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Family Travel A to Z: Clothes & Packing

Clothes are often one of those things that can fall off the radar when planning a family holiday. You can find yourself so busy planning the actual holiday and getting everything in readiness that you start packing at the last minute and then realise that your kids have nothing to wear.

Or maybe that’s just me…

What you will need to pack for your holiday will vary depending on the duration of your stay, the location and the amount of luggage that you can take with you. What does not vary when it comes to family holidays, is the sheer amount of packing required for multiple members of a family.

Whether you are going away for the weekend or for a month or more, there is always SO MUCH STUFF when it comes to taking kids on holidays.

While you can’t eliminate all the stuff (some is rather essential) there are things you can do to limit what you take and to ensure it is packed in the most efficient manner possible.

Family Travel A to Z: Clothes (Featured) -



Undertake a clothing stocktake a month or so out from your trip

You may not want to go through your kids’ stinky wardrobes but it is necessary to ensure they have the right clothes and enough of them that fit, to get then through the upcoming holiday. Kids grow quickly and if you are relying on them fitting into winter clothes from last year for your snow escape, you may be sadly disappointed to find they have grown. Get in there and work out what still fits, what still looks good and, most importantly, what they are willing to wear while on holidays. Then you can write a list of clothing requirements, set a budget and head out to the shops (which is your reward for having to poke about in a stinky wardrobe first!)

Develop a streamlined holiday wardrobe

Even if you are heading away for a month, it is not necessary to take a month’s worth of clothes with you. You should be able to do laundry as you go so only take enough to get you by for a few days, in between laundry visits. Besides, you really want to minimise the clothes packing so you can fit in all the souvenir shopping on the way home!

So think about what is really necessary and pack accordingly. This is the streamlined holiday wardrobe that we used on our 3 and a half week holiday to the US:


  • 5 x t-shirts
  • 5 x underwear
  • 5 x socks
  • 2 x swimmers & rashies
  • 5 x shorts/skirts
  • 1 x jumper
  • 1 x jeans
  • 1 x tracksuit pants
  • 2 x pjs
  • 1 x enclosed shoes
  • 1 x sandals/slip on shoes
  • 1 x good dress/suit (for formal dinners/going out)

Be ruthless when it comes to packing and commit to developing a streamlined holiday wardrobe!


Don’t forget shoes!

When checking out clothing needs, don’t forget to make sure that each member of the family has a good quality set of walking shoes. This is especially important if sightseeing is involved in your holiday. Ensure they are worn in before you leave – again there is nothing worse than suffering blisters and discomfort after hours wandering around in a brand new pair of shoes. Even if you are undertaking a relaxing beach holiday, make sure you have a comfortable and solid set of shoes for the trip there and back and also for any excursions or activities you might undertake while there.

Wherever you are holidaying, don’t forget the shoes!!!!

Take the time to pack properly

There are countless YouTube videos that show you how to properly pack a suitcase. My husband, Nathan, is the master packer of our family. I am forever getting in trouble for just chucking clothes into the suitcase without folding them and not taking the time to think about where they should be placed. There is an art to packing and it pays to learn it (or get your partner to!). A well-packed suitcase can reduce the amount of overall luggage you need to cart around and definitely makes it easier to find what you need when you arrive.

Start packing early

As well as taking the time to pack properly, make sure you give yourself enough time to start with. Don’t start packing the night before! A week out from departure, get a list together and start thinking about how you are going to pack your clothes. Think about the suitcases you will be taking and what you will take as carry on if you are flying. Don’t forget to pack phone re-chargers, toiletries, a portable clothesline, medications and other often forgotten extras. Remember too, to tie a ribbon to your bag, attach a big name tag or make some sort of other addition to make your bag easier to find on the carousel and less likely to be mistakenly claimed by someone else (as happened to us when we went to NZ!)

Remember to pack a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage

Pack a change of clothes in your handbag, backpack or carry on luggage. If you or a family member happen to spill anything on yourselves, sweat profusely or find yourselves with lost luggage at your destination, being able to change into fresh clothes when you arrive will instantly lift your mood. This is also great advice if you are heading on a cruise – luggage is not delivered to your room for some time after you board so if you are keen for a swim straight away, make sure you have your swimmers with you, ready to go.

Do you have any suggestions for clothes & packing preparation to add to the list?


A to Z Guide to Family Travel -


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  1. Ann

    That’s excellent advice to pack a spare set of clothes in your take-on bag. When my daughters were younger, we would do that as a back-up set of clothes just in case they spilled a beverage or food on them during the flight. There’s nothing more challenging than a child with wet clothes when they have sensory processing disorder!

  2. Jess

    Hahaha I always forget shoes and a hairbrush! 🙂


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