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9 absolute essentials for travelling with children

Posted on
November 28, 2019

Family holiday packing lists are easy to find online and can give parents some reassurance that they’ve packed everything that they need when travelling with children. However, you’ll find that some packing lists can run to hundreds of items, which can actually add to any anxiety around packing for a family holiday, rather than make life easier.

Do you really need to pack a thermometer, nail clippers and talcum powder? What if you pack everything but the kitchen sink, and then somehow omit to pack your passport because it’s not on the online packing list you’re going off?

To help put your mind at rest that you’ve packed the essentials for your trip, I’ve listed the only nine things that you really need when it comes to packing for a family holiday…

9 things to not forget when travelling with children

1. Passport

If you plan to leave the country, you won’t get anywhere without a passport. Depending on your nationality, children’s passports may only last for five years, meaning that they’ll need renewing sooner than a standard ten-year adult passport. Depending on the country you’re travelling to, there may be also a requirement to have six months remaining on a passport past the date that you’re expected to return. So, to be safe, it’s always worth renewing passports early. 

If you need a passport quickly, you may be able get a passport renewed the same day for adults, but in countries such as the UK, the same service isn’t available for children and the quickest you can get a passport is a week. So, be sure to check you have up-to-date passports for your whole family in plenty of time, preferably before you book your holiday.

2. Visa

A visa may be just as essential as a passport, depending on the country that you’re heading to. Whether you need a visa and how long it takes to get one depends on your nationality and the country that you’re travelling to.

Visas to travel to India can take up to four months to process, which is definitely something that’s worth bearing in mind before you book a last-minute trip. Other countries can have online visas ready in a couple of days.

3. Birth certificate

If you have a different surname to your children, you should also take their birth certificate in case you need to prove that they’re your children. Depending on your circumstances, you may also need to take your marriage or divorce certificate to show that you’ve changed your name and help to explain why your passports don’t match.

4. Car seat

Different countries have different rules regarding whether car seats are required for taxis or Ubers. You  certainly don’t want to arrive at the airport and find that no taxi will take you because you don’t have a car seat.

Even if the law doesn’t require a car seat to be used, you still might want to bring one for safety. If you wouldn’t let your child ride in your own car without a car seat, why should you do it in a taxi?

Rather than carrying bulky car seats, travel car seats and inflatable seats are available for children over four years old which fold up really small to fit in your luggage.


5. Vaccinations

It’s important to research the vaccinations which your family may need. As well as your destination, your vaccination needs will depend on other factors such as how long you’ll stay, what you’ll be doing there and your general health.

Speak to your doctor at least 4 – 6 weeks before you travel to ensure that every member of your family has the right protection. This includes making sure that your children’s standard immunisations are up to date.

6. Travel insurance

Travel insurance is a necessity for any kind of travel, especially for children. Covering things like cancellation due to weather or illness, medical treatment abroad and lost or stolen luggage, the consequences of not having travel insurance could be huge. Annual policies for families can be relatively inexpensive, making travel insurance one thing which you should never travel without

7. Booking details

With everything on line, it might be possible to travel without your booking details, but why risk it? Everything can be found on your phone in emails and on apps, but what if you lose signal, or your toddler drops your phone in the toilet? To be on the safe side, it’s wise to print paper copies of flight tickets, hotel reservations and insurance policy numbers details and carry them with you.

8. Money

Planning your travel money ahead of time is a good idea. Whilst you could just rock up with your regular bank card and change some at the airport or use an ATM abroad, you’re unlikely to get a great deal. Instead, research the best travel credit cards and the best places to change cash before you go. 

9. Entertainment

Wherever you’re going, you’re going to need something to keep the little ones entertained along the way. Whilst you might not like your child to have a lot of screen time every day, long journeys are the place to make an exception to this rule. Packing a kid-friendly tablet computer and children’s travel games can be the best way to prevent the cries of ‘Are we nearly there yet?’.


What else do you need?

Now you have the main things, of course you’ll want to take more. Clothes for instance, you’ll want those on your list, for sure! Should there be a disaster and your suitcase go missing, you’ll be able to manage without clothes for a short time until you can buy more. But arriving at the airport without your child’s birth certificate? Well, that could mean that there’s no holiday at all.

This article was provided by Jenni Fielding on behalf on

1 Comment
  1. Reply


    December 16, 2019

    You made certain good points there. I did a search on the topic and found nearly all folks will go along with with your blog.

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Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog