I used to be a hotel junkie. I loved the thrill of pulling up to a hotel while a man wearing a comedy outfit welcomes me. I loved the smell of a hotel lobby, the hustle & bustle and the anticipation of what my room would look like. I loved flopping onto the bed, checking out what brand of toiletries were on offer and sliding a balcony door open to gaze at the view. Now I’ve got kids, my love affair with hotels has diminished a little. I don’t want to be crammed together in one room, however luxurious it is. I need a kitchen and ideally my own washing machine.
So whilst I still book the odd hotel stay (especially if it’s a weekend away somewhere exotic and I want a pool), I’m veering more towards self catering properties. Of course, these too have their down side. Sometimes you just want a hotel porter to show you to your room if you arrive late at night, rather than fumbling with a lockbox. And sometimes you want someone to clean up after you! The meteoric rise of airbnb has opened up a whole new world of self catering properties that make it cheaper and easier for family travel. We’ve stayed in some pretty cool places from a trailer on a horse farm to a classic all-American suburban house.
When it comes to packing for a self-catering holiday you do need to bring more things. I’ve put together a list following my recent experience in Australia but you should always check with the owner in advance to avoid duplication.
- Sometimes you have to pay extra for bedding and towels. Check in advance and if in doubt, bring your own, particularly sheets for a travel cot.
- Pens & paper
- Black bin liners and plastic zip lock bags
- Cooler bag
- Coffee and tea
- Kitchen Towel / Paper
- Tea towels
- Salt, pepper & sugar (I tend to squirrel these sachets away from my hotel visits!)
- Washing up liquid & sponges
- Cleaner & cloths (disinfectant wipes can be quite handy and that way you don’t have to pack a cloth)
- Bottle opener / corkscrew
- Shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and soap
- Board games
If you’re traveling to a self-catering property in the UK (and beyond), you can even do an online shop in advance to have it delivered when you arrive.
Most importantly, don’t forget to bring everything you need back with you! I’m still gutted I left all my speciality tea and coffee in my Thai villa over Christmas (I know I sound insane but that stuff is SO expensive here in Hong Kong).