At the end of the week, we'll be flying off to Tunisia for a fortnight - woohoo ! With the summer being a total washout so far, it's great to know that we're guaranteed to have blue skies and sunshine once we get there. But before we arrive in our palm tree-fringed corner of paradise, I have a week of rushing around trying to get everything organised and make sure we don't forget anything. I always hate packing ! I'm always worried I'll forget something essential so, in an effort to get organised, I thought I'd blog about our holiday essentials and you can remind me if I've forgotten anything !
The Madhouse Family Holiday Essentials
1. Suncream - factor 50 and always more than you think you'll need. For us five, I usually take about four or five bottles which sounds a lot but it's better to have too much than not enough. I also throw in a bottle of aftersun, in case we get a bit of sunburn (because you inevitably miss a bit somewhere, however hard you try not to !)
2. Sunhats, sunglasses, swimming costumes, jelly shoes (that the kids can wear for walking in the sea). Also, if you have a baby/toddler, a few swim nappies. I once read that babies will know they're in the water and won't poo. Not true in my experience !! Being cheapskates (err I mean eco-friendly and frugal), we used to let our swim nappies dry out overnight (as long as they hadn't been pooed in) on the hotel balcony and re-use them the next day.
3. A basic first aid kit. Hopefully you won't need it but it's always best to be prepared. We take : plasters, antiseptic cream, tweezers, dodgy tummy medication (one for the kids, one for the grown-ups), a small pair of scissors (if nothing else, useful for cutting tags off any clothes/pool toys you end up buying), paracetomol, Calpol, antibac wipes, a can of Sterimar (in case my hayfever kicks off, but also fab for cleaning sand out of toddlers' eyes and noses - why do they do that?!). Don't forget any daily medication/contraception you won't be able to pack until the last minute either !
4. Photocopies of your passport. You're supposed to have it on you at all times in some countries, so it's safer to have a phototocopy, so that your actual document doesn't get stolen.
5. Guidebook. Things to do (and not to do), places to see and a few simple sentences if you want to try out the local lingo ! You can download a simple guide from internet if you don't want to buy one. The local library will probably have one you can borrow too.
6. Inflatables. Every pool toy we've ever bought at a hotel shop has been so old/cheap & nasty that it got a puncture within two days. This year, I've bought a few cheap bits to take with us. If there's no room left in the suitcase to bring them back, we'll donate them to another family on the final day - that'll leave us extra space for bringing back souvenirs !
7. Useful extras. A couple of pens and your address book (or a list of addresses for people you want to send postcards to). A good book (I usually take 5 or 6 for a fortnight's break !). Extra batteries for your MP3 player/Nintendo DS/camera etc, if you're taking them. A pack of cards or small toy to keep the kids entertained in the hotel room while you're having showers and getting dressed. A writing book for older kids to keep a diary/stick in souvenirs. A USB key - sounds strange but if your kids go to the kids' club, the group leaders often offer to share their mp3s of the hotel club songs and/or photos that have your kids in with you from their computer.
8. Bright, garish towels that your kids will easily recognise on the sunloungers amongst all the plain white ones provided by the hotel !
9. A baby carrier/sling. So much easier than a pushchair at the airport and, above all, for using local transport. Local buses are often "pack in as many as you can" minibuses so it would be near on impossible with a pushchair. Our blond-haired-blue-eyed boy was constantly getting stroked and cooed over in Turkey too, so it was reassuring for him (and us!) to have him up in a sling where we could keep a close eye on him.
10. A small bottle of laundry detergent and washing up liquid. I'm not planning on doing loads of housework while on holiday, don't worry ! But if you take a baby or toddler, you'll probably have a bottle or sippy cup with you, so being able to wash it up in your hotel room is good. The laundry detergent is just in case you need to deal with the aftermath of a leaky nappy, someone who is sick, has a nosebleed or spills ice cream down a fave Tshirt. Little free sample sachets or bottles are perfect.
Apart from clothes and strappy sandals, that's it, isn't it?!
Oh, and a quick piece of advice. If your kids go to the kids' club, they will inevitably form a close bond with the group leader/entertainment coordinators. Just before you go home, buy a postcard of the hotel from reception, fill in your name and address and sneak around behind your kids' backs getting all the kids club staff to write them a quick message. Send it to your home address just before you leave and the kids will get a lovely surprise a couple of weeks later when they're back home and missing being on holiday !
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