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Your ultimate summer holiday packing list

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.

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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 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 won’t have a hotel that provides 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 flippers 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
  • 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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