Travelling without Luggage: A Moneysupermarket Adventure

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Back in the days Before Child (BC), I was a light packer.

I used to travel a lot with my job as a journalist, and I took pride in needing nothing more than hand luggage for a trip of 7 days or less.

Travelling with kids, though? That usually takes a lot more space.

On top of the clothes, we usually stuff our cases with first aid supplies, books, gadgets, chargers, cameras, kid-friendly toiletries, swim gear, wetsuits… it’s endless. And hand luggage which used to hold everything I needed for a week away now tends to be full of stuff to keep Flea occupied for a long flight – iPad, chargers, comics, snacks…

But this weekend MoneySuperMarket challenged me to relive my youth and go off on an adventure – without luggage.

Did you know that around 25% of all travel insurance claims relate to lost or damaged luggage?  That’s a lot of people arriving on holiday this summer without their suitcases.

Travel insurance is one of those things you hope you’ll never need – but as a parent, it’s probably my number one travel essential. We have an annual policy that covers pretty much every disaster I could think of, including unlimited medical cover. I never want to be in the position of arguing with a doctor about whether they can treat Flea for something or other. And just as importantly (almost) I never want to find myself worrying about whether I can buy a swimsuit should my luggage get lost… why not check out the MoneySupermarketSite to pick up a deal on travel insurance for your trip?

So how did we cope?

Actually… better than I expected.

We landed in Tenerife and the first bonus of no luggage was whizzing straight through the airport and skipping the line at the taxi rank. Result!

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We checked in at the H10 Conquistador in Tenerife, and a quick stop at the hotel gift shop to get kitted out – we bought swim shorts for Flea, sunglasses and a sun hat for me, and some sunscreen. 50 Euros all told. Job done, we borrowed some towels from the hotel, and settled down for a couple of hours R&R poolside.

Monday morning, we were up bright and early to take a cab to Siam Park, which was recently named the World’s #1 Water Park by Tripadvisor. Now, it has to be said that Flea is a HUGE fan of water parks. HUGE. We had been given pre-purchased tickets (57 euros) which was a huge time-saver when we arrived – the queue to buy tickets was enormous!

First stop for this luggage-less pair was the souvenir stand where we bought a rash t-shirt for me (20 euros), and two pairs of wet shoes at 8 euros each – a bargain to stop scorched feet on the hot ground (I know, I know, you’re weeping for us at the very prospect, right?)

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Siam Park is spectacular – I’ll write a full review in a separate post – but suffice to say there’s plenty there for kids of all ages and if your kids are fans of things that are fast and high, they won’t be disappointed.

The park’s biggest ride, Tower of Power, is sadly only suitable for over 14s, but we went on EVERY other ride there was, at least once. Flea’s favourite was the Jungle Dragon ride, which involves steep drops, dark tunnels and a general lack of dignity for those over 30.

Of course, being us, there were one or two minor incidents – we got stuck halfway down one ride involving me clambering off our inflatable in a pitch black tunnel and trying to un-jam it while Flea yelled, “Mummy, WHAT ABOUT ME?” and another ride where you have to ride in groups of four, and I fell face first into a man’s crotch. Not a man I knew, I should add (family motto: dignity at all times).

Anyway, be sure to take hats (we picked one up for Flea at the gift shop for just 1 euro), plenty of sunscreen and towels. If you have a bag or purse with you, you can hire lockers for 5 euros a day, plus a 5 euro returnable deposit.

After a full day of water slide madness, we headed out for Tapas, which is a harder job than you might think in Tenerife – eventually, we found Embrujo, which serves a range of decent tapas and has nightly entertainment.

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Tuesday morning, we headed off to the spectacular El Teide National Park, a weird moon-like landscape which has been host to countless Hollywood movies, including Star Wars. The park is a winding, steep 90 minute cab drive (80 euros) from Playa de las Americas, and it’s probably worth hiring a car and exploring for the day – there are loads of places to stop and admire the scenery. It’s hot, though, and there aren’t many places to stop, so make sure you venture into the park with plenty of water, sunscreen and hats. Although it can get a bit breezy when you’re high up. This is perfect for amazing family photos like the one above *cough*

We visited the El Teide cable car, which takes you to the highest point on the island of Tenerife for spectacular views, and an up-close view at the old volcanoes that form much of the park’s landscape.

A word of caution though – plan for this to be a long, hot, boring process. We booked tickets online (40 euros for both of us) to ride the cable car between 1 and 2pm, and arrived duly at 12.15pm. It took us an hour to get to the front of the “pre-booked Internet tickets” queue, and then another hour and a quarter to get from there to the front of the queue to get on the cable car. It was long, and hot, and boring and, frankly, if I hadn’t been asked to go there by MoneySuperMarket, I’d have given up and taken the cab back to the beach like a normal person. Half the queue is in the baking hot sun, and I really felt for elderly people who had to stand in the midday sun for hours on end. Not good.

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The cable car takes eight minutes to get the top of the mountain and it’s spectacular, it really is. If you book a permit ahead of time, you can walk from the upper cable car station to the peak of the mountain, which I think must be just incredible – although the thin air is noticeable so it’s not for you if you’re (like me) asthmatic or anything like that.

By the time we had spent 20 minutes on the peak, it was time to come down – the last bus back to Playa de las Americas leaves at 3.30pm but given timings, we opted to take a cab directly back to the airport, to save any last-minute panics.

What we learned on this short trip is that a lot of what I pack in my luggage I could just as easily buy on the road, but that convenience does come at a cost, and at the expense of choice – would I necessarily choose to spend a day at a water park in a pink rash vest with disposable shoes? Not necessarily. But did it spoil the day? Absolutely not. Besides, sunscreen is 20% cheaper in duty free…

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Some savvy hand-luggage packing goes a long way to making life easier if you are unlucky enough to lose your luggage. For starters, wear layers on the plane – t-shirt with shirt and jacket, long trousers, belt, hat, scarf… make the most of your body’s ability to carry stuff. Then here’s what we packed into our hand luggage:

  • 2 t-shirts and 1 pair shorts each (plus a rash shirt for Flea)
  • 3 sets of underwear each
  • 1 iPhone/iPad cable and plug/adaptor
  • iPad, pre-loaded with games, apps, videos
  • Book
  • Washbag packed with tiny free hotel shampoo/conditioner/toothpaste plus any medication needed (all in a clear plastic bag inside the bag, for speeding through security)
  • Wallet including bank cards, driving license, and a Post Office Travel Money card
  • Camera and spare memory card
  • Mobile phone
  • Passports, tickets (all other paperwork photographed and stored on mobile phone)

 

I think we passed our #MSMLostLuggage challenge with flying colours, if you don’t count the falling face first into someone’s lap disaster. But I’m telling myself, if nobody Instagrams it, it’s like it never happened, right?

Disclosure: All flights, accommodation and other expenses were covered by MoneySuperMarket for the purposes of this post. 

 

 

 

 

 

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

16 Comments

    • 29th July 2015 / 11:46 pm

      It was really good fun – the challenge, not the crotch. That wasn’t fun. Not even a little bit.

  1. 29th July 2015 / 3:35 pm

    No luggage is so much easier. If you dont mind potentially paying a little extra for some things in resort then you might as well. We managed a week in Nigeria with just 1 item of hand luggage each.

    • 29th July 2015 / 11:45 pm

      It’s almost worth it for the feeling of being able to swan through the airport isn’t it?

  2. 29th July 2015 / 3:40 pm

    The amount of packing we do with three children is staggering and we’ve never ventured abroad without the car as a result. I’m quite a light packer generally so I tend to get frustrated with the amount of stuff we ‘need’ for a few days away.
    Pippa Ainsworth recently posted..Dora & Friends Toys and #DoraSingalong Fun This SummerMy Profile

  3. Emma
    29th July 2015 / 3:45 pm

    What a brilliant challenge. Siam park is totally awesome I loved going there and my brother has been twice this past week. I wonder if it was his crotch you buried yourself in!

    • 29th July 2015 / 11:45 pm

      Oh God, don’t say that. Can you imagine?? The horror.

  4. 29th July 2015 / 4:21 pm

    My parents regularly travel with just hand luggage these days – which seems the ultimate luxury as I’m preparing to pack up our car for a road trip to France from our family of 5!!!
    Colette B recently posted..Ten Years On . . .My Profile

    • 29th July 2015 / 11:45 pm

      The kiss of death for me is taking the car – just because I *can* fit it all in, I somehow feel like I have to.

  5. 29th July 2015 / 9:08 pm

    What a fun challenge! I definitely need to be a bit more careful when it comes to packing, We take so much stuff with us just to go away for one night, in fact it seems to be the same amount whether we are going for one night or one week!
    Jess @ Along Came Cherry recently posted..Strawberry Picking At Chosen Hill FarmMy Profile

    • 29th July 2015 / 11:43 pm

      It’s so easy to take stuff along that isn’t needed, though – and you know if you don’t, that’ll be the ONE thing you wish you had!

  6. 30th July 2015 / 12:22 pm

    Wow, what a challenge! I do not think I could do it… Love your abbreviation of BC…before child! I never used to travel light, the opposite actually, and after having 2 girls, I have actually learnt to share my suitcase and bring only the necessary. I admire you, but good on you! We went to Tenerife for Easter, and loved it there, but did not visit the waterpark as it was not hot enough, on our list to do the next time!
    Mirka Moore @Fitness4Mamas @Kahanka recently posted..Taking my Girls on a Ferry to France!My Profile

  7. 30th July 2015 / 4:46 pm

    Arriving on holiday to find my suitcase has been lost is one of the thing’s I worry about the most when travelling, so it is great to see you managed without a case. I never even think to pack essentials in my hand luggage as it is normally stuffed full of useless children’s tat to keep them entertained. Totally agree if no-one instagrams a incident then it never happened at all x
    Lindsay @ Newcastle Family Life recently posted..Why I Want My Daughter’s To Be #LikeAGirl UnstoppableMy Profile

  8. Shona
    31st July 2015 / 10:42 am

    What did you do with the things you bought? Did they fit in the hand luggage to be brought home again?

  9. 10th August 2015 / 5:54 pm

    Ah wow, hats off to you for managing it, it looks lovely:) Don’t think I could do it….my own suitcase is fit to burst on every trip and then I start spreading into the kids suitcases when I need more space:/
    Jessica recently posted..#childfreeflights 5 reasons why we are not the problem!My Profile

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