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Pack like a pro

10 May 2018

And you thought packing for a family fortnight in the sun was hard..! Emma Howarth meets the

families raising children while travelling the world to see how they maximise that baggage allowance.

The maternity leave gap year

Karen Edwards and husband Shaun turned maternity leave into a travel opportunity by embarking on a 

family gap year when their daughter Esmé (now almost four) was born. They’re currently doing the same 

with their new addition 10-month-old Quinn. They write about their travels on their blog, Travel Mad Mum.

Our in-flight essentials… 

Snacks, wipes and activity packs to keep them entertained (we also pack an iPad as a last resort). 

And we always travel with stainless steel water bottles which we fill up in the airport. 

We don’t leave home without… 

The baby carrier, our cameras and battery packs.

Our travel light tips…

• We have one zip-up packing cube each and that’s it. We’re ruthless when it comes to packing.

• Prioritise items that have multiple uses where you can.

• If you have really bulky clothes to pack (ski jackets, for example) then vacuum bags are a great way to save space.

The most multitasking item in our suitcase… 

We love lightweight quick-drying hammam towels, which we use as blankets and blackout 

shades as well as on the beach. We also have a JetKids BedBox, which is a ride-on suitcase that 

converts into an in-flight bed, for Esmé.

Our ultimate travel luxury… 

Our big bag of cameras which we use to capture shots for our blog and social media.

What we miss most about home… 

Sometimes after a long time away we miss the convenience of popping to the supermarket 

or sticking a load of washing in the machine.

We love family travel because… 

It’s all about quality time for us. We’re with them all day, every day, with none of the pressures of work or 

running a household. Our baby is still very young but our daughter is growing up with a lot of respect for 

other cultures, which is definitely one of our goals.


The full-time adventurers

Evie Farrell and her eight-year-old daughter Emmie have been exploring the world (from the Bahamas to Borneo) 

together since February 2016 when Evie made the decision to quit her job and spend her savings on travel instead. 

They write about their adventures on their blog, Mumpack Travel.

Our in-flight essentials… 

It depends on whether we’ve flying long- or short-haul. If it’s long-haul we settle in, 

watch movies and chill but for short-haul budget flights we take a blanket, eye mask and 

neck pillow for Emmie, my computer and cameras so I can work en route and an iPad 

with a movie or two downloaded. Emmie packs books and colouring pencils and we always 

have a few lollipops stashed in our bags to help equalise little ears on the plane.

We don’t leave home without… 

An unlocked phone so we can make use of cheap local SIM cards, tweezers, a first aid kit 

and Emmie’s toy penguin Blair. Though travel has also taught us that we don’t need much 

stuff to survive. We’re not very attached to material possessions and could happily board 

a plane with a few essentials and sort the rest out at the other end.

Our travel light tips…

• Start with a small suitcase because whatever size you have, you’ll fill.

• Use packing cubes to manage space, allocating one to each person.

• Always double-check that the kids haven't sneaked something in. I have ended up carrying 

all sorts of heavy/useless things that Emmie has slipped into bags when I’m not looking – 

from rocks to 500-page bumper colouring books!

The most multitasking item in our suitcase…  

Would have to be our power board, which can charge numerous items at once 

thanks to its multiple power and USB points.

Our ultimate travel luxury… 

We have a drone, which takes up a fair bit of space, but it’s worth it to get 

magical bird’s-eye views of our destinations.

What we miss most about home… 

Honestly? Nothing. This is our life and we love it. We know our friends and 

family are there for us when we return.

We love family travel because… 

We get to spend so much time together. If we weren’t doing this I’d hardly see Emmie as I’d be 

working all the time to pay the bills. Now we’re together every day and our memories of seeing 

elephants in the wild, visiting ancient temples and riding the blue train in Sri Lanka are invaluable.


The season switchers

Mags Nixon, husband Scott and daughters nine-year-old Minnie and seven-year-old Bo spend their winters in 

the Alps and their summers in the sun. They write about their travels on their blog, The Family Freestylers.

Our in-flight essentials… 

Easy. Wet wipes. We also pack a ball (great for getting the kids running off some energy on airport layovers), 

entertainment (iPads, games, sketch books), extra snacks, spare clothes, eye masks and earplugs.

We don’t leave home without… 

We always pack something new for the kids like a magazine, puzzle or small toy to pull out if they get 

bored or start bickering. And, as an Instagrammer, my iPhone is a completely non-negotiable essential.

Our travel light tips…

• Bulky clothing takes up too much space, so swap that cosy knit for lighter multiuse tops you can layer.

• Pack, then pack again. We re-pack three times before each trip. First I lay out what we think we want to take 

on the bed (each family member’s clothes gets a quarter of the bed), then I take out any non-essentials. Then 

I go in again being as ruthless as possible. I’ve never regretted something not making it into our backpacks.

• Roll, don’t fold. It really maximises space. And use dead space, such as shoe cavities, by cramming them with socks.

The most multitasking item in our suitcase… 

Definitely our large scarves and sarongs. They double up as picnic mats, blankets, sunshades, beach towels 

and are great for shoulder coverage when we visit temples.

Our ultimate travel luxury… 

Books. They take up far too much room. We really need to convert to a Kindle but have so far resisted. 

We are planning to go on the road full-time in a few years, so will definitely be going digital then.

What we miss most about home… 

Curling up in front of a roaring fire with a good book or doing a wash in our own washing machine.

We love family travel because… 

Even when we’ve seen something a million times before, seeing it again through our children’s eyes is 

just amazing. We also love spending so much time with our kids. Work and school can really disengage 

a family, while travelling allows us to hang out, have fun and do some amazing things together. And when 

we’re travelling somewhere inexpensive like Asia it’s great to be able to eat out and have our laundry 

taken care of so we can just focus on having fun as a family.


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