I am Some Packy Hackies Mum

It’s almost Holibop Season!

Hurrah!

Packing is something that I am good at.  I enjoy it and generally once I have my lists done, it doesn’t take long.  I’m a light packer.  I can pack myself and Himself into one case for a week away.  If we’re doing a weekend trip, one small bag is plenty.  And I can do a trip alone with tiny carry on.  I have been known to arrive in London with my toothbrush, clean knickers and a tee-shirt tucked into my handbag.

Packing for the four of us to go on holidays has never been hard either.  Simply because we’ve never ventured beyond Ireland, and so we’ve had the luxury of the boot of the car and as much space as we need.

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So last year, going on our first sun holiday as a family,  presented Mammy with a new challenge.  And I must say that thanks to the Mammies on my blog, I  gathered some super tips to add to my own packy-hacks:  Each of these worked a charm, and I’ll be doing the exact same this year.

  • Lists: Plan ahead.  I write down what will be worn/needed by everyone for the number of nights we’re away.  Then I add a spare outfit for the girls, just incase.
  • Mix up the bags: I had planned on a case for us and a case for the girls. We have one each, but I’m not lugging 4 cases through the airports.  Loads of Mums told me to mix all of the clothes between the cases, and if one gets lost or delayed, at least everyone still has clothes when we arrive.
  • Check-in? If you arrive at your resort early, your room/apartment might not be ready. Pack swimming gear and sun cream in one of the carry on bags so that you can go straight to the pool while you wait for your check-in.
  • Ziplock bags: THIS has changed my life Ladybelles.  Thanks to Davina from Jim for this one. She advised me to pack the kids clothes into these.  So for each evening, I have their dresses, underwear, socks etc that they’ll need for going out for dinner in little bags. It will avoid the suitcases turning into chaotic pits of “I can’t find it!”  I have their shorts and Tees and Swimmers and PJs labeled in their bags too, so The Him will be able to easily find things too.  (I’ve since been directed to little sets of case organisers that can be bought in different colours and have it on good authority that they are super.  I never did get around to buying them however!)
  • Pop-up tent:  My mate is a serial beach goer.  This is her tip. Bring a little pop up tent. We have a little wigwam in the hall. It cost a tenner. It folds down to nothing and if it fits, it’s going into one of the cases. It’ll provide shade for the girls, means they can play in it if it gets too hot on the beach and it was perfect last year for changing nappies!  Genius.
  •  Backpacks:  Now, my girls have flown a few times, but only short flights.  I’ve always packed little colouring books and some snacks into their bags to keep them occupied.  This time, I’ve packed a few more and have a few wee surprises for them for emergency distractions! (Euroshops are Wicked for this kind of stuff.)
  • Downloads:  Did you know that you can download from your Netflix account? I have my tablet stocked up with episodes of Paw Patrol and a few movies.
  • Snack packs:  Now this one I initially scoffed at, but let’s face it, children eat ALL DAY and snacks are expensive.  So, I have done up a snack pack for each day; popcorn, raisins, pops, Haribo, Biscuits; their favourites.  And while of course we’ll be able to get this stuff there, to know that I have the bags ready to pop into the buggy each morning is great.  And the whole lot cost me €7.  So we’ll save our money for drinks and ice-creams.
  • Lollipops and chewy sweets:  Life saver for the ears of the Minions on take-off and landing.
  • Travel sized stuff:  Who doesn’t love mini-stuff?  Over the past few weeks, I’ve picked up my moisturiser and some of my makeup bits simply by asking for samples at the counters. There’s enough suncream to carry without jars and pots.  I even got a lovely face mask from one lovely lady.   I tend to leave the makeup at home on hols, opting instead for basic concealer, bronzer and mascara. And I decant my shampoo and conditioner into the little plastic bottles too.
  • Keep hand luggage minimal. The girls have their little bags, I have my handbag, and Him will have a small carry on with a change of clothes for both girls, calpol and more snacks… and ALWAYS, the Babywipes!
  • Midnight Flit?  If you are lifting your minions out of bed to travel, either put them to bed in their tracksuits or comfies. (If you can!)
  • Pillow Cases:  Pack 2 pillowcases.  Use them as laundry bags; one for lights, one for darks/colours.  Easier to carry the washing home and easier to unpack. (I swear by this one. Works a treat.)
  • Beds:  Before we go, I’ll change the beds. Pain in the posterier as you try to get out the door, but just think of how lovely it is to get back into your own nice, clean bed after a week away. I’ll be glad of it when we return.

 

These are only a few of the many, many I got sent.  I’m sure there are many more you would add.   Some might tut at my over preparation, but I’m one of those people who needs my shit to be together, for my mind to stay together.

I’ll relax more knowing that I have the essentials sorted. And anything that we forgot can be bought there.  Mammies tend to do all the sorting don’t we? But this Mammy believes that preparation is key and I know that when we get there, I WILL relax, because I’ve put in the work at home!

All I need to do now is to make sure there’s a few beers in the fridge for the Big Wee Brother who’s moving in to babysit the Furbaby. And get there!

Happy Holidays to you if you’re going away. Share away at your own packing-hacks!

 

I am Some Packing Hacking Mum

Packing for holidays is something I’ve always been good at; enjoyed even.  I am the Queen of packing light, usually packing for both of us in one case.  I’ve been known to arrive in my brother’s in London with just a handbag. Essentials only.  I’m low maintenance when it comes to packing.  As long as I have my lenses, bank card and passport, I’m a “good to go” kind of gal.

case

But that in the days BC; Before Children.  If we’re going away even for a night, more effort goes into packing for the girls to have a sleepover in Granny’s than into our own packing. Going on Staycations over the past few years, even minimal packing has filled the car to the brim.

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So going abroad for the first time with the two minions and limited luggage posed its own problems.  And yet, with some great tips from the Mammies on my blog, I managed to make our 4 x suitcase, 80Kg allowance into two suitcases of 39Kg. so rather than 4 big cases and carry-on bags, we had only 2 bags to lug around airports and a small handbag or backpack each.

So here are my top tips for packing for a family holibop.

  1. Plan and List: Yes I am a Listy McListerson. I made a list of everything we’d need; clothes, nappies, chargers, suncream etc.  I planned the outfits to bring for each of us for each day.  I then added 2 extra outfits for the girls because let’s face it, at some point there will be a spillage or a poonami or something.   I set the cases out and as I set things into the room where I was packing, I ticked them off the list. Anything that wasn’t on the list, didn’t go in the bags.

2. Ziplock bags: BEST IDEA EVER from a fellow JimMum. She told me to put everything in clear bags; swimwear, pjs, vests, undrewear etc.  I put each outfit for the girls into wee bags and wrote their initial on the front. I popped underwear/nappy into each bag too, so in the evening  when they were being showered, I simply reached for the bags and their full outfits were ready to go. No searching for things in cases. Easy.

3.Spread the love:  Pack a change of clothes and swimwear for everyone in one of the carryone bags. This way, if your room isn’t ready, you can still go to the pool without having to start rummaging through cases. Another tip I got, which made perfect sense was to spread everyone’s clothes between the cases so that if a case got lost or delayed, everyone still had clothes with them.

4. Snack packs: I don’t know about your Minions, but my two eat every 5 minutes. My sister advised me to do up little snack bags for the flights and also for the pool bag and while I initially laughed it off, I am so glad that I did.  For  less than €6, I filled 9 bags with their favourites; popcorn, haribo, raisins, breadsticks etc. And each day, they munched through these and we saved a fortune, only having to buy ice-creams and drinks.

5. Puzzlebooks and mermaid poo:  For a few euro in a Euro shop, I stocked up on colouring books and puzzlebooks, crayons and “Mermaid poo”  These went into my bag every evening and were produced after dinner, proving a great distraction when needed.

6. Downloads: Now, we don’t usually resort to screens outside of home unless we’re desperate for just 10 more minutes to finish a meal. But downloading episodes from Netflix is a must.  Firstly, for the last hour of the flight, where the colouring books are exhausted and secondly, after their shower in the evening to give Mammy and Daddy 20 minutes to get ready. A few episodes of Ben & Holly came in handy.

7. One big carry-on bag: While I had my handbag, and the girls had their backpacks, Him carried a small case.  On the way over, it was pretty empty apart from swimwear, but on the way home, we used it for all of the towels and checked it into the hold. It also meant that we had room for bits and pieces the girls had gathered up while away.

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8. Microfibre towels: This was my greatest hack ever. I picked these up half price in Mountain Warehouse and I’ll be going in to buy some more soon. I brought 2 big ones and one handsized one, and they dried us all for the full week. These things dry instantly and are light and fold up tiny.  So handy and so much lighter than packing loads of beach-towels.

9. Pillow cases: Pack two or three and use them for dirty washing throughout the holiday. Easy packing the night before you return home and easy unpacking when you get back. One of lights, one for colours etc.

10. Swim nappies: While you can get pretty much EVERYTHING you need where ever you are going, swim nappies cost a fortune abroad. I bought packs of 12 at £3 each in Strabane.  They were almost €8 for 3 nappies in the supermarket there.

11. An “incase” bag:  I took a wee bag with Calpol and Nurofen sachets, sachets of diaralyte and a blister of motilium and Imodium etc.  Apart from the plasters and one or two calpol, thankfully we didn’t need these, but if we had, they were in the apartment and we’d have been glad of not having to go searching for a pharmacy.

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12. A sound Splitter:  Probably not the correct name, but this wee thing was a Godsend on the flight. It allows 2 sets of headphones to be  used at once so the girls were able to watch a show together. It was €3 in Penneys.

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If you are packing or yet to pack for your holidays, I hope this helps and I’m not at all jealous…

It goes so quickly. Enjoy every second!  If you have any other hints or hacks, share them below.

And don’t forget to follow me on Bookface .

I am Solo Traveller Mum

Don’t you just love hairyports?

Places of excitement, of anticipation, of promise. A place where, if you are sans Minions, even the THOUGHT of the airport instills notions of SATC-esque soloness and general peace..
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Mammy shall find a quiet corner, order a large sauvignon and people-watch until it’s time to board. Mammy shall look altogether calm and fablis, just as if she does this “All the time Darling”. Mammy shall be soooooooo relaxed…

But no matter how much you like the hairyports and are excited by them, travelling solo is always the same.

And right now, as the snap suggests, Mammy is indeed sitting in a corner, Sipping sauvignon and looking quite appropriately bored and nonchalant…

Reality however?

Mammy queued in the impossibly long queue, cursing herself for not having paid for fast track and listening to Greg from Newry giving out STINK about having to queue. Ridiculous apparently. Perhaps, Mammy wonders, the Newrywegians have been keeping a new and improved system as a secret, all to themselves…

Mammy obviously, as feckin always, Beeped in security and was given onesided foreplay by the woman who seemed confused by the concept of an underwired over-the-shoulder-pepple-holder. She should try one but Mammy was certain that suggestion of such might end with Mammy being arrested.

Mammy then did what EVERY solo traveller does on arrival into the shiny brightness of the Dutyfulfree. She avoided eye contact with the shiny bright sales staff, found the Chanel section and spryed herself liberally with Coco Mademoiselle before scampering before anyone could challenge her liberal spraying or make her give it back…

Then Mammy wandered through the various bars and food venues, trying to look like she knew where she was going, whilst simultaneously trying to gauge which would be best suited to Mammy’s trying to fit in but wanting Poole to leave her the feck alone mood. Add to this Mammy trying to figure which of said watering establishments might serve wine of the non-pish variety without charging 16quid a glass… and suddenly Mammy’s head becomes quite fuzzy.

Mammy eventually chose a fairly classy looking joint, approaches the bar and awaits the teenager to notice that I am awaiting.
“A large glass of sauvignon please” Mammy says and is secretly pleased when said teenager opens a new bottle to pour. “What part of Donegal are you from Lovely?” Asks a 154 year old beside me. “Erm…” (Don’t talk to strangers!) “Let me guess. Letterkenny?” (Fuck.) “Yes that’s right. Well done you! K gebye!!” (Wtf is my wine?)

Mammy gets wine and calmly and cooly tries to find a seat AWAY from 154 year old stalker type. Sees 134 year old man Sipping red grapes and reading a battered copy of “The DaVinci Vode”. Figures he’s been here since 2005 so is safe enough to perch beside. Mammy is correct. 134 year old barely flinches.

Mammy is now safe to sip and watch and DESPITE promising to never be THAT woman who sits tappety-tapping her phone in the airport, Mammy also realises that this is a good chance to write my Lovelies a wee chuckle. 😂😗

And now Mammy has precisely 14 minutes to board her flight and approximately 6 minutes to eat something to ensure that the large glass of sauvignon does not render Mammy incapable of actually getting into London.

Mammy may now also berate herself for choosing THIS particular trip to London to fly into the one fecking airport she has NEVER used before!

Tit.

#smartmammy
#notAsCalmAsILook

I am Sliabh Liag Mum

Happy Easter Ladybelles.

Hope the sugar highs weren’t too manic and that the sugar crashes were tolerable!

We headed off to the beautiful Sliabh Liag today. Unbelievably, neither of us have EVER been and us living in Donegal our whole lives!? How? No idea but we’re so glad we have finally ticked it off our list.

It’s absolutely stunning. So beautiful. Our girls are a bit young yet to be walking it so we’re planning a trip back this summer with our #Rushefitness family to attempt the trek up to the top. 😎

Then we went to Walton Mountain for a wee egg hunt. Great fun! And Granny fed us which was great as Dumbass here forgot to put the roast in the Slowcooker this morning. 😜

Girls are in bed at last. Bond is on the TellyBox and there’s s bottle of bubbles almost chilled in the fridge. 🥂

Hope we all had a fablis day.

Xxx

I am Salou, Here we Come Mum

So anyone who has been reading my ramblings for a while now, knows that I have not yet been brave enough to venture into the great unknown and unpredictable world of holidaying abroad…with the girls.

In fact, I last year wrote a few posts on how and why staycation-ing was the only option for myself and my wee squad.

And yet, this year, I have decided to go for it. Why?

Maybe it’s an unqualified confidence in the fact that Princess is no longer technically a Baby and so we’ll be graaaaaaaaaaand.  Maybe it’s that I looked at my sister’s family holiday snaps and some hidden longing for family-fun in the sun took over.  Maybe I’m just getting brave in my old age.  Maybe I’m off my head.

But regardless of why I’ve finally decided to jump head first into the blue azure of sunkissed and suncreamed frolicking, I have.  And I have ACTUALLY convinced The Him that it’s a good idea.

Now.  I am one of those Book-it-all-by-myself-online gals usually.  However, because taking the two girls away is such new territory to us, we decided to do the safe and sensible thing and went through a travel agent.

Atlantic-Travel

So off I popped to Atlantic Travel here in Letterkenny.  I arrived in with NOT flexible dates, a strict budget and 324 specific requirements and 127 questions.

“Hi.  I am your WORST nightmare Lovely Travel Agent…I want to go somewhere hot but not too busy, with a flight that isn’t too long, with as short as possible a transfer on the other end, to a 2 roomed apartment in a family suitable resort, with indoor options for soft play, a children’s pool area, a kids’ club that is safe and reputable, in an area which isn’t too loud but still with some atmosphere… And the quiet and safe area must have some nice restaurants, a supermarket nearby AND be near public transport. ON THIS EXACT DATE.  Out of Belfast if possible… Please.”

Yeah, so they could have laughed and scoffed at me and my demands, but they didn’t. Within 20 minutes, the amazing Donna had 5 options printed off for me for all types of holiday in a few different places, within my date, budget and ridiculous specifications. No bother at all.

She was able to offer her own opinion on 3 of the resorts and had customer testimonies on the others. She was very open and honest with her advice about the options.  There was no pressure or obligation to book.  Just polite service with educated opinion.

I took some brochures, the printouts and her email address and off I went to peruse my options.

salou2

Salou it is so.

Being me, I had to research some more and in doing so, found another hotel on the TUI website that ticked all of my boxes. A few emails to Evelyn with more “Ria” questions and prompt answers were exchanged over the course of the next three days and when I finally made up my mind, one phonecall booked the holiday.

Within a few days, all of our details had been posted to us.

I really feel more comfortable going away for the first time with the kids as we have booked a package and so everything is thought of for us; Flights, Transfers, Insurance, Accommodation and Board. The fact that there will be a Holiday Rep there is also putting my mind at ease.

Now all I have to do is look forward to it. And pack for everyone. And plan.  And save. And worry and get there…

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They say that the first step is always the hardest, but for this family holiday newbie, the first step was probably the easiest thanks to the ladies in Atlantic Travel.

Check out Atlantic Travel on  Facebook for more updates before the big event:

Call (074) 912 6193 or visit Atlantic Travel’s offices at Oliver Plunkett Road, Letterkenny to enquire about your holiday.

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Mammy has collaborated with Atlantic Travel but as always, my review and opinions are my own and honest.