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Outdoor adventures,

November 02 2023

The essential holiday packing list

We all know that sinking feeling: you arrive on holiday, unpack and realise you’ve forgotten that one thing you need. Maybe it’s sunscreen, a raincoat or your all-important phone charger. Going on holiday is a pleasure, but planning your packing can make it a whole lot nicer, so you don’t spend day one hunting for that one missing thing. If you’ve booked your trip and you’re ready for some suitcase loading, here’s your checklist of what to pack for a holiday. 



Key documents, like passports and visas are essential for holidays abroad. Check now that your passport is in date and comply with all entry requirements for the country you’re visiting. Some countries need a certain number of months left on your passport before it expires to let you enter – and it can take up to 10 weeks to get a new passport. Making sure now that you have all the paperwork you need to travel could save a lot of heartache and stress later.  


Other potentially key documents are your travel insurance details, tickets or boarding passes and any visas. Check your destination’s requirements and get vaccination evidence and coronavirus test results if you need them. For trips to Europe, check if your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is still in date, or sort out your Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). 



Usefully many hotels, hostels and rental properties provide shower gel and shampoo, but if you have favourites, it’s worth taking your own. When you’re planning what toiletries to take on holiday, it can help to think through your daily routine at home, so you remember everything. Here’s a strong starting point, though:


  • shower gel

  • shampoo (and conditioner if you use it)

  • suncream

  • aftersun

  • toothbrush

  • toothpaste

  • deodorant

  • moisturisers

  • hairbrush

  • sanitary products

  • make up

  • nail clippers

  • tweezers


You may want to add DEET-based repellent and a bite relief treatment if you’re likely to encounter mosquitos or other biting critters. 


Remember, if you’re taking toiletries through an airport in hand luggage, you should check the most recent liquid allowance and how to carry it. You can speed up time at security by sorting this out before you leave. For toiletries in your check-in luggage, make sure they’re well sealed and in a separate bag, so any leaks don’t spill into your bag. Baggage handlers aren’t known for their gentle touch!


Refillable water bottle

Handy for short hikes and long-distance travelling, a refillable water bottle makes staying hydrated all holiday very easy. Most airports have free water stations to top up your bottle and save spending on plastic water bottles, making it a great eco-friendly choice too. An insulated bottle keeps your water chilly for longer, even in warmer climes. It’ll also keep your coffee or tea at a drinkable temperature. This is one of those essential holiday items that’s easy to forget. 


Your on-the-go bag

No list of essentials for holiday packing is complete without a tote bag, bum bag, small backpack or handbag. Not all beachwear has pockets, and you may want a few essentials with you, such as water, book and sunscreen. So, whether you’re planning trips to the beach, exploring the city or off on a hiking adventure, pack your ideal on-the-go bag.


Chargers and adaptors

Mobile phone chargers, plug adaptors and portable chargers (or power banks) are vital when you’re travelling. Your phone is an essential travel tool, storing boarding passes and online museum tickets, helping you navigate cities and translate foreign words, so you need to keep it charged. Add in wireless headphones, smartwatches, tablets and all the other gadgets you need to charge, you might want to pack a travel adaptor or two as well, maybe even one with multiple outlets. 


With a power bank or portable charger, you can keep your devices charged as you travel. That’s handy when you’re on your phone lots during long journeys. If you’re travelling by plane, make sure you pack any lithium batteries in your hand luggage. They’re not allowed in the hold. 



When you’re working out what to take on holiday, don’t forget to include regular medications. Whether you’re packing paracetamol, travel sickness pills or prescription medication, make sure you keep them in their original packaging. Bring proof of prescription or a doctor’s note with you if you need it. You also need to check the rules on what medication is allowed in the country you’re going to. Some medications may be legal in one country but restricted in another. Your own mini first-aid kit is handy if you’re camping or travelling to remote locations.  



This may not seem like an essential holiday item – until those hunger pangs kick in! From keeping children happy on long-haul flights to saving money on expensive sandwiches, packing snacks will keep everyone happier, especially during unexpected delays. Avoid packing food liquids and put any snacks in your carry-on if you’re heading to the airport. 

Happy packing! And if you’re flying from London Heathrow, you could stay at our Thistle London Heathrow T5. It’s less than 2 miles from Terminals 2 and 3, and the closest offsite hotel. Handy if you want to minimise the risk of missing your flight or have a plane to catch early in the morning. Take advantage of our Stay, Park and Fly package for the ultimate holiday convenience.