Smart Mummy Holiday Packing

smart mummy holiday packing

Have you ever got everything ready for a family holiday, felt pretty proud of yourself and then arrived at your destination to find that the children have 3 million outfit options whilst you have 3 pairs of tatty shorts, no knickers and T Shirts that don’t match?  I have!  I am often so busy making sure that the littles have everything they need that I totally forget about the mummy holiday packing.  Packing for a family holiday is difficult and our instinct is always to put those littles in front of us, but…..

This is daft people!  We should really pack for ourselves first as honestly the children don’t care.  If my kids only had a swim suit with them they would be happy.  As soon as the weather heats up those exhibitionists keep stripping off anyway and its all I can do to stop them from being nudy rudey (as they call it) all day long!

Anyway after a couple of disastrous packing efforts; one where my husband literally had NO shorts with him I have come up with some simple mummy holiday packing hacks.  My ideas should help you to have what you need without having to think about it too much – after all it is supposed to be a holiday. Now I try to think about it in advance and actively prepare for a holiday.

My tips are really aimed at your typical family holiday so if you are going somewhere super fancy you may need to up the ante on the evening outfits.

  • Capsule wardrobes are your friend – I start my holiday packing from my flips flops up.  So I choose two pairs of flip flops (usually just a black and a navy) and go from there
  • Think about how long you are going for.  We typically do a 3 week holiday and so I pack for 10 days and accept that I will need to do a wash.  I think trying to pack something for every day is too much.  Since I usually do at least two washes per day I still feel like I am getting a break just doing one wash in 3 weeks!
  • Think realistically about what you will be doing.  For us it is mostly about beach and pool with maybe the odd lunch or dinner out, a bike ride, some workouts and possibly a day trip or two and so I pack shorts, swimsuits, tshirts and a couple of versatile items that I can wear out for a lunch or to the beach
  • Get organised – you might think I am mad, but I do a spreadsheet that is based on the activities I think we will be doing and then I use that to go through my wardrobe and pick outfits that go with the colour palette
  • Think about ways to bring less, but still look good; jumpsuits, playsuits or dresses are the answer – 1 item and outfit done!
  • Limit shoes; I know its tough believe I love a shoe, but they take up so much space and if we are honest with ourselves we probably don’t wear them all.  So for me it is two pairs of flip flops, trainers, one nude block heel sandal – job done!
  • Build in flexibility i.e. maxi dresses can be day or night
  • One handbag – yes I said one handbag.  I know it is madness, but on a family holiday unless you are somewhere very fancy then you really don’t need a bag for each outfit.  Pick something neutral or really bright and it will go with everything.  I do also take a beach bag I must admit and I tend to go for something mesh so that sand and water can escape easily.


  • Beach cover ups are also a must have as they take up no room in a bag and if you are doing a beach holiday then you are likely to find you spend most of the time wearing these.  Again I stick to similar colours so that they go over each bikini or swimsuit
  • Keep makeup to a minimum.  I get a sun cream with a foundation tint so that I can get a bit of coverage for my slightly temperamental skin, but it is practical too.  I then just go for a lip gloss, mascara, a neutral eye palette and a cream blush with a bit of a glow – I hasten to add I don’t wear all that to the beach!!

mummy holiday packing

I think with these points in mind you can easily take just one bag on holiday even for 3 weeks.  Now I am not going to say that you could just do carry on if you are flying, but with smart mummy holiday packing you can make sure you have great items with you so you can feel confident without having to spend weeks packing or bringing the world’s biggest bag.

Lindsay at Newcastle Family Life has some great items to recommend too.

*** contains an affiliate link.  This means if you click and make a purchase I may receive a small fee, but this does not affect the price you pay at all

For other holiday packing and planning tips check out these posts:


travelling with kids stuff you need

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37 thoughts on “Smart Mummy Holiday Packing

  1. I find trying everything on before I leave limits the amount I take - otherwise I pack a few more 'just in case' outfits xx
    1. That sounds like a great plan. I still always put in a just in case outfit or two!
  2. God I need to be this ORGANISE! #dreamteam
    1. If only I were this organised all the time - I am really not!! Thanks for being with us on the #DreamTeam
  3. We are a big fan of vacuum packing!! Enables us to squeeze twice as much in!!!
    1. Great idea!!
  4. We're soon to embark on our first foreign holiday (and flight) with our four girls. i am super excited and at the same time dreading the travel (not least because it's been 14 years since we travelled by plane anywhere!). top tips here though and plenty for me to remmeber to do when we start our packing! #DreamTeam
    1. Have fun! Thanks for being part of the #DreamTeam
  5. I think mums neglect themselves in so many ways all too often. I am not a packer as both my dad and now my husband think I cannot do it which equates to the fact I just like doing it my way chaotic and all. #dreamteam
  6. Over the past 3 years, most of the holidays we have been on have been just long weekends (before that we used to go away for week or more). In less than 3 weeks time we are flying out on first flight in 4 years - so packing is top of our mind now... Vacuum bags are our current though :)
    1. Vacuum bags - genius!!
  7. Great tips. My mummy has alwayS wanted a Capsule wardrobe. But she buys waaaaaay too much ESPECIALLY fOr holidays! Popping over from #Dreamteam
    1. I totally get your mummy. I do love a summer purchase but I try to stop myself. Thanks for visiting the #DreamTeam
  8. I have done this so many times! I always end up washing and wearing what I wore on Day 1 or buying more, which I'm not complaining, but it is such a hassle! It's so hard to think about myself and not my child first, i dont think it will ever change, but your post is a nice reminder that we should thing more about ourselves and take care of ourselves too. #DreamTeam
    1. I know it’s very hard to do. I try sometimes though. Thanks for joining the #DreamTeam this week
  9. some excellent ideas here and agree just the one bag and think about the holiday #dreamteam
    1. Thanks Sarah and great to have you on the #DreamTeam
  10. I am not a list maker but when i am packing for the family i make many lists. #dreamteam
    1. I do love a list. Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  11. Great tIps! My husband is organized like this - list and all. I’m learning, slowly, and i was actually super proud of how i packed for our last island holiday! #DreamTeam
    1. My husband thinks I am crackers with my spreadsheets, but there are 6 of us so this year we had something like 20 bags in the car so I have to use them. Thanks for joining the #DreamTeam
  12. Spreadsheets are my best friend and the capsule wardrobe goes such a long way! Brilliant tips and you're making me itch for a vacation! #DreamTeam
    1. Me too - I love a visual representation on the spreadsheet. Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  13. I always take a rucksack to handbag bag, that's one bag for every occasion! #dreamteam
    1. Its good to cover bases. Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  14. Versatility is key. Bringing items that can be dressed up or dressed down means you will be prepared for anything. Also, if you're flying, bring a large tote bag and treat it as your purse. You can fit a lot of items in there. It's like an additional carry on. Just don't put anything in there that you can't bring on board. I once packed my toiletries in there forgetting that there was a razor in that bag. Good thing razors can be bought just about anywhere. #DreamTeam
    1. That is a great idea. If it is big it could double as a beach bag too. Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  15. Great tips. And yes, the shoes have to stay at home right? We all love a good shoe here in the Button house. Especially the Little Button who already has a bigger shoe collection than me. Love that you do a spreadsheet and wish i was as organised at you :-) Thanks for being such a fab #dreamteam host xx
    1. My husband thinks I am insane to do a spreadsheet, but this year we had something like 20 bags to take so I need spreadsheets! I am delighted to be hosting with you guys. Thanks for having me #DreamTeam
  16. Perhaps, just like on the airlines, in the unlikely event of a water landing, we need to take care of us first. Great post, after just coming home from a holiday week, I feel ya! #dreamteam xoxo
    1. Ha ha! Exactly save yourselves!! Coming home is the worst. I have done 5 loads of washing today and I still have 3 huge bags full to do - ahhhhh!! Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  17. These are fab tips, its all about limiting what you take to make space for the little ones and their toys! suncream is always brands for us so we buy most of them abroad apart from a small bottle. #dreamteam
    1. Totally, but without ending up without the things you need. Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam
  18. Good tips here for packing for a holiday. It's so true that we mothers put ourselves last #DreamTeam
    1. Thanks Helena. It is a pleasure to have you on the #DreamTeam
  19. I think lists are essential so you know what you need to pack and can then use it as a checklist to make sure you don't leave anything behind at the end of the holiday. #dreamteam
  20. I have a rule about packing. I won't take any toiletries that can be easily and cheaply purchased at destination. Toothbrushes, shampoos, etc. all get bought when I arrive. I just hate when bottles burst in transit. #DreamTeam

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