We love hearing what other people take on family trips with them – it inspires us and gives us nuggets of ideas that could make travelling with kids so much easier in future. The latest person to let us delve into their hand luggage is a real family travel expert – Wendy Shand is the founder of Tots To Travel, a specialist family friendly villa and cottage company that really goes that extra mile in pairing you with the perfect self catering holiday accommodation. “I set up Tots To Travel in 2006, after my two year old son fell into an unenclosed swimming pool whilst on a family holiday and I became frustrated by the absence of safe, family friendly holiday villas,” explains Wendy. So she made it her mission to provide that very thing. “Our aim is to safeguard your precious family holiday by handpicking the very best family friendly villas and cottages around Europe, ” she says. “All our villas and cottages are visited by one of the team to check they exist (beware of scams), that they are clean, that they are as beautiful as they look in the photos and that there is nothing nearby that would ruin your holiday.”
Wendy really does know her stuff when it comes to family travel, so what does she take on trips with her?
“My children love eating on the go so I always pack an extensive picnic (1) with their favourite food that keeps them happy and entertained. Another ‘must have’ is a pashmina (2) – it’s handy for anything from warming myself up when I’m feeling cold, to wrapping up my little one for a nap or even playing ‘peek-a-boo’.
I’ll always take my Kindle (3) with a new book for us to share. My youngest son, Monty and I are currently in a Roald Dahl phase so he’s always very quick to climb onto my lap for the next instalment. My older two children are voracious readers so they always pack their own books in their hand luggage.
You never know when you might be delayed or need to pull something out of your bag to entertain the troops. So I always take either a balloon to inflate and deflate (4) or a small ball. A couple of years ago we were stuck for hours in the car hire queue and the ball in my hand luggage was a saving grace!
Wet wipes (5) – always! Doesn’t seem to matter how old your children are, wet wipes are essential! If I have time…a bag full of carrot batons (6)! My mum used to do this for my sister and I on long plane flights and it’s a great alternative to the non-stop demand for sweets (which I will also pack by the way!)
I always buy a new colouring book (7) or puzzle book and felt tips or crayons for the kids. We love sitting on the plane colouring and chatting together.”
What are your essentials when travelling with kids?