Packing for Children (Holiday Hacks)


Guys, can you hear that? It’s summer. Sneaking around the corner. That means summer holidays! And that means that your planning, booking, paying, scheduling, calling, texting, buying, selling, eating, dieting, drinking, waxing, tanning, and packing is all about to take on a whole new face. I can’t do much about most of those things, but I can help you with some packing tips for children. Sorry if I oversold how far my helpfulness would go.

Now, anyone that knows our family well will probably roll their eyes if they hear me talking about packing for my daughter. This is because my daughter is 1) not really fussed about what she wears, and 2) quite capable of packing most of her own bag. Still, I need to do a check for things like toothbrushes, shoes, and clips; and to oust things like 14 teddies and her ukulele for a two-day getaway. So, whether it’s a weekend in Cape Town or a month in Yellow Sands (not kidding), we have a similar packing routine.

To make everyone’s lives a little easier in preparation for your summer holiday, I’ll share some of my tips for packing for children:

Write it Down

I used to think my mind was really sharp, until I watched in real time as one of the women I worked for degenerated slowly, and then very quickly at something I’d forgotten (apparently, it wasn’t the first time). So, now, I write things down. Bet she wishes I hadn’t left now. Yep, bet that’s exactly what’s happening.

Write a separate list for each person in the family well ahead of time to give yourself extra time to add the things you forgot on the first round. Take a photo of the list or duplicate it in case it gets lost. Then, while you pack, cross them off. Try to pack most of it a week or so before you leave. Highlight the items that are last-minute inclusions (favourite blankies, onesies, etc…), and then pack those at the last.

Zip It

Make your child’s (and your) life easier by putting each day’s outfit in a separate bag – a bag for Monday, a bag for Tuesday, and so on. You could use ziplock bags, ordinary plastic bags, or even spare pillowcases for this. Layers always work best if you’re visiting a place with less predictable weather.

Checklist for packing children's clothing
A suggested, simple check-list for your daily bag and your general clothing bag.

This isn’t fool-proof, though. In your main bag, you’ll need to pack at least one or two extra days’ outfits.

Write on or label the bags so that your little ones know which bag holds which day’s outfit.

No Sharing

It’s going to work much more smoothly if each child and adult gets their own main clothing bag. It’ll also be quicker to get ready in the mornings. The only exception is the toiletries bag. The kids can all share one.


This is your go-to, your saviour, your light in a dark world. Make sure that you have everything you may need; for everything from scrapes and tummy aches to bad moods and chocolate cravings (you know what I mean). Include shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, disposable toothbrushes as spares, anti-inflammatories, meds for diarrhoea, headache tablets, nausea tablets, anti-histamines, bandages, plasters…Don’t skimp on a good travel toiletries bag. Especially if you’re not staying in the city centre.

Involve The Kids

Do you do the thing where you think you’ll just get it done quicker, so you do it yourself? I’m guilty of this in the kitchen. But, letting your children pack the clothes, books, and games that they want to take along means that they’ll be more comfortable with their luggage. It’s also fun and will keep them quiet for a little while as they get to choose what they want to wear, do and take.  Even very little ones can choose between this teddy and that one, a green cap or a blue one.

Getting ready for a holiday needs a combination of efficient organising and just chilling out and going with the flow. Let me know if you get it right…I’m still learning.

Packing for children on holiday
…but these are the moments that make it worthwhile





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