The Ultimate Family Holiday Packing Guide – with free printable checklist!

Heading off on holiday should be exciting and stress-free but the packing process can easily turn into a chaotic nightmare – and adding kids into the mix complicates things even more! So, to help you to get organised easily I’ve put together the ultimate family holiday packing list – your complete guide to stress-free travel with the kids. With this comprehensive list, you’ll be able to pack efficiently and confidently, ensuring that you have everything you need for a smooth and enjoyable trip. (And you can use my FREE printable packing checklist to get organised too!)

Whether it be a beach getaway, a city adventure, or a mountain expedition (or all three if you’re anything like us 😂) – my family packing list covers all of the essentials. From clothing and toiletries to electronics and travel documents, I’ve got you covered. Plus, I’ve included some handy tricks to help you maximise your luggage space, and avoid overpacking, and some budget friendly tips to help you to keep costs down.

So, say goodbye to last-minute panic and the dreaded feeling of forgetting something important. With my ultimate family holiday packing guide, you can embark on your travels fully prepared and with peace of mind. Get ready to have your best getaway yet!

Les Lacs Verdon, Regusse, South of France, boat, lake, Eurocamp holiday, frugal mum children


Why a packing checklist is essential for a stress-free family holiday:

Planning a trip can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to overlook important items when you’re in a rush. That’s why having a packing checklist is crucial for stress-free family travel. (It’s especially important if you’re heading abroad as often forgotten items can be more expensive and harder to get hold of!)

With a packing list, you can also avoid the last-minute panic of realising that you’ve forgotten something crucial like your passport or medications. It allows you to plan ahead, be prepared for every eventuality (a must when kids are involved!) and make sure that you have all the necessary items for your specific destination and activities.

We travel in Europe a lot, and have also noticed that having to head to pharmacies when we need things like insect bite cream, plasters or more sun cream can be a costly mistake, so use your checklist to make sure that you’ve bought everything you might need – lots of these sorts of items are cheaper from our UK supermarkets.

Additionally, a packing list helps you avoid overpacking. By listing out all the essentials, you can make sure you pack only what you truly need whilst eliminate unnecessary items. This not only saves you from lugging around heavy luggage (which will cost a small fortune in baggage costs if you’re flying) but it also gives you more space to bring back souvenirs or items you may purchase during your trip. So, let’s have a look at what you might want on your family holiday packing checklist…


Essential travel documents and items to pack:

When it comes to travel, certain documents and items are absolute must-haves. Here are some essentials to include in your essential family holiday packing list:

1. Passports and driving licenses

Always double-check that you have your passport and any necessary identification documents (including your driving license for a road trip or car hire). Keep them in a secure and easily accessible place – and check (well in advance) that they are still valid and in date. You need at least 6 months left on your passports for European travel since Brexit.

The Ultimate Family Holiday Packing Checklist, stress free travel with kids, frugal mum guide, aosta italy photo


2. Travel tickets and itinerary

Print out and download digital copies of your travel tickets, hotel reservations, and any other important travel documents. It’s always a good idea to have physical backups, as well as PDFs on your phone, in case of any unexpected issues – there’s nothing worse than your phone dying or the internet disappearing when you need it.

Planning a flexible itinerary before you go is also a great way to make sure that you can make the most of your trip. It’ll give you the opportunity to see how much things will cost, and plan a mix of paid for and free excursions to balance things out. You might also find certain days / times for different activities or attractions are cheaper, so a bit of prior research can be great for the bank balance!


3. Money and cards

Carry some local currency for your destination and have a mix of cash and cards for emergencies. Inform your bank about your travel plans to avoid any issues with your cards being blocked while abroad too. We also like to put some funds onto a travel money card. This is a great way reduce the risk whilst spending abroad – plus you can benefit from free transactions, eliminate the need to carry around lots of cash, and we find it helps us to keep within our holiday spending money budget more easily.


4. Medications and vitamins

If you take any prescription medications, or vitamins, make sure that you pack enough for the duration of the trip. Keep them in their original packaging with clear labels, and consider carrying a copy of your prescriptions just in case you need to obtain any more of it whilst you’re away. If you’re flying, make sure that you and your children will have any medication that you’ll need for the hours that you’ll be travelling within your hand luggage.


5. Travel insurance

Don’t forget to get travel insurance and pack your documents in with your passports and important paperwork. It’s essential to have cover for any unexpected medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost belongings. You should get travel insurance in place the moment the trip is booked – and save money by booking an annual insurance if you’re going to be travelling more than once within a 12 month period.

italy, florence photo, frugal mum, family holiday packing checklist


6. Adapters and chargers

Depending on your destination, you may need plug adapters to charge your electronic devices. And, don’t forget to pack chargers for your phone, camera, toothbrush charger and other gadgets. If you’re taking a road trip, keep the phone cable in the glove compartment, as you can charge your phone in the car in most newer cars.


7. Electronics

It might be handy to bring a tablet (or even a laptop) for times when you want to chill in the evening with a movie, occupy the kids whilst travelling or for any last minute itinerary research whilst your away. Don’t forget to bring headphones (to avoid listening to Peppa Pig for hours on end whilst flying or driving!) and load the device with downloaded movies to keep the little ones entertained.


8. Children’s activities and comforters

On that note, the better the kids are occupied the smoother the holiday and travelling times will be. For cars / flights make a children’s DIY travel bag with colouring, games, toys, snacks and books. Remember to also pack their favourite teddies and a blanket into the hand luggage, or pop it into the car with them if you’re driving, to make sure that they can sleep well during the journey.


9. Extras for travel requirements

Don’t forget to consider travel requirements if you’re driving too – road trips come with their own list of things to think about. For example, you’ll need a vignette for Swiss motorways; an emissions sticker for cities like Paris; or you might want a toll machine for driving through France. Make sure that you follow the requirements for the specific countries that you’re visiting. Lots of countries will require you to have a breakdown kit etc too.

swirzerland, lake thun, frugal mum photo, family holiday packing list


Clothing and accessories for different types of weather and activities:

Packing the right clothing and accessories is essential to ensure that everyone is comfortable and prepared for various weather conditions and activities during your trip. If you’re opting for a UK staycation, be prepared for every eventuality when it comes to the weather! It’s totally possible to need welly-boots, thermal leggings, sun cream and a bikini all in the same week! 😂

To pack efficiently: check items off on your list, roll what you can (it takes up less space), utilise empty spaces (for instance socks can be rolled up inside shoes), wear bulky items whilst you travel, and you might even want to use packing cubes – I’ve seen people get a ridiculous Mary Poppin’s style amount of clothes in these on You Tube! 😂

Here are some tips to consider when packing:

1. Research your destination

Check the weather forecast for your destination during your travel dates to help you to pack appropriate clothing for the expected conditions. If you’re heading somewhere hot try to pack lightly – you’ll probably live in swimwear and shorts anyway so there’s no need to spend a fortune on holiday clothes. (Especially for kids that will have grown again by the following year!) Be aware of any cultural dress expectations too for the destination that you’re visiting.


2. Consider the activities

Think about the activities that you’ll be engaging in during your trip, to help you to pack appropriately. If you plan on hiking: pack sturdy shoes, bug spray and comfortable outdoor clothing. For beach / swimming pool holidays: include swimwear, beach towels, buckets and spades, pool toys, children’s arm bands, goggles and plenty of sun cream. (Also remembering that you’ll usually need swimming caps in Italy, and speedos for males in France.)

If you’re opting for a city break: think about the buildings that you might want to visit and any dress codes you might need to adhere to. (For instance, in Rome in the religious buildings you’ll need your shoulders covered and no short-shorts or they won’t let you enter! I learnt this the hard way on our first visit!)

st peters square basilica, rome, italy, vatican city, frugal mum children


3. Pack versatile clothing

Choose items that can be easily mixed and matched to create different outfits, and pack lightweight, breathable fabrics for warmer climates or layers for colder destinations. Always pack spares for the kids too – just in case of toileting accidents and spillages. It’s helpful to keep a spare set of clothing in your hand luggage, or a backpack if road tripping, to make it easy to access if any accidents happen whilst you’re on the go.


4. Don’t forget accessories

Remember to pack accessories like sun hats and sunglasses for all of the family members, as well as a backpack for keeping items together on days out. If you’re going to be packing up picnics, a cool bag with cool blocks is a lifesaver in a hot country too! We never go anywhere without ours – or a flask for coffee and re-usable water bottles – it really helps to keep our spending money costs down.


5. Pack enough underwear and socks

It’s easy to overlook these essentials, but having enough clean underwear and socks is crucial for a comfortable trip. Consider packing a few extra pairs to avoid running out. I also decant washing detergent into a little pot so that I can freshen up our clothes, with a quick handwash in the sink, if need be on long trips.


6. See what’s included

Find out whether your accommodation includes items like towels, robes, wash cloths, bedding etc – this can be a great way to pack less, and lessen the mound of holiday washing that you’ll have to face when you get back too. We usually opt to take our own if it saves us money when we’re road tripping, as it’s easy to shove it in the car, but if we’re flying then it’s usually worth the extra expense to reduce luggage costs.

picture of holiday accommodation bedroom, knights lodges, bretby, frugal mum photo, family packing checklist


Toiletries and personal care items to include in your packing list:

Toiletries and personal care items are essential, and as I mentioned above they’re often much cheaper here in the UK, so being prepared is a great way to keep your family holiday on budget. Here’s a checklist of items to include in your packing list:

  • Toothbrushes and toothpaste (and chargers if electronic)
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Body wash or soap
  • Deodorant
  • Haircare products
  • Skincare essentials
  • Razors and shaving cream
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Makeup and beauty products
  • Towels and washcloths
  • Tweezers, nail clippers or small scissors
  • Nappies and swim nappies
  • Sun cream and after sun

Remember to pack any hand luggage toiletries into a clear bag to comply with airport security regulations if you’re flying. And, buy some small pots to decant your normal toiletries into them (you can grab a set of bottles for £1 in Primark, and most supermarkets sell them cheaply too) – the ready made travel products are horrendously expensive for how little they contain. Plus you can refill them again and again too. Then pop your toiletries into a waterproof bag to prevent your clothes from getting ruined in the event of a spillage!

We also pack a mini-first aid kit with:

  • Antiseptic cream
  • Plasters
  • Insect repellent
  • Anti-histamine
  • Travel sickness tablets
  • Paracetamol (plus liquid paracetamol if you have small children)
  • Ibuprofen

You can never be too prepared when you have kids! Don’t forget to label and weigh your luggage before heading to the airport too.

frugal mum photo of kids in pool, la chapelle eurocamp, family holiday packing list, guide


Self-catering holiday items:

We usually book self-catering holidays as it’s a great way to keep costs down, and we often opt for Eurocamp holiday homes, apartments / villas, or UK caravan holidays as you get lots of space and the per accommodation (rather than per person prices) make it much more affordable.

If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation these are the extras you’ll likely need to pack:

  • Handwash
  • Bin bags
  • Toilet rolls
  • Kitchen roll
  • Your favourite tea bags / coffee (we pack a travel kettle too!)
  • Hairdryer
  • Towels for showering and the pool
  • Bedding (unless included)
  • Extra bin bags and tape, or an eye mask, in case the window coverings are rubbish.
  • Tea towel
  • Sponge and washing up liquid / dishwasher tablets

packing family holiday checklist, eurocamp, frugal mum guide, photo la chapelle accommodation


Preparing for a family road trip:

If you are opting for a road trip, check out my article: Family road trip essentials: 13 things to pack on a road trip with kids to make sure that you have everything you need for stress free travel before you set off. And you’ll want to check out: How to road trip on a budget around Europe – the ultimate family guide!

How to road trip on a budget around Europe, the ultimate family guide, frugal mum tips


Getting ready for your family holiday?

Use my FREE printable packing checklist to get started:

frugal mum free printable family holiday travel checklist


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The Ultimate Eurocamp Holiday Guide – and money saving tips!

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Eurocamp holiday reviews: Which accommodation should I choose? What’s included?

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25 tips for travelling abroad on a budget with kids – here’s how to save money on your family summer holiday!

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UK family travel on a budget: 25 ways to have a cheap staycation holiday!

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TUI Holidays Money Saving Guide – discounts and tips!

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