On Holiday Baby’s first beach trip we were total packing amateurs. My expertise lies in capsule wardrobes for long weekends; family travel is a world away!
I remember going away with my parents to Spain as a child when we travelled by coach and took everything you could imagine. Giant cooler box for beach picnics? Check. Stash of tinned food? Check. Full size beach parasol? Check.
Times may have changed (and in many ways, that’s a good thing), but with our package holiday luggage allowance for the hold amounting to 50kg for the three of us, we were confident we’d be able to take everything we actually needed. We were right. And as it turned out, our two suitcases only weighed in at a total of 32kg. That may seem like a lot for a week, but all things considered, it was totally manageable.
We loved the trip so much that beach holiday number two is already booked. This time, we’re away for eleven days and I fully intend for our luggage to weigh even less because I’ve already learned plenty in terms of what (not) to take.
Of course, no packing list is definitive – you’ll probably add to or subtract from this to suit, but here’s what worked for me:
Baby wipes – No explanation needed, but aside from a pack in your hand luggage and a couple in your case, remember they’ll have them where you’re going, so unless you have a reason to be super picky over which brand you use, don’t go crazy and stuff your case with them. I did. And more than half of what I packed came back home. Total waste of space.
Hand and face wipes – You could argue that baby wipes work just fine, but I love these wipes even though they cost a bit more. Mucky faces and sticky hands (including mine) were dealt with with one swish and they leave no residue. My sister has since told me that Tesco do their own version which are much cheaper – so I’ll be checking them out!
Antibacterial surface wipes – peace of mind for random grubby bits on high chairs and tables.
Mosquito patches – These citronella smelling stickers by Mosquitan were a baby friendly way to shoo away the critters. Do they work? Well, I saw other people and kids with bites, but we were munch free.
Teething gel – If your wee one is at that age, of course. Holiday Baby had one little tooth poking through when we went away.
Sachets of baby ibuprofen and paracetamol – Pack some in your case, and some in your hand luggage. You never know when they’ll be needed, and if there is a bout of bad earache on the flight, you’ll be good to go.
Baby bowl with lid – This meant I could make up the baby porridge (or anything else), stick on the lid and carry it with me to the hotel restaurant. Holiday Baby had just started weaning so the buffet wasn’t really his style).
Spoons – Take a few. They vanish all too easily.
Bottles – I took four, but I could’ve managed with three. It’s getting easier to manage bottle feeds now he’s bigger and drinking less milk.
Travel steriliser – I took this one by Milton because I knew our accommodation had a microwave, although it can also be used with cold water and tablets. It might seem bulky, but I stuffed it with socks and other bits and bobs in the case. You could also try steriliser bags to take up even less space.
Sippy cups – Take two in case one gets lashed from the pram while you’re looking over your shoulder at the sunset.
Sheet for cot – Helps a strange bed smell and feel like home.
Giant muslin cloths – Spare sheets, lightweight towels, makeshift sun shades, thin blankets, sick mopper uppers. Is there anything these can’t be used for?
Sleeping bag – Again, this is a bit of home comfort away. I took a summer one and used it every night, though if it had been hotter I would have let him sleep with just a muslin cover (see above!).
Nappies – Only pack enough for the journey and the first couple of days. There are babies wherever you’re going, and the local supermarkets are bound to have what you need. And do a bit of brand research before you go. I’d read that the Dodot brand in Spain was just as good as Pampers, so we bought a pack locally. They were miles cheaper and whowouldathought? When I opened them I found they actually were Pampers Simply Dry with a different name (made by Proctor and Gamble just the same). Holiday win!
I would pack swim nappies, though. Just in case. Although I could have bought them in Menorca, there’s a chance they won’t be as available if you’re not in a popular beach resort.
Antiseptic cream – I packed Sudocrem . It’s great for nappy rash (there’s always a pot on my changing table), but it’s also a fab multi-tasker. Good for sunburn and cuts and grazes too, it’s ideal for taking on holiday.
Baby sunscreen – Factor 50+ apply, reapply and then apply again.
Baby food and milk – Take pouch style baby food if you want to pack your own. It’s easier. But don’t bother with packing milk if you’re in the UK. Order online from Boots to collect in store – just choose the airside shop of the airport terminal you’re flying from and pick everything up once you pass through security.
I did pack a few bottles of ready made formula in my hand luggage for the journey – I’d read that security staff sometimes make you taste it, but that never happened to me or anyone else I saw in Manchester.
UV swimsuits with neck flap hats – take two and don’t take any chances, keep children covered when they’re playing in the sun, and keep them out of it altogether during the hottest hours of the day.
Sleeveless vests – Don’t take too many (I took one for each day – he only wore them in the evening and for bed as it was too warm for anything else), remember baby clothes will wash easily in the sink and dry quickly in the sun.
Cotton all-in-one rompers – I packed around five for a week. I love these for total ease of wear, but sadly Holiday Baby is growing into the 12 months plus range now and the cutest stuff doesn’t always come in those sizes. I’m gutted. They don’t stay little for long, do they?
Cotton sun hats – More than one. I took three. They have a habit of disappearing.
T-shirts and shorts – I took four tops and three bottoms for a week. Holiday Baby was only wearing these for a couple of hours around dinner.
Socks – only pack a couple of pairs. If it’s hot you won’t need them anyway.
Shoes – This really depends on whether your little’un is walking. Holiday Baby wasn’t, so I packed one pair of sandals, but they weren’t really necessary – just a fashion accessory!
For the Beach
A universal detachable pushchair sunshade – I used this one from Mamas & Papas. It wasn’t cheap, but I loved it. It has UV protection and a built in insect net so I never worried about mozzies and other crawlies while Holiday Baby napped.
Baby beach towel – Everyone gets a bit chilly when they come out of the pool.
Pop up beach tent – A brilliant solution for beach days that you can pack in your case. See my little video below!
Remember not to waste space packing buckets and spades – a few cheap beach toys from a local shop will be fine. Your little one will love having something new to play with and you can just leave them there (or, as we always do, pass them on to new arrivals) when it’s time for you to come home.
Is there anything you’d add? Let me know in the comments!