Thursday, 3 May 2018

Packing for our Family Staycation {ft. Matalan}

As a family we love nothing more than to travel, whether that's to a far flung sunny destination or somewhere in the UK. We love exploring different places and taking the boys on adventures, and if we are able to, we like to get one or two week long trips booked into the calendar each year, so we have always got an exciting trip to look forward to.

Now that LO is at school, we are more limited as to when we can get away. Of course, travelling abroad is much more expensive in school holidays, but with a two and a half week Easter break, we knew we wanted to book something. And so we decided on a staycation- a week long holiday to Norfolk with friends.

Bizarrely, I found it so much harder to pack for this holiday than for any recent sunshine holiday abroad. As much as I'd love guaranteed sun on holiday, the UK weather just isn't very predictable, especially in spring, when it seems that the weather can be anything from snow storms to scorching sun. I packed with the expectation that we'd mostly have rainy days with a few sunny afternoons thrown in. I knew I needed to be savvy with my packing for the family but wanted to pack for every eventuality given the unpredictable weather conditions in the UK...!

Matalan Suitcase

With that in mind, I was really pleased when Matalan got in touch to ask if we'd like to pick a couple of pieces of luggage from their latest holiday shop range. I was really surprised at the huge range of suitcases and also at how reasonably priced they were too. I wanted to get LO a smallish case which he could be in charge of wheeling around, so it needed to be fairly lightweight. We went for the Kids Dinosaur Cabin Case by IT luggage. LO loves the dinosaur print design and even though it's super lightweight, compact and suitable for use as hand luggage on a plane, it is very deceptive and fits a lot in! It has an interior mesh pocket, a soft grip pull up handle and a handy water bottle pocket too.

Matalan IT Luggage Dinosaur Cabin Case

We also chose the hard shell Venezia Suitcase by IT Luggage in a beautiful pale blue colour. It is quite a large case- bigger than you'd need for a weekend away, but perfect for a week long break or a trip abroad too. The case opens to create two separate packing compartments, separated by a mesh divide. I packed my things in one half and then used the other half for packing all Little L's bits and pieces including nappies, wipes, toys and toddler bedding too. 

IT Luggage Venezia Suitcase Blue
The case was easily large enough for all our things, including chunky knit jumpers, shoes for all weathers and of course, our trusty bucket and spade for our trips to the beach. 

Suitcases in boot of car
I couldn't believe how lightweight both the suitcases were. The Venezia case has four swivel wheels and a pull up handle making it very easy to move about. We have a car with a large boot, so fitting these in was no issue, but they did also fit nicely in the boot of our smaller hatchback too. 

What to pack for staycation
 What to pack

A weatherproof coat
For a spring staycation, you're more than likely to get a few rainy days so a weatherproof coat is a must. Also think about the types of activities you're going to be doing. For us, I knew we'd be doing lots of walks, outdoor activities and rainy beach days rather than more formal outings so I opted for a practical waterproof coat with lots of pockets and a hood over a trench coat or other lightweight spring jacket.

These were my go-to footwear on holiday as I could comfortably wear them on rainy walks (and avoided uncomfy wet socks) and also to the beach (where we mostly splashed in waves and built sandcastles).

Because of the unpredictable weather, I packed a selection of warm jumpers, a couple of cardigans and one chunky hoodie as well. It means you can layer up for cold rainy days and take off a layer should the sun decide to make an appearance. I also love to feel cosy in the evenings and having a big hoodie to throw on at breakfast or in the evenings is really cosy.

There are so many styles now and trainers are really on trend. I can't stand going out for the day with the kids in a pair of uncomfy shoes, and trainers have quickly become my number one choice of footwear, especially on a family staycation where we could be doing a whole host of different activities.

It's worth noting if there's pool, spa or hot tub where you're staying. I had absolutely no plans for swimming in the sea in Norfolk in April, however our lodge did have a hot tub so I knew I'd be using a swimsuit most days (you HAVE to make the most of a hot tub when you get chance, don't you?!)

I've discovered that not everywhere provides bath towels so always check before you go. We also took small beach towels each too.

What's in my bag?

The Essentials...

  • Jeans- including an interchangeable pair which can be teamed with anything. I took two pairs.
  • Tops and tees- a mix of long sleeved tops for cooler days and a selection of nice t-shirts to go with jeans, shorts etc.. 
  • Joggers or leggings- something comfy for days where you might want to lounge about, for outdoors adventures or for evening time when you want to snuggle up and feel comfy. 
  • Shorts- I took one pair of denim shorts just in case the weather was warm enough (one day in the whole week!)
  • Wash bag and makeup bag with the usual toiletries, as well as really good hand cream, anti-bac hand gel and a nice perfume too.
  • First aid kit- if like us you're staying in the middle of nowhere it's worth packing a few essentials such as Calpol, plasters, Savlon, antiseptic wipes, nail clippers, thermometer, paracetamol and a gel ice pack. 
  • Sunglasses and a sun hat.
Tech Stuff
  • iPad with lots of games and shows for the boys. Really useful for long car journeys around the UK (if they're not prone to travel sickness!) and for much needed downtime after those tiring active days out. 
  • DSLR and G7X cameras, as well as my mini gorilla pod tripod. 
  • Phone charger

What to pack for holiday?

What I packed for the boys

100% essential in the UK in spring. Need I say any more?!

The boys have one small umbrella each which are easy to store in the car and under the pram. Taking two saves lots of arguing between them!

Swimming shorts/UV swimsuit
Even if you don't swim in the sea or there's no pool or hot tub where you're staying, it's always worthwhile packing the kids' swimwear- it gives you the option of visiting a local leisure centre if you're looking for something to do in the rainy weather. 

Jeans, shorts and joggers
Luckily there was a washing machine where we were staying so I didn't need to pack lots of trousers, but take a selection of different styles for different activities. I always packed a day bag with a spare pair of trousers and socks for each of the boys- they were mostly on the beach and jumping in puddles so I was always pleased to have that spare set handy. 

T-shirts, long sleeved tops, hoodies
I think I always pack more of these than anything else, especially for Little L who is notorious for spilling food and drinks all down his top. Hoodies and sweatshirts are another thing I like to pack plenty of. 

We always take the boys their favourite PJs so they feel settled when they sleep, as well as their favourite bed time cuddly toys and of course Little L's sleeping bag and a sheet to fit a travel cot. 

Wellies & Trainers
Wellies are essential, and so useful for lots of different activities. We wore them to the beach, to Sandringham for a walk and to a farm park as well. Little L's shoes did get wet and we didn't have a spare pair so I'd maybe take two pairs of regular shoes. 

Other essentials...
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunhats and sunglasses
  • Washbag with all the essentials
  • A few bath toys and plastic cup for washing hair in the bath
  • Nappies, nappy bags and wipes a plenty!! They're so so useful!

If you're going on your staycation in the car, make the most of not having a luggage restriction. I make sure I pack plenty of activities for the boys including a selection of bedtime books, paper, felt tips, a football, kids tennis rackets and balls, a light up ball, iPad, colouring in books and dot to dot, a few jigsaw puzzles etc... Though it is worth checking if the place you're staying in provides any toys as our lodge did, and we had more than enough toys to keep the children entertained all week. We also took a few buckets and spades for the beach days too- 100% essential!!

That's what I packed for our week long staycation to Norfolk! Did you have a staycation at home or around the UK at Easter or did you travel further afield? 

NB: The suitcases were gifted to us by Matalan. All photos and opinions are my own. 



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