We're heading off on a road trip to the south of France this Summer and I have begun compiling my "travel bag essentials" list - this will be the bag that will be with me at all times, and will literally be my bag of tricks. If we need it, it will be in that bag. If we might need it, it will be in the bag. Even if we don't need it, it will be in the bag. You get the idea.
We've travelled around the UK with the children, as far down as the Isle of Wight, but travelling all the way down to the south of France will be a new experience - and we thought we'd throw in a whistle stop tour of Paris with six kids too (we're going with friends, I'm not just losing track of them all), just because we like a challenge.
The kids really enjoyed travelling on the ferry to the IoW & I know they're really looking forward to it again this Summer (particularly E who doesn't remember it at all).
It was our very first holiday as a family of 7 and we enjoyed glorious weather and a wonderful week away. we visited the IoW zoo, enjoyed paddling in the sea and eating ice creams on the prom and playing in the park at the holiday camp. I have really fond memories and look forward to creating many more in the years to come.
Travelling on the ferry & having to leave our car below deck for the crossing meant it was even more important to have everything I needed in my 'hand luggage' just in case, to save scrabbling around amongst bags & cases in the middle of what is essentially a floating car park.
So. My ultimate travel essentials are as follows, & in no particular order...
Wet Wipes ‒ An absolute must at all times for any age. I always have a packet of wet wipes in my hand bag never mind when travelling.
Cash ‒ I am guilty of only ever having my cards on me, if you're travelling it's always useful to have some cash - and some of it in change - just in case.
Mini First Aid Kit ‒ Just a small one consisting of plasters, a pair of nail scissors, paracetamol, calpol sachets, anti-diarrhoea tablets, antihistamines, tissues, antibacterial hand gel and a couple of tampons. This kit is an absolute must for me, I couldn't imagine travelling (particularly abroad) without having these things immediately to hand, as you may remember from when I packed for A's school trip to Poland. Remember to check what you are allowed to take on with hand luggage if you're flying.
Mobile Phone ‒ Fully charged, and ready to use. You never know when you might need it, and also in case anyone needs to get hold of YOU in an emergency back home. Don't forget to take the charger with you!
Snacks ‒ Nothing fancy, just little things that can be thrown over your shoulder into the back of the car if the starving millions start getting restless. I'd probably avoid anything that could get squished whilst in the bag, like bananas for example, and stick to things like cereal bars, mini cheddars, breadsticks, raisins, and the like. Also - water. Little bottles, big bottles, whatever, just make sure you have a drink handy.
Sick Bag ‒ I'm deadly serious. Always, always, always have some sort of receptacle in which to catch vomit. I never travel without one, even when just using public transport locally. There have been one too many incidents involving cupped hands and vomit on the bus. Imagine me sitting staring in horror at my three year old, who is staring back at me in stunned silence having watched me catch her sick in my hands, and then sit there watching it drip through my fingers as I realise that I have nowhere to put it. That. Always carry a sick bag.
Spare Clothing ‒ This really only applies to the toddler for us, usually just a pair of pants & leggings to hold us over until we can fix whatever issue it is we've had that will require a change of clothing, for example drink spillage, or vomit (see 'Sick Bag').
Bribes ‒ Not to be confused with snacks, these are the mini packets of Haribo or Starburst (etc. etc. - other sweets are available) that you can use to buy their silence or cooperation in desperate times. If you don't like the word bribe, simply substitute it for the more socially acceptable 'positive reinforcement', as in - you will positively reinforce that if they behave themselves until the next services, then they will get a sweet when you stop.
Now, this bag is entirely separate to what the children will have. They'll get their own little dap bags with their essentials, and that's a whole other blog post. This is just for us grown ups. Sorry at the lack of wine on the list, but that's a wee bit illegal & dangerous and with any luck it'll be at the other end of your journey anyway. Good luck! And don't forget the sick bag!