Travel with Kids. What to Pack

Nov 23, 2016

I love travelling with my kids. Travelling with children can be an absolute blast, but the reality is that it's never going to be as easy or stress-free as if you were travelling without them. You have little humans to consider with everything you do, and being in foreign places will always mean you have a heightened sense of alert around you. Whilst I always return home exhausted and needing of another holiday to recover, the joy, learning, experiences and memories, make travelling with kids all worthwhile. 

Sitting with the local school children in Vanuatu at lunchtime.
Over the years, I've planned and packed many, many times for both short and long stays. We've done camping trips, (both on and off-grid), interstate holidays and overseas travel with our children from as young as 10 months old, so I've had the time to figure out which were the best things for us to pack for the kids, and what was not as necessary.

My son's first elephant safari in Bali at age 10 months. He slept through it. Can you spot him?

Other than the obvious things, like clothes, bathers, toiletries etc. here are my favourite items to pack, which should hopefully make travelling with children easier and more fun for everyone:

Travel with Kids. Top 10 things to Pack

  • Hotel Activity Pack

There are often times when travelling with kids that someone is going to need some down-time in your hotel. As hotel rooms aren't always the most interesting places for children to play, we always take this handy travel pack, kept in an A4 sized pencil case, full of open-ended creative materials that you can use for a range of different activities on the go. This has been pulled out and used in different ways on so many of our travels, even when I think we probably won't need it, so I'd always have it with me just in case. You can check out what we use all the materials for here.

  • Snap-Lock Bags
Seriously, I wouldn't travel without a stash of these plastic snap/zip-lock style bags. We use them when travelling all the time for things like separating outfits (if you're feeling super organised!), keeping wet or dirty items in (like bathers or socks etc.), storing and packing snacks for the day (often a banana or croissant from breakfast make their way in), keeping items like your phone etc. dry when by the pool/ocean, storing the sunscreen tube that just got a big split in it (yep, it happens) and so much more! I take both the sandwich size and the large bags with us.

  • Home Comforts (Favourite soft toy/night light/pillowcase)

We've slept in many different room configurations when travelling as a family. From two double beds in a single room, to separate rooms, to kids sleeping in a lounge room on a fold-out sofa bed and even once in a porta-cot in a bathroom. When it comes to getting (often over-tired and stimulated) kids to sleep in foreign places, having a few home comforts can make a big difference. Their favourite toy tends to go without saying. Other items that can be very small to pack but can really help, include a little night light and one of your child's pillowcases. Their pillowcase over a hotel pillow gives them somewhere familiar to lay their head, and can double at the end of your trip as a way to transport all your dirty clothes home.

  • Drink Bottle

It seems so obvious and yet I've often forgotten to pack one with us. Having your own drink bottle, in most circumstances, will help you save money instead of constantly buying drinks out for thirsty kids, and of course helps ensure everyone is kept well hydrated while travelling. I've found that even in the countries where we could only drink bottled water, it was still cheaper to buy large bottles of water and pour them into the kids' individual drink bottles that they could keep with them.

  • Snacks
Yes, there is food available pretty much anywhere you travel to, however, I've still found that having a bunch of pre-packaged snacks that my children are familiar with (eg. rice crackers, pretzels, nuts, dried fruit, muesli bars, etc.) thrown in the suitcase can be an absolute sanity saver! Hungry kids can make for grumpy, whingy kids, and telling them that they can have something at the next rest stop or the next shop you pass etc. doesn't always cut it. It'll also save you money not having to buy food every time they get hungry. I've also found that in some foreign countries, my children may be feeling adventurous with food one minute, and another minute they just want to eat something familiar. Having those snacks with you will help you out with that, and as they're consumable, it means you don't have to take them back home with you.

  • Swim shirts/Rash Vests

If you're going to have kids in the water a lot, (which tends to be how many of our holidays play out), the best way to protect them is with a long sleeve swim shirt. It will also save you from reapplying sunscreen constantly to so much of their body. We always take a couple with us for each child to rotate daily as we've found that often things can take longer to dry than you imagine, particularly in really humid areas.
Other sun smart items that you should consider packing are sun and swim hats and sunglasses and goggles.
A couple of small pool toys/inflatables, if you can fit them in, we've found also great for keeping kids entertained in the water and for making new friends on your travels.

  • Baby Wipes

I don't have babies any more but baby wipes are still an essential when we travel. They are great at spot cleaning any messes on hotel fabrics, kids clothing and of course all those sticky hands and faces.

  • Scooters

Scooters? Really? Yes, I too would have questioned that at some point, but let me tell you, after travelling with them on our recent interstate trip to Sydney, they are definitely something that will be coming with us on most travel in the future (both interstate and overseas).

We first saw scooters on our travels, on a small island off the coast off Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu, about a year and a half ago. Another family with two children similar in age to our kids, had brought them with them, and the four children enjoyed taking turns around the boardwalks of the resort. What a novel idea, I though.

One of the main things that we love to do when we travel is to explore. To get out there and really see the sights. Often this means lots of walking, which can end in a lot of complaining from children.
Bringing our scooters with us, means that we can explore further and wider than we normally would, whilst still burning energy for minimal effort. Plus, it's just really fun!

On this trip we brought two Micro adult scooters (black and white), two Micro Sprite scooters and four helmets (along with a weekend's worth of clothes and essentials for four people) in just two standard/large sized suitcases. (If we were travelling for a couple of weeks, we'd probably take one extra suitcase for extra clothes between our family of four or hand-luggage, which was unnecessary for this trip.) The larger adults scooters (with the bigger wheels) each weigh 5.3 kilograms and the more compact Micro Sprite weighs just 2.7 kilos. With a luggage weight allowance of 30 kilos per person, we easily come in under weight (in fact, both suitcases were under 20 kilos).

The fact that we were so easily able to pack all these extra scooters actually surprised us a little. At first I'd planned on only taking the kids' scooters with us but when we gave it a try, we found that we could pack them all! With the distance we ended up covering, boy am I glad that we did. I could never have kept up with the kids and travelled the distance we covered, on foot. We saw so much more than we would have if we were either walking or driving. It was great!

My kids adore their scooters and their lightweight and foldable design make them an easy wheeler for kids as young as five years old to use, store and carry. I love that they'll grow with them throughout all the primary years. My husband and I are rather fond of ours too. You can tell that they are top quality.

We can't wait to travel with them again!

  • Electronic Tablets with Books and Movies

Home routines, like reading a book before bed, can help children get to sleep in unfamiliar places. Bringing a lot of books with us can take up a lot of room and add a fair amount of weight to your suitcase, so having a tablet loaded up with books is a great alternative.
Kid's movies and educational games can also be great to have on your electronic tablet as well, as they can be a life saver in the hotel room, waiting around airports and for plane travel etc. Don't forget to also pack headphones so they can be used in busy places and if you're clever and bring the right cable and have the right know-how, you could hook your tablet up to your hotel room television (if there is one) and let the kids have a movie before bed.

  • First Aid Kit

Probably another obvious item to pack, but a first aid kit is something we've always had to use in some way or other with our kids and we'd never travel without it. In our first aid kit (for the kids) we have: band aids/surgical tape, antiseptic wipes, a bandage, antiseptic cream, insect bite cream, insect repellent, sunscreen, Aloe Vera after-sun cream, children's paracetamol, electrolyte icy poles (can be drunk or frozen for kids to suck on if dehydrated), jelly beans and throat lozenges (dry sore throats are common when in recycled and air-conditioned air). We usually have two first aid kits. One bigger one that stays in the luggage (kept in a large zip-lock bag is fine) and a smaller kit with the more basic items (eg. sunscreen, wipes, band aids) that is always in our day pack.

What other items have you found essential for making travel with children as fun and easy as can be?

Happy travels,
Debs :)

{Disclosure: this post is brought to you by Micro Scooters. We were gifted the scooters for our review. As always, opinions expressed in this post are my own and my families'.)

Look where else we are. Are you following along? :)
New Here? Subscribe to get all activities sent directly to you
Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner
Continue reading...

Up! eBook. 30+ creative, maths, science and literacy construction and art based activities.

Sep 16, 2016

Here is our latest kids educational activity ebook and it's my favourite yet!

Up! will take your child's love of blocks and building and take them far and wide across the curriculum.

With 30+ projects across math, literacy, science, art, and play, Up! shows you how to support passion-led, project-based, hands-on learning. It will help your child make connections, go deeper in their understanding, and encourage their questions and creativity.

Including inspiring ideas for block play, mobiles, rockets, airplanes, parachutes, building challenges and more. It also comes with 100 printables for use at home or in the classroom

One of the great things about the activities presented in this eBook is that every activity has been tried, tested and approved by real children. The activities have been carefully chosen to offer a wide range of explorations, working across the curriculum to incorporate play, imagination, math, literacy, science, sensory and art and are written by an experienced collection of teacher and parenting bloggers.

The sky’s the limit when you’re learning with Up!

Age guide: 4 to 10 years.

BUY NOW: $11.25 USD
Regular Price: $14.99.
(25% off for the first 2 weeks of launch)
Continue reading...

Living Life Happy

Aug 22, 2016

I've been thinking a lot about life recently. About how I used to look at life, about how I look at life now, and about how I want to look at and live life. I think having kids can do that to you. I began to not only see life through my children's eyes, but also consider how my views on life could have a direct impact on their lives.

Living with this awareness made me start to question my attitude and to look at life a little differently than I had in the past. Life is inevitable. Life has good times and life has bad times. There are also millions of ok times. And there's lots of amazing times, awe inspiring times, beautiful times, peaceful times, contented times and hilarious times. In the mix unfortunately there will also be terrible times. Heart wrenching times, gut aching times, physically painful times, stressful times, sad times and so much more.

The thing is, we've only got one life, here and now, on this earth, as it is, with this particular group of humans around us. We don't know how many days we've got, just that we're here and that we feel.

If I live every day for the weekend, I miss five out of seven days of my life, just being ok, or just surviving. If I live worrying about what might come, I miss enjoying what I have right now. And what am I showing my children? How does my attitude towards life effect their attitudes and in turn, their lives?

Looking at the lives of others, in lands far removed has also changed how I see life. In India, on my recent trip with World Vision, I got to meet children, young adults and adults who, given some of their circumstances, in comparison to my circumstances, should, (by my original ideals of life), be wallowing in self pity for the unfair dealing of life they've been given. Except, that they weren't.

They were living life. They were living life, making the most of what they had and they were doing it with a smile at the ready.

Happiness that with the installation of these bio toilets by World Vision, in an urban slum in Chennai, they now have access to be able to perform normal human bodily functions in safety, privacy and with dignity. Sixty families who are so happy that they now have something I've always taken for granted. (And grumbled about should I have to wait a minute.)
Happiness that they may go to school, in an environment that thanks to the people who sponsor a child through World Vision, is covered in bright, inspiring and educational paintings, as well as having availability to fresh, clean drinking water.
Happiness that thanks to iron boxes and education provided by World Vision, they may run businesses that allow them to feed and clothe and educate their children.
Happiness that thanks to education and support by World Vision, these women no longer need to borrow money from high interest money lenders, keeping them in a cycle of debt, as they now have their own support groups in one another where they can invest and borrow from the group safely and learn to save for the future.

Witnessing so much joy for just the most basic things in life definitely made me reconsider how I find my joy. Happiness is infectious and more than living a "good" life, filled only with "good" moments, I want to live a happy life, filled with as much joy as I can cram in. Not only do I want happiness, but I want to be able to find it wherever possible. I want to find it in the boring times and to try to look for it when things are bad. I want to lead by example for my children, and help them to find happiness in the little things. To appreciate what they have. To love and be loved. To help others. To live the best lives that they can, and I think so much of that has to do with how we choose to look at life.
So, what makes me happy? There are so many things we can do! Some of my favourites, as cliche as they may be are.

Happy Things
  • reading with your kids
  • sponsoring a child and providing a better life and happiness for others 
  • going to the beach and feeling the sand on your toes as you watch the waves rolling in and out
  • telling someone you love them 
  • feeling the wind on your face 
  • sipping a hot cup of coffee 
  • listening to music and singing along at the top of your voice
  • getting into bed with fresh sheets 
  • catching up with a friend you've not seen in ages 
  • standing barefoot on freshly mowed grass 
  • cuddling
  • doing a favour for someone
  • the smell of the earth after the rain
  • starting a brand new notebook
  • walking a dog
  • going to the zoo
  • anything to do with animals actually
  • feeling weightless in a pool
  • having a big drink of water when you're really thirsty
  • loving someone
  • being loved
  • so many foods, I can't help it, some foods are just happiness and if I break it down the list will be too long
  • secretly watching your kids playing make believe
  • drawing with a brand new set of markers
  • watching tv you love
  • hearing the rain on your roof while tucked up in bed
  • going through a car wash
  • realising it's only Saturday when you think it's Sunday
  • collecting pebbles and building them as tall as you can
  • sitting outside late at night in complete silence with no sounds around
  • reorganising something
  • reading a book
  • thinking about everything you have
  • thinking about the people you love
  • writing a proper letter and mailing it, with a stamp and everything
  • helping out others
  • smiling
  • calling your mum or best friend
  • exercising
  • camping
  • having a break from technology
  • getting outside
  • trying something new
  • learning a new skill
  • swinging on a swing
  • being kind 

Ok, this could go on forever. I really could just keep writing but I think that's enough for now. What have I missed? What makes you happy?

Happy happiness,
Debs :)

Look where else we are. Are you following along? :)
New Here? Subscribe to get all activities sent directly to you
Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner
Continue reading...

10 free Printable Father's Day Questionnaires for Kids to complete

Aug 10, 2016

More than socks, jocks and golf tees, dad's just love their kids. I've asked a number of dads what it is that they'd like for Father's Day and it turns out that anything that has to do with spending time together or something personalised from the heart, is generally going to be best received by Dad this Father's Day.

A sweet, frugal and often amusing gift is a personalised survey, interview or writing prompt about Dad, completed by the kids. Fill-in-the-blanks can be a lovely way to record children's thoughts, knowledge and feelings about Dad each year and can be laminated to preserve for years to come. I also love the added literacy practice for kids and that they can be a great thought starter for children who need some inspiration to help them think of what to write.

I've made a couple of different designs, both with this year (2016) printed on them, and blank ones that you could use for any year.
Continue reading...

Invitation to Play. Simple Superhero Slime

Aug 3, 2016

Sensory Play is one of the few activities that I know will entertain my kids for quite a long period of time. The quicker and easier the set-up for me, the better. 

For today's activity, rather than make up some slime for my son to play with, I gave him the two basic ingredients, popped out a selection of his little superhero figurines and let him make it for himself. 
This not only means less work for me, but more importantly, it means that he is experimenting and learning a range of skills and concepts through experiencing for himself.
Continue reading...

Dear Kids, Mummy's going to India. Part 3

Jul 23, 2016

Dear Kids, before I came to India and saw first hand the work that World Vision is doing to impact lives and empower people and communities, I didn't actually realise that they were involved in so much. I knew about certain aspects of their programs, such as helping provide clean water, food and assisting children to get an education, but I didn't know that in each and every area that World Vision have a presence, issues are assessed and programs are developed, based entirely on the exact needs of the children and community.

The first half of my journey was in a rural area, where I've already shown you a colourful little school and it's Nutrition Garden, that is the pride and joy of the village. Children there now have access to clean, fresh drinking water and they also have enough water now to grow their garden. But what other types of projects are World Vision implementing in this area?

Photo by Theodore Sam Paul

Continue reading...

Dear Kids, Mummy's going to India. Part 2

Jul 21, 2016

After arriving in Chennai, the state capital of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, we caught the overnight train about 395 kms (or about 8 hours on the train) southeast to the Pudukkottai district, one of the least urbanised districts in Tamil Nadu where 80% of the people live in rural areas.

Here we met the wonderful staff from World Vision India's Pudukottai Area Development Programme (ADP) office, who talked us through the projects that they are working on across 74 villages, which house approximately 16,500 children.

Continue reading...

Dear Kids, Mummy's going to India

Jul 19, 2016

When I first found out that I was going to go to India with World Vision, I was incredibly excited; followed quickly by nerves, anxiety and fear. Not because of where I was going, or who I was going with, but more because of whom I was leaving behind.

I love to travel, I crave to see the world and know it’s people, but I love it most with my family. My kids are my heart and packing my bags and saying goodbye wasn’t easy. Neither was explaining to them exactly why it was that I was going.

Continue reading...

ABCs and 123s eBook. 40+ hands-on activities for building letter, number and shape skills.

Jul 8, 2016

I am delighted to bring you our latest kids educational activity ebook.

This fun book, full of hands-on literacy and numeracy activities has been collaborated on by a fabulous group of bloggers and is jam packed full of engaging activities with easy to follow instructions and explanations. With multiple authentic learning opportunities in literacy and maths that incorporate art, sensory learning, motor skills and discovery, for a whole-brain approach.

Whether you are a teacher in the classroom or a parent at home, you will love the clear text, bright pictures and ideas for further learning, brought to you by a group of mums and teachers that have tried and tested all of these activities with real kids. I am sure you will enjoy your copy of ABCs and 123s. 40+ hands-on play activities to build letter, number and shape skills.

Regular Price: $14.99.

BUY NOW: $11.25 USD
(25% off for the first 2 weeks of launch. Hurry!)

Continue reading...

Autumn Leaf Investigation Table. Open ended literacy, science and creativity.

Jun 4, 2016

The change in seasons can be a dramatic one, depending on where you live. Here in Australia, Autumn (Fall) is during the months of March, April and May and we actually have very few deciduous trees (trees that loose their leaves) that are native to our country. We do have some, but they are far outnumbered by the evergreen trees, so when we see the change in colour and pops of red, orange and yellow appearing on trees, they really stand out against the all the green.

To further investigate the changes happening around us and to inspire learning and creativity, I set up this Autumn Leaf Investigation Table for my kids. At ages 4 and 7, I knew that their experiences were going to be different to one another and that materials and even expectations had to be open-ended and able to be used in a way that interested them and was appropriate to their levels.
Continue reading...

Robot Party

May 25, 2016

For my son's 4th birthday party, we used a Robot theme, which was a lot of fun to both cater and decorate. So many simple DIY ideas. Here are some pictures from the day.
Continue reading...

Mothers Day activity for Kids. Art and Literacy combined

Apr 26, 2016

With Mother's Day coming up for another year, we took advantage of the opportunity to delve into some language learning and make a special keepsake for Mum at the same time.

(I did find doing this activity a little amusing as I was doing it with my own children. We used the word Mum in the example but talked about how we could substitute in "Nana" or "Grandma" and make a gift for them).
Continue reading...

SumBlox. Amazing hands-on maths tool for kids

Mar 1, 2016

Introducing, SumBlox! The beautifully designed and crafted wooden block set that allows children to explore and learn more about numbers and their relationships in a hands-on, concrete (and most importantly, fun) way.

It is safe to say that as a teacher, great resources that help and encourage children to learn through play, excite me greatly. When I first laid my eyes on SumBlox, (which have only recently been introduced to the Australian market) I was immediately drawn to the incredibly clever, yet simple concept, that combines children's love of building and physically manipulating materials, with a number of different mathematical concepts. What a fabulous maths teaching tool!
Continue reading...

10 Awesome Free Printables for Kids at home and in the classroom

Feb 22, 2016

I love printables, especially FREE ones! It's amazing the fun, games, learning, organising and/or decorating that can be had from something that starts as a simple piece of paper with some ink on it.

This product talk is brought to you by Nuffnang and Epson

I have an awesome Free Printable Pinterest board, (followed by over 91,000 people!) which is full of fabulous free printable ideas from learning games and clever crafts to wall art and kids birthday supplies. There's something for everyone! To save you a bit of time going through the 6,000+ free printables collected on the board, here's a list of 10 of my very favourites! (You will find that most of these sites have other fabulous free printables that you'll want to check out too!)

Continue reading...