Packing for a Family Holiday: 7 Things Every Parent Needs to Take

Last Updated on 6th March 2024

Going on a family getaway can be exciting, but packing for multiple family members can also be stressful. As a parent, there are essential items you’ll want to bring to make your holiday run more smoothly, whether you are taking a staycation in the UK or heading overseas.

Before you go, there are things to do in advance, including checking what amenities are at your accommodation, as game-changers like laundry facilities means you don’t have to pack everything.

Here are the top seven things every parent should have on their checklist and remember when packing for a family holiday.

Packing for a Family Holiday together
When packing for a family Holiday don’t forget your suitcase, or the kids

Clothes for All Occasions

The first family holiday packing list priority should be clothes for every family member. Often the most stressful part, get this ready in advance to ensure it’s all washed and ready. Be sure to bring outfits suitable for different weather, activities, and occasions. If relevant, pack beachwear like swimsuits and coverups in a beach bag.

Have pyjamas, underwear, and socks for each person. Don’t forget warmer layers like jackets or trousers if needed. And include a nicer outfit or two in case you go out to dinner. If staying at a hotel you should check the restaurant dress code in advance, which sometimes requires a collared shirt and long trousers.

Having versatile clothes will prepare your family for anything, and a handy tip is if you are off to hot destination on summer holiday, wearing warmer clothes and trainers on the plane should be enough to use on a chilly evening.

If you have far too much, have a pile of essentials including versatile outfits including t-shirts and sun dresses, and remember you don’t need that many shoes. Take what you will wear, or you are carrying it for nothing. You can take some washing powder to give things a quick wash.

Last packing tip, if one member takes a backpack as hand luggage, it can easily double as a day bag on trips. And if you have young kids, put a spare set of children’s clothes in for any spillages or vomit.

Toiletries to Share

Pack toiletries like shampoo, soap, shower gel, conditioner, toothpaste and brushes to share between family members. This saves space and stops you from overpacking bathroom products. If anyone needs specific toiletries, then pack those separately. A shared toiletry bag can hold most of what your family needs though.

Rules change are imminent on liquids in hand luggage, with the limit increased from 100ml to 2 litres. This initially was planned for June 2024, but is reliant on the airport having new screening technology. Both London Gatwick and Heathrow are expected to be ready in 2025. This will also mean there is no need to remove electric devices like laptops out of bags too.

First Aid Essentials

Having a well-stocked first aid kit is vital when travelling with kids. Pack plasters, antiseptic cream, antihistamine tablets, pain relief medicine like paracetamol, insect repellent, sunscreen and any medication your family may require.

For young kids, Calpol is worth taking and there are new individual packets rather than glass bottles which could be worth getting. This prepares you in case anyone has an accident, gets sick or injured on holiday. Hopefully, it won’t happen, but never say never!

foster child waiting for holiday
If you have new foster kids, make sure you discuss with them what they want to take

Entertainment and Activities

Entertaining kids is crucial for surviving family holidays! Pack things like books, card games, tablets preloaded with movies and shows, colouring supplies and travel games. These will keep children happy if you get rained in or have downtime at your accommodation. Having self-contained entertainment is essential.

If you are fostering in London and you haven’t had your foster child for very long, ask them what activities they like to do, so you can be prepared. This is a great opportunity for bonding and creating those happy core memories together as a new family. Also consider they may have anxiety over a foreign holiday so talk to them so they know what to expect.

Snacks and Reusable Water Bottles

Kids get hungry quickly, so bring healthy snacks like fruit, granola bars and sandwiches. Pack a reusable water bottle for each family member too, which can also be filled up once you get through security. This prevents purchasing expensive snacks and drinks while out. It also stops waste from lots of one-use water bottles. Snacks and drink bottles get a lot of use on family holidays.

Baby and Toddler Gear

If you are travelling with babies or toddlers, remember to take all their gear like pushchairs, carriers, portable cribs, changing mats and toys. Having familiar items keeps little ones comfortable exploring new places.

Write a holiday packing list in the run up to ensure you don’t forget everything bought in advance. Don’t forget nappies, wipes, bibs, spoons and baby food either. Travelling with small children means packing extra equipment, so be prepared.

UK based holidays are a bit easier as you can just pack the car up. It’s worth checking facilities at your accommodation, as you may not need a travel cot which takes up valuable space.

kid watching tablet on airplane
There is a time for conversation about excessive screen time, planes are an exception to any rule

Electronic Essentials

Finally, ensure you pack electronic essentials like phone chargers, headphones, plug adapters, camera, batteries and tablets or laptops if needed. You may capture many fun family photos to save and share. Devices often get lots of usage uploading pics or researching local sights too. Having electronics fully prepared with accessories allows your family to stay connected on vacation.

Packing for family holidays takes some work, but by preparing, and putting these seven items on your list helps enormously. Clothes for all weathers, shared toiletries, first aid, entertainment, snacks, baby gear and electronics cover what families require when away. Staying organised with packing makes for smoother trips that your whole family will enjoy.

Don’t forget the obvious holiday essentials not listed, like sunglasses, passports, tickets, travel documents and travel insurance documents.