I’ve been making lists for a long time now, these lists in the ‘notes’ on my phone are full of wonderful ideas from wonderful people that I have had the pleasure to meet. We never stop learning from each other, as far as I’m concerned, ‘there is no competition’, we are all in this life together, to help each other and learn from each other!
No matter how many times we go on holidays, especially with kids (small and not-so-small), it’s chaotic. Mothers spend quite a while preparing, laying out clothes weeks in advance, adding to them, removing some etc. Most men believe that their holidays start before they actually leave the house, so that includes a magic bag that ‘has to pack itself’! That part was news to me, I’m lucky to not have to buy into that nonsense and my husband has never forgotten to bring anything that he actually needed. Teenage boys, on the other hand, would quite happily leave the house, for a weeklong holiday, with just their phone, 10 pairs of runners and two bottles of ‘smellies’! I have so much sympathy for sheepdogs; it’s like herding sheep trying to get 13-year-old boys to do anything, let alone what they need to do. I have often wondered if I barked at them viciously, would it make a difference?
So, here are few of the things that I have gathered in my ‘notes’ list that do actually make a difference and help you to an ‘easier’ travel experience. Invest in a good phone-charging case. You would be amazed at how quickly your battery drains on holidays, everybody uses google maps an do on, so with four or five phones on the go in any family, this investment will give you a very quick return, especially if you need to regularly give it to your ‘little ones’ as a distraction in a restaurant!
A water bottle with a built-in filter will help you to stay hydrated, you simply have to drink copious amounts of water in the heat. I even filter the ‘cheaper’ big bottles of water from the supermarkets. The BPA-free filter also means that, if you are in a hotel, you will not need to raid the mini-bar and pay €6 for a little bottle of water!
Imagine bringing your dry cleaner on holidays with you? Don’t you just get tired of wrinkles and creases on your clothes no matter how you pack them? I came across a fabric care set in New York that eliminates that ‘I slept in my clothes’ look on holidays. You can go online — net-a-porter.com and buy ‘The Laundress Travel Pack Fabric Care Set. It costs about €45, is made by New York’s famous dry-cleaning-gone-commercial company and contains toxin-free sprays that de-wrinkle, freshen up and will actually clean that silk blouse that you carelessly stuffed in your suitcase. Girls, if you have a friend who has ‘everything’ and who loves to travel, then this is the ideal gift for her; each bottle is clear and contains 60ml, so perfect for slipping into your ‘carry-on’ bag too.
Don’t ever travel without a little bottle of clove oil. Aside from smelling amazing, it’s the best analgesic and antibiotic, great for toothache, teething pain, nausea and lots more. Google it and you will immediately buy it. The last thing that you need on holidays is a trip to the doctor or dentists when you can cure it yourself, or at least, put it off until you get home.
Laugh all you want but a small roll of electrical tape could make a huge difference on your holiday. Have you ever caught the thread of your skirt or dress on something — one side of the hem is hanging down and you can’t wear it — well, a little tape in the right place will temporarily sort that out! It’s also great for taking fluff off sweaters, especially on a winter break. Believe me, you will most definitely find more uses for it.
Girls, if you are only travelling with carry-on bags, then you know that you need travel size beauty products. Keep a good stock of them in your travel bag, things like toothpaste don’t have a short shelf life, so less last minute shopping to be done.
Long haul flights are ‘not’ the most entertaining ways to spend a full day. I’m going to mention ‘unmentionables’ here but for your benefit of course. If you sleep on a long flight, when you wake up, you feel like ‘crap’ — am I wrong? Ok, so you can’t exactly have a shower but one good way to freshen up is to wear a pantyliner on your underwear, changing that is like the best quick ‘freshen-up’ tip that I could possibly give up. If, of course, you feel acrobatic, by all means, change your underwear in that tiny toilet!
Babies cry and it amazes me how many people seem to get frustrated and angry by that fact. Can you all please accept it! I remember being seated on a plane when my twins were a little over a year and sitting next to a woman whose disgusted look I believe started the screaming of the child in my arms. I was under serious pressure for the entire flight. Even when my son was sleeping, if he moved, she glared at me. On the contrary, Gordon sat near an elderly couple with the other baby. The grandparents were full of smiles and funny faces and there was not one peep from Gordon’s arms. Parents of young children ‘need’ a holiday just as much, if not more, than you do. Don’t sigh loudly when they sit next to or near you on the airplane, be prepared, be pleasant and pack earplugs!
Sarongs are one of the best things that you can bring on a sun holiday. They are lightweight, a great cover-up, perfect to throw on the ground for a picnic, or throw over your shoulders on the plane if it gets cool and they dry quickly. Fashion-wise, opt for a solid neutral colour so that it will work as a ‘gourmet’ scarf with just about anything that you wear.
Who wants to think of bringing a raincoat on a sun holiday? That said, we have all experienced days where the ‘Heavens’ have opened. How about packing a clear jumbo refuse bag in your suitcase? You can put smaller ones in for younger kids and just throw them away when it stops raining — OK, I didn’t come up with this but isn’t it a fab idea. I saw it the last time we were on holidays and ‘wrote it in my notes’.
Ziploc bags are one of the best inventions ever, they cut down bulk, keep liquids safe, keep electronics safe from anything else that might leak and keep you from losing your mind when you take out your favourite dress and there is a hair oil stain on it!
No matter where you are going and no matter what the climate is, ‘always’ pack a posh frock and heels. You never know who you might meet or what you might be invited to. The last thing that you want is to feel underdressed when an amazing opportunity comes up.
My daughter came back from a festival with a load of waterproof phones bags that came with a string for around your neck — great addition to the family and very much used on every family holiday. The last thing you need is someone moping around because they have no phone as they dropped it in water ‘at the start of the holiday’!
What is a holiday without some great music, especially your own playlist? Always pack a portable bluetooth speaker, great for the hotel room or apartment in the mornings and when you are getting ready to go out in the evenings. I know some of them can be quite big but invest in a good quality small one that will nestle lovingly in your travel bag.
A defrosted ice pack bag doesn’t take up very much room in your suitcase but could be a lifesaver when you pop it in the freezer in the apartment. Children fall and bang their heads quite a lot so why would it stop just because they are on holidays? I have been told that ‘big people’ sometimes fall and bang into things on holidays too, especially late at night and after a few cocktails — hey presto, an ice-pack might be exactly what you need to snuggle up with…