The best Pre-departure travel tips for families

Pre-departure travel tips would be sensible would they not? Getting organised before you set off makes for an easier holiday and reduced stress. This article discusses how to plan all that is required before getting to the airport.

There are literally countless lists of what to pack and what to do before you leave on both Pinterest and other blog sites. I’m just putting it out there, ONLY you will know what you need to pack. I need to pack my mascara and my concealer. Comfy shoes, camera and a water bottle are a must. I do not need heels or sparkly dresses. I have girlfriends who will however need several pairs of heel and potentially many sparkly dresses. That’s what makes them, them and me, me. Their luggage will be all matchy-matchy and from some high end luggage shop. I have been using the same canvas tote since I was at school. Incidentally my whole family have the same canvas tote now.

I can’t tell you what you need to pack as you need to take what comforts you. So, I will give you a checklist of pre-departure. For you and the family.


Pack a week before you leave.

I know, you’re time poor. Believe me so am I. BUT, there are simple reasons for this. They are as follows.

  • All the items of clothing you want to pack are in the suitcase – which means they can’t be worn and therefore in need of washing and potentially ironing before leaving.
  • This allows you time to consider outfits. I know – who has time for such things. Believe me, having carried 4 bags through an airport with a toddler under one arm and running to check in before cut off. Where was my husband.. returning the rental car. His strong sense of direction and his faith in following blindly where google maps tell him had us arriving at the airport with 5 minutes until luggage check in closed because we had gone to the wrong terminal first. So… you don’t ever want to have excess luggage. Those just in-case items, don’t pack them. In my mind if something comes up, buy an outfit. You’re on holidays – enjoy.
  • In considering outfits and removing the ‘just in-case’ outfits. Work out your colour palette. I am tremendously boring and only really have black pants. BUT if I am packing orange sandals – question is that red top or pink handbag the best choice for this trip? Neutral with colour pop is best. Keeping your colour pops to your accessories if the easiest way. I really wish I was Collette Dinnigan and had a wardrobe full of amazing black dresses that would allow the addition of sparkle for night and colour by day. I don’t so a bit more care is needed.
  • Now this is the really awful part. UNPACK. Pack again and question every item. Consider the activities you will be doing. If you are going on an adventure holiday, you will need walking shoes. If you are sight seeing you will need comfy shoes. Beach- sandals and so on and so forth.  Leave your bulkiest shoes to wear on the plane. Leave your plane outfit out.
  • Repeat this for each family member. I find kids clothes are best organised in coloured laundry bags. Do you have a DAISO nearby? Purchase coloured laundry bags and label them: shirts, socks and undies, shorts, or perhaps Day one etc. Depends what you think will work best for them. My sister uses large sandwich type bags and has an outfit in each one complete with underwear.


Google bundle wrapping and learn the fundamental packing method to ensure consistent effective packing. Imagine what you pack in a suit bag – use this methodology to your other bags.

Carry on luggage.

In your carry on you should have pyjamas, a change of underwear. A light jumper for on the plane. A girlfriend of mine lent me her cashmere poncho and claimed she finds it so useful for plane travel. I travel with a huge cashmere pashmina as it doubles as a scarf, a blanket and a general comfort. My makeup is added to this. Headphones, book and toothpaste/toothbrush. The kids need the same in regards to pyjamas, underwear. For them I would include there comfort toy if they are still using one.

A book or two (I try to be selective and make them small) a small whiteboard and whiteboard pens. Activity books are great for plane travel. My son travels with one of those neck pillows but essentially he can attach to the back of his backpack so it doesn’t take up space. I find an eye mask to be practical. Blankets for all. My boys have a large bamboo baby blanket that they still use for car and plane travel. Hand wipes and tissues are another must.

Carry-on luggage may be the only luggage you have if your luggage gets delayed or lost. Ensure you have a few essentials and are prepared should that happen.

A checklist for prior to departure
Check luggage is labelled.
  1. There is a reason luggage tags are made.
  2. Make sure you luggage has not only a tag but identifying data elsewhere in case the tag is removed.
  3. I have bright lime green straps for our bags so they are easily noticeable.
  4. Luggage covers may also be an effective way to determine what is yours.
Confirm passports
  1. Ensure copies have been left with a member of the family or a trusted friend.
  2. CHECK expiry dates before travelling.
  3. You need 6 months to allow you to travel, and at this stage I’m really hoping you already did this when booking your trip.
  4. Australian passports take 6-8 weeks, so fingers crossed you don’t have to cancel your travel.
Book accommodation or confirm accommodation

Book accommodation for at least the night when getting off plane. I tend to book accommodation for at least the first 3-4 days but travelling with kids I find you need to have at least an idea of where you are going and possible accommodation places before departure because there are so many needs that you have. If you are travelling with a infant/toddler confirm a travel cot is available. The last thing you want to do is pack a porta-cot. Remember to confirm if the hiring of the travel cot includes linen and then pack accordingly. In my experience you will always need to pack at least a cotton blanket.

TIP – When booking online, early bookings are the key to saving money.


Are you insured and what does it cover? Make sure the activities you have planned are covered. No point going skiing if you are not covered. Just as necessary is do they cover the country you are going to? Again – make copies and send to the same holder of your passport copies. Check your health insurance as you may find it will have some cover. You will then have a better idea of the gap you need to meet with your travel insurance. All I can say is think of this. An Australian couple went to Hawaii on a baby  moon to end up having their baby early. Their medical bills came in at $1,000,000. That’s can’t be easy for a new family. Read the fine print.

Travel to the airport.

I find the best scenario for family travel is a shuttle bus or a hire care. I find when travelling with kids it is always easiest to have some sort of airport collection booked. Trying to keep kids who have been on a flight in a taxi queue is somewhat like dressing an octopus. Ignore the added expense, it’s always worth it. Shuttle buses are usually cheaper than a taxi. Be aware of the size of your shuttle and how many pickups you have. My kids don’t get carsick unless they are winding around from pick up to pick up, much to the disgust of other travelers.

Get dressed for your flight/ road trip.

I always wear long pants and a good pair of shoes. By this I mean no sandals or thongs but something that will enable me to run through an airport. Long pants need only be leggings but comfort is paramount and if you have concerns the paparazzi might snap you in a pair of leggings and a slouchy top change at the airport before/ after customs. I literally flew back from Singapore last year in pyjama pants (we left Singapore at 1.00am) and I refused to go out to meet my husband without changing, despite my son saying no-one is going to care. I did, but I had so desperately needed comfort on the plane that I had pyjama pants on.

Medical and prescriptions.

I travel with what is required for the duration of my stay, so I get my prescriptions before I leave Australia.  All drugs remain in their original bottles or packets. It does create bulk in my suit case but I would prefer that to being in jail overseas. I always travel with anti-inflammatory drugs now. I was caught out in Fiji with a bad back and not being able to walk upright. How does that work? Yep, I walked like I was bending over to pick something up. And, yes, I didn’t walk far. The hotel doctor prescribed ice after paying $80 for the privilege. Thank goodness a friend arrived with necessary drugs and fixed me up. Trying to get even the simplest of medicines in countries that are quiet forward can be difficult if you are an ‘outta towner’.


So you are ready to go. Get on your way and have a great holiday!




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