18 May 2024

# Family Travel

Packing a Family for a Summer City Break (with printable checklist)

Packing for family holidays can get pretty stressful. Especially when you're flying a budget airline and don't want to pay loads for extra luggage - we always squeeze our family of four into one 20kg suitcase, so I need to be quite smart with the packing.

It's definitely a bit easier in the summer, with lighter clothes that take up less space, but then again I'm one of those people who tend to overpack - because kids might need extras, because we might do something we didn't plan in advance, and what if the weather changes? Yeah, you can tell I'm a bit of an overthinker!

It's also a bit different for me to pack for a family visit. If we were going on a proper holiday, I would have all the activities planned, and hence I'd know what kind of clothes we'd need. When we go to Poland, it's mostly about visiting the family - we might have a couple of days out planned in advance, but mostly we just go with the flow. This time we're also attending a wedding, so I need to account for an outfit each for that day.

Bearing in mind that we have a limited suitcase space, I've put my foot down and set down some rules on how much everyone is allowed to take. I narrowed it down to the following list:

Oh yes, I'm a list kind of person. And it has to be on paper, digital planners just don't cut it for me. I think it's because I'm a reading/writing type of learner, and it's the easiest for me to follow written instructions, so it's really helpful to have a list I can tick off. 

When packing, I find it useful to separate things into categories. I consider what clothes need to be packed for the kids, what for me and the Mr, then which toiletries we need to pack, what travel documents we have to have, the electronics, and any other bits we might need.

On my printable list I left the space to put the number of items that you might want to pack, depending on the length of your stay. 

As we're going to Poland soon, staying for 10 days (I don't count the travel and the wedding we'll be attending this time), I thought I'd share how I pack our family of 4 for a city break there

Here's a sample packing guide for our 10-day city break in Poland:

For the kids:

I have two children, a boy and a girl with a 4-year age gap between them, so there will be a difference in what I pack for them. Mini is a really girly girl, so she'll want some summer dresses when the eldest will be wearing a t-shirt and shorts, so I just swap that accordingly.


When it comes to city breaks, the best thing is that in an emergency you'll be likely to find a shop to buy any extras you might need, or at least have easier access to washing facilities. I always have to keep in mind too that my Mum will have bought some stuff for her grandchildren, so I need to save some space for bringing that back with me! 

For myself:

No shorts on my list as I keep my outfits more modest, but again it's just an example of what I personally pack on holidays and you can obviously adjust the list according to your preferences. Also my husband, of course, swaps the dresses for extra t-shirts and trousers ;)

Hand luggage essentials

When we're traveling with a check-in bag, I try to keep our cabin bags simple - nothing worse than stressing around the airport with a heavy bag... Although who am I kidding, I always end up with an overloaded backpack on the way back when we're given way too much stuff to take back to the UK with us and our main suitcase ends up exceeding the weight allowance.

To make things easier (at least in theory), everyone takes their own cabin bag. I keep hold of all the travel documents in one place, but apart from that we each have our own things for easy access, so I don't have to dig through one overpacked rucksack.

Notice that I put spare clothes on there - even though my children are not little anymore, they tend to have trouble with a bit of travel sickness, so a spare t-shirt can be useful. I actually also take a few small plastic bags in case they get sick on the plane, as Ryanair removed the pockets on the backs of the seats and the little paper bag isn't right in front of you anymore for immediate access.



First of all - if you're traveling with a check-in bag, I'd say don't bother with the travel-sized stuff. Should you buy brand new toiletries for the trip? Depends - I'd rather take some that are maybe half-full, and if they run out, you just discard the bottles and have fewer things to bring back, so unless I *actually* need some new product, I just take the ones we already have at home. The only new thing I tend to buy are toothbrushes, so we can pack them ahead and not forget after brushing in the morning. I also don't bother with decanting things into the travel bottles, as it's easier to just pack everything in the check-in bag. The only things I put in the hand luggage would be a bottle of hand sanitiser, and maybe a small body spray - and if it's a morning flight, some make-up that I'd used just before leaving home. And again, as I mentioned above - if it's a city break, it should be easy to grab some basics from any local supermarket if needed.

General preparation tips, and things to do before leaving home

  • Set your alarm!
  • Make sure you have all your passports in the bag
  • Double check all your boarding passes
  • Make sure all devices (phones, power banks, tablets, e-readers etc.) are fully charged
  • Download movies/shows, books, games - make sure those are playable offline
  • Water plants
  • Unplug electronics, turn off sockets
  • Make sure all the windows and doors are locked
  • Remove any food that will go bad before your return - it's a good idea to keep something ready for when you come back though, like a carton of UHT milk, some cereal, loaf of bread in the freezer and maybe some ready meal
  • Empty the bins
  • Get your travel outfits laid out for everyone to just quickly change before leaving
  • Prepare any snacks or meal to eat before the trip to the airport

Don't forget you can just CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A PRINTABLE LIST to help you with packing for your next trip!

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