We’ve put together this handy packing list for a self-catered caravan holiday in the UK so that you can pack light and enjoy your stay.
If you’re new to hiring static caravans or have been a couple of times, it can feel overwhelming when you consider everything you might need to bring. We are pros at packing for a self-catering caravan holiday in the UK as a family. There are essentials, luxuries and things you can afford to leave behind. Below is our essential checklist for your self-catering caravan trip.
Essential Self-catering caravan checklist
You are correct in thinking this guide is for static caravans; you know, the ones are based at holiday parks and don’t move (unless they are on the back of a lorry). Although most things are transferable between touring and static caravans, there are no golden rules here.
As a family, we have been using self-catering caravans for nearly ten years, they aren’t as bare as you might think, and we have upgraded over the years from the basic to the premium (it comes with a dishwasher), but the essentials are always the same. Over the years, we’ve also learned what works and what doesn’t and to take care when leaving to make sure nothing or no one is left behind, as Bear Bear (RIP) ended up in the rubbish bin, not the bedding bag many years ago. It’s a home-from-home.
If you hire a static caravan, they come with minimal essentials, including cooking utensils, pots & pans, mugs, glassware, kettle, microwave and bedding (depending on caravan grade)—everything you would use essentially at home.
Here are some of the things not included (this is subject to change depending on if it’s booked privately)
- Bath towels and bath mats
- Oven gloves and tea towels
- Child-friendly crockery and glassware – we often pack a couple of picnic-type sets of bamboo and plastic glasses or beakers for the kids.
- Bedding (if required) – most offer free bedding hire included (beds pre-made), or you can pay for a pack of bedding which is usually collected from the hire shop or if you prefer a little bit of home comfort. You can bring your own covers and blankets, and we also pack a couple of our own pillows.
Outdoor equipment for your Self-catering caravan holiday
Without an outdoor equipment checklist, a checklist wouldn’t be complete for those who embrace outdoor life. Check with your desired location that specific equipment is allowed, such as gazebos, BBQs, etc.
- Camping chairs
- Folding table
- Portable or disposable BBQ with utensils, charcoal etc.
- Windbreaks for tiny ones and the furry family members
Self-catering Caravan Entertainment
Static caravans have many modern essentials, including televisions and occasionally Bluetooth speaker systems. There are many things to keep you entertained, including:
Groceries – Food Essentials
No one goes on holiday to spend their time cooking for the family. It’s a rest from all that, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need careful consideration. Can you afford to eat out every night? Do you want to head to the beach for a picnic? Will the kids have enough snacks to keep them happy? It all needs to be considered, which is why we decided to buy a large storage container and rather than wasting parts of our holiday food shopping, we took essentials with us to keep us ticking over.
- Condiments – Ketchup, mayo etc
- Cooking oil spray
- Teabags, coffee, sugar etc
We don’t usually take milk as it doesn’t keep well in the car, even with the electric cool box. It is always an idea to check what restaurants, cafes and convenience stores are on-site or within easy reach of your accommodation. Some parks allow supermarket deliveries on-site to your caravan, but this is worth checking before arranging.
Groceries – Cleaning Supplies & Hygiene
There is nothing quite like being on a self-catered holiday to realise that you’ve used the last toilet roll or the supermarket has sold out of anti-bacterial wipes, so we have always been prepared for the unexpected. When it comes to cleaning supplies, we love Poundshop.com and they offer unbeatable prices with big brand names you love suitable for every room in the house.
- Toilet rolls
- Kitchen roll
- Anti-bacterial spray or wipes
- Cleaning cloths
- Washing up liquid
- Bin bags (you may be given one or two)
- Hand wash and hand sanitiser
- A mini hand wash detergent
Some caravans have the added luxury of a dishwasher, so it may be worth checking to keep that in mind. We usually grab a small pack of dishwasher tablets from the on-site store.
What to pack for the kids (including those with disabilities)
The most significant factor will be how old your kids are. Travelling with babies and toddlers often feels like travelling with the kitchen sink, but sometimes you need those must-have items, and it’s the same when travelling with a disabled child. So much more needs to be prepared for or anticipated.
- Travel cot – Not everyone is happy hiring a travel cot from the hire shop, so consider where your little one will sleep. We opted to take our own in the early days as it was more accessible, but the rooms can be tiny, so it was a squeeze.
- Nappies, wipes, nappy bags – We still have a disabled child in nappies, so it’s the norm to consider his essentials. However, there are now many more options, including space-saving cots.
- Stroller – We use a wheelchair and a stroller but find the stroller is much more convenient when making day trips. Highly recommend getting a lightweight stroller; we had a Silver Cross Zest Stroller, and it was excellent and faired well; if you are looking for something for younger ones or one that is aeroplane approved, then consider the Joie Tourist lightweight pushchair, which only weighs 6kg and can support a carrycot or a car seat.
- Travel games
- Highchair, travel potty, stair gates, blackout blinds, fridge locks and toddler cutlery if your kids are on the young side.
Beach or Day Out Essentials
We always want weather lovely enough to get a couple of beach days (especially here in the UK), so it is worth having a self-catering caravan holiday checking list for when the sun shines.
- Beach towels
- Bucket & spades – We especially like the fact that they fold away.
- Beach tent or windbreaker
- Beach bag or rucksack
- Suitable shoes
- Wet weather gear
- First aid kit
We have only stayed in self-catering caravans in the UK, so I can’t comment on self-catering holidays abroad. It can be tricky if you’ve never done it or are flying and do not have much room in your luggage for all those essentials. There are, however, self-catering holidays in European holiday parks that include essential packs that can be purchased pre-travel for convenience.
This is a rough guide to what you should take for cost-saving and those little essentials. If I’ve missed any, please let me know. Is there anything you must have when you go on a self-catering caravan holiday?