Paraphernalia, Solo with kids

January family travel essentials

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The end of January is in sight! The coldest, greyest, longest month of the year is ticking down to February at last. I feel like I’m only just getting started on 2018 though, and a few of my New Year goals too.

A girl in sunhat lies on a vintage style suitcase, flowers blooming in the background - as January finally comes to an end, my new-look family travel essentials for the month

Now some of the dust from my house move has settled (I will stop banging on about that soon, but it has totally taken over my life), I’ve decided to give my normal monthly round-up a bit of a New Year look too.

I’ll still be picking my favourite family travel essentials, but I’ll also be rounding up some of the posts which have stood out, and any special offers which have caught my eye. I’m sure I’ll be refining it as I go along, but if there’s anything particular you’d like me to include, let me know in the comments…

Family travel essentials

As I’ve been frantically decluttering years of possessions, I’ve been particularly ruthless about what to add to my packing list this month – but there’s no question that my Cabin Zero hand luggage has to feature. You can read the full review but let’s just say that a spacious, sturdy backpack that’s accepted by low-cost airlines and comes in bright pink is always going to be a winner for me.

I’ve also added a few new books to my collection. You can never have too many books! Sent to me by Lonely Planet, I’ve been flicking through their new Solo Travel Handbook – I’m passionate that you shouldn’t miss seeing the world simply because you don’t have a travel companion. I’ve travelled solo for years, and while Minnie is my normal holiday sidekick these days, I’m often the sole adult.

In my day job, I even edit a website about solo travel, 101 Singles Holidays, with information and inspiration for single parent and solo travellers. And while the new Lonely Planet book doesn’t focus on lone parents seeing the world, there are tips, suggestions for styles of solo travel, inspirational tales, advice and even ideas for places to go.

A shot of me carrying my new Cabin Zero hand luggage and book covers of Lonely Planet's Solo Travel Handbook, and There's A Snake in my School by David Walliams - some of my January family travel essentials

We were also sent two new children’s books from Harper Collins: Oh, Baby, The Places You’ll Go! might not be new but it’s a favourite – my five-year-old is a big fan of Dr Seuss and this beautifully illustrated paperback is a great introduction to his works. Meanwhile There’s A Snake in My School is new too us, and new as a board book: initially very wary of the huge snake at the centre of the plot (as are many of the other characters), it was an instant hit, especially the very funny details of the classroom scene at the end.

Best of the rest
– I am on a never-ending quest to find my daughter the perfect nightlight, especially as her new bedroom is now “too dark”. And this Missley Moon light has had the thumbs up. It’s pretty lightweight, though not as compact as others and is battery-powered so no hunting for a plug – waiting to see how long the batteries last though! Fortunately I have an elephant print lavender sleep mask for when I’m sharing a room with her.

– Having lost my umbrella in Ikea (the glamour), I managed to find this rather fab replacement – a London map print umbrella from Fulton. Got to have something to make me smile when it pours.

– My mini traveller is also my mini bookworm, following in my footsteps in more ways than one. Having spotted the Worst Witch series in her school library but not being able to borrow one, she begged me to buy it for her. It’s something I remember reading years ago, and having found a box set on Amazon, she’s devouring them at speed.

Family travel: essential plans and reading

When the year starts with only one travel plan, and absolutely no travel in January (despite various optimistic thoughts of days out in London), that is guaranteed to make me grumpy. Happily I’ve got a trip lined up next month to Porto.

A spur-of-the-minute booking, courtesy of some not too pricy easyJet flights (playing with Skyscanner‘s ‘everywhere’ search is a dangerous thing…) and a rather lovely looking AirBNB, we’re off to Porto for half-term. I’m hoping for sunshine and port, plus lots to explore. Spontaneity means I haven’t booked much yet, although I’ve had lots of tips over on the MummyTravels Facebook page – and Lonely Planet’s Pocket Porto on its way to me.

A woman walking down the beach in The Gambia, a view of Porto and the beach in Dorset - my upcoming trips and recent posts, part of my January family travel essentials

If you’re craving some sun too, I’ve got 9 reasons to visit The Gambia after last month’s trip, while my Cape Verde posts are some of the most read on the blog this month along with Antigua. Well, who wouldn’t fancy the tropics right now?

Closer to home, I’ve been discovering more about Villages Nature Paris, a fairytale family destination from the company behind Center Parcs, just outside Disneyland Paris. Or even closer to home is gorgeous Dorset with my suggestions on what to do during your seaside break.

Family travel: essential deals

There’s up to £70 off your next trip with Opodo if you book by Feb 5, up to 50% off at, and if you’re really quick, up to 25% off at Hilton, ending TODAY.

And Explore has already started its Easter sale, with savings on 60 different tours – including five family-friendly ones.


Disclosure: Contains affiliate links: any purchases you might make are unaffected but I may get a few pennies. If you sign up to AirBNB using my link, you get £25 credit and I get £15 from AirBNB as a thank-you after your first trip… Some products have been sent for review but all opinions, especially the one that Spring can’t come soon enough, are my own.

Main image and Dorset shot courtesy of Pixabay. Book covers courtesy of the publisher. All other images copyright MummyTravels