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How to Pack for a Short Holiday + Holiday Update

Katya Bowd

Posted on March 06 2017

I am an over-packer. My mindset has always been “it is better to over pack than to under pack most especially when there are kids in the picture..” I would pack everything that I think that was essential without giving it much further thought if we would actually be using it for a particular trip.

It had gotten so bad during our Christmas holiday at Port Douglas that we hardly used 50% of the things that we brought with us – mainly my fault. It was literally like lugging our entire household all the way from Canberra to Queensland! The hardest part came was when we had to go back home and I had to re-pack everything up – including the new clothes that we bought along with a bunch of souvenirs – into 2 pieces of luggage. I remember sitting down on one of them just so I could just zip it all up. It was a nightmare.

Of course, as mothers, we can’t help but worry if we’ve packed enough clothes for the kids, do they have enough milk and food and bottles to survive the whole trip? Are there towels available at the accommodation we’re staying in or do I need to bring 5 in case there isn’t any? This then leads to us overthinking and overstuffing our bags without realising the inconvenience that lies ahead. Yes, me being this typical panicker overlooked the fact that “hey, there are actually shops scattered across Port Douglas! Duh!”

Lesson learned…

Last week, we posted a guide on How to make Family Travels Worry-free when you’re travelling by car with kids. Today, we’ll be talking about how to pack for a short holiday, how to pack light and easy without the begrudging hassle.

But first, a little update on our previous holiday…

So, we just returned from Victoria a few weeks ago where we spent 2 nights and 3 days at the RACV Cobram Resort. It is located at the Murray River which is at the border of Victoria and New South Wales. The 4.5-hour drive from Canberra was worth it! The place consists of all the amenities you can imagine if you want to take a break from modern society to unwind and have a good time It has spacious apartments, lake view cabins, tennis and volleyball courts, caravan sites, campsites, a cafe that serves lunch, breakfast, and early afternoon tea; and lots of fresh air!


Our late afternoon tea

You can also make use of electric barbecues scattered across the grounds free of charge. The jumping pillow and swimming pools were the highlights of the trip. The kids really enjoyed it as much as the adults did!

The Jumping Pillow!

Heated indoor pool

Outdoor pool for adults and kids


Now let’s get down to business

Going on a mini holiday with kids doesn’t have to make your life miserable – because, hey – most outings are all about the kids and family anyway; but what does it actually take to pack easily, efficiently and sensibly without the excess baggage?

I’ve applied these simple techniques when it comes to packing light whilst still considering all the basic must-have essentials.

1 - Determine the nature and duration of your trip. Every trip requires a different set and amount of items to pack into your luggage. There’s no point taking with you 2 bulky jumpers for those “just-in-case moments” when you’re going somewhere warm. One jumper for each person in the family is ok. Of course, it is also important to check the weather updates from time to time to help you decide which articles of clothing to bring and in which quantities. Going back to our Cobram trip, I wouldn’t have taken jumpers for the kids had I not known that it was going to be chilly on the 2nd and 3rd days.

When your trip is all about swimming, going to the beach, or there are any additional activities that you don’t normally do on a daily basis, bringing an extra set of clothes per person is a “safe” solution; or you can just opt to wash dirty laundry if you know that there will be an available washing machine in your cabin or apartment.

2 - Calculate how many times you, your husband, and your kids require a change of clothes per day. If you have a baby in the family, it is only normal to bring as much as you can since you’ll never know when he or she would need a change after spitting up.

3 - Make a list. One of the many nightmares that we hope not to experience is, by the time we’ve hit the road and/or arrived at our destination, we realise that we have completely forgotten something. Making a list is crucial as it not only reminds you what to bring but it also gives you an overview of a number of things that you intend to take. I’ve created a family checklists notebook to aid me with the packing process and it has been a great deal of help! I can look back to previous lists and be reminded of other stuff that I might have forgotten to include in my current one. You can use any type of notebook, cover it up with some scrapbooking paper or gift wrapper as well as some clear plastic to seal the deal! I also used a bunch of embellishments and silver alphabet stickers to make it look prettier. This isn’t mandatory. You can just use a blank piece of paper to build your list.

4 - Believe in the power of packing cubes. Truth be told, these little compartments have completely changed my way of packing! Not only do these cubes help you get organised but it also helps save a huge amount of space in your luggage. The cubes come in different colours and sizes. I store my husband’s clothes and my clothes inside the bigger compartments, while the smaller ones are for the kids’ and a bunch of small items such as toiletries, underwear, and disposable items.

5 - Portable necessities. If you have portable items that’ll make your vacation hassle-free and mimic the comforts of your own home – bring them! One of my pet peeves every time we’re on a holiday is not having an actual laundry basket at hand. I don’t have OCD but seeing a pile of dirty clothes on the ground just puts me off. I love this collapsible laundry basket that my husband got from IKEA and we make it a point to take this with us whenever we go on a holiday. It fits perfectly in our suitcase along with our tot’s kiddie toilet seat.

6 - Diaper bag + bottle bag. These are essential when you’re travelling with kids – basically anywhere! On a daily basis, the diaper bag can be used to hold all your baby’s essentials such as nappy rash creams, medication, mini emergency kit, and more. One pocket can also be reserved to hold all your “mum stuff;” but when you’re travelling for a couple of days, a separate bottle bag can come in handy (or if you still have room in your luggage, you can easily stuff those there and just settle with the diaper bag.)

I’d like to know how you travel light. What essentials do you usually take with you on holiday trips? Do you have any packing techniques that you would like to share? Hit us up in the comments section below!

‘Til the next post!