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Your ultimate summer holiday packing list

Is there anything more exciting than packing for a sunny holiday? Apparently for some, there is (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Is there anything more exciting than packing for a sunny holiday? Apparently for some, there is (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Some people hate packing for a holiday. I am not one of these people.

Call it frequent flyer arrogance, call it Big Virgo Energy, call it plain annoying, but I start making my list around two weeks before departure. I then begin foraging around for the essentials one week before – you just know that passport is wedged in the bottom of a drawer somewhere – making sure I leave two or three buffer days before the journey to allow for picking up last-minute essentials.

It’s an art form, I adore it, and I pride myself on being the person doling out plug adapters and charger cables to those who have not made their own nifty list.

Read more on summer holidays:

Everyone has individual needs, wants and little luxuries for a summer holiday – clothing being a whole personal list of your own – but the core items will always remain the same. I haven’t included a laptop or any work paraphernalia, because I sincerely hope you’ll be able to switch off this summer. Here are the must-haves:

Everything you’ll (probably) need for a beach holiday this summer

  • Passport(s)

  • Boarding pass(es) or train/ferry tickets

  • SPF/sun cream. Factor 30 and above is recommended; SPF50 for kids

  • Sun hat(s)

  • Sunglasses

  • Phone charger (I always like to bring a back-up cable as they can be a nightmare to find if they conk out)

  • Plug adapter(s)

  • Swimsuit/bikini/trunks

  • Flip flops

  • Comfy shoes or trainers

  • Toothbrush/electric toothbrush and charger

  • Toothpaste

  • Headphones

  • Shampoo, conditioner and shower gel if you’re self-catering

  • After sun or gentle moisturiser

  • A beach towel if you you’re in a hotel that doesn’t provide them

  • Face wipes or make-up remover

  • Make-up bag for those who wear it

  • Hairbrush or comb (longer-haired folks and mums swear by the Tangle Teezer)

  • Plenty of hair ties for long hair

  • A nail file

  • Lip balm

  • Shorts

  • Sundresses and light shirts

  • Glasses or contacts if you wear them

  • Enough underwear for the week/fortnight

  • Gym gear if you plan to exercise

  • Backpack for exploring and/or smaller evening bag

  • A tote or beach bag

  • Emergency medical kit: plasters, antihistamine/bite cream, painkillers, stomach-settling remedies

  • Any essential medication of your own

  • Goggles/snorkel, face mask and fins if you have them

  • A couple of light jackets and jumpers for colder nights or higher altitudes

  • Entertainment for the plane: pre-downloaded streaming shows, podcasts or a good old fashioned magazine

  • A camera or smartphone with plenty of space for new snaps (plus camera charger if needed)

  • Books or Kindle: a summer read (or four) is an essential for many

  • A Bluetooth speaker for the room or apartment

  • A slim canvas bag or spare tote to use as a laundry bag

  • Snacks. While these should always be nearby in an airport or local shop, having a cereal bar or two on hand can save the day during unexpected long waits

  • Travel wash – if you’ll be there long enough to want to refresh any clothing

  • Cash in local currency or travel money card: an ‘emergency cab amount’ of cash is a good rule of thumb

  • An offline copy or screenshot of your hotel’s address and any transfer details – in case of roaming issues

  • An offline copy or print-out of your travel insurance details

  • An offline copy or printed scan of your passport, in case you lose it

  • ID or driving licence if needed

  • A reusable water bottle

  • Hand sanitiser

  • Face masks for destinations that still require them

  • Eye mask or neck pillow if needed for flight

  • Your house keys – and put them somewhere easily reached for your return!

Things you’re most likely to forget, so double check

  • Correct plug adapter. This is a useful catch-all guide to different types

  • Medical kit. Hopefully you won’t need it, but boy does it help avoid hours of gesticulating at the pharmacy

  • Toothbrush charger if yours is electronic

  • Jackets and jumpers – even the Med gets the odd chilly evening

  • Enough entertainment for your journey – if flying, allow for double your airport and flight time, just in case of delays

  • The liquid limit: Keep liquids to under 100ml (and labelled as such) and able to fit in a zip-lock bag in hand luggage, with larger items in hold luggage. Even though some UK airports have scrapped the liquid limit, not all of them have – and there’s no guarantee your return airport will have also axed the rule.

And one more tip...

Want to become a packing pro? Take note of anything you realise you’ve forgotten or wish you’d packed while on holiday, and add it to a rolling list in your phone’s Notes app. Next time you’ll be equipped for anything.

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