I've now done a fair few trips with my two girls, both in the UK and abroad and I have to admit there are pro's and con's to all of the different types we have tried! From all inclusive hotels, a Mark Warner (child care provided!) holiday, through to self catering apartments in the UK and abroad and also villa's - they all have their equal share of advantages and disadvantages. I think what I'm trying to say is that travelling with babies/kids is never going to be completely stress free and there will always be things that could make a holiday more relaxing and easier!
In terms of what to take, I have googled countless times to give me ideas and now have excel spreadsheets for all the different holidays, but each time I go back to them the kids have grown up a bit more and so the list has changed (again!). But there are some things which I've listed below which I think are useful to have, some more age specific than others, but food for thought for you anyway. And for those of you who can travel outside of the school holidays, I'd say do it now before you get tied into half terms and summer holidays, where the prices jump up dramatically!!!
I think the key here is to keep it simple and take toys that could have multi uses, some ideas:
Stacking cups - great in the pools, bath and on the beach to make sandcastles
Folkmanis Squigz - these are brilliant rubber toys that stick together and are so much fun, can be used as entertainment on the plane or in the bath/pool.
Lottie Dolls - plastic dolls that can be used in the pools and on the beach. If you're not a Barbie fan these dolls are just gorgeous as they are just little girls (in terms of their features) but with big ideas, so you can get fossil hunter Lottie, astro adventurer Lottie, boarder Lottie, brownie Lottie and the list goes on.
Pass the Pig - Probably more suitable for thoses age 3-4+ but we played this all week on holiday this summer!! Small to travel with and very simple.
Stickers - for little one's these are a must - my daughter covered all her arms and legs in stickers on one flight but she was so happy and kept amused I let her be! There are loads of great sticker and activity books on the market.
Some other ideas that you have recommended to me:
1. Babyzen Yoyo Pushchair - this pushchair collapses small enough to be taken on the flight as hand luggage - amazing!!
2. Travel wash and Vanish bar of soap
3. Mosquito repellent and antihistamines
I hope you have found this useful - feel free to add any more ideas into the comments box below, as I'm sure we can all help each other with good ideas to help our trips go as smoothly as possible! Happy Holidays!