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The essential holiday checklist
Whether you’re off on a beach holiday or a city break, the idea of packing can leave some people feeling frazzled.
Maybe you start weeks in advance but become stressed trying to juggle packing with everyday life. You forget what you already packed and have to start again. Or, you leave it to the last minute, and realise the clothes you washed still haven’t dried properly, and you can’t find your noise-cancelling headphones or the insect repellent you thought was at the back of the bathroom cupboard.
We’re here to help. Our holiday checklist can help ensure you don’t leave any essentials behind. So, you can tick the items off, and relax as your trip approaches.
Whether it’s a beach break, ski trip, holiday with young kids, a walking holiday or a city break to see the sights, we’ve put together a checklist for travelling, plus a pre-flight checklist, to help you keep track of what you need to pack.
Before you start packing
There are several travel priorities you need to address before you begin packing:
Check you have a valid passport (some countries require passports to have six months left on them before they expire. Check the UK government website for the latest travel advice).
Check you have any necessary vaccinations
Arrange travel to your destination (or to the airport, train station or ferry terminal)
Take out a travel insurance policy
Check to see if any roaming charges will apply if you use your mobile phone abroad (if they do, it’s a good idea to turn off your voicemail)
Make sure your pets are looked after while you’re away
Important documents to take with you
Passport – take a photo of it and keep it on your smartphone, and email yourself a copy
Visa, if needed. Print out physical documents too to be safe
Any Covid documents/forms, and test results, if required
Driver’s licence – plus car hire details, if necessary. If you plan to drive while abroad, make sure to check the country’s driving regulations
Travel insurance documents – there may be a card you can take with you which will have your policy number and the insurer’s phone number
Your EHIC or GHIC if travelling in Europe
Boarding passes, train tickets, hotel bookings, and any bookings for planned excursions
Pre-flight checklist: what to pack in your hand luggage
If you're flying to your destination, you’ll need to consider what to pack in your hand luggage. Don’t forget to check the maximum dimensions and weight for hand luggage (airlines have different rules), and take note of banned items like razors, scissors and liquids in containers over 100ml in size.
Here’s our essential hand luggage checklist:
Mobile phone and charger
Wallet or purse (with local currency)
Glasses, contact lenses and hearing aid
Book or magazine, plus a pen
Empty water bottle (you should be able to fill it at a water fountain once you’ve cleared security)
Jumper or scarf (in case it’s chilly on the plane)
If you have space in your hand luggage, and depending on how long the flight is, you could add:
Tablet/laptop, charger and headphones
Change of clothes
Holiday checklist for travelling with young children
You can make travelling with a baby, toddlers or children much less stressful by ensuring you have a range of essentials to hand. Remember that they have their own luggage allowance for flights – and kids often like carrying their own backpack or a small suitcase - so this will give you more space and less to carry!
Here’s our hand luggage checklist for travelling with children:
Toys, games and books (consider packing favourite ones, and new ones that may hold their attention for longer)
Nappies, wipes and baby milk, if necessary
Change of clothes (and one for yourself if you have space)
Wet wipes for sticky fingers
Dummy or comforter
Tablet or smartphone plus headphones so they can watch TV shows or play interactive games (download a few beforehand, so they can be viewed offline during the flight)
Any essential medication
Here’s what to pack generally for a family holiday:
Painkillers, including children’s liquid painkillers
Extra games and toys
Books and magazines
Muslins, nappy creams and bibs
Children’s sun cream and sun hats (if it’s a warm location)
Ultimate checklist for travelling
So, you’ve already packed your passport and other important documents, and organised your hand luggage. Well done! Here’s our ultimate holiday checklist of practical items to consider popping in your checked suitcase, regardless of destination:
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Hairbrush and/or comb
Contact lens solution
Soap and/or shower gel
Shampoo and conditioner
Razor and shaving gel
Sun cream and after-sun
Mosquito repellent and bite cream
Bags for shopping (and for dirty laundry)
Checklist: beach holiday
Here’s our checklist of extra things to take if you’re off on a beach break:
Books and magazines
Tablet / eReader / music player (download some music, podcasts, audiobooks, TV shows or films before you travel)
Checklist: city break
Here’s our holiday checklist if you’re going on a city break:
Map app on your phone (download the city data so you can view it offline)
Layers for different climates, such as lightweight jackets, cardigans, scarf or shawl
Portable battery charger for your phone/camera
Checklist: walking holiday
Off on a walking holiday? Don’t forget to pack these items:
Walking shoes or boots
Sun hat (or woolly hat if it’s cold!)
Maps or a map app on your phone (consider downloading “what3words” on your phone too, which shows your precise location – very helpful if you get lost)
Water bottle or thermos
Snacks like energy bars and trail mix
Plasters, and pain relief cream or spray to soothe aching muscles
Torches, plus batteries, and camping gear if needed
Checklist: skiing holiday
If you’re hitting the slopes, you’ll need to make space for some essential apparel. Here’s what to pack:
Ski boots, helmet, poles and skis/snowboard (if you’re not hiring when you arrive)
Goggles and ski gloves
Normal gloves (for when you’re not skiing)
Pain relief cream or spray to soothe aching muscles
Swimwear, in case there’s a hot tub or pool at your accommodation
A final tip
We hope you’ve found our checklists for travelling useful. The key to stress-free packing is not to leave it to the last minute. This also applies to getting your travel money sorted. Make sure you plan ahead when buying foreign currency.
You need to report and cancel a lost passport as soon as possible to prevent any fraudulent activity.
Here we explain the answer to “how much money can I take abroad?” as well as rules around bringing cash into the UK.
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