GOING ON HOLIDAY WITH A TODDLER – WHAT TO PACK

If you’re thinking about taking everything, and the kitchen sink, on your summer holiday you might want to think again. Excess baggage fees are a matter of course for airlines now. There’s no blind eye from kind baggage crew for a few kilos over and we were charged €13 per kilo! That was all despite my best efforts to pack light. And that’s no mean feat for a ‘just in case’ packer like me.

I packed minimal clothes for myself and only took 1 pair of evening shoes and flip-flops for the 10 day holiday (I even left a few bikinis at home and there were no luxury toiletries, selection of perfumes or my beloved books to be seen!) We didn’t take the [5 kg] bag of Ella’s pouches my OCD head wanted to take, we left all the extras at home. I even pumped the exact pump requirement of moisturiser into a separate pot and scooped the correct amount of formula to avoid those fees. But there was no escaping it. 15kg per adult and 10kg for a 1 year old did not cut it. Even our hand luggage was significantly over. Dam those board books he loves so much.

To help you avoid those fees, I’ve pulled together a guide for packing. This was for our 10 day holiday in sunny Cyprus and based on what we actually used.

CLOTHES

Although we packed a lot more – we were told to expect cold evenings, so I packed loads of long trousers and jumpers – Miller wore the following:

One pair of swimming shorts, a UV protect surf top, as well as a onsie UV protector suit. You could survive with one, but it was handy to have a dry outfit while the other was drying off. We took a hooded towel too, but we didn’t use it. It was warm enough for him to run around after pool time and dry off in the sunshine. But I’d still take one.

He wore the same five shorts mixed with a selection of five t-shirts. I also took a few cheap t-shirts for him to wear while he was eating so he didn’t get his other clothes in a mess. That meant he wore the same outfit twice. Not my usual style, but needs must.

We also had a full laundry room in our hotel. Of course you don’t really want to be doing washing while you’re on holiday, but I stuck a few t-shirts in while we went for breakfast one morning which was easy enough. It’s worth checking out your accommodation to see what they’ve got on site and what you can utilise locally to help reduce the amount of things you need to take.

I’ve included links to a few things we had for Miller.

We bought bucket and spade, balls, floaties etc out there – and left the behind. In future, I’ll buy towels out there and leave them behind. Beach towels are heavy!

TOILETRIES

You can of course get things abroad but it’s bloody expensive from resort stores and their stock is limited. If you’re staying somewhere you can get access to a large supermarket that the locals use, you’re laughing and probably don’t need to take all your nappies, wipes, pain killers, sun block etc, but the supermarkets in the resort of Paphos, where we stayed, were specifically for tourists and the prices were hiked up as a result. And they didn’t have swimming nappies or the right sized nappies.

In future, I’ll do more research on this kind of thing. So I know what I have to take and what I can get out there. If you can buy where you’re going, I would do so and take as little as possible in your case / hand luggage.

  • Nappies (I packed for 5 nappies per day)
  • Swimming nappies (2-4 per day)
  • Wipes (we managed to get through 4 packs in 10 days!)
  • Nappy cream
  • Liquid Paracetomol and Brufen (we use Boots’ own because it’s a lot cheaper than Calpol)
  • Anbesol (definitely a must for teething toddlers)
  • Toothpaste / Toothbrush
  • Sun block

THE FLIGHT

Miller is not one for sitting still and he’s a nosey little bugger too, so I was really worried about how he would be on the 4.5 hour flight. He was actually really good, but our tricks definitely helped. Airport security was slightly stressful, but here’s how we got through it:

SECURITY CHECK IN 

As I’m sure you know, you can only take up to 100ml of liquids in your on flight bag and you have to display them in a clear plastic bag with no more than 1ltr per person. (although double check that for your specific flight) To reduce the baggage weight, I took miniature bottles of shampoo etc for myself in my bag and we also had Miller’s teething pain killers to take on. Baby food and milk is taken into account separately, which is fantastic. But for every 5 items of baby food / milk you take on you have to be watched eating / drinking 2 of them. I took ready-made milk and Ella’s pouches for the flight. I was asked to open the milk and a meal pouch – both of which couldn’t be re-sealed and then had to be used within a few hours (we obvs didn’t have access to a fridge!) I managed to persuade them to allow me to open the fruit pouches which had a lid rather than the meal pouches, but in the process we managed to spill milk everywhere. Doh! I stupidly didn’t realise that you would have to open products that were factory sealed. I know why they do it and of course it’s all for our safety, but it was a real faff. So just make sure you only take things on that can be re-sealed without leaking. Extra plastic bags are a must!

Food we took on board: 

  • 2 x Ella’s meal pouches (for 4.5 hour flight and in case of delay!)
  • 2 x Ella’s fruit pouches
  • Breadsticks / favourite snacks
  • 3 x milk (one for take off, one for landing and in case of delay!)

STAY SANE ON THE FLIGHT

We messed up before we even got on the flight. We let Miller have a sleep just before we were due to board. He was tired and cranky and I went for the easy option of letting him sleep rather than entertaining him until we boarded. BIG MISTAKE. It meant we had to get him out of the stroller, while he was asleep, to board the plane which subsequently woke him up. He then had to wear a seat belt and sit on my lap, which made him kick off. Major Mama fail. The trip back was much easier because we learnt our lesson. Here’s how:

Aim to have nap time at the start of the flight. Keep them distracted at the airport with all the new things around them. (this also gives you a very good excuse to explore the duty free in great detail!) When you board keep distracting with whatever’s around you – in flight menus, airline crew, other passengers, looking out the window, etc – and buckle up as near to take off and as sneakily as you can. We have to do the sneaky thing, because if Miller sees you’re restraining him in any way, that’s when he kicks off.

A quick fix. I was worried about Miller’s ears, so we gave him a shot of ‘Calpol’ just before we took off.

Get milk ready. Great for helping them nod off and also for their ears. Get a bottle of milk ready for take off and landing and do whatever it is you do to soothe and get them to sleep.

Stay alert. I’m definitely a sleeper on flights, so I did find it tough trying to keep him entertained for the whole journey. We had the added bonus of Grandparents being on the flight, so we swapped as he got bored, but eating regularly and staying away from alcohol definitely helped keep me awake.

Distraction is key. For every part of the flight, it’s all about distraction. We had a bag full of books and his favourite TV shows on the iPad. As well as apps on our phones to give him a good variety. When he started getting bored, we switched the entertainment and also took him on a tour of the cabin a few times.

Stay calm and prepare. I got really stressed out going through security. We all managed to get separated from each other, Miller was hungry and really bored of queuing by this point and we had loads of stuff to handle as we went through. Rather than rushing through to get it out the way, I wish I had just taken a few minutes after checking in our luggage, to give Miller some food and let him have a run around, get all the plastic bags, electricals and food out ready to go into the trays and not worried so much about holding other people up. Lesson learnt.

Miller’s entertainment:  

  • iPad – full of as many TV programmes and apps as you can fit
  • Books – we took a lot, but only really needed a few
  • Snacks – whatever they love, take it
  • Keys – never fails!

Essential extras – Don’t forget to pack: 

  • Spare clothes
  • Nappies
  • Wipes
  • Anti bac gel
  • Tissues
  • Muslin – we always manage to spill something!

Don’t bother packing: 

  • Books or magazines for yourself – wishful thinking! 
  • Anything you’re not really going to use – sorry girls, but there’s no time to re-touch your make up on a flight with a toddler!
  • Leave the toys at home – honestly, there is so much entertainment in all the new things around them, they won’t be interested. Miller was more entertained by putting ice into cups than he was by anything else!

We also took the stroller right up to the stairs of the plane. It made it much easier to carry all the bags with Miller safely tucked up in the stroller.

It does take a bit more effort, but I can say with confidence that I’d be more than happy to fly again – even long haul – with Miller. The time away was definitely worth the preparation and even worth having to eat pureed fruit and drink cows milk. xx

A note to Thomson Holidays – please take a look at your baggage allowance and make it a bit easier for families to travel. Please. Or supply beach towels in all your hotels and entertainment for children on your flights. It would reduce queuing times at check in and also give your crews a break from bored children wanting to run up and down the cabin because they have nothing else to do. Thank you.

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5 responses to “GOING ON HOLIDAY WITH A TODDLER – WHAT TO PACK

  1. Sounds like you had good flights, its always hard to know what to do beforehand until you’ve tried it yourself isnt it.

    We were luckly last year travelling with Emirates that we had a large luggage allowance (70kg in total) and were allowed his buggy and car seat too but not so easy when you are limited. They only made us open one of H’s pouches then which was good as we had loads for our 18 hour flights.

    We’ve just booked to go away in November and have chosen to fly with British Airways as they allow infants the same luggage as adults (23kg) as well as his hand luggage, a buggy and car sear which is great. Food wise we are hoping to just ask for a childs meal but havent done that before. Otherwise lots of fruit pouches, snacks and raisins are coming with us!

  2. Lucy dolphin

    This is brilliant!! Thanks gem… Will be taking all this on board when packing next month!:-) xx

  3. This is fantastic advice 🙂 My baby has just turned 1 years old and I feel very confident that this list will work great. I also have the grandparents on board cause its a Cyprus Family Wedding so will remember your advice to pass the toddler over to them for abit. Thanks for taking the time to write this I’m sure it will work x

  4. Hello, thank you for submitting this blog. I am a single parent and in June this year my mother is taking my 21 year old to Greece for her 21st. As a surprise for my 21 year old daughter, my mum has paid for me to take my youngest son who is 2 and a half, to the same place but a week later. My two middle children are on a cruise with their dad so it will just be me and a 2 and a half year old going from Manchester to Corfu via Thomsons. I am not looking forward to the rigmarole of the check in, security and the dreaded flight on my own with such a young child but am really looking forward to the holiday and surprising my daughter out there. Full price has had to be paid for me and my toddler which I am not happy about but it does mean he gets his own seat on the plane and does has his own full baggage allowance. In total we can take 2 x 15kg or can put 23kg in 1 suitcase; not sure which will be best as am tempted to try and fit all of our things into one suitcase rather than tackle two suitcases, a stroller and my son?

    It is great to know that you too are slightly OCD and want to take everything “just in case” as I am also like that. I am grateful for this post as it confirms that I wont need to take everything and the kitchen sink and will pack in line with what you used and took with you.

    Thanks again, this blog has been very helpful.