Am I the only lunatic around here? Or are you mums with me? I always pack for everyone… meaning I have 6 suitcases to pack when going on a holiday. The worst part is that my teenager is getting sort of an opinion on what she wants to take, throws almost every piece of clothing she has in her closet on the bed and I have to try and make it fit in her suitcase… #$%@&^%$ . And then she ends up of wearing the same sweater or bikini for 2 weeks… 😩.
Ever since they were young I have always made packing lists, and I use them every time. I have a summer-packing-list, a winter-packing-list, a mid-week-packing list, a weekend-packing list, a weekend-without-kids-packing list (I love this one most 😉 – no just kidding), a we’re-going-shopping-so-I-only-need-the-bare-necessities-packing list.
Over the years the lists evolved quite a bit. I use to overload with toys, diapers, bibs, blankets, pacifiers (I mean the babies had to have the same brand pacifier ALWAYS), baby milk formula, sleeping bags, floatation devices, baby phones, strollers, pffff how did I do that? Imagine we traveled for a year and we only had 6 suitcases… now how did we manage that??
Anyways, it all starts with a good suitcase. We only use The Northface suitcases and bags. Some people think soft cover suitcases are less safe, but let’s face it. If someone wants to take something out of your suitcase, they will, one way or the other. The advantage of soft suitcase covers is their weight. The lighter the suitcase the more weight left for clothing. Think shoes, bags, dresses, bikini’s. And inside the suitcase, use packing cells, cubes, whatever you want to call them!
Because what would I do without packing cells?? I know there was a time when I traveled without them but now that I’ve found them (already over 5 years ago) I can’t imagine life before them. It makes packing and unpacking so much easier. This is how it works. Every person in our family has it’s own color. I have 6 cells per person. One is for pants, the other for shirts, one for underwear, one for socks and belts, one for pj’s and bathing suits, one for dresses (for the girls of course) or (fancy) jackets/blazers for the boys.
When I arrive at the destination, I take the cells out of the suitcase into the closet so that each person knows exactly which clothes belongs to him/her. The suitcase stays very neat and when the clothes are dirty they just put them in the laundry bag in stead of throwing them into the suitcase, or worse, on the ground.
For people living in the Netherlands, I have found this great brand. It’s called Sunflake. They have good quality packing cubes at a nice price, in six colors.
Okay, so now you have your basics straight. Let’s check out the top 5 things I take with me every time we travel.
1. Enough underwear
Washing while on holiday is either time consuming or expensive. So I pack about one outfit per 2/3 days. Depending on the age of course, but the benefit of younger children is that their clothes are smaller and more clothes will fit in the suitcase. So let's put that aside. Underwear however is one clean pair a day, young and old. So I pack as much underwear as days that we are traveling (if 2 weeks or under). If you're staying away for more than two weeks then you'll either have to wash or buy new undies. In most luxury hotels laundry prices are so ridiculously high that you're better off buying new underwear for your kids at the local store. Now you secretly know the reason why my kids have piles of underwear in their home drawers.
2. Emergency kit
Of course you can buy all kinds of medicines anywhere. But I prefer to travel well prepared and have at least the most basic emergency stuff with me. Just in case someone gets sick during the night or during a flight. That means, some kind of pain killer for adults and kids, nose spray, anti diarrhea, band-aids, anti dehydration (ORS), hand sanitizing wipes or gel.
3. An extra duffel bag
You might go shopping for souvenirs or clothes. And need some extra space to take that back. So I always pack an extra duffel bag inside my suitcase to take back with me either as checked or hand luggage. I'm ashamed to say I've used it about almost every time.
4. Adaptars and electrical chargers
We have a the Northface mini bag containing every cable and charger we need. Always check what kind of plug is needed in your destination country. We also carry cables to connect our iPad or laptop to the TV, just in case we want to have a family movie night. Of course you shouldn't forget to download your movie or favorite serie before leaving home or the WIFI must be so good you're able to stream. Which mostly isn't the case.
5. Copies of ID's and credit cards
Either digital or paper copies. But always have them somewhere to take out when all else fails and you've been robbed or just casually lost your bag. 😳