Paraphernalia

March family travel essentials

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My bed is currently invisible below the heaps of packing for our holiday to Langkawi – I’m putting off the moment of truth when I have to fit it all inside the suitcase (and not break the scales) by belatedly catching up with my March round-up of favourite family travel essentials.

A girl in sunhat lies on a vintage style suitcase, flowers blooming in the background - my new-look family travel essentials for the month

As the torrential rain continues (and more snow has turned up in parts of the country), I think I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be totally warm – especially after our boiler needed replacing this month. Summer feels like a distant dream, and trying on hot weather clothes as it poured down has been distinctly odd.

But it’s got to arrive eventually. Or if not, hopefully you have a sunshiney trip lined up as well. So with one eye to better weather, here are my top products purchased and sent for review, plus some light reading if you’re trapped indoors and a few special offers which have caught my eye.

Family travel essentials

I’ve finally got an opportunity to pack all those summer clothes I bought for Minnie last month – and realised that it was past time to pick up a couple of summery things for myself. Particularly some loose, lightweight trousers.

I’ve always liked the look of Hush clothes, but have never been sure whether I can carry off their laid-back slouch (or whether I’m going to look a bit swamped). But when a friend recommended the silky Monaco trousers, I thought it was worth a try – and, er, found myself buying the cropped relaxed fit trousers to go with them.

Possibly the comfiest thing I own, bar pyjamas (possibly even more comfy), they feel really cool and loose so I’m looking forward to see how they manage in the Malaysian humidity.

Collage of Hush Monaco trousers, Super facialist serum and Mia Tui Mini Jen bag in green - three of my family travel essentials (and personal essentials for travel) in March

And as I overhauled my wardrobe for summer, I decided I should try the same with my face – by this time of year, it’s always looking a bit pale and dull (not helped by a Clinique serum which didn’t really seem to agree with me at all, despite getting rave reviews). So after apparently reading about the Super Facialist range at every turn, I decided to test out the Retinol + anti-ageing restoring serum.

I won’t say I look 10 years younger, but I also don’t look like I’ve just emerged from a cave – my skin definitely feels smoother and there’s a bit of a glow, after just a couple of weeks. It recommends that you start by applying every couple of days, moving up to once a day (especially if you have sensitive skin) so I’ve been taking it slow too. This is a range I shall be investigating more!

Olay Eyes Ultimate Eye Cream will hopefully be working similar magic for my tired eyes, with No7 Instant Illusions Airbrush Away Primer which seems to stop too much shiny forehead and add a bit of flattering blur. And as prevention is better than cure, I’m loading my suitcase with Ultrasun for our trip.

Best of the rest

  • My gorgeous pocket-filled, travel perfect Mia Tui Mini Jen bag – which is so good that it’s getting its own review. For now, a sneak peek (above) of me carrying it around Tuscany, and a heads up to check out the full review.
  • Reliving my holiday on the Isles of Scilly by reading Hell Bay by Kate Rhodes, set on Bryher. It might centre around a murder, but it’s also a reminder of a beautiful place with a very special atmosphere. Looking forward to the next one in the series (and contemplating a violence-free return).
  • I’ve been hitting Audible again to help entertain us through our drive to Bristol and upcoming long-haul flight – this time, to download a few more of the Worst Witch series. My daughter devoured the box set when I bought it a little while back, and I’ve got to admit, I’m enjoying hearing the stories I also loved as a child.

Family travel: essential plans and reading

First up, I’ve been sent review copies of two great books if you love taking photos – like me… Number one is How To Take Better Photos by Kevin Meredith. I love photography but despite taking various courses, my eyes always end up glazing over slightly when people talk about f stops (my photo walk around Chiswick House with a professional photographer taught me more than sitting in a classroom, I’m convinced!)

But this has a helpful mix of professional tips, such as interesting colour and shutter effects, as well as advice if you’re more of a beginner, from the rule of thirds to how to work with the light. And it’s all broken down into easily digestible, illustrated mouthfuls that are great for inspiring creativity. Best of all, it doesn’t start by suggesting you need a pricy new camera and 97 new lenses. Even if I’d like them.

Collage of images of Volterra and Siena in Tuscany, and two new books on photography - my family travel essentials and essential reading for March

If your photography is all about Instagram, I’ve also got Styling For Instagram by Leela Cyd – it’s another helpful mix of ‘how to’ and inspiration. Not every style will suit you, but it’s easy to flick through and see what feels right, as well as ideas on how to get better photos or different ways to approach it. If you’re new to Instagram, there are also some great ideas on finding your own style.

And while I know some dedicated photographers and Instagrammers might spend a day setting up a shot, or getting up at 3am for the perfect light, this is all definitely much more achievable when you have a five-year-old (and a need for sleep)

With two short trips away in March, I’ve been enjoying the chance to take a few more photos myself – a long weekend in Tuscany at the gorgeous Villa le Capanne might not have had quite as many blue skies as I’d hoped, but from Volterra’s medieval streets to Siena’s beautiful cathedral and the fabulous art and history (and gelato!) of Florence, it was a wonderful chance to explore and let my hair down with 12 other family travel bloggers.

Then another weekend away with my daughter, exercising our curiosity in Bristol – from the new Being Brunel exhibition to learning more about street art and staying in a rooftop Airstream caravan, we found plenty of quirky sides to the city which was once my home. Oh, and more gelato!

April is starting in style too – if I don’t get sunshine on a tropical beach, I shall bite through Minnie’s bucket and spade. Hopefully there will be beach spam galore over on Facebook, my Instagram stories and Twitter, and whatever else we get up to while we’re there. Hope you have a relaxing start to the month as well!

Family travel: essential deals

If you’ve got a trip lined up and no travel insurance, there are policies to be had for £4.79 per day at Travel supermarket – and it could save a lot of money and stress. Read over my tips on what you need from a travel insurance policy before you buy.

There’s also a sale on for rooms at Radisson Blu (where a team of six mini CEOs has tested the hotels from a child’s point of view. Beds, needless to say, were jumped on) – up to 30% off, whether I’ve tempted you to check out Bristol or have your sights set on sunshine in Nice, and culture with a buzz in Berlin.

And I won’t say that new stationery makes me quite as happy as a new trip away… but it definitely cheers a grey day. Now Minnie has discovered the joy of keeping a travel journal too, complete with drawings of the day’s highlights, I am always keeping an eye out for sales at Paperchase – currently up to 50% off.

Disclosure: contains affiliate links – any purchases you might make are unaffected but I may get a few pennies in return. Some products have been sent for review but all opinions,  including the one about what might happen if I don’t get some sunshine soon, are my own.

Main image courtesy of Pixabay. Product shots courtesy of the retailer. All other images copyright MummyTravels

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