Car packed for a family road trip

Stuck on what to take on a self catering family holiday? You are not alone! A self-catering holiday abroad or self-catering in the UK offers you the flexibility and freedom that many other types of holidays do not. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of a self catering holiday, it’s a holiday where you have a furnished apartment or cottage to yourself, rather than staying in a hotel. You can have the whole family-friendly apartment or house to yourself. You also can prepare and cook your own meals, rather than eating out at restaurants. There are many different types of self-catering holidays, including beach holidays, cruising/yachting holidays, skiing holidays and more.

Choosing Accommodation For A Family Holiday

In the UK, self-catering holiday accommodation is becoming very popular with visitors from all over the world, especially since the pandemic in 2020. Not only does it give you the opportunity to have a great holiday at a cheap rate, but you can enjoy the comfort of home while on holiday. If you’ve never stayed in a self catering holiday accommodation before and are thinking about booking one for your next trip, here is a short guide on what you should take with you.

Read our post on gluten and milk free self-catering.

Important Note: This post may contain affiliate links. I earn a commission from qualifying links in this post. (Disclaimer)

Self-Catering Holiday Essentials – What To Take

What To Do Prior To Going Away

Depending on if you have booked via a tour company, then you may get the chance to book bed linen, towels, and child-friendly items before you go. I would always recommend checking with them directly to see what will be included in your self catering accommodation before you take things with you that you don’t need. There may also be a chance to order a welcome hamper which will include some basics to get you through your first night before you go to the shop.

NOTE: I also have a handy packing list for a self-catering holiday at the bottom of this post which you can download too for a helpful packing list of what food to take abroad. Remember not all items will be needed by you. I have just given you these items to give you an idea of what to take.

Glen Affric Holiday Park, Cannich

Self Catering Essentials 

Self Catering Packing List – Kitchen Essentials

Self Catering Packing List- Bathroom Essentials

Kiddylicious gluten and milk free snacks

Food For Self Catering Holidays

See my gluten and milk free tips for self-catering holidays abroad for an extra read. 

Self catering cool box

Self Catering Packing List – Cool Box

If you have space in your car, a cool box is a must! You can either put it in the footwell in easy reach so you can pass snacks and juice etc to the kids or have it in the boot of your car with some of the essentials you are taking with you on your road trip with kids

  • Dairy-free butter (or normal butter)
  • Milk
  • Coconut milk (for Little K)
  • Smoothies

I sometimes take meals with us if the journey is not too long, so I don’t have to find a shop straight away. It is also a good idea to make a grocery list for a self-catering holiday, which will help you when you arrive to make sure you don’t overspend.

Eating out at a restaurant

Kid Essentials For Self Catering Holiday

Dog Essentials For A Dog Friendly Holiday

See our dog kit list for more details on what to take on a dog friendly holiday. 

Suitcases in a car

Other Items For A Self Catering Holiday

  • Pillows (if you love your own then it is probably wise to take it)
  • Towels (check with accommodation provider first, although I like taking our own too)
  • Bed Sheets (depending on what company you are using, you can order sheets in advance)
  • Matches/Lighter
  • Torch
  • Boots, waterproofs (time of year and location dependent)
  • Slow Cooker (obviously if you are driving and not flying!!)

Download Your FREE Self Catering Holiday Packing List

Tips for self catering holidays abroad

If going on a self-catering abroad or in the UK I always take a few stackable storage boxes of food and essentials in them. This means I can use the boxes in the accommodation (especially if it is lacking space or storage).

For some of the items I take, I only take enough for a few days and top up when needed at a local shop. However, I try to take as much for Little K as I can as sometimes it can be difficult to find food that is suitable for him.

I would also recommend checking with your accommodation for any useful items they may supply. I have found some self-catering accommodations to be more child-friendly than others. It’s always handy when places supply things like steps, books, DVDs, night lights etc. Saves bringing the whole house with you, and you can plan which things to take on holiday with you.

Lastly, check to see if there is a local supermarket that does food deliveries. If they do and your accommodation can accept your delivery on your behalf (if you are not there yet), then this is so helpful and you won’t have to pack the car with everything required. 

Why not see our post on more self-catering holiday abroad tips and advice

items for a family holiday

Essentials To Take On Holiday

If you are looking for travel essentials for a baby abroad baby essentials for travelling or even toddler essentials for travelling then you can find more details on the tips and advice section of our website.

Do you love self-catering holidays abroad? Are there any self-catering essentials? Let me know in the comments below.

Further reading – Packing For A Family Holiday

What To Take On A Self Catering Holiday | Self Catering Holiday Packing List

First Published March 2017

About Author

I have always had an interest in travel and now I have My two boys I want them to see more than just the UK. I hope to give advice and tips to other parents who are anxious about travelling with their children.

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