There’s no escaping from the fact that staycations are this summer’s main holiday for a lot of people. Holidaying in the UK is something that needs careful planning and a specific, very broad packing list. Thanks to the good old British weather you need to be prepared for all possibilities – rain, wind, scorching sun, hail? All a genuine possibility, not to mention essentials for pets and even babies. Yes I have a section for parents! So I’ve put together the ultimate packing list for a UK break, and the questions you need to ask yourself to be prepared for your trip.
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The main difference aside from the weather is the scope of activities you could be doing in this country, the many different types of accommodation you could be staying in and the facilities and amenities they provide. It’s not like a summer holiday where all you need is beachwear through the day, and evening clothes at night.
This post is intended to get you asking the right questions about your trip, of which there are MANY, and then packing accordingly. So it’s a list, but it’s not just a straightforward list. Some of it might apply to you and some won’t, but I’ve tried to cover as much as possible for any type of trip.
Self Catered Accommodation – lodges, caravans, holiday homes, Glamping, cottages, Air BnB’s
Most places like this are going to be pretty sorted with a the basic household stuff you need, but I always check or ask if they provide things like – hairdryers, towels, toilet roll, cleaning equipment and washing supplies, as some don’t. I don’t know if this is just me but I also always look really closely at the photos to make sure there’s a big enough mirror with a plug next to it, and if not I take a travel hand held one.
I find that most good Air BnB’s or quality holiday lets tend to go the extra mile when it comes to bathroom toiletries, and kitchen supplies as they want to make you feel at home and get good feedback and reviews. Some won’t so it pays to consider it or at least as the question before you go.
Kitchen supplies & equipment For Self catering
Alcohol – whatever your preference, and mixers. The most important one first, it is a holiday after all.
Breakfast food – bread, bread buns, cereal, a milk to start you off, fresh juice/squash, ketchup (an essential nowhere seems to provide!), bacon, eggs, oats.
Things to make for lunch, especially if you’ll need packed lunches or picnic food to take out with you on your adventures. So bread buns, sandwich fillings, margarine, fruit, cereal bars, biscuits. Sandwich bags, Tupperwares, kitchen roll, tin foil.
Dinner – does where you are staying have a pub, restaurant or bar? What are your plans for evening meals? Will you BBQ, cook on camp fires, or choose to eat in? Consider food options and take all the ingredients if you do decide to eat in at times.
Coffee, tea bags, sugar or sweetener. Hot chocolate, marshmallows.
Snacks – crisps, dips, hummus, cheese, crackers, chocolate, sweets.
If you plan to have picnics or packed lunches – cool bags, a picnic hamper (I love my Andes Camping one), ice boxes, sandwich bags, refillable water bottles.
Bin liners. I always forget bin liners, washing tablets, fairy liquid, tea towels.
Cleaning equipment for before you leave. Dishwasher tablets, laundry tablets if you’re likely to need them, and bags for life if you’ll be doing supermarket trips while you’re away.
For taking this type of packing I find the fold up crates are amazing, as they stack up in the back of the car, and fully protect things from getting squashed (eggs, bread etc), but fold down when they’re not in use to save space while you’re there. I use ones similar to these collapsible crates from Amazon.
Bathroom & Toiletries
Shampoo, conditioner, specialised hair products if you use them, hairspray, hair accessories – clips, grips, hair bands, hair bobbles, straighteners/curling irons if you use them, hairdryer.
If I’m packing up the car and space isn’t an issue I will take my whole Dyson Airwrap kit, it has everything in one. If not then a heat proof case for straighteners that doubles up as a heat mat when you’re away is great. Mine is similar to this Wahl one.
Travel shower gel (can’t recommend the travel Jo Malone or Molton Brown sets enough), razor, moisturiser, body lotion, toothpaste, toothbrush.
Make up, face wipes (the environmentally friendly kind), toner, moisturiser, perfume, hand held mirror if needed. I wrote this post on my favourite summer travel make up essentials last year and I still use all the products.
Medication – any personal medication, painkillers, bite cream, antihistamine, inhalers if needed, sting spray, antiseptic, plasters, blister kit, after sun, tissues.
Lenses, contact solution, glasses, nail glue (seriously take it, read my festival mistakes for a first timer if you don’t believe me).
Nail file, cotton buds, travel sewing kit, safety pin, tweezers
Does your accommodation provide towels or do you need to take them? Even if they provide them do you want to take your own for leisure facilities? Is there a spa and what do they provide?
Clothing for a UK break
The hardest part about packing for a British holiday, and whether it’s an outdoorsy type holiday or a city break you’re going to need a lot of clothes. The main thing for the UK to cover all temperatures is to have plenty layers, and a range of casual clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty, as well as nicer clothes if you’re eating out or going somewhere fancy.
Underwear, socks, specific hiking socks, pyjamas, jeans, leggings, gym kit, T shirts, hoody’s, shorts, dresses, skirts, coats – all of the above.
Trainers, hiking boots, wellies, flip flops, slippers.
Hats, scarves, gloves, caps, sunglasses. Other accessories like jewellery? A watch.
Questions you need to ask yourself – are there opportunities to dress up perhaps if there is a restaurant on site Or you’re celebrating an occasion? Is there a dress code? Don’t forget shoes and bags. If not have you got lounge wear you can relax in?
Are you likely to need waterproofs? Ponchos? Umbrella? Probably.
If where you’re staying has leisure facilities do you want to take your own flip flops? Swimwear, waterproof bag … I have a whole blog post on what to pack for a spa day/break here.
Handbag – purse, wallet, keys, tissues, sanitiser, face mask.
For clothes packing I was converted to packing cubes last year, as they were just so useful especially for separating clothes into categories, keeping dirty washing separate, and for packing into a case or bag together. I used these Geediar packing cubes available on Amazon.
Camping & Outdoor Adventures
Your clothing should be covered in the above section, unless there’s anything specialist you need – goggles, helmets, sweat bands, gloves etc.
Here’s just some extras you might need:
Torch, compass, a rug – ideally a good one with a waterproof base, camping chairs, windbreaks, walking sticks, ruck sack.
Tent, sleeping bags, pillows
First aid kit, suncream, insect repellent
Matches or a lighter, knife, bin liners, cooking equipment, bottle opener, flask.
An eye mask and ear plugs.
Portable fan, binoculars
Bikes, fishing gear (I’m not going to pretend to know what you need for some of these activities), wetsuit.
Emergency car breakdown kit – reflectors, warning triangle, high vis vests, blanket, bulbs, shovel
Electricals & Entertainment
Consider what will already be there, a lot of places do provide some of these already.
Phone, iPad, laptop if needed.
Camera, Go Pro
Chargers and all the wires or adapters they might need.
Portable phone charger – I take mine EVERYWHERE, very useful if you use your phone as a camera. Before I did a camping festival I invested in this 2 port multi charge one from Anker. It’s life changing for me, and it charges everything so quickly.
DVD’s, books, board games, pack of cards, jigsaw.
Alexa, Bluetooth speaker, headphones
What to Pack for Your Pets
One of the best things about holidaying in your home country is being able to take your pets, and it’s one of the main reasons why people love to do it. We booked a UK break long before coronavirus hit this year, because we got Arthur in January and wanted to do something with him.
Taking pets with you does require some extra planning, and more things to take with you:
Bed, blankets, food bowl, food to last the trip, treats, toys, poo bags, lead/harness, chews, pee pads.
Towel, car seat, water bottle.
Puppy shampoo, waterproof jacket.
Do they need a pen or crate? If so don’t forget them.
What To Pack For Babies & Children
And finally, I’m sure nobody expected to see this on one of my blogs, but I couldn’t really do a packing list without considering people who have kids. Although I currently don’t have to worry about everything babies and children might need, I know many of you do so I haven’t forgotten you.
It would be really easy of me to just link off to a parent blogger website, but I just wouldn’t know where to start. You can’t beat the recommendations and word of mouth from a friend you trust, so I wanted to make sure that’s what you got even if I’m not the one to provide it.
What I do know, is that my lovely friend Hannah is the queen of lists, the queen of organisation and the queen of making sure her little girl Aurora has everything she could possibly need, and then some anywhere she goes. So I invited her to put together the next section for you. Hannah and her family live up in Northumberland, with a baby under one, and two dogs so she is a pro at getting out and about with a car full in tow. They have more gadgets on their pram alone than Amazon marketplace, so you’re in safe hands.
Over to you Mrs T…!
When packing for your little one(s), here is everything you NEED! As mums will know… this list is totally dependent on how old your baby is. Newborns require much more ‘stuff’… leaving the house is like a military operation, whereas as they get older you can take less and less out the house with you.
Baby (this is the most important thing to take… don’t leave them at home!)
Changing bag, travel changing mat, nappies, wipes, nappy bags, nappy rash cream
Lot’s of factors can influence this – the weather and how long you’re staying for, also the place you are staying. For example, Air BnB may have a washing machine whereas a log cabin probably won’t!
Leggings, tops, dresses, cardigans, vests
Hat, swimsuit, socks, shoes, wellies, gloves, scratch mits
Occasion outfit – if you’re travelling for a wedding or event maybe?
Hooded towel, baby shampoo, baby body wash, baby moisturiser, bath thermometer
Nail Scissors (if you’re going for a week or more… mums know how fast newborns nails grow! I wish mine grew that fast! Shame the lovely pregnancy hormones that keep your hair and nails nice don’t last after you’ve had the baby!)
Bath Seat – we also used to take ours to the beach to use a seat for picnics when she was really little and kept falling over!
Bottles, formula, prep machine – if you can!… if not just make sure the place you’re going has a kettle!
For Breast Feeding Mums (this is not my area of expertise… but I imagine…Pump / Storage Bags / Feeding Pillow / Nursing Cover will be on the list!
Travel Steriliser – the mini ones you can fit in the microwave! And you might want to take your bottle brush for cleaning beforehand.
Travel Bowl and spoon
Mini flask for warm food/Cool bag with ice packs for keeping food cool.
Water bottle, sippy cup, bib
Weaning Food i.e. Travel Puree Pouches like Ella’s Kitchen? Snacks for the journey?
Our little one happens to have allergies so we carry an ‘allergy card’ that we can hand over in restaurants/cafe’s so they know what she can/can’t have.
Travel Highchair? Not an essential as most places will have them, but if you have one of the ones that clips over a dining room chair it might be worth taking if you have the space!
Teething Gel, Calpol / Infacol
Epi-Pen / Any prescriptions
Baby First Aid Kit (I recommend Daisy!)
HAND SANITISER given the current climate!
OUT & ABOUT
Car Seat/Isofix, car window sunshade, rear baby mirror
Baby-on-board car sign
Pram (& rain-cover/parasol), Baby carrier
Dropper Stopper/Toy Leash (the best way to keep them throwing their toys out the pram!)
Dirty Clothes Bag (for those ‘happen-when-you-least-expect-it’ accidents!
Travel Cot – take your own or most hotels etc. should have these available to hire usually around £10-£15, they don’t provide any bedding though so make sure to take your own cots sheets, cellular blankets, pillows, etc.
White Noise Machine (I cannot recommend Ewan the Dream Sheep enough!)
Blankie/Favourite Toy they sleep with.
Swaddle (if your baby likes one)
Dummys (Pacifiers) & Dummy Clips
Night Light – we use the GroEgg2, a colour changing night light and room thermometer in one! It reduces the risk of SIDS by letting you know if the room is too hot or cold by changing Blue-Amber-Red. We took Aurora away to a static- caravan, we thought the room was perfectly warm for her however travel cots are so low to the floor, luckily we put the groegg2 on the floor next to her cot and saw that it was actually FREEZING! There was a draft across the floor that we hadn’t felt… good job the little egg turned bright blue to warn us, she was like a little ice- cube!
Toys!!! – an obvious necessity to keep those little ones entertained! Don’t forget to include their teething toys too!) Possibly a play mat for them to sit/lie on if you’re staying in a lodge or something with hard floors?
Bouncer – you could take something such as a door-swing-bouncer – ours packs down really easily and keeps her entertained and contained (and in sight) while we’re cooking dinner etc.
My most recommended item is a ‘Rock-it’ for your pram! This little gadget rocks your pram to keep your baby feeling as though you’re on the move even if you’ve stopped. This is PERFECT for if you want to stop and sit in a little cafe somewhere, instead of rolling the pram back and forth you push one button and it keeps your baby rocking while you enjoy a HOT cup of tea for the first time in a while! #MumLife
I may have forgotten something… but all you other mums will know the feeling… baby brain for life!
And one final thing you should absolutely, one million per cent make sure you have at the moment, and that is travel insurance. Check the T&C’s!
So that concludes as much as I can possibly think of for a UK break packing list. Probably the longest list I’ve ever written in my life, helped hugely by Hannah, but one I know I’ll keep referring back to myself too.
If you’re travelling, staycationing, camping, borrowing someone’s caravan, or whatever you’re doing this summer stay safe and have fun. I think we’ve all earned it!
Other posts you might like:
Keswick Lodge Reach Retreat – with hot tub!
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