TRAVEL: What to pack for a family island escape

10 August 2016
Reading time5 mins

Family escapes are a wonderful thing, but the packing involved to get there can often be overwhelming! Phillipa Steele, International Model & Fiji Airways Ambassador and local to the Fiji Islands, has contributed her tips to help you out with the dreaded task of packing, to get you there stress-free and ready to relax!

It can be hard to know where to start when trying to pack for a trip to a tropical island for the whole family. To get started consider these three things:

  1. Where you’re going
  2. The climate
  3. The type of activities you have planned

Things you should consider before packing


The first step is to plan for what you’ll need to pack in your hand luggage for the plane. When I travel I always pack my travel diary, iPod with my favourite songs and a book to keep my mind busy. Make sure you pack a warm and comfortable change of clothes for the whole family, and plenty to keep the little ones entertained – games, books, electronics and activities. Make sure you pack healthy snacks for the flight, however avoid packing fresh fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, meat or fish products as they are strictly prohibited. 

Additionally, it’s important to note that local taxis and transport on most islands don’t provide car seats. Therefore, it’s a good idea to bring your own to ensure your kids are buckled up safe and secure when travelling through the island. 

  • Car seat
  • Snacks for the plane
  • Their favourite toy for the plane 
  • Change of clothes
  • Games, puzzles & iPad
  • Colouring in books & pencils

Beach essentials

Slip Slop Slap! Island getaways usually have a warm tropical climate averaging around 26–31°C. The intensity of this heat can be dangerous to you and your children’s health in regard to sunburn, dehydration and heat stroke. Therefore, it’s important to do prior research of your destination’s weather and plan to pack according to this climate.

  • 30 or 50+ sunscreen
  • Swimmers / rash shirt
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Beach towels
  • beach bag
  • Reef walking shoes
  • Goggles
  • Inflatable floaties
  • Water bottle
  • Book 
  • Bucket and spade

Clothing essentials

It’s the islands no one cares about style or fashion, it’s all about comfort. Pack for summer weather such as t-shirts and shorts, dresses, sandals, thongs, swimmers and a sarong. When I go home to Fiji my go-to outfit is baggy shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops. However, if you are planning on eating out at some of the up-market restaurants pack a smart-casual outfit. Pack one cardigan and one pair of jeans as it can get cooler in the evenings. 

In terms of dress codes of showing respect when entering towns & villages, the common ground is to dress modestly by covering your arms and shoulders with a sarong. It’s also disrespectful and illegal to swim or sunbake topless. 

A quick tip is to always pack extra underwear and clothing as laundry services in major resorts can be expensive. 

  • Swimmers
  • T-shirts & shorts
  • Dress
  • Sarong
  • Sandals / thongs
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Light jacket & jeans
  • One smart-casual outfit

Health and medical essentials

For any holiday destination that is jam packed with water sports, outdoor adventures and activities you should always pack a medical kit for the unexpected accident or injury. Otherwise you may not have a choice but to travel to the closest medical centre and incur a hefty medical bill. 

Additionally, you will find that supermarkets and shops in the main towns will sell nappies, wipes, formula, baby food and more but may not have a wide variety of brands that you prefer. It’s safer and easier if you pack your own supplies. 

  • Nappies
  • Dummies
  • Teething gels
  • Formula
  • Baby wipes
  • Aqua ear
  • Band-Aids
  • Antiseptic
  • Medication for diarrhoea / upset stomachs
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunscreen
  • Aloe vera 
  • Moisturiser

Adventure essentials 

There’s more to tropical islands than the pristine beaches. Fiji for example is renowned for its beaches and dive spots but also has world-class hiking trails and mountain bike riding adventures where you can experience Fiji’s abundant birdlife, waterfalls and magnificent views. 

If you’re a family who loves an outdoor adventure, be prepared and pack the essentials:

  • Good walking shoes
  • Raincoat
  • Backpack
  • Hat
  • LED flashlight
  • Water bottle

The last thing you want on a trip to a tropical island paradise is your child not sleeping because you forgot to pack their favourite toy, or a family member child cutting their foot and you forgot to pack the first aid kit. It’s the little essentials that we always tend to forget that cause us the most upset. 

Overall, the one thing you can’t pack but is an essential for a good family holiday is a good attitude. Don’t forget to bring that along!

By Phillipa Steele, model and Fiji Airways Ambassador.

Thinking of a trip to Fiji? Here are 5 activities in Fiji the whole family will love, and 7 tips to planning a holiday to Fiji.

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Phillipa Steele
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