my arms as I wonder from room to room assessing what I may have forgotten to pack.


Of course you will only use the ‘Stuff you Need’ which accounted for a whole 5% of your luggage.

And there’s only one thing worse than packing for a holiday…

The unpacking.

Mount laundry


Have you ever forgotten anything essential?


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64 Comments on Family Holidays: The Packing

  1. Silly Mummy
    September 1, 2016 at 5:48 pm (2 months ago)

    Oh the packing! I do see it as a plus that I am now finally able to pack a sensible amount & not most of my house for myself, but yes I am so scared of missing something I need for the kids…

    Silly Mummy recently posted…How (Not) to Read With a ToddlerMy Profile

  2. lizzie ( firstooth )
    August 30, 2016 at 7:28 pm (2 months ago)

    Love this Claire! What on earth did we even pack before when we manage to scrape by on the bare minimum now? Never forget Teddy and the spare pj’s. We had one night filled with projectile vomiting while we were away. No spare pj’s. #fridayfrolics
    lizzie ( firstooth ) recently posted…Tractorfest in Biddenden {It Rained Again}My Profile

  3. Jane Taylor
    August 26, 2016 at 11:16 pm (2 months ago)

    Ha! Brilliant. We are on holiday now and I’m freaking out that the laundry basket at home is already rammed because we have last minute house guests so had to strip all beds and tidy house as well as pack an entire caravan!! We take EVERYTHING! Because we can! But the unpacking and washing….erghhh! Nightmare! #fridayfrolics
    Jane Taylor recently posted…The ‘Funny Files’: 5 funny posts from the Maflingo archives.My Profile

  4. Nicole - Tales from Mamaville
    August 26, 2016 at 5:06 pm (2 months ago)

    Spot on Claire! I always tell my husband that holidays with a toddler frighten me, because the week before and after are far too stressful!
    I understand your ‘never-forget-the-teddy’ bit; my little fellow has had his since he was four months and teddy has travelled the world with us. I put post-it notes all around the house so as not to forget teddy!
    Super post. Love the pie-chart:)

  5. Turning Up In Devon
    August 26, 2016 at 8:18 am (2 months ago)

    Oh yes spot on, when we are going on holiday to Cornwall I just ram the car with everything – it looks like we are going to the dump instead! This summer we went abroad and I had to curtail my *extra extra crap that I think we need but know deep down we don’t* due to that party pooper *baggage allowance*. Also this year after spending silly money on 2 guide books – I left them behind and hubs didn’t remember either. Loved the pie chart, factually correct and very funny! #friday Frolics

  6. Mummy Muckups (Anna)
    August 26, 2016 at 6:18 am (2 months ago)

    Aaaahhhh the magazines I have packed and unpacked, untouched. What a fool am I!!! So bloody true. Especially the “Just In Case” category. #fridayfrolics
    Mummy Muckups (Anna) recently posted…TMI?My Profile

  7. Alison Langley
    August 26, 2016 at 12:38 am (2 months ago)

    We are totally on the same wavelength tonight Claire! Haha, when you see my post you’ll see why! Hopefully it will make you feel better about the bear (poor bear…) I’m the queen of forgetting stuff (probably because the night before we go away I’m reading this instead of packing…can we call it research?!)
    Such good advice here, I’ll tick them off as I go along!

  8. karen
    April 16, 2016 at 11:10 am (6 months ago)

    This great advice. We tend to go on nights away and packing is a nightmare even for one night! I hadn’t even considered first aid things before. thanks for sharing #coolmumclub

  9. Emma Jones
    April 14, 2016 at 9:19 pm (6 months ago)

    Whatever the weather stuff for UK holidays is mountainous!!!! I’ve been known to pack sandals, wellies, sun cream & hot water bottles all for the same trip. #coolmumclub lifeinthemumslane
    Emma Jones recently posted…Sorry I wasn’t in a good mood!My Profile

    • Life Love and Dirty Dishes
      April 14, 2016 at 9:26 pm (6 months ago)

      How may different types of coats! Winter coat, a fleece, a rain coat, a body warmer, a light weigh jacket….

  10. Petite Pudding
    April 14, 2016 at 11:34 am (6 months ago)

    I am about to embark on the packing for our weekend away and I am quite sure I will be able to identify with all your packing categories – particularly the bunch of toys that no one will play with. I have on a previous occasion gotten so carried away packing the kids (and husbands’) stuff that I forgot to pack myself any clean knickers…. not cool having to rinse out the same pair every night and hang themout to dry ready to wear the next day! #coolmumclub

  11. Roberta Flowers
    January 14, 2016 at 1:15 pm (10 months ago)

    Amazing post! It helps me a lot about how and what to pack for us and my little girl. Most of the time I forget things, which are really important for my daughter. Therefore I need to start writing down everything necessary I need to pack, so next time we are about to go somewhere I will be prepared!

  12. Nicky Kentisbeer
    August 25, 2015 at 9:08 pm (1 year ago)

    This really made me laugh Claire. I’m trying to work out whether I take more than you or less! I think I’m getting better as my daughter gets older and you are so right about the shoes. I won’t give up though and still pack them all – high heels the lot, part of me still thinks I’m going away with the girls for 2 weeks partying! I actually did wear the same pair nearly all holiday this year. The triumph of comfort over style seems to win through these days. This summer has felt like a constant round of packing and unpacking. I wonder how many man hours we put in to the suitcase – dread to think! Never seem to get it right though. Nicky x
    Nicky Kentisbeer recently posted…Dear AugustMy Profile

    • Claire
      August 28, 2015 at 11:48 am (1 year ago)

      The sad thing is if my husband is anything to go b, I am never going to be able to trust them to do it themselves!

  13. Carly aka mummy
    August 8, 2015 at 7:51 pm (1 year ago)

    I forget the essentials on a daily basis, so I’m dreading packing for our holiday to Butlins in Sept. Plus we have one more little person to pack for this time. You’re so right though, especially the makeup bag. My has dramatically reduced just in general, so on holiday mascara and concealer will prob do the trick lol. #fridayfrolics
    Carly aka mummy recently posted…Am I Getting Old?My Profile

    • Claire
      August 11, 2015 at 11:52 am (1 year ago)

      Me and the hubby are away for a night in September. I will have a whole case to myself!!!!

  14. Pickinguptoys
    August 7, 2015 at 7:53 pm (1 year ago)

    I once forgot my straighteners and had to spend a week with an 80’s perm.It’s so true that we take an awful lot of stuff we really don’t need though.I say stuff it all and fill with chocolate πŸ™‚ #fridayfrolics
    Pickinguptoys recently posted…Warnings I’d give my kid self!My Profile

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:20 pm (1 year ago)

      Amen to that!

  15. Alice
    August 7, 2015 at 7:47 pm (1 year ago)

    Oh yes… I don’t think i can cope with all this. Think I’ll just stay at home!

    Once, a long time ago BC, my husband (then boyfriend) went away for a week and he forgot to pack any TROUSERS! πŸ˜€

    x Alice
    Alice recently posted…8 ways to get your child to walk down a roadMy Profile

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:19 pm (1 year ago)

      We went away for a wedding. My husband forgot his tie and my brother in law forgot his shoes. Me and my sister in law sat in the bar whilst they went shopping (life before kids!)

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:18 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks πŸ™‚

  16. Helen - Mess Stress and Fancy Dress
    August 7, 2015 at 3:51 pm (1 year ago)

    This is why I am too frightened to holiday abroad. we go to cornwall every year as I cant bear the thought of trying to pack all the unnecessary stuff into a suitcase when it currently fills the entire car. And I have one thing to say about the laundry pile – launderette service wash. take 2 bin liners of stuff, return a few hours later to find neatly folded clean dry laundry. I use the launderette once a year for holiday washing – with the bonus that you get to feel like you’re in Eastenders for a bit! I am however always disappointed when its not Dot Cotton serving me. Great post, I am absolutely that random item packer. #fridayfrolics
    Helen – Mess Stress and Fancy Dress recently posted…WORMS – Eugh…..My Profile

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:16 pm (1 year ago)

      I like your thinking!

  17. jeremy@thirstydaddy
    August 7, 2015 at 12:56 pm (1 year ago)

    to make it worse, somehow you always end up coming home with more stuff than you left with? How does that happen?
    jeremy@thirstydaddy recently posted…Over-analyzing Ant-ManMy Profile

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:16 pm (1 year ago)

      Tell me about it!

  18. Mumma McD
    August 7, 2015 at 12:55 pm (1 year ago)

    We went away for ONE NIGHT and had to take so much stuff that I couldn’t actually see out the rearview mirror of the car. It is just not worth going anywhere at this point!!

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:15 pm (1 year ago)

      One night is just as bad as 7!

  19. Jennifer {The Hollyhock Door}
    August 7, 2015 at 12:52 pm (1 year ago)

    So true! Especially the laundry after the fact! This is really why we haven’t been anywhere since the second one came along — I can’t face the packing pressure! #fridayfrolics
    Jennifer {The Hollyhock Door} recently posted…Before and after – part 1My Profile

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:15 pm (1 year ago)

      We had to buy a roof box for the car after the second!

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:14 pm (1 year ago)

      unpacking sucks. fact.

  20. Becky
    August 7, 2015 at 9:52 am (1 year ago)

    Oh my this is so familiar. Especially the magazine, as IF we’ll ever get time to read that! At least that’s quite small I suppose. We thought we had left our eldest’s Big Bunny in a service station. She was hyperventilating with panic. So were we. We eventually found it tucked into one of the many bags but I will never recover. Becky x #FridayFrolics
    Becky recently posted…My six week summer holiday survival kitMy Profile

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:13 pm (1 year ago)

      ah the frazzled bag search, I know it well!

  21. Kelly
    August 7, 2015 at 9:39 am (1 year ago)

    I hear you girlfriend. Such a horrible task, packing that is. Unpacking is just unthinkable too. I actually went away last weekend, kid-free. Do you know how liberating it was to pack just for myself? It was incredible. I actually enjoyed it. I packed so much shit for myself it wasn’t funny! The suitcase was all mine!! So liberating. #FridayFrolics
    Kelly recently posted…GETTING MY STYLE ONMy Profile

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:11 pm (1 year ago)

      Wow. That is living the dream right there!

  22. Jo
    August 7, 2015 at 8:56 am (1 year ago)

    Haha! I was just as bad when I was a kid, I always felt bad leaving my dolls behind and ended up with about 16 coming along!
    The first time we went away with our baby we literally filled the car with his stuff and we had a carrier bag of stuff. Kids need a lot of crap!

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:11 pm (1 year ago)


  23. Haidee@Maybe Baby Brothers
    August 7, 2015 at 7:49 am (1 year ago)

    Haha, that’s a great list right there! We don’t go away much at this point because it’s just too hard and too much work but we will be doing camping this summer – wish us luck! #fridayfrolics
    Haidee@Maybe Baby Brothers recently posted…The Anti-Fitness QueenMy Profile

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:10 pm (1 year ago)

      Good luck! I’m more of a glamping girl πŸ˜‰

  24. Mummy Fever
    August 7, 2015 at 7:37 am (1 year ago)

    Oh hell yes – we seem to require the same amount of stuff for a couple of nights away as for 2 weeks – it takes me a week to prepare and about the same to recover and get on top of everything again. #FridayFrolics
    Mummy Fever recently posted…School holiday activities: part fiveMy Profile

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:10 pm (1 year ago)

      Yes, the post holiday holiday!

  25. ann winters
    August 7, 2015 at 7:30 am (1 year ago)

    This post was spot on, and so funny….! πŸ™‚
    Oh , no, Teddy was forgotten! The tragedy….! We once were able to forgot not Teddy, or baby’s bag, but OUR bag on our way to the airport… We had to turn back and get it, thats the amount of stuff that we were taking baby’s related (random, whatever the weather stuff…you know!) that our bag was actually meaningless compared to the two/three baby’s bags….therefore forgotten…. πŸ™‚
    ann winters recently posted…My Monday MakingMy Profile

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:09 pm (1 year ago)

      No clothes or no nappies? It’s a dilemma!

  26. Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk)
    August 4, 2015 at 10:04 pm (1 year ago)

    Toys, the bane of my existence! My son loves them but they are taking over the house. And yes when we are on a trip even those short ones I need to bring the whole house just so I can be sure that my son is entertained in the car =P

    Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) recently posted…Beachlawns EventMy Profile

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:06 pm (1 year ago)

      They always want to take the noisy ones too!

  27. Lisa (mummascribbles)
    August 4, 2015 at 8:07 pm (1 year ago)

    This is fab! I am a terrible overpacker because what happens if you forget something? I mean it’s not like there’s shops and it’s not like we’d have our debit cards on us…oh wait! I could have done with this post before I had both my holidays this year! Nothing worse than coming back to all that blimmin washing though! Especially if it’s raining! Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:05 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks for hosting πŸ™‚

    • Claire
      August 7, 2015 at 9:04 pm (1 year ago)

      Good luck getting to the bottom!

    • Claire
      August 4, 2015 at 6:36 am (1 year ago)

      Day trips are just as bad as a week away. Minus the washing – hopefully!

    • Claire
      August 3, 2015 at 11:25 am (1 year ago)

      You need another holiday to recover!

  28. Charlene
    August 2, 2015 at 8:57 pm (1 year ago)

    I had to LOL at apocalypse snack stuff. On our recent flight home I ran out of snacks. I spent the whole flight worrying that the kid would wake and I wouldn’t be able to placate him with rice cakes.

    • Claire
      August 3, 2015 at 11:24 am (1 year ago)

      Never ever run out of rice cakes!!!!

  29. cat
    August 2, 2015 at 8:47 pm (1 year ago)

    This is spot on, laugh out loud funny. The 5% of stuff you will actually use is so bang on. For me, I pack, thinking I have all the possible crap I wont ever need – then as the car engine is running I just run around the house collecting random items I definitely WILL NOT NEED EVER. I then realise that the only room for this crap is the footwell, where, well, my feet should be. I do decide these items are so important that I keep them there, being utterly uncomfortable the whole journey. These things then remain there for the length of the holiday, unused – and are then unpacked at home, now covered in muddy footprints.

    My parents had a ‘dog tag’ engraved with our home address and stitched it to my favourite toy, a result of a one time melt down on my part. The bear was returned from a campsite in France , a Little Chef and a Happy Eater (with free lollipops). Now they are parents.


    cat recently posted…Comment on Blogging, What Is The Point? by CatMy Profile

    • Claire
      August 3, 2015 at 11:23 am (1 year ago)

      I so do the foot well thing too! 250 miles with cramp!

  30. Helen
    August 2, 2015 at 9:57 am (1 year ago)

    This is absolutely on the nail!
    My bear story is even worse. When my eldest was three we were getting the train back from staying at my parents. White Bear was carefully packed. However, the tearfulness caused by saying goodbye to Grandad could only be assuaged by getting White Bear out of the suitcase. On the train. Can you see where this is going? White Bear never made it off the train. I realised he was missing as we got down into the Underground at Euston. Sprinted back up the escalator as fast as you can sprint with a pre-schooler and a suitcase. Searched the train on hands and knees. Tearfully begged every member of Virgin staff I could find, from cleaners to station manager to help me. Stalked the Left Luggage office with multiple daily phone calls for a month. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Over three years later she still talks about White Bear, and wonders if he’s ok without her. Sob. Gulp. So you see, I really AM the worst mother in the world. And my husband wasn’t even there to share the blame.
    Helen recently posted…In search of styleMy Profile

    • Claire
      August 2, 2015 at 11:06 am (1 year ago)

      Oh no! Poor bear. But surely you can blame your husband for not being there πŸ˜‰


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