Most people are not exactly jumping for joy when they realize that they must begin one of the least fun parts of the traveling process—which is, of course, packing. But being tasked with packing for a family vacation to a foreign country? Way easier said than done.
Since there are so many factors to take into account in the pre-packing planning stages (i.e. how many days you will be traveling, what will the weather be like, how much space you have left in your suitcases, etc.), it can be overwhelming to say the least.
So, to save you some stress—because honestly, the last thing you need when planning a trip across the globe for both you and your family is more stress—here are a few tips for packing for a family vacation to London.
No Matter What, Bring Along Rain Gear
No matter what the weatherman predicts or what your weather app shows you or what anyone and everyone says, bring rain gear with you when your family is vacationing in London.
Yes, rain gear takes up a ridiculous amount of space in suitcases, especially for when it is for multiple people. And yes, if you don’t end up using it, you might feel a twinge of annoyance while you are unpacking the bulky rain gear.
But risking trudging around London in pouring rain with kids in tow is not a bet worth taking. In theory, you could just buy some rain gear while on vacation, but who wants to pay for something that you could have just grabbed from your hallway closet?
Plus, even if you choose to risk it and end up having to purchase umbrellas, jackets and rain boots from some London store, you will also have to either, A. Toss them out before leaving, because they will not fit into your suitcases for the flight back home, or B. End up having to re-arrange everything you brought with you in order to make space for your newly acquired rain gear.
Absolutely positive that you don’t need to bring rain gear with you? Do yourself a favor and at least bring each family member a small, portable umbrella.
Buy and Bring Along Outlet Plug Adapters
Buying an outlet plug adapter (not a converter!) or two prior to a family trip to London is a smart move, since charging any of your small technological devices there will be nearly impossible otherwise.
While a few hotels have adapters in their guest rooms or available to borrow at the front desk, it is far from a guaranteed amenity. And though many tourist spots are beginning to install different types of international outlets for visitors to use, this practice is still relatively uncommon, which is why bringing some along for you and your family members to use at night makes sense.
Not sure where to buy these? Check out your local electronic store
Word of warning: Do not put this off because you would rather just pick one up once you land in London. Not only can it cost you more money, it is also much more of a hassle to return purchases while traveling in case you grab the incorrect type. And grabbing the wrong type is super likely, unless you happen to be internationally tech-savvy.
Be sure to keep an eye on the voltage numbers and preferably opt to only use and charge dual voltage appliances while traveling abroad. You can probably safely charge most small electronics (like smartphones and tablets) with no issues, but steer clear of hair-dryers and other higher-volt electronics, since not paying attention to the numbers can lead to fried electronics and lots of sparks.
Make the Most Out of Apps
There are many fantastic traveling apps out there—some of which I have raved about before—and quite a few are great for family vacations in particular.
To keep track of flight information, download the FlightAware Flight Tracker. For some easy entertainment, download some games to play. Really, there are so many clever apps out there that will make your life easier and a quick search will bring them right to your fingertips.
Pack Extra Bags To Use For The Trip Back
This is advice is now all over the internet, but my mother (who is the queen of packing and has been giving out bizarre, but brilliant tips for packing to people for as long as I can remember) always insisted on doing this for every single family trip when I was growing up.
Basically, you take one tote bag for each family member and tuck it into the front of each person’s suitcase pocket on the way there. On the way back, these can double as carry-ons for the plane ride back if needed (and when you are traveling with kids, odds are that you will end up needing the extra space).
Bring Backup Pairs of Headphones
You may be rolling your eyes at this suggestion, but hear me out!
It probably goes without saying that headphones are a tried and true travel essential, especially when it comes to family trips. Whether you want to plug into your laptop and get some work done or your kids want to enjoy their favorite show or movie on a tablet, packing headphones makes perfect sense.
But the emphasis here is on packing a few extra pairs of headphones, because ear phones have a way of getting lost or broken while you and your family are on the move and nothing is more irritating than having to share headphones with a group of people.
Avoid having to wait for “your turn” in order to relax with a movie or music by bringing at least one extra pair for every two people on the trip. Seriously, it is much better to be safe than sorry. Besides, since these take up so little space, even if you end up not using any of the extra pairs that you brought along, you have wasted tons of valuable suitcase space.
(Psst! This also applies to iPhone chargers. And you might as well opt for the super cheap kind they sell at drugstores since they are just backups.)
Any seasoned travelers out there itching to share their packing tips for traveling across the pond for a family vacation? Go ahead & share your thoughts below!