Eimear Hutchinson: Tips on packing for a family holiday

With six in the family to organise for holidays EIMEAR HUTCHINSON shares some packing wins and fails she’s learned from in recent years
Eimear Hutchinson: Tips on packing for a family holiday

Eimear Hutchinson shares her tips on what to pack for a family holiday.

WITH six in the family packing is never a light-hearted, last-minute task, it takes days to organise ourselves even for a simple weekend trip to Sligo.

It is also very much a joint effort. My husband is the man to take care of the rain gear or the beach stuff, the dog and all the other bits that we need to haul with us. I am usually left in charge of packing the clothes and while I used to be fairly bad at it, I have gotten better.

I rarely arrive somewhere now having forgotten essentials like pyjamas or underwear, it used to happen regularly but the slow dissolution of baby brain and a better way of packing means I am rarely caught making a swift trip to Penney’s when we arrive somewhere.


It probably goes without saying that the most important thing to do when packing is to write a list, and not a mental one because those are harder to keep track of!

Give yourself plenty of time to pack too, it just means you are not haphazardly throwing things into a suitcase and forgetting things so that you have to go and buy them when you are away, that’s annoying and an unnecessary expense.

We are usually last minute packers just because we always seem to be busy but for this summer holiday we packed a week early, mainly because we nearly missed the boat at Easter after leaving everything to the last minute.


The key to packing clothes is to roll them, flatten the roll and then pop them in the suitcase side by side so that the edge of every piece of clothing you put in can be seen. I pack in rows and have a row for each child that starts with jumpers, tops, bottoms, pyjamas and underwear, in that order. It is so easy to scan through the row, make sure you have everything and enough of everything. Previously if I packed in a way that meant stuff was on top of each other things inevitably got forgotten. It has been the key to my success over the last few years.


Packing cubes are another very handy invention. Especially useful if you are travelling for a long holiday and there are so many bits to bring like travel documents, makeup, hair stuff, cables and chargers, it is logical to pack them into individual bags so they are easy to find, easy to remember and easy to pack on the other side too. I use them in suitcases and also to keep my handbag organised.

It is so much easier to grab a small pouch with the travel documents in rather than rooting around the bottom of your handbag. Just try not to lose it!


If you are going away this summer be sure to pack some general purpose medication. It is something I used to always forget but now I never go without. There is literally nothing more stressful than being somewhere away from home with a sick child in the middle of the night. 

Suppositories are great for travelling because they can’t break and spill and you’re not restricted by liquid volume. They also tend to work faster than their liquid counterpart.

Bring a thermometer too and an antihistamine is also useful, one of our ladies has dust and pollen allergies so we have to bring it with us but you’d be surprised how many times we have used it for bites and irritations with the other girls too. If you have any prescription medication I would keep it in my handbag to avoid it getting lost if your luggage happens to go astray.


When it comes to makeup and toiletries think multitasking products and solid over liquid. I love solid shampoo bars, they work so well to wash your hair, they take up far less space than a liquid alternative would and they can’t spill.

I tend to avoid bringing any powder-based products and these can break easily and once powder breaks it tends to go everywhere so unless you want perpetually glittery clothes consider bring pots of cream eyeshadow, cream sticks that can double up as lipstick and blusher and a liquid highlighter.


Some other things that can be forgotten but always come in useful include a small sewing kit. I had to sew back on a pair of coat sleeves in Dublin Airport in February, it wasn’t even a cheap coat it just decided that was as good a time as any to give up on me.

Reusable water bottles and coffee cups are always a convenient thing to bring with you. 

I always opt for insulated water bottles, if you fill it from the tap before you leave in the morning it means your water stays cool which is far more satisfying than constantly buying bottles of water. In my experience most coffee shops or restaurants will refill your bottle for you if you stop for a snack or food.

Here’s to a summer of adventure, wherever you venture far away or stay close to home I hope we catch a break!

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