Ten Self-Catering Holiday Essentials*

*When you’re traveling with a three year old and a baby.

We like to rent an apartment or cottage when we travel. It gives us the space to tuck in the littles at reasonable bedtimes while we stay up drinking wine and reading with the lights on in a separate room. (Par-TAY!) The biggest draw, though, is having a kitchen. Getting my children dressed and out the door before we have a chance to eat is the keystone of every one of my nightmares. You can save a ton of money, too, preparing your own food rather than eating out three meals a day. Ch-ching!

We forgot some key items when we went to York, so we’re stepping up our game with an actual list this time.

Packing for Vacation Apartment with Kids

JUICE Universal Charger (and UK to Euro plug adapater) – Our other universal charger got fried, and we both forgot to pack our phone chargers, so we picked up this kit last time. What would I do without my iPhone to Instagram our adventure? [GASP!]

Paper Towel – Have you ever seen an 11-month-old eat? Or a 3-year-old magically pee through the gap under the toilet seat?

Antibacterial Wipes & Hand Soap – See above.

Bottle Brush, Collapsible Drying Rack and Dish Soap – For the LOVE, could someone get my baby to drink out of a CUP? I’m hoping that it’s just a matter of switching to cow’s milk, because I can’t wait to chuck the bottles.

Corkscrew & Wine – It would be our luck that the next place doesn’t have a wine key if we don’t bring one, and we’ll be getting in a little too late to make a booze run.

Night Cap – It’s winter, I’m sure my husband will pack some whisky in his Nalgene flask. See also: Paper Towel.

Morning Pick-Me-Up – We’ve turned into tea people (age, England, whatever), but don’t count on a regular drip coffee maker at an English cottage. I actually have something like this Press-Bot Coffee Press and an insulated sleeve to make coffee in a Nalgene bottle, from when we camped in the Black Hills back in my coffee-drinkin’ days.

Breakfast – Since we’re driving, we can pack everything we need and save the hassle of grocery shopping with kids in a new city center. Bread, eggs, butter, milk, juice, bagels and cream cheese, oatmeal packets, fruit.

Flavor – This time we’ll be packin’ salt and pepper, along with some other everyday spices like cinnamon (for Walden), cumin (for Bertie!), crushed red pepper and oregano in our new GSI Spice Missile.

Portable Snacks – Peanut butter, granola bars, dried fruit, crackers. Puffs and Organix baby biscuits because my picky baby might otherwise starve. Plastic baggies to tote them all, too (until my reusable snack bags arrive!).

Of course this list assumes you’re driving and can pack all of this stuff. Grocery shopping in another country (or region of the U.S.) can be fun, if you’re not one to despise grocery shopping in the first place. It’s where you find deals on local goods (ie. beer, Nutella, Chimay cheese and speculoos spread in Belgium) and catch glimpses of culture that can be easily missed on the street (ie. horse meat baby food in Italy).

Some destinations may provide a travel crib and high chair if you ask. Some may not. Some may bring you a horrifyingly unsafe antique bassinet for your highly mobile 8 month old. Ask ahead of time and plan accordingly.

And so we’re off to pack. I’ll be back with tips to survive a long ferry ride on choppy waters and many hours in the car with small children. Hopefully!

3 thoughts on “Ten Self-Catering Holiday Essentials*

  1. Damn, you are prepared! I love it! I am a big fan of lists, especially when it comes to travel. I am also in agreement about the accomodations- separate room for the nuggets so you don’t have to sit in the bathroom for an hour and play cards on the side of the bathtub. Not that I’ve done that….

  2. This is why I love hotels with kitchenettes. So much more flexible when you can prepare your own meals sometimes and have separate bedrooms for the kids, a living room, etc. And yes I second the dish soap and even a sponge to clean all the kiddie dishes!

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