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Avoid holiday disasters – a guide to the perfect family holiday checklist

Avoid holiday disasters - family holiday checklist - motherhooddiaries

Going on holiday with the family means that you can just pack up your stuff and leave without paying any further thought about what you need to do, right? WRONG! The first time we went on holiday as a family, we ‘went with the flow’ and managed to almost miss our plane, forget snacks for the journey, and pack so much useless stuff that we ended up paying extra for the excess weight in our suitcases. We also didn’t factor how long it would take to get to the accommodation and any other vital bits of information that we should have ironed out before we had left the UK. Cue stress, tantrums, and not a very relaxing holiday. Never, ever doing that again – EVER!

Whether you are preparing for a weekend trip up north or backpacking around the world, a handy checklist that includes all possible items that you would need for your holiday means that you will be well prepared for any unforeseen incidents that might come your way. After numerous family holidays and too many accrued grey hairs, I have come up with a foolproof (ish) guide on how to create the perfect family holiday checklist, so you’re not just winging it on holiday. Feel free to add to this list by sharing your tips in the comments below:

Before you leave home

Pack accordingly - motherhooddiaries

Make sure your passport is up to date

Just a few months ago, we had the palaver of renewing my 5-year-old son’s passport, one week before we were scheduled to leave for Switzerland. The passport had only just run out a few months prior, but because we hadn’t checked, it was too late for the premium one-week service. So, my husband and son had to set off by themselves the day before, but I had managed, through numerous calls, begging, and parking outside Victoria’s passport office, to retrieve the new passport and fly the next morning, hours before my husband’s sister’s wedding was scheduled to start. All this could have been avoided if one of us had just checked his passport at least six months before. So, the very first tip in organising your holiday is CHECK YOUR PASSPORT! Make sure you have years left before you must renew and if you don’t, renew it early.

Pay off all bills and schedule automatic payments 


You don’t want to be smacked with a hefty bill when you come back.

Make sure there are no dirty dishes about and clean up the fridge and any rubbish

Otherwise, you will come back to something new growing in your kitchen.

Go through all your personal items and throw out things you don’t need

This is the perfect chance for a declutter session. Put away things you don’t need and start packing the things that you do need.

Create a packing list

Keep toiletries and cosmetics to a minimum. You can pick up popular shampoo and sun lotion at your destination, so you don’t need to bring it with you in your suitcase.

Hold all mail, newspapers and packages 

Unless you want people to know you’re not home?

Consider having someone look over your home

If you have a friendly neighbour, have a quick chat with them about looking over the property whilst you are gone. If they spot anything unusual, they can either call your emergency numbers or the police directly. It pays to be nice to your neighbours!

Add an email autoresponder 

So people know that you’re not available for work or that you will check emails less frequently than usual. That way they don’t think you’re ignoring them.

Unplug and switch everything off

There is no need to pay for electricity and water when you’re not even at home.

Get vaccinated if required

This is important, especially when you have children. Make sure you’re fully protected before you leave.

Get yourself a decent first aid kit

This can include plasters, wipes, paracetamol etc. Sting treatments would be useful if you’re going somewhere hot and where you may be prone to mosquito bites.

Apply for necessary visa and insurance documents

Depending on where you go, it’s best to make sure you have all the necessary documents that will allow you to travel and stay at your destination. If you’re having your holidays in the Maldives then you’ll only need your passport, but if you’re travelling from the UK to the US, for example, you’ll need an additional valid visa to be allowed into the country.

Check your tickets, make sure they contain the correct information 

People have been turned away at the airport because of a simple typo in their name. If you spot any incorrect information, get onto the airline and be nice. They are there to help smooth over any issues with your travel documents.

Pack chargers and fully charge electronics – don’t forget the necessary adaptors!

If you have kids flying with you on a long-haul flight, you are going to need your technology friends to help pass the time. Make sure they are charged, so you don’t run out of battery before you get to the destination.

Weigh your luggage 

If you’re over the limit, then it would be a lot easier to remove items at home rather than at the airport. And, if you don’t have any place to put your excess items at the airport, they’ll throw it away!

Make accommodation/restaurant/local sights reservations as far in advance as possible

You should, ideally, have arranged your accommodation well in advance, but, if you can, reserve local hotspots as well, so you reduce your waiting time on holiday. You’re only there for a short period, don’t waste it waiting around.

Check airline restrictions before leaving

Are you only allowed to bring one carry on? Do you have any special bonus features that can be added etc? Best to check this before you’re rushing around at the airport.

Find out about your credit/debit card fees from your bank before you leave 

Some banks allow you to make international transactions without a fee attached and some don’t. Make sure you find out whether your banks charge you or not.

Research into the local area’s water supply and food

Is the water contaminated? Not everyone has an elaborate water system where you can drink from the tap. In North Cyprus, drinking water needs to be bought and bottled up. If you drink their local water, you will be living with stomach issues for the duration of the trip.

Check the weather forecast before and pack for all seasons – Dress appropriately!

If you’re going on a summer holiday, don’t go and pack three winter coats and lots of hats and scarves. Common sense would mean that you would need to pack predominantly summer gear. However, on the occasion, there may be rain or even a dip in temperature at night. So, pack some rain gear and extra layers to make sure you’re covered when the weather turns.

Google places to visit or purchase a guide on the country/town that you are visiting 

Make sure you hire a good local guide as well if you can. A local’s perspective will be the most accurate for that area, but do your research and ask for references. Decide before you leave home.

Find out about transportation from the airport to accommodation and getting around 

You should be able to Google the journey or call the accommodation and ask for the easiest and quickest way to the destination.

Find out when local shops and facilities are open and plan your time accordingly 

Some shops are not open at the weekend and some shops are few and far between! So, make sure you know what’s available to you when you arrive.

On the way to the destination

On the way to the destination

Reading material and snacks

You can buy great travel-sized reading material and snacks at the airport, so you don’t need to pack these in advance unless you’re saving money.

Put all liquid items under 100ml in plastic bags

Anything over 100ml needs to be in the suitcase, otherwise, they should be in plastic bags and easy to take out of your hand luggage. The airport supplies these plastic bags.

Change money

Check the currency rates and find the cheapest way to change your money. You have tons of current exchange shops at the airport.

Car hire 

When renting a car, consider packages with flights and accommodation to see if they offer discounts. Otherwise, it’s very simple to hire a car at the airport when you land.

Make sure all valuables go in hand luggage

If they’re not the airport’s definition of restricted items, then they can sit in your hand luggage, so they are always with you. List all the valuables that you are bringing with you, so you make a quick check when you leave. Also, if anything goes missing you’ll be able to hand over the list to the local police or your insurance company.

Buy your mini toiletries and sun lotion at duty-free 

You only need travel sized and they’re cheaper too!

For more handy travel tips and tricks, check out Wanderlust15.com, which contains lots of inspirational articles to make sure you get the best out of your holiday. Also, feel free to add to the holiday checklist by commenting below.

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Leyla Preston (603 Posts)

Leyla Preston is the owner and Editor of Motherhood Diaries global magazine for parents. Leyla is a busy mother of two even busier boys; Aron, 8, and Aidan, 7. When Leyla isn’t feeding, managing a gazillion tasks or cleaning the infinite mess at home, she is busy working on this magazine and a new cooking channel coming very soon – no rest for the wicked!You can follow Leyla on Twitter (@M_Diaries) or join the busy Motherhood Diaries Facebook group where all mums get together and share stories and solutions with one another: https://www.facebook.com//groups/motherhooddiaries/


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