Val d'Isere Plage Ouillette bar

Each week, we take a look inside someone’s suitcase, to discover the things they take away with them, and get some tips and tricks. Today, it’s the turn of Space In Your Case contributor, Helen Wills, who can often be found skiing down a mountain or camping with her family.


First up, my Samsung smart camera (5). I know. I’m a heathen, but there’s nothing I hate more than carrying huge volumes of stuff round with me on holiday. Nothing, apart from not having a camera on me to capture those moments that just happen, when you’re least expecting them. These days, smart cameras do way more than they used to, if you’re prepared to learn how to use the settings, you can get some fabulous pictures (see top) that would rival some of the DSLR results I see.

Going away on a trip is all about the excitement of the new and the different, and I embrace that, I really do. Making memories with my family is my first priority at the moment, as I am painfully aware of how little time there is before they will want to travel with their friends rather than their family (unless, of course, I’m offering to shout a ski trip for them and their respective girl/boyfriends)! But I’m afraid there is one thing I cannot live without, no matter where I travel, and that’s a decent coffee in the morning. So the first thing that goes into my suitcase is a packet of Lavazza Crema e Gusto ground coffee (1) and an individual cafetière. It has been to Spanish holiday parks, Canadian ski resorts, and stored alongside my portable gas stove and milk pan when I’ve camped in a field. Trust me, good coffee is essential!

Always in my toiletries bag is a stick of Carmex lip balm (2). I get dry lips at the best of times, and Carmex really sorts them out, without the need to constantly reapply. Plus, it has a sunscreen, which is essential in hot or cold weather to prevent painful cracked lips. I once forgot to take it on a ski trip and ended up with burned lips – not a good look or a comfortable one! Important for the kids too.

Now I know the debate rages over books versus ereaders, but I don’t go far without my Kindle (4). One of the delights of holidaying as a family is when the kids get some quality time with one parent, and the remaining adult gets a bit of ‘me time.’ For me, that means diving into a book, and I can really motor through the pages once I start. Which sometimes means I can get through a book in a couple of days. Like Katie, I’m a secret trashy novel reader on holiday – literary challenge is reserved for my book group when I get home – so my reads never last long. And a bit of trash sometimes inspires my next trip: right now I’m hankering after an American road trip as I charge through my latest read, The Long Way Home, by Karen McQuestion.

Finally, it has to be blackout blinds. Excitement has a lot to answer for when you travel with children, and I quickly found that if I wanted to sleep past dawn in my sunny holiday location, I needed to cut some early daylight out of the kids rooms. Personally, I just pack a length of blackout fabric and some Duck tape to put up at their windows when we get there, but if you want to let the light in during the day, this portable Blackout Buddy (3) looks perfect for popping up and down when it’s time to sleep. Helps with naptimes and siestas after the inevitable late nights too!

Helen Wills' suitcase essentials

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