holiday packing essentials 2016

Getting everything into the boot of the car for your annual holiday is like a game of Tetris – the bags keep coming at ever increasing speed and the space you’ve got to play with just keeps getting smaller….

Just as you think you’ve achieved the impossible and even managed to fit the kids’ surfboards in the family hatchback, someone appears with a 26 litre cool bag, straining at the zip with milk 6-pinters, packs of meat and pieces of fruit for the holiday.

Anyone would think you were going to the desert for a week, not the British seaside. But it doesn’t have to be such a stress. Big isn’t always better and there are things you can do to reduce the amount you need to bring on your next UK holiday.

We’ve found 11 of the best gadgets and holiday must-haves for 2017 that you’ll definitely want to make room for, whatever the size of your boot.

1. Personalised travel notebook

Dear Diary – today we went to the capital city of Scotland – Edinburgh – and climbed all the way up a big hill to sit on something called “Arthur’s Seat”. I hope Arthur didn’t mind – it was really bumpy with sharp rocks everywhere and Dad said it used to be a volcano but we didn’t see any lava or ash. I could see right across the city from the top, including the castle and the big building where the politicians meet. When we got to the bottom there was an ice-cream van so Mum bought everyone ice-creams. I had chocolate.

If you’re holidaying with children a diary can be a great way of getting them involved in the activities you do and the places you visit – we love this one because it can be personalised with your child’s name.

personalised travel notebook

It’s also pretty tough, hopefully surviving life in the bottom of a ruck sack for a week or two.

2. E-reader

Books can take up half a suitcase if you’re not careful – and they’re not exactly easy to squash down into a teeny tiny space. Save yourself the stress of trying to fit this Summer’s best-sellers in your luggage by going digital instead.

ereader kindle

An e-reader can hold hundreds of titles in its huge memories but takes up very little space.

Yes, okay we’re pretty traditional and like the smell and feel of a hard copy printed book, but for holiday convenience you can’t beat the e-reader.

3. Collapsible mug

Inevitably your journey will include a break – or two – so the kids can go to the loo, the dog can have a drink and a sniff, and Dad can stretch his legs.

You want to get moving and reach your holiday home as early as possible, but you can’t check-in until mid-afternoon so there’s plenty of time to take a few minutes on your pit-stop to refuel with a cup of something warm and milky.

The cupboards at home may be bursting at the seam with solid ceramic mugs that threaten to fall out every time you open the cupboard door, but this little beauty offers a whole new level of flexibility and convenience.

collapsible mug

Drop it and it bounces, sip your hot tea with ease, and when you’re done, you can fold it down and pop it back in your bag – it takes up less room than a small purse. Ideal.

4. Colouring roll

Colouring is a calming and peaceful activity that can keep the little ones entertained for hours – but it’s not just the kids who enjoy it.

The unexpected popularity of adult colouring books in recent years has shown that grown-ups are also partial to a bit of action with a felt-tip pen and a fine-liner.

colouring roll

This handy colouring roll is easy to pop in the boot of the car for your next holiday when you’re looking for a relaxing activity that everyone can join in with.

And there’s even room around the colouring roll for everyone to get their own small area to colour as once so it makes for a lovely group activity….

Without bashing elbows or fighting over whose turn it is.

5. Cashmere travel neck cushion

Falling asleep in a car isn’t normally a particularly restful experience – jolts as the driver moves through the traffic, kicks in your back from the kids squirming around in the back seat, and jerking awake with a stiff neck.

But sometimes you just need to catch 40 winks and travelling as a passenger on a long journey presents an irresistible opportunity to close your eyes and take a quick nap, however uncomfortable it is…

in car cashmere neck pillow

But it doesn’t have to be an achy nap.

Give yourself the five star treatment with this luxurious cashmere neck pillow next time you’ve got a long trip on the horizon – it supports your head as you doze through the miles and its super soft material soothes your tired body.

Just make sure you keep it away from the driver.

6. In-car grippy pad

Have you ever dropped your phone down the side of your seat as you get in? Or knocked your bag over and watched your phone slide under the seat as you drive off?

Annoying isn’t it? The delicate screen gets scratched, the pretty cover that the kids got you for Christmas gets chipped and when you get to where you’re going, you have to kneel on the ground by the car to root around under the seat in search of your missing phone.

Your tights get snagged and your knees get those weird bumpy dents in them from where you’ve been kneeling on the drive for too long.

Not the kind of cool arrival you were hoping for.

in-car grippy strip

Invest in an in-car grippy pad and you’ll never snag your watch on the car-seat reaching down to retrieve your phone again… surely a reason to rejoice.

7. Food deliveries

That huge unwieldy box stuffed with bags of dried pasta, tins of baked beans and Heinz tomato soup, bottles of squash for the kids and boxes of cereal isn’t the easiest thing to pack in the back of the car.

Particularly when you’ve still got two bikes and a dog bowl to fit in….


So throw caution to the wind on your next holiday and leave your usual supermarket supplies in your cupboards at home, instead shopping online and arranging for a delivery on the day of your arrival at your holiday home.

Many holiday companies will allow for this and can offer details of local supermarkets that deliver as well as advice on the best time to book your delivery slot.

8. Batman travel mug

Batman travel mug

Okay okay so this isn’t entirely essential, but who wouldn’t want one of these?

It’s insulated so will keep your cuppa toasty warm for longer.

9. Twister picnic blanket

Holidays are a great opportunity to spend some quality time with family and friends again – to make the most of doing nothing – free from the never-ending piles of ironing, the constant social media notifications, and the to-do lists as long as your arm.

But what game should you take? Monopoly almost led to divorce last time you played, and the kids soon get bored of Scrabble as Dad takes 40 minutes to make his move….

twister picnic blanket

But Twister is guaranteed to lead to fun and laughter, and possibly a few minor injuries… and this little gift doubles as a picnic blanket so when the fun is over you can all relax over a sausage roll and a bowl of strawberries.

10. Phone charger

The stress of knowing your phone battery is low and you’re miles from a charger isn’t something you want to experience anywhere, let alone on holiday.

Never again will you need to ration the number of selfies you take on your hols as your full battery is always within reach.

portable smart phone charger

This handy phone charger is small, portable, and survived being run over by a car during tests, so it can definitely survive a large group holiday where all the aunties, uncles, grandparents and cousins are fighting over phone chargers and sockets.

It’s compatible with Apple and Android smartphones, tablets and other USB-charged devices.

11. 3-in-1 camera lens set

Talking of selfies, this little trio of lenses will bring a whole new level of awesome to your photos. Simply attach one of the lenses to your smartphone and you can take weird and wonderful shots you never thought possible.

3-in-1 lens for smartphone

Use the wide-angle lens to capture landscape shots and night sky time lapses, experiment with the fish-eye lens for crazy interior shots and use the macro lens to get closer than you thought possible to your subjects.

And with all these fab lenses to play with, you’ll definitely need that charger…