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Sun Holiday Essentials - Tips for travelling light with Children

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Sun Holiday Essentials - Tips for travelling light with Children

After a wonderful holiday in the South of France, we have just returned this week back to Dublin. Pure blue skies, beach days and warm balmy nights are my idea of heaven and whenever we're getting ready for a family trip like this I try to pack as light as possible. 

Of course, when packing the destination is paramount and so is the time of year. We had soaring daily temperatures and a night-time average of 28 degrees which really reduced the bulk and weight of our luggage. If you're travelling somewhere cooler you'll probably need a bigger suitcase! This year we managed to pack two carry-on suitcases, one for me and one for David, and one larger case for the boys which included their toiletries and ours plus a few extra items. Backpacks for the boys are also a must which included snacks and activities for the plane. The ones we have are soft and lightweight so they can be squeezed into the back of rental cars and under airplane seats.

One of the best things about travelling with my family is that I feel comfortable in whatever I wear so I can pack a small suitcase and mix and match. I’m not seeing the same friends or colleagues each day so I can wear what I want as often as I want. And from past experience, I've learned that no matter how many pairs of shorts I pack I end up wearing the same one or two for the entire holiday, and I'm often in a bikini and beach dress during the day anyway so even the ones I do pack don't get much wear.

Here is, after 13 years of traveling with kids, my go-to lightweight sun holiday packing list...

I've learned the easiest way to plan is to divide up the packing list into categories. One for clothes to pack, one for beach-wear and another for the clothes they travel in - the clothes they travel in are another set they can wear after we arrive which can often be forgotten about when writing out packing essentials.

Clothing for the boys:

Daytime & Evening Wear (each)

  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 4 T-shirts
  • 1 polo shirt
  • 2 pairs of runner socks
  • 5 underpants
  • 1 pair of pyjamas 

Beach Wear

  • Sun hat
  • 2 swim shorts
  • 1 rash vest
  • Sun glasses
  • Crocs
  • Goggles
  • Arm bands

Travel Outfit

  • Shorts
  • T-shirt
  • Hoodie
  • Runner socks and underwear
  • Slip-on runners
  • Lightweight waterproof jacket with a hood




We’ve been using individual backpacks when travelling for all the boys since our youngest was two. They’re essential on travel days for carrying snacks and activities for the plane and when we arrive at our destination they also come with us to restaurants to keep little ones occupied. 

  • Copy books
  • Crayons 
  • Markers
  • Travel sized games like Uno, Rubix cube
  • Book

For Ross:

  • Headphones
  • Kindle 
  • Phone for music
  • Notebook and pen

Inflatable booster seats (x2)

These are really handy for the plane and save on the car hire cost. We have the Bubblebum brand which is great. They also attach to the carry-on bags which is ideal.

Flat cotton or Turkish/Hammam towels

These thin beach towels are perfect for sun holidays, they’re hard wearing for humid conditions, less heavy when wet and dry much more quickly. They’re lighter to pack so take up less space and they can also double as a sarong or picnic blanket.


I pack all my makeup and toiletries in travel sized containers and buy shampoo, conditioner, body wash and toothpaste when I arrive which is enough for the five of us for the length of our stay. Other items we all use which I pack on our big suitcase are:

  • La Roche Posay sun creams - Factor 30 and Factor 50
  • Toothbrushes
  • Nail scissors
  • Mosquito repellent
  • La Roche Posay Body Milk

Medical travel kit 

Thankfully the only things we usually need in our medicine bag are plasters and Sudocrem for grazed knees, but it’s good to have these other supplies to hand just in case:

  • Calpol 
  • Paracetamol
  • Hydrocortisone cream
  • Sudocrem
  • Plasters

Cool bag

This has been a more recent addition to our suitcase and now something we would never forget to pack. Essential for picnics and imperative for keeping rose cool on the beach!

Travelling light has so many advantages. You have less to carry on travel days. When you arrive you only have the essentials so everything is easy to find. Packing to go home is so quick and easy and likewise so is unpacking.

I hope this helps for your next sun holiday and that most of all you have a fun and enjoyable trip!

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