We aren’t a summer holiday family – preferring a weekend away here and there to a long break, but with my daughter now at school we started to think that its important to give her that experience as well – so this year, for the first time in about 6 years, we packed up and went away for 2 weeks.
Now – having not been away for longer than a weekend for a long time, it was something that could have been quite daunting. Not knowing what we would need, how we would cope with being away, and all the other little niggles that you often have before you go away were playing on my mind.
So, I thought that if I was having some issues with what to do then maybe you were too.
And we learnt a few things while we were away that I thought I would share – call it a lessons learnt! I wanted to download them here so that maybe they would help you next time you went away.
Lesson one – You always use less than you pack
Now, I’m going to write about packing in another post, but for now I will say what everyone says when they come back from holiday – and thats that you always pack too much.
I tried to pack really carefully, especially as we flew so had weight restrictions, but still I managed to pack clothes that I didn’t use – I mean, in temperatures averaging 31 degrees, who needs 2 pairs of jeans! ;o)
What would I do differently?
I would check the average temperatures before I go, and pack clothes suitable for those only. If its a hot place then I would travel in jeans and a jacket so I have clothes with me in case the weather gets colder while we are there, but not taking up room in the suitcase.
I wrote a list of what I used on this holiday – so next holiday I can scan the list and take only that much.
Lesson two – There are shops everywhere!
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)
Lesson three – Toiletries last longer than you think
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 to assume that shops on holiday may not sell the exact brand that I want to use.
However – they are heavy in the scheme of things – and add in cleanser, moisturiser, toner, shower gel etc… and things can get out of hand very quickly!
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 template 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!
Lesson four – Exercising on holiday is fun!
No – really!
My husband and myself like to exercise. Its become part of both our weekly schedules at home, and when we aren’t able to fit it in then we feel more lethargic and not 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 exercise while away, and found that as we had more time for it, it felt easier and more luxurious rather than a chore.
My husband went on a daily run – but a run along the coastal path was a real treat and really set him up for the day – he loved it.
We all swam and walked loads – fantastic to be able to swim outdoors and wander around beautiful surroundings – you don’t even realise you are exercising!
And lastly I did venture to the sites gym, which wasn’t quite so different to being in a gym at home of course – but it actually made me feel very virtuous, gave me some me time, and I felt that it helped to balance out the gorgeous food and drink so came home feeling healthy rather than like I needed to hit the gym to get back to how I was before (the dreaded holiday pounds didn’t go on which was a nice surprise!).
And thats another point, it takes a long time to form a habit, especially I find if that habit is regular exercise. If you can keep up some of the momentum while you are away, its much easier to get into it again when you get back.
Lesson five – Hand luggage can be minimal
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. But books, magazines, puzzles etc… take up a LOT of room in your hand luggage – and can be really bulky.
My new favourite item this year has been my kindle** – which basically I downloaded all the books, magazines and games/puzzles I could ever wish to do on holiday – but it took up the space and weight of one book. Genius!
What I liked most about this was that I could also take books I wasn’t sure I would like, and take more that I thought I could get through – as it didn’t matter how many were loaded into it, it took up no extra room.
While I was away I could pick and choose books dependant on my mood – my daughter could play some games on it, and it was 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!
Lesson six – Expect the worst and plan for it
You hear stories a lot of people losing their luggage and not getting it back for a few days, or even the entire time they are away, so I tried to pre-empt the worst and came up with these ideas – hope they help!
- 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 and your toothbrush in your hand luggage also.
Lesson seven – Plastic containers rule!
Wherever you are going, and for however long, its easiest to contain things within your bag.
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 also 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 bag for any toiletries and medicine I carried in my hand luggage – as it was easy to have everything together and visible.
Lesson eight – talking about washing clothes….
Why not do some when you are away?
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
So -What did you learn from your holiday this year? Please leave a comment below – I’d love to know!
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