31 things you need to remember for next year's holiday

Packing suitcase

Family holidays are magical, aren't they? Except for the last minute scramble for passports, that time you forgot to pack adaptors, the small fortune you spent on an inflatable unicorn that would have cost a tenner on Amazon, and let's not forget that three-hour car journey from the airport to the villa. That was loads of fun, right? But next year will be different because next year you will consult the ultimate holiday to-do list well in advance – and all the stuff you usually forget will be organised and ready to go.

1. Don't leave things to the last minute

passport

''Check the location of all passports, driving licences, EHICs etc to avoid a mad panic.''

2. Timing really is everything

family on holiday

''The ideal week for our DCs to go away is the second week of the school holidays – go away right at the start and they spend the first two days tired from the school term. Go away at the end of summer and they've had enough of each other.''

3. Make the airport as stress-free as possible

airport

''A small cross body bag for your purse, phone, passport and boarding card is handy so you don't have to keep taking your backpack off while holding a small child's hand.''

4. And save yourself hassle further down the line

ready

''This year I have written the year in marker pens on all the sun cream bottles that were worth keeping after our holiday. Hopefully, that way when I look through what I've got next year, I won't think 'oh, I've probably had that stuff for years' and bin it all.''

5. You've not booked a one-way ticket, so take some warm clothing

jumper

''Bring a jumper. Even if it's 22 degrees when you leave and 32 while you're away, it will inevitably be 14 degrees when you land at stupid o'clock when you come home.''

6. Be suitcase savvy

packing

''Buy soft luggage rather than a hard shell suitcase – you can get much more in them.''

''Split everyone's clothes between all the suitcases. If one case gets lost en route, everyone still has something to wear.''

''For the love of God, please mark your black cases so you can identify them in the pile of black cases.''

7. Or ditch the big bags altogether

I don't need you

''We did hand luggage only for the first time ever – I wore the same dress for three nights, one other outfit (which I wore home) and no make-up. And yes, I coped without 24 pairs of clean knickers.''

8. Seriously though, go easy on the knickers…

knickers

''You, as an adult, will not suddenly start pissing yourself halfway through the day. You do not need to take three pairs of knickers per day.''

9. And all those clothes you definitely won't wear

throwing clothes

''You will not need five different dressy outfits. On every holiday you end up sitting by the pool for hours on end.''

10. Start your holiday as you mean to go on

child on aeroplane

''Take DCs to the toilet just before descent so there isn't any hysteria when you're landing.''

11. Fail to prepare, prepare to get stung

mosquito spray

''Remember to take mosquito repellent.''

13. In more ways than one…

budget

''Buy pool inflatables/toys/balls on Amazon before you go. They cost £££ in the hotel/holiday shops.''

''Don't assume the Dutch campsite will provide loo roll or free showers – bring enough change for the latter.''

14. IKEA bags are worth their weight in gold

Ikea

''We take IKEA bags and put them in the wardrobe for dirty laundry. Then when we pack to go home, we stick everyone's remaining clean stuff in one bag and fill the rest with dirty stuff for easy sorting back home.''

''We use medium-sized IKEA blue bags as beach bags. Cheap and perfect.''

15. And trust us, you will need that beach bag…

beach bag

''You need to bring a big beach bag. It will come in handy for carrying crap from the villa to the pool. The one you looked at and then rejected 10 minutes before leaving would have been perfect.''

16. Long stays are glorious in theory

horrible decision

''Two weeks is too long – a week is plenty. Undiluted family time is not all it's cracked up to be.''

17. Long journeys are a recipe for very grumpy children

grumpy child

''Travelling over two hours from home to the airport and then the same at the other end is not worth saving a few hundred on a holiday.''

18. Remember the essentials

first aid kit

''I have a small wash bag with emergency medicine and objects of need – scissors, antihistamines, pain relief, spare reading glasses.''

''Take more face wipes and adaptors.''

''Blister plasters…blister plasters…blister plasters.''

19. And the things that will definitely come in handy

child with plastic cup

''Bring plastic cups for DCs – if I have to listen to DS clatter a glass onto a glass tabletop one more time…''

''Pack a few Ziploc bags – they're very useful for all sorts of things: a wet facecloth on the day you come home, keeping food fresh, putting a phone in to protect from sand. They can also be used as a clear bag for your 100ml liquids when the crappy free ones the airport gives you inevitably split/tear.''

20. But ditch the crap you definitely won't need

high heels

''Stop packing heels. You will never, ever wear them.''

''You never wear foundation – when it's hot, it melts.''

''Straighteners are pointless because of holiday frizz. Pin it up.''

21. You're on holiday, not prepping for University Challenge

Paxman

''Don’t kid yourself that you'll read highbrow books. Take crappy thrillers and don't feel guilty.''

22. Or heading off to the magical land of Kids Never Argue Here

want to go

''Don't imagine that your kids will get along with each other. They argue constantly at home, so it will be the same on holiday.''

23. Or the land of My Suddenly Fussy Eater Is No Longer Fussy

child food tantrum

''Pack oat bars and biscuits from home in case super fussy DC1 doesn't find any 'treat' foods they like and feel hard done by when DC2 is having puddings.''

24. If you're self-catering…

children making food

''Don't forget oven gloves and a bath mat – otherwise, you'll end up having to use your nice shower towels for both these jobs.''

25. Some home comforts you just can't live without

drinking tea

''Yorkshire tea bags means you can have one proper cup of tea in the morning and then you're set.''

26. You never know when you'll need them

girls playing cards

''I was tickled on a rainy day camping that I could hear 'UNO!' from a nearby tent.''

27. If you're hiring a car, do your research

family in car

''Buy insurance before you travel that covers any excess. Mine only cost £19 but the companies try to charge you £100/£200 for the same thing.''

''Take photos of the car from various angles before you leave the car hire parking in case they try to charge you for damage that was already there.''

28. Like we said, research

woman on laptop

''Use the car hire company's own insurance, rather than a third party's.''

29. Or perhaps you're taking your own along for the ride

woman riding in car

''When taking your own car abroad, remember to carry paper copies of your car registration certificate and insurance. Not needed in the UK, but required everywhere else. Same with your driving licence.''

30. It's your holiday too

children playing game

''Buy cheap sticker books before you go and have films on the laptop/iPad to entertain the DCs.''

31. And before you forget…

list

''Write a packing list now for your next holiday and save it on your computer. Then take the items on that list and only those items next year.''

''Write or amend a packing list for next time while everything is fresh in your mind – ditch the things you didn't use and add on anything that you ended up needing or buying when away.''