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Essential Self-Catering Holiday Packing List + printable

Essential Self-Catering Holiday Packing List + printable

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Are you off on a self-catering holiday soon? Well, you’ve come to the right place to help you plan your break. This post includes our self-catering holiday packing list whether you are staying in the UK or abroad, as well as some tips and tricks for making the most of your accommodation.

I’ve also added a printable packing list to help you tick things off as you go. Scroll down to grab yours.

Want more ideas for family holidays and days out? Read my tips for smashing family travel and sign up for my newsletter.

Why we love self-catering holidays

Family eating lunch in front of camper van

We love a self-catering holiday and the freedom it gives you to plan your own day and meal times. With young kids in tow the second part is extremely important.

Catered resorts often plan meal times later than our girls deem acceptable.

However, the challenge with self-catering holidays is to find a balance between having to use the onsite store for essentials you could have brought from home and packing so much that you have to dig the kids out of the car. 

If you’re planning a self-catering holiday, whether it’s in a touring caravanluxury lodgecottage, or glamping tent, you’ll probably be in the same position. So I’ve given it a bit of thought and below is my self catering packing list.

What do you need to take when you are going self catering? Here's our self catering holiday packing list including tips on what to check before you travel, stuff for the kids and dog, and household items that may not be provided #travel #tips #holidays #travelblog #familytravel #TinBoxTraveller #packing #pack #list #checklist

Looking for tried and tested self-catering holidays? Here’s some of our favourite self-catering holidays in Cornwall.

*This post contains affiliate links*

Self-catering checklist: what to take on a family holiday

Below is what you need for self-catering holidays including food, cleaning items, stuff for the kids and dog, and those items that may or may not be included. It’s always best to check!

I’ve also thrown in some self-catering holiday tips and tricks. Enjoy!

Self-catering shopping list

Here’s a list of groceries to add to your self-catering shopping list or bring from home:

  • Kitchen roll
  • Toilet roll 
  • Tea bags and coffee
  • Condiments*
  • Cooking oil spray – much less likely to leak during the journey and its healthier
  • Squash/fruit cordial
  • Food containers
  • Margarine
  • Milk
  • Bread
  • Snacks
  • Wine!

Check before you travel, do they: allow supermarket deliveries? And where is the closest shop, take away, cafe and restaurant?

Packing crates* make shifting essential groceries from your car to your accommodation easy peasy.

Cleaning essentials for your self catering packing list

Washing up area at Crealy Meadows - camping at Crealy Adventure Park

I always bring some household and cleaning basics with us when we are staying in mobile homes and cottages.

Self-catering accommodation doesn’t always have the following:

  • Washing liquid and sponge – these may be supplied but better safe than sorry
  • Washing up gloves – I find some washing up liquids attack my hands
  • Tea towels
  • Antibacterial spray and cloth – I always like to whip round with these when we arrive
  • Clothes pegs – they’re useful for more than hanging up washing
  • Bin bags
  • Hand wash
  • Washing detergent – if you have any sample sized detergent sachets these are ideal to take with you
  • Dishwasher tablets

Check before you travel, do they have: washing up bowls, tea towels, a dishwasher, a washing machine, a tumble dryer.

Things to pack for the kids

Child stood by mobile home window

Here’s some must-have items to pack if you are on a self-catering holiday with babies or children:

  • Nappies, nappy bags, rash cream, baby wipes
  • Buckets and spades
  • Milton bucket* and tablets for baby bottles
  • Compact travel stroller* – we loved our Baby Jogger City Tour as it’s light-weight and compact. Read our review here.
  • Baby carrier* – we used a few different types as our girls grew. Backpack and front carriers with structure suited us better for outdoor activities. If you’re wondering what your options are for baby and child carriers, then we can recommend BabyBjorn for young babies and the Freeloader child carrier for toddlers.
  • Travel cot – we used the pram top from our baby’s pushchair, which fitted into small spaces easily. If you have more space to play with there are lots of other travel cots available on Amazon.
  • Travel games – magnetic board games*, activity books* and Top Trumps* are handy for the car and for when you arrive at your destination.
  • Favourite DVDs, Netflix login details or your handy Amazon Fire Stick!

Here’s a longer list of games that are ideal for holidays.

Check before you travel, do they have: children’s cutlery and plates, high chairs, a potty, stair gates, blackout blinds.

Packing for a dog-friendly self-catering holiday

Tin Box Baby and Dog at Andrewshayes - an East Devon holiday park review - UK holidays with dogs

One of the very best things about self-catering holidays is we can often bring Tin Box Dog with us.

Here’s what’s on our packing list for pet-friendly accommodation:

  • Dog food
  • Dentastix
  • A lead
  • Poo bags
  • A dog towel
  • Dog bowl*
  • Dog bed.

Check before you travel, do they have: dog beds, dog towels. If you need inspiration for dog-friendly places to stay in the UK here’s some tried and tested ideas.

If you’re looking for pet-friendly breaks here’s some dog-friendly UK holidays.

Holiday essentials

Here’s some things everyone will need while on holiday:

  • Toiletries – if you ask Mr Tin Box, he’ll say this is what fills up most of the car
  • Sun cream
  • Rucksack for days out
  • A good book
  • Camera
  • Tech chargers
  • Outdoor shoes/boots
  • Wet weather gear
  • Pencil case – because there’s never a pen around when you need it
  • First aid kit* – you don’t like to think of accidents happening while you’re on holiday but it never hurts to be prepared.

Everything else for your self-catering holiday packing list

Of course, all self-catering holiday accommodation is different so check what basic kit will be available when you book.

Here’s what you need for a self-catering holiday that may or may not be provided:

  • Bedding and towels – some holiday home owners may ask you to pay a supplement for bedding so check ahead
  • Beach towels* – most self-catering accommodation won’t supply these
  • Hair dryer

What to take for a self-catering holiday abroad

Baby on mobile home veranda

Packing to stay in a mobile home abroad can be a little tricky, especially if you are flying in and hiring a car rather than catching a ferry.

We have done several self-catering holidays in European holiday parks so I’ve written a separate post including what you need to consider and pack for mobile home holidays abroad.

Download my self-catering holiday packing list

I like to make things easy for readers, so here’s a version of this list you can download and tick off as you go:

Self catering holiday packing list

What have I forgotten? What’s at the top of your self-catering holiday packing list?

Self-catering holiday tips and tricks

As well as acing packing for your self-catering holiday, here’s some more tips and tricks that will help you make the most of your break:

Tip 1: supermarket deliveries

Check with the holiday provider whether you can have a supermarket delivery to your accommodation.

This will save precious space in your care and ensure you don’t have to dash out to the shops straight away

Tip 2: food for your first night

At the very least have your first night’s meal and breakfast for the first day planned.

Pizza and cereals are super easy to transport.

Tip 3: check your appliances

Always check what appliances and kitchen tools will be available.

No one wants to miss out on their morning coffee if there’s no cafetière.

Tip 4: parking and unpacking

Find out whether there’s parking directly outside your accommodation. If not, consider how you are going to shift all your gear.

Crates and maybe even a trolley might be a handy addition to your holiday packing list.

More tips for travelling with kids

If you’re looking for more tips for travelling with kids then check out my travel tips posts and holiday checklists.

Or if you need some inspiration for you next family holiday take a look at my tried, tested and recommended trip ideas.

You’re going to love these posts too:

Want more ideas for family holidays and days out? Read my tips for smashing family travel and sign up for my newsletter.

*Disclosure: this post contains Amazon affiliate links which means I may earn some advertising fees if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase. You will not be charged extra for this.

If you’re in the midst of planning your next family holiday then why not use Pinterest to save this self-catering holiday packing list for future reference.

What do you need to take when you are going self catering? Here's our self catering holiday packing list including tips on what to check before you travel, stuff for the kids and dog, and household items that may not be provided #travel #tips #holidays #travelblog #familytravel #TinBoxTraveller #packing #pack #list #checklist

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Hells Bells

Friday 11th of October 2019

Hi, great list. Tomorrow myself, my husband and my cousin and partner are all going to stay in a lodge with hot tub and sauna, just for the weekend. You should see my list!!!!. As alcohol is going to be involved I ALWAYS pack PLASTIC wine/prosecco glasses!!, Absolute must!!! Also on the list is scented votive candles and lighter, our own blankets and throws, I pod and I pod speaker dock and EXTENSION LEAD . Sweetex and earl grey teabags, Cards Of Humanity, domino's and playing cards, and of course agood book. Second the loo roll and torch, elastoplasts, paracetamol, tweezers, nail file. Your own towels and pillows standard. Lol quite exhaustive list including all of the obvious items like phone charger, clothes, shoes, underwear coat and money!!

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Friday 11th of October 2019

Sounds like you are going to make it feel just like home. Don't forget to reuse those plastic glasses :) Have a great time!


Wednesday 11th of September 2019

Squash? As in, the gourd? Seems like such a random item on the list, especially among staples like bread, milk and margarine. Maybe I'm missing something...

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Wednesday 11th of September 2019

Hi Cassandra, sorry for the confusion. I don't mean the vegetable. I mean fruit squash, like a cordial. Its commonly known as 'squash' in the UK.

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Sunday 18th of August 2019

Not sad at all and I'm sure you're not the only one. You sound very organised!

Tin Box Grandpa

Monday 8th of May 2017

Clothes are quite important. If you are going somewhere warm, don't forget a jumper for colder evenings and likewise, if you don't take them because you are going in the spring/autumn, shorts or lighter clothing are worth having as it may be warmer than you think.

Phoebe | Lou Messugo

Tuesday 17th of January 2017

This is a great list for camping and caravaning but I agree with Fiona about checking ahead with a self-catering cottage because any decent place should provide much of this. In my place we provide everything you have mentioned (and most of the extras other people have suggested) except clothes (!), pram and nappy stuff. We pride ourselves on making travel easy for families so they DON'T have to lug all this - we even lend bucket, spades, UV tent etc for the beach, and of course we have big mugs (in fact 3 different sizes!)

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Tuesday 17th of January 2017

That's great Phoebe. I think a lot more accommodation providers like yourself are becoming much more switched on to the needs of families. I love it when a list of items is provided on the website so I can check things off against my own list. There's nothing worse than preparing yourself by packing everything and then finding it's already there! Woo hoo for the big mugs :)

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