Before you hit the road this summer, make packing a breeze with our round-up of everything you need for an easy journey
While question marks still linger over the possibility of foreign travel later in the year, it looks set to be another summer of staycations.
As we continue to emerge from lockdown, many of us will be exploring again and hitting the road to make the most of what Ireland has to offer in the coming months.
But before you hop in the car, you’ll want to stock up on the right kit to ensure your holiday goes smoothly, whether you’re heading for the coastline or countryside. We asked Irish travel experts what packing gear helps them holiday with ease.
Cases and bags
There’s one suitcase all our experts can agree on: the Samsonite Lite Shock (from €388, reduced from €485, Samsonite.ie).
“I’ve tried every suitcase on the planet now at this stage,” says Sarah Slattery of TheTravelExpert.ie, who has three different sizes from the Lite Shock range. “Before I started writing, I was a travel agent, so I’ve been in travel for 30 years, and I found the Samsonite Lite Shock the best by a mile.
“Not only is it really light, but it’s really flexible. You normally try to sit on a suitcase to try and close it — with this, you don’t have to worry about the zip popping or anything. It just seems to fit way more than another suitcase of the same size and it’s also lighter.”
Tom Deasy of Tom’s Tours in West Cork is also a fan. “I find that brilliant because it’s two sided, so you can have your dirty and clean or whatever on each side,” he says.
“It’s a hard-shell one, so it can take a bit of battering around and you don’t have to worry about the contents inside.” His other packing essential is the Deuter Speed Lite 20 (€70, 53DegreesNorth.ie), a lightweight 20-litre backpack from the German outdoors brand.
“That comes with me everywhere and it’s been doing great for seven years,” he says. “That’s kind of my day bag, I use it for hikes and just getting out and about. I recently bought a cheaper one and already the zips are giving out on it, so it just goes to show how well made the Deuter one is.”
For those with small children, family travel blogger Siobhán McAuley (@they.wanderlust) recommends the Jem and Bea Edie Eco Holdall (€155, JemandBea.com), which comes with five interior pockets and a front zip.
“That’s great for safely storing your phone or purse and accessing it on the go,” she says. “It has plenty of storage for overnight or day trips. It’s great value for money as even if you don’t have your baby on the journey, it can store adult clothing and toiletries, and it looks stylish too.”
If you’re short on space or planning to do some shopping and return home with more luggage than you headed out with, Sarah recommends the foldaway bags from Decathlon (from €3 for backpacks or €10 for duffle bags, Decathlon.ie).
“The softer bags can be handier for the boot or to stash in the back of the car,” she says. “I do like the Decathlon bags that fold into nothing — there are loads of different sizes, from a tiny little backpack that will fit into your pocket to the bigger ones that fold down as well.
“You can’t really beat them for price, and I have loads of them in the house, in the car — they’re everywhere. For a soft bag, you couldn’t go wrong with the Decathlon one.”
Whatever case you use, Siobhán also advises picking up a set of packing cubes or luggage organisers (€7.99, Amazon), which can be purchased in a variety of different colours.
“You can designate colours for family members’ items — we have them in blue, pink and yellow, so you can colour-coordinate and separate them, for example, to have blue for daddy and son, and pink for the girls,” she says.
“Or you can use them to help store laundry or liquids to avoid contamination or spills. They’re particularly handy if your children are too small to carry their own bags.”
For long journeys, Siobhán also recommends picking up an organiser that can be fastened to the back of a car seat (€19.99, Amazon). As well as helping to keep rubbish at bay, they provide easy access to all your essentials without having to stop the car en route to rummage around in the boot.
“It’s really good value and it has all these compartments for snacks, your drink, books, iPad, wet wipes, all those kind of things, so you can put everything you need when travelling with kids in there,” says Siobhán, who has a four-month-old, Micaiah, and a six-year-old, Mason.
“If Mason’s fingers are sticky from eating, for example, the wipes are there, or he can take out his iPad or bottle of water etc, so it makes your journey more smooth, reducing the amount of times you have to stop and look for things.”
Her other top pick for the car is a bike rack. Her family uses the boot car rack for two/three bikes from Decathlon (from €60, Decathlon.ie).
“They’re always handy so you don’t get disappointed if the hotel bikes are in use or don’t fit your height — particularly for kids — and it means you can take them at anytime, not on a hotel booking schedule,” she says.
If you need to free up room in the car, Sarah suggests investing in a roof box. With an impressive capacity of 500 litres, the Thule Motion XT is particularly spacious for large families or long holidays (€686, Halfords.ie), or for a more budget-friendly version, look to Halfords’ own range, with options for smaller-sized cars too (from €180, Halfords.ie).
“We bought a roof box about 20 years ago and then it was in the shed for years because we didn’t really staycation much, until now,” says Sarah.
Though she has since changed car, she picked up some roof bars from Mick’s Garage (from €80, MicksGarage.com), which she says made it easy to fit the old roof box on top of the vehicle.
“A roof box is one of those investments that you’ll always have, and even if you do change your car, you’ll only have to pay to change the roof rack, depending on what type of car you have.”