By Isabella Perkins
Choosing a self-catering holiday in a villa lets you do as you please. You can come and go, and eat and drink, whenever and whatever you like. This unbeatable flexibility, combined with the cost-effectiveness of being able to live like a local, is what makes this such a good way to travel. Not to mention the first-rate standard of most holiday rentals these days.
But that’s not to say you don’t have to be prepared. Reading up on your destination is one of the most important things, of course. As is planning your day trips, excursions and other activities. However, self-catering takes a little self-reliance beyond that. It’s a markedly different, and often more rewarding, type of holiday.
This might not be the case if you forget your crucial items, however! Depending on your location or whether you’re in a resort, certain necessities may not necessarily be on hand. Be prepared. To help, here is a guide of the things you need to pack.
More than anything else, a self-catering holiday offers freedom. By opting to stay in a holiday rental you’re are the master of your sunshine break and can do as much or as little as you please. This also means you forgo some of the usual entertainment options that might be available at your typical hotel or resort, and you’ll need to bring your own entertainment, too.
If you’ve travelled as a family, then packing some games is an excellent idea. You could also consider bringing a games console with some party games as well, though you might want to limit how much time the kids spend on it. If you’re travelling as a couple and want some relaxation, a well-stocked e-reader or small selection of paperbacks is a great way to relax while you’re away.
All holiday lets should have the kitchen equipment you need to rustle up some culinary delights. But they might not necessarily have all the staples you take for granted in your own kitchen. Have a think about the ingredients you normally use when you cook. Things like cooking oil, salt, flour, milk and eggs might not be pre-stocked in the pantry, so pick them up on your way.
If you can’t do without specific herbs or spices, then feel free to take them, too. Another smart idea is to take a cookbook with you, and have a go at some of those recipes you’ve had your eye on. You’ll have the time and space to cook up a storm and try out some of the finest local produce al fresco style, so consider what you might need in advance.
When you book a holiday let, you'll have the space and privacy to enjoy some real luxury. Research your self-catering accommodation's nearby resorts or local town to see what spa facilities are available. But don’t worry if there are none close by. Instead, pack some bath salts, massage oil, aromatherapy products, healing clay, body scrub or any other home-spa items you need for some indulgent relaxation.
Most of us go on holiday for the sunshine, but it always pays to be prepared. Packing umbrellas, wellies and raincoats is a good idea no matter where you are. A little rain doesn’t have to spoil a holiday, but getting soaked might ruin your day! And remember that just because warm temperatures are forecast at your destination, it can still get chilly at night especially if you’re spending the evening outdoors. Pack some extra layers, like cardigans or light sweaters, just in case.
There may be local amenities close by, but there’s no guaranteeing they’ll have the necessities you need, and they may be closed when you need them. It only takes a local convenience store being closed for a few days to cause a minor holiday headache if you’re out of things like toothpaste or toilet paper. So be prepared. Simply pack a few essentials such as emergency toilet paper, towels, a small container of washing up powder, a few bin bags, washing up liquid, toothpaste, shampoo and perhaps most importantly of all – a corkscrew and bottle opener!
Isabella Perkins is a freelance travel writer who specialises in self-catering holidays. Her writing tends to have a family focus, and she is in the midst of writing a new travel guide due to be published next year.