& FILED IN Going Away

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My family aren’t really a summer holiday family – we prefer a weekend away here and there to a long break, but when my daughter started school a few years ago we started to think that it would be important to give her that experience as well – so for the past few years we’ve been trying out real summer holidays(!).

In this post I wanted to look at what we learned by going away, and also what we’d do differently next time.

After all – life’s all about learning, and I thought it may be helpful to you to learn from our mistakes!


Lessons learnt from our holidays this summer


Every time I go away I pack too much….

I’m getting much better, but it’s a fact. I always believe that I need more than I do.

It’s so surprising to me exactly how little you use, especially on a summer holiday where you end up in the same stuff most of the time (specifically a swim suit and something to throw on over the top).

I try to pack really carefully, especially as we fly and so have weight restrictions, but still I manage to pack clothes that I don’t use – I mean, in temperatures averaging 31 degrees, who needs 2 pairs of jeans! ;o)

What would I do differently?

Before I go away this year I will be checking the average temperatures of where we’re going to, AND the temperatures that have been over the past few weeks. This should give me a better idea of what I need to take (if I remember what I wear in specific temperatures, that is!)

I will also be using my evolving packing list… By this I mean that the first time we went away for a summer holiday I wrote down what we needed to take. When we got back, I checked off what we actually used – so that the following year I wouldn’t pack as much.

This works really well, and each year we get better and better at knowing exactly what to take as a minimum.

TIP – have an ongoing packing list set up for different types of holidays – i.e. weekend away, summer holiday etc…


The April before my daughter started school, we took her on a weekend to Eurodisney – beating the school holiday hike in prices and making the most of not being stuck within school holiday times one last time.

The weather before we went was cold, rainy and miserable – and Paris was similar.

I packed jeans, jacket, long boots and some jumpers and t shirts.

We got there and the weather turned hot pretty much on landing – and I mean HOT! There was no way I could walk around for the weekend with the clothes I had brought.

We quickly went to a high street shop in Paris and bought a skirt and top, a sun hat and sandals – and I was sorted.

I still wear all those items today, and they made the weekend much more manageable.

The lesson here was that you shouldn’t worry so much about forgetting things, or packing wrong – you can always get what you need when you arrive.

(This is especially true if you are travelling with babies – nappies are available everywhere – so why pack for 2 weeks supplies when you can pack a few and grab some out there?!)

TIP – You can buy toiletries on holiday to save weight in your luggage – especially useful when flying…


I have my favourite shampoo and conditioner – fact.

These are things that I am happy to pack and take up weight and space in my luggage, and I have yet to find these exact products abroad so I continue to take them (I do buy shower gel etc… when away to save weight as I am less fussy about that!).

However – even though I class these as essential, they ARE heavy in the scheme of things – not good when flying…

I decided to decant my products into smaller plastic bottles so I only took what I really needed. The problem was, how much would I need? Have you ever tried to work this out?! For 2 weeks I started to think that I would have to actually have full sized products after all (as all 3 of us would be using them as well) – so I ended up packing those.

What would I do differently?

Basically I took notice of what we used, and now know that a small bottle (think of the travel sized you can also buy)  is perfect for a week of washes and hair stuff per person – and sample pots of face products are more than sufficient. I can use this guide for future holidays much safer in the knowledge that we will use what we take, and our bags will be lighter on the way home, as we will have run out and be able to bin the empties! (perfect to add in anything we buy when away as well).


No – really!

My husband and myself like to exercise. It’s become an integral part of both of our weekly schedules at home, and when we aren’t able to fit it in then we feel more lethargic and aren’t as happy.

It seemed weird though to think about adding in exercise on holiday when you are meant to be relaxing – but actually we found that exercise helped us relax as well!

We all fit in some form of exercise while away, and found that because we had more time for it, it felt easier and more luxurious rather than a chore.

Running / walking and swimming are dead easy to fit into the day, and need minimal extra stuff packed.

An added bonus – it takes a long time to form a habit, especially if that habit is regular exercise – so if you can keep up some of the momentum while you are away, it’s much easier to get into it again when you get back.

What would I do differently?

I packed too many fitness clothes, and realised pretty quickly that simple vest and shorts could be washed and dried overnight – so all I really needed was one set. These fit perfectly into my trainers when rolled up – so it was minimal space in my luggage for lots of great benefit.

Holiday scene


I love reading on holiday. Catching up on all those books you’ve been meaning to get round to reading all year but haven’t had the time. I also love doing puzzles as they relax me.

So – of course – I packed LOADS of books and magazines to read while away.

But books, magazines, puzzles etc… take up a LOT of room in your hand luggage – and can be really bulky and heavy. I don’t want to start the holiday with a bad back..

What would I do differently?

My favourite to minimise my hand luggage is my kindle** – because you can download all the books, magazines and games/puzzles you could ever wish to do on holiday, and it takes up the space and weight of one book. Genius!

What I like most about this is that I can also take books I’m not sure I would like, and take more that I think I can get through – as it doesn’t matter how many are loaded into it, it takes up no extra room.

When away I can pick and choose books dependant on my mood – my daughter could play some games on it, and it’s so easy to carry around.

Same is true for iPads, and even mobiles can now house lots of stuff to keep luggage to a minimum – worth thinking about!


You really never know what may happen when away – lots of people find their luggage has gone missing when they reach their destination, and although this has yet to happen to us (thank goodness!), I always want to be prepared.

We have been delayed in airports for hours in previous holidays – and it would have been nice to have a few extra things in our hand luggage as well.

What would I do differently?

Over the years we have started to try different things to make sure we are as covered for the worst as much as possible…

  • Spread peoples belongings throughout all bags, don’t have one bag per person as that person will be lost if their luggage goes missing.
  • Put at least one outfit per person in each bag as then everyone will be OK for a while if luggage goes missing.
  • If you have medicine always pack that in your hand luggage so that you are in possession of it at all times – you can replace everything else, but not this.
  • Carry a spare set of clothes for little ones in your hand luggage in case of accidents.
  • Consider carrying a set of underwear, toiletries and your toothbrush in your hand luggage also to be able to freshen up.


Who wants to get to their holiday destination to find that something has spilt in their luggage? This has only happened once to by hubby, and it wasn’t a disaster, but it did make us think a little more about how we should pack.

What would I do differently?

I always pack liquids like toiletries in a plastic bag** as then if any break you don’t end up with your clothes covered with gloop – ugh!

I also found a great set of plastic zip up bags** that I used for various things – one for all suncream, one for all electrical chargers and adapters, one for pens and paper, and one for pieces for a board game we took (much less bulky than the box it came in). That way I could see at a glance what was where, and could grab what I needed.

I pack carrier bags or similar to use as washing bags for dirty clothes – so that these are separated from clean ones straight away.

Lastly – I used one clear bag for any toiletries and medicine I carried in my hand luggage – as it was easy to have everything together and visible.


Who likes getting home after the holidays to mountains of washing? Not me, and not many people I reckon!

What would I do differently?

We do some washing when we go away now – sounds weird? – bear with me…

There’s not so much to do when away, so it can seem like much less of a chore, and it helps in two ways:-

1. You end up with a lot less washing when you get back home, which is a godsend!

2. You can pack even less clothes to begin with

Holiday lessons learned - what I did wrong when away and what I'd do differently next time

There you have it – my 8 lessons learnt from holidays past – and what I would do in the future to make them go even more smoothly.

How many of these things do you already do? and do you have any others to add? I’d love to hear about them, so please leave a comment below – thanks in advance x

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