We've done a lot of travelling and packed more than our fair share of suitcases. We've got the know-how and it's only right we share it! So here's our holiday checklist of travel essentials to help you make the most of your trip.
Quick-view Holiday Checklists
What sort of holiday do you have planned?
Family holiday checklist
- ✓ Backpack(s)
- ✓ A blanket
- ✓ Paracetamol
- ✓ Baby wipes
- ✓ Toys
- ✓ Car window shade
- ✓ Nappy changing bag
- ✓ Tablets/reading material
- ✓ Co-operative games
- ✓ Beach games
- ✓ Mr Snuffles (comfort blanket)
Beach holiday checklist
- ✓ Beach towels
- ✓ Sunglasses
- ✓ Suncream
- ✓ Swimsuit
- ✓ Insect repellent
- ✓ Water bottles
- ✓ Wind break
- ✓ Books/podcasts/audiobooks
- ✓ Beachball/Inflatables
- ✓ Flip flops
- ✓ Swim goggles
Walking Holiday Checklist
- ✓ Hiking poles
- ✓ Hiking boots
- ✓ Backpacks
- ✓ Water bottles
- ✓ Maps
- ✓ GPS
- ✓ Power bank
- ✓ Camera
- ✓ Thermos
- ✓ Tupperware
- ✓ Water-proof mac
Holiday planning and checklists
Avoid the stress and plan like the best
Whether you're travelling abroad or staying in the UK, having an organised approach to your holiday is a great idea; so use our holiday packing checklist to get things under control. We've also put together plenty of tips and hints to help you get to your holiday with minimum stress. You might also want to check out our list of Best Travel Apps - our top picks will help you during the planning stages of your holiday and while you're on your travels.
Being ready for your holiday is more than just packing the right clothes for; here's a few things to think about before you go:
- ✓ Check the date on your passport(s)
- ✓ Check any visas or ID's you may require
- ✓ Purchase holiday insurance
- ✓ Keep an eye on the weather at your destination
- ✓ Change currency/purchase a pre-paid currency card
- ✓ Find out about local attractions; costs, how far are they from your hotel? etc.
- ✓ Research emergency medical procedures at your destination; especially contact numbers
- ✓ Check you're up to date on any immunisations you might need
- ✓ Research places to eat while you're on holiday, especially if you have dietary requirements
Psst! Thinking about going away with the little ones this year? Make sure you check out our dedicated UK school holidays page for all the info you need before you book your family getaway. Plus, if you're thinking about making your escape over a bank holiday, check out our UK bank holidays page too, so you can travel like a pro.
Frequently Asked Holiday Checklist Questions
What are the most common holiday planning questons?
There's a lot to think about when you're getting ready for your holiday, and not just what your first pool-side cocktail will be. We've put together some of the most asked question by holiday-goers to help make sure you are absolutely ready to hit the beach, or the slopes, and make the most of your rest and relaxation time.
What should I not forget to pack?
Ahh the holiday essentials, what are the things you can't do without? From the big stuff like passports, tickets or your 8-year-old son Kevin to your favourite flip-flops and sun tan lotion; here's a quick list of items that people often forget:
- Passport(s) - It's a classic! Don't be that cliché
- Booking confirmations - Everything you've booked - hotels, transfers, attractions, car hire, travel - make sure you have all these somewhere safe.
- An umbrella or raincoat - You just never know!
- A swimming costume - Even if this isn't a beach holiday there may be a hotel pool to take advantage of and a swimming costume takes up very little space in your luggage; may as well chuck one in!
- Travel socket adaptors - Don't get caught short with your electrical devices!
- An extension cord - Related to the above, simply attach your adaptor to the end of a 4-way socket extension cord and get plenty of power for phones, cameras, hair dryers and more!
- Phone charger - The last thing you want is to be caught with a dead battery!
- First aid kit - Bumps and bruises can be picked up anywhere and sometimes all you need is a quick plaster; a travel first aid kit can be a handy little companion on your holiday.
- A laundry bag - Dirty clothes are a reality of holidays, so rather than accumulating a pile of them in the corner of your room bring a simple bag to pop them in; allowing you to keep them separate from your clean clothes. Also a plastic bag can be handy for swimwear and towels to keep damp items away from anything else in your luggage.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste - It's quite likely that your hotel will supply this if you do forget it, but if you're particular about brand it's worth bringing your own.
- Hair brush - because that do will go crazy at the first opportunity!
- Sunscreen and lip balm - Make sure you look after yourself while you're out in the sun, nothing can ruin a holiday like chapped lips and the lobster look.
- Painkillers - Whether it's for the morning after an enthusiastic night out or just a little too much hiking, painkillers could be just what you need to make your holiday a little bit easier.
What's the 311 rule?
Simply put the 311 rule covers liquids that can be taken onto the plane as mandated by the TSA: 3.4 oz (100ml) bottle or less in 1 clear, plastic bag per 1 passenger. This is a generally agreed upon rule around the world, although not every airport enforces it strictly, however it's probably best to stick to it to make your airport experience just a little easier.
Is a ladies handbag classed as hand luggage?
Generally speaking a ladies handbag would count as a personal item and not as hand luggage. You should be allowed one personal item such as a handbag, laptop bag or other similar small bag as well as your hand luggage.
Can you have clothes in your hand luggage?
Yes, you certainly can have clothes in your hand luggage; just make sure that your carry on conforms to any restrictions that your airline may have on cabin luggage. Top tip: Wear your heaviest clothes on the plane to free up some space in your hold luggage!
Packing a suitcase
It always seems like fitting everything into your suitcase is an absolute nightmare until you end up just cramming clothes and toiletries into any gaps you can see; hiding things in shoes which are wrapped in towels! Well, we've put together a quick video that'll give you some ideas for simple packing methods; in particular how to fold those pesky items like shirts and dresses!
How long does it take to get a passport?
It should only take 3 weeks for you to get a passport, whether it's a brand new one or a renewal of an expired one. However. if you do not fill in the forms correctly or they require more information it can take a little longer to get your passport; it's best to do this well in advance of your holiday. There are some costs involved in getting your Passport; if you apply online it's £75.50, or you can fill in the paper form (get this from the Post Office) which costs £85.00.
If you need to renew your passport in a bit of a rush there are a few different options:
Online premium: Book your appointment online, apply for your passport and pay the fee of £177.00. Turn up to your appointment with the required materials and you'll be given your passport there and then. Appointments can last up to 30 minutes.
Paper premium: You can get the form from the Post Office but you'll still need to book your appointment and pay the £177.00 fee online. You'll then need to take your completed form and any required documents to the appointment; you will usually get your passport within 4 hours of your appointment.
1 week Fast Track: You'll still need to get a paper form from the Post Office and book an appointment online as well as pay the fee of £142.00 (£122.00 for a child passport). Take everything to your appointment but rather than having to wait around for your passport after the appointment, it will be posted to you within 1 week.
Can I have a phone charger in my hand luggage?
Absolutely! In fact, it's very useful to keep your phone charger in your hand luggage in case you are using your phone to keep yourself entertained on a long flight.
What is not allowed in carry-on?
- Any liquid in a container over 100ml (3.4 oz) - This is the case even if the container isn't full.
- Sharp objects - Including knives of any length, scissors, razor blades hypodermic needles (if these are required for medical reasons they are allowed but you will be required to provide proof).
- Tools of any kind - Including multi-tools and penknives.
- Sporting equipment - Anything from ski poles to darts.
How much should you pack for 2 weeks?
Good question, being prepared is key to a great holiday experience and you certainly don't want to run out of clothes while you're away. But how much should you pack?
Obviously a lot will depend on the type of holiday you're planning, whether it be a beach holiday, two weeks of glitz and glamour or living it up in a ski resort, but below we'll give you a rough idea to get you started based on a 2 week beach holiday.
- Swimwear - 4-5 sets should see you through comfortably, particularly if you won't be swimming everyday
- Underwear - 1 pair for each day of your holiday, probably worth packing some spare socks if you plan on doing any hiking or long walks though.
- Trousers/Jeans - 2-3 pairs of something casual and comfortable but smart enough to wear on nights out to the restaurant if you feel like being a little fancy.
- Shorts - 1-2 pairs of comfy shorts should be enough for the days where you might like to take a tour of the local towns or do something aside from relaxing on the beach
- T Shirts/Shirts - 8-10 of these depending on your plans and potential washing facilities (or if you even want to do any washing; you are on holiday!) A combination of T shirts, tank tops and shirts/blouses should prepare you for most eventualities.
- Dresses - 1-2 evening dresses and a couple of light summery dresses for evenings out should do the trick.
- Jumper/Cardigan/Hooded top - It's certainly bringing one of these just in case the evening turns a bit chilly!
- Light scarf/Pashmina - Always a good idea for evenings and nights out.
- A sunhat! - Protect yourself from sunstroke and look fashionable while you're at it.
- Sunglasses We'd suggest bringing a couple of pairs just in case your main set gets lost or broken, a backup is definitely better than squinting for the rest of your trip!
This is not an exact and exhaustive list of everything you could possibly need on your holiday and it would obviously change based on a 3 day trip to the beach or a week long stay in the mountains, but it is a jumping off point to get you heading in the right direction!
Is it better to roll or fold clothes?
For clothes such as t shirts, jeans, swimsuits, underwear and pyjamas it's better to roll than fold; you'll save plenty of luggage space doing so. Bigger, bulkier items like jumpers are better folded; as are button up shirts as these are likely to crease and crumple when rolled.
How do I choose a good suitcase?
A classic dilemma! Unless you are a "first one I see" kind of person, choosing the right suitcase can be quite the task. There's plenty to consider - size, style, colour, soft or hard case (we go into that a bit more further down)? Not to mention finding one that you feel comfortable carrying about. Ultimately the ease with which you can get the suitcase in and out of cars, up and down steps and around a busy airport should probably be the biggest factor.
The wheels on the case go... Round and round, we all know that! But how many of them are there?
2 wheels - Classic Upright
- Great on rougher terrain, going up and down curbs and over cobble stones.
4 wheels - The Spinner
- An absolute whizz around the airport, on smooth floors these suitcases glide along.
Which is better hard case luggage or soft?
Both styles of suitcase have their advantages and disadvantages which we'll take a look at now:
Hard case Vs Soft case luggage
|Hard case||Soft case|
|✓ Durable. the construction of these suitcases means they're more robust and more likely to protect your belongings||✓ Flexible. Soft case luggage will allow for more flexibility in terms of what you pack inside it, in particular if you have any oddly shaped souvenirs. This can also be a plus when trying to squeeze your luggage into tight spots|
|✓ Secure. Should anyone be looking to gain access to your suitcase they are less likely to try it with a hard case as they can't just easily cut the material||✓ Compartments. You'll normally find that soft case luggage has more internal and external pockets than hard case, making it much easier to organise your belongings|
|✓ Style. You'll often find that these types of suitcases are available in a range of stylish finishes||✓ Price. More often than not soft case luggage will be cheaper than it's hard case counterpart|
|✓ Weather resistance. While not waterproof, hard cases are much more resistant to bad weather|
|✗ Less forgiving. As the frame of hard cases is rigid there's very little give if you have something oddly shaped to fit into it.||✗ Security. Due to the nature of the materials used soft cases can be considered less secure than hard cases, someone determined to gain entry could cut through the material|
|✗ Space. Although you'll still get bags (sorry!) of space, hard cases don't tend to have external pockets which can be handy for keeping travel documents etc.||✗ Weather resistance. You may find that your soft case doesn't stand up to adverse weather quite as well as a hard case, even if your belongings remain dry this could lead to staining and discolouration of that case.|
Travel Guides from Holiday Extras
Browse our travel guides to help you prepare, plan and get into the holiday spirit!