Self-catering holiday packing tips

Planning a staycation? You could make some serious savings by opting for self-catering accommodation.

Not only will you have the whole place to yourself, but you can also swap dining out for eating in to save your pennies. You can plan a host of home-away-from-home activities to keep you busy without breaking the bank too.

But what should you pack if you’re heading on a self-catering holiday? Check out our checklist so you won’t miss a thing.

1. Household essentials

Run through a typical day at home and think about the items you need every day. They’re the things you’ll likely need for your trip:

  • Kitchen roll
  • Toilet roll
  • Toiletries such as toothpaste, shower gel and shampoo (your accommodation might provide hand wash but it’s worth packing one just in case)
  • Chargers for all your electricals
  • First aid kit

This is obvious, but you should also pack up anything you’d normally take with you on a trip – self-catering or otherwise. Non-negotiables include deodorant, toothbrushes and any medications, but also think about things like suncream, hair straighteners or walking gear.

2. Cupboard staples

Make sure you can kick off your holiday with a cuppa by bringing with you classic cupboard staples.

  • Tea and coffee
  • Sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Bread
  • Cereals
  • Condiments
  • Cooking oil or spray
  • Drinks of your choice
  • Kitchen foil

You’ll probably also need milk and butter but, unless you’re not travelling far, it’s recommended to pick these items up en route along with any other chilled foods you need. Alternatively, you could invest in a cool box to keep perishables fresh.

If you’re planning to cook up a storm while away, bring the ingredients you need to make your favourite meals. Our top tip is to keep things simple, though, and stick to dishes with just a few ingredients. You don’t want to end up needing to take a full spice rack with you!

3. Cleaning equipment

Your venue should provide basic cleaning equipment such as washing up liquid, a dish brush and anti-bac spray/wipes. However, if you’re planning a longer trip it might be worth packing up a few essentials to make sure you can enjoy a mess-free trip.

  • Antibacterial wipes
  • Washing up liquid
  • Sponges / scrubbers
  • Bin bags
  • Hand wash
  • Tea towels
  • Laundry detergent (if applicable – check in advance if your accommodation has a washing machine)
  • Dishwasher tablets (if applicable – check in advance if your accommodation has a dishwasher)

4. Family-friendly items

You’ll need to pack all the items your family regularly uses and needs. For example, if you have a baby or toddler it’s essential to bring nappies, baby wipes, a baby carrier, a travel cot etc with you. Unless your accommodation of choice has the equipment you need, you’ll need to bring everything with you to create a home away from home for your little one.

For families with a four-legged friend, don’t forget their food (and bowl), treats, walking gear (leads/harnesses/coats), poo bags, bed, and wipes/towels/doggy shampoo to keep your pooch pristine during their trip.

5. Travel extras

If you’re planning a few nights ‘in’, you’ll need to come up with some indoor activities to keep your family entertained throughout your trip.

  • Books and magazines
  • Board games
  • Craft supplies
  • Colouring books
  • Outdoor games such as a football or cricket set
  • Tech (such as a tablet / laptop to watch films on)
  • At-home spa kit complete with a face mask

What you don’t need to bring with you

Most self-catering accommodation will provide bedding, bed linen, towels, cutlery and crockery. They should also provide the basic appliances you’d expect to see in a hotel room such as a kettle.

All that said, each destination is different. To make sure you don’t get caught out, check the terms and conditions of your booking, research your accommodation online or simply give them a call to find out what is or isn’t included in your stay.

Pack in advance or buy during your stay?

This largely depends on how much room you have in your car, and where you’re staying.

If supermarkets will deliver to the area, and your accommodation allows online deliveries, you may find it helpful to book an online food delivery shop for a few hours after your estimated arrival time. This will save you having to pack things such as toiletries and food in advance – everything you need will turn up on your doorstep just in time.

This is likely to be more expensive than packing things you already have, though. If you opt for an online delivery, you’ll be buying everything brand new as opposed to simply taking items you already have at home. It’ll work out a lot cheaper if you bring a small quantity of the items you need.

Whether you book an online delivery or not, it’s still a good idea to scope out where the nearest shops are ahead of your trip. If you’ve forgotten something or need to buy last-minute ingredients, you won’t need to worry about where the supermarkets are and how to get there.

Funding your self-catering holiday

With self-catering accommodation often costing over £200 per night, a family holiday can still be expensive even if you’re embracing the stay-cay.

With a holiday loan, you could book your trip now and spread the cost by making monthly instalments. Borrow between £1,000 and £35,000 over 2 to 7 years at low rates from just 7.4% APR Representative (£7,500-£25,000).


Written by

Sophie Venner

Sophie Venner is a Yorkshire-based content writer specialising in crafting content for the financial services industry. She’s written over 300 articles on finance, but she’s covered everything from insurance to digital marketing trends. Her content has been featured in the likes of Semrush, Digital Marketing Magazine and Insurance Business. In her spare time, you won’t find Sophie far from a notepad and pen as she squirrels away trying to write a novel.

Wednesday 27th March 2024