Travelling with children: the packing list edition

Who enjoys packing? Not me. So stressful. But I do enjoy lists! So I searched and searched online for a list which would cover all eventualities of packing and could I find one? Nope. None of the many, many lists I found online really worked for me, as they all assumed formula feeding, or travelling simultaneously to really hot and really cold places (needing both a sunhat and skiing glasses), or the children’s inability to be amused without a million toys during a 2-hour journey. What is up with that?

So in the end I decided to write my own Big Old List, with the hope of minimising the aforementioned stress when I am packing in the future. It assumes a summer holiday with a beach/outdoor element. In practice our holidays are usually in the UK, so the waterproofs part is really, really important. If you’re going skiing, take skiing gear. It goes without saying, really.

I wrote a toiletries list too. We actually keep our travel toiletries ready packed in a clear washbag, so we can grab and go, but I use this list for checking over everything before we go on a big trip.

My list works equally well for days out (hand luggage section), overnights, or longer trips.

My Big Old Packing List for Trips with Children

Hand Luggage

The Essentials
  • Map/Sat Nav/directions
  • Contact numbers (usually stored in phone – bank, insurers, family)
  • Tissues
  • Notebook and pen (also useful for toddler scribbling action)
  • Baby wipes
  • Nappies and bags
  • Phone charger
  • Plastic bag
  • Purse/wallet
  • Phone
Entertainment / Comfort
  • Books and/or a game
  • Paracetamol / Calpol
  • Drinks
  • Snacks
  • Spare clothes
  • Bibs
Travel documents
  • Passports
  • Tickets
  • Insurance documents
  • EHIC cards
  • Driving licences

Overnight Bag

  • Pyjamas
  • Toiletries (see below – we keep ours ready in a washbag so we never have to scrabble around for missing items)
  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste
  • Husband’s electric razor
  • Underwear
  • Clean clothes
  • Baby sleeping bag

Longer Trips (I also call this ‘Car Luggage’)

  • Nappies and wipes
  • Clothes
  • Underwear
  • Pyjamas
  • Shoes and sandals (wellies / walking boots if required)
  • Coats / waterproofs
  • Swimwear
  • Hats
  • Sunglasses
  • Beach towels (if required)
  • Bed linen and cot linen (if required)
  • Bath towels (if required)
  • Books, toys and games (for children and adults)
  • Plastic bags / wet bags
  • Bibs
  • Car documents – proof of insurance, V5C Certificate if travelling in Europe
  • Car equipment – reflective jackets, warning triangle, beam deflectors (for European night driving)
  • Camera
  • Thermos flask
  • Travel adapter
  • Tea (always tea, the stuff you can buy abroad is rubbish)
  • Blackout blind


  • Cleansing wipes
  • Moisturiser
  • Suncream
  • Body lotion
  • Hand cream
  • Deodorant
  • Razor
  • Nail varnish and remover
  • Nail clippers and nail file
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Vaseline
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Baby wash
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Soap
  • Hairbrush
  • Paracetamol tablets and kids’ paracetamol
  • Plasters
  • Body wash
  • Floss
  • Makeup
  • Cotton buds