Friday, 19 July 2013

Packing it all in!

Recently I’ve felt like I was hurtling through the last few weeks of term at warp speed. My family has navigated reports and reviews, parent meetings and ballet shows and thank yous and tears (the proud, happy type!!!). And we’re all exhausted! But it’s all about to come to a grinding halt and thankfully I can switch off that 7am alarm and we can walk around in our PJs until lunch (well except Daddy, his boss takes a dim view of that sort of behaviour in the office…). 

Time to re-think your holiday wardrobe...
And finally, we can look forward to the summer holidays – with exciting overseas trips planned, time scheduled in at the grandparents and a good old fashioned Cornish seaside holiday with boogie boards and rock pools to enjoy. But alongside my joyful anticipation of all the sight-seeing and sand between my toes, lurks a terrifying spectre. And one that I fear I must face alone. PACKING! Yes, that time when suddenly Mummy must anticipate every need her children will have and every request they will make in the space of a week, and accommodate all those by simply packing a suitcase.

Travelling in style
For many years, one of our family’s favourite holiday accessories was the Trunki. With our youngest contained in her pushchair, our elder daughter could pull along her belongings and still hop on for a ride when her little legs got tired. Unfortunately the Trunki will not be coming with us on our next trip because it cannot accommodate the much-loved bear-sized suitcase seat from Build-a-Bear. Both my girls will now be using their far less resilient wheelie suitcases, just so their favourite soft toy can come along for the trip. I’ll even be asking the security staff to stamp the ‘pawsport’ one owns… (cringe).

Have teddy, will travel.
Other great toys to take along on a trip, where suitcase space is precious but bored kids could turn travelling into a nightmare include good old fashioned card games like ‘Go Fish’ or word games like Bananagrams. Sticker and activity books are great too – and can be bought cheaply on the high street before you go. One of the best ideas I’ve seen lately is this lovely book of Eggnogg colour-in postcards that children can complete in holiday downtime. Paper doll books also work well for my girls – with the most beautiful coming from Belle & Boo (which also provides extra clothes downloadable free on its website). If you are really pressed for space, this teeny colouring set might also be a perfect fit! And finally, Pass The Bomb proved to be highly entertaining for girls and boys on a recent camping trip.


Being a bit of a Penelope-Panic-Pants, I do worry about losing a child on our upcoming city break to Paris. My anxiety might be slightly heighted by the fact that last time we visited the Pompidou Centre, my eldest got into a lift while hubby and I were elbowed out of the way by a confused-looking gallery goer (rude!). Rather disturbingly the doors closed before we could get in and she was whisked away – all I could hear was an anguished ‘Mumeeeeeeeeeeee!!!’ drifting down the lift shaft. Thankfully the lift only went up and down between the two floors of this particular gallery and I was able to run down the nearby stairs at full pelt (pushing arty types out the way as I did so) and press the ‘door open’ button to find my poor child still inside the lift, sadly sat crouched down on the floor awaiting rescue. Not an experience I want to repeat!!

So along with my passport, I will be packing some ID bracelets for my girls. If you want something to cover every eventuality and a solution that will last, check out OneLife iD. The bracelets come in varying sizes and styles, and use QR codes or webpage links to connect the bracelet to all the details, contacts, documents and links recorded on a OneLife iD profile page. Several of the products allow you to engrave additional medical (like allergies) or contact information too. 

Never lose your child (again in my case...) with the OneLife iD products.

For a more temporary solution, you might want to stock up on some tattoos that allow you to write on a mobile number, you can get a whole range of colours or ones with pirates and ladybirds. Alternatively you could just use beads with numbers on and make your child a bracelet with the number to call if they get lost.

Kids of today

Oh technology, how it has developed since I was a child sitting, unstrapped in just the normal rear car seat of a Datsun as we navigated the ‘A’ road that led us out of Kent!! Those were the days of poor suspension and scratchy wool blankets that meant many a motion-sickened child would weakly enquire ‘are we there yet?’ Well parents today are lucky I tell you! Not only can you take along your tablet as you travel, you can fill it with apps that do everything from keeping up your phonics and number work over the holidays to serving as handy reminder for the signs and symptoms of meningitis. The Barefoot Books Atlas app recently picked up the top award from Junior Magazine for both its educational content and sheer interactive enjoyment – ideal for teaching as you travel this summer.

And if you can wait until the end of this month before assembling your dream team of holiday essentials, the new animated WOW PACKS will be released onto the market. These are eye-catching animated backpacks with a remote control that operates the eyes, nose and eyelashes. Available in the girlie pink Cutezee the Kitty style or the rather revolting green Snot the Zombie, you can be assured the resulting funny faces and sound effects created will keep your little ones amused on tedious journeys and longer-than-expected walks and waits. 

An interactive backpack buddy called 'Snot' - who wouldn't want one????

BUT – have I forgotten anything? What do you always take – and is there a travel item that has got you out of a kiddie-sized pickle? Let me know in the comment box below, there’s still (a little) room in my suitcase…


  1. Your experience in the Pompidou sent shivers down my spine! We always end up playing 'Twenty questions' on our long car trips. Keeps everyone entertained and provides a nice break from the ipad!

    1. Yes, I do spend a lot of time screeching 'don't go too far' now!!! Will try 20 questions on our way to Cornwall later in the summer. Ours don't actually have ipads or in-car DVDs - not sure how they cope with the shame...

  2. Snacks. My father liked to take us on long family car trips---like across the 3,000 mile wide USA from Philadelphia to San Francisco --- and then 3,000 miles back. I sat in the front passenger seat as the appointed map reader while my mother sat in the back with my sisters and doled out food and beverages.

    1. Just returned from a week in Paris, where I ended up buying zip lock bags to stuff with fruit and veg snacks! My kids were just not enticed my baguettes stuffed with ham & cheese (which is all there seemed to be near the touristy sights). Luckily we travelled there by Eurostar so that trip was fairly short & novel. I dread to think where we might end up if the kids 5 and 7 they were still asking 'is THIS our stop' each and every time the metro pulled into a station...

  3. Oh noooo! About the lift story in the Pompidou. Luckily it wasn't a catastrophe, but I bet your heart stopped there for a minute. Those bracelets are so interesting...never seen anything like that. Oh technology, huh! Hope you all have a great trip! xo

    Sounds like you have everything under control. Silly little extra that I was always thankful on our last two months of travel...make sure you have something that can be used as a fan (light children's book?)...there are moments that a little moving air goes a long way. :) And always have a bottle for water that can be refilled.

    1. A fan would've been great in Paris as there was a heatwave!!! Luckily smaller girl loves making them out of paper, which she has somehow picked up at school. Our bottle of water (though heavy) was essential too - as walking around for hours in the heat was pretty demanding for the adults let alone the kiddos!

  4. Phew! Have finally got around to starting to blog about Paris! The first bit is up, but it is so hard to get to my laptop with the kids off school!