Holiday packing checklist

Using a checklist can help you make sure that all the essentials are packed and you haven’t forgotten something important. Find out how to prepare and pack for your holiday effectively.

Eve Powell
Eve Powell
Updated 12 September 2022  | 5 mins read

Holiday checklist - what should I pack?

Whatever your destination and mode of transport for getting there, packing space is likely to be tight - so it’s important to take the right essentials.

Before you start packing, make sure you’ve got:

  • A valid passport and any required visa documents
  • Details and documentation of any essential vaccinations or vaccination status
  • Flight details and printouts of boarding passes and any pre-booked hotels, car hire and tickets
  • A copy of your travel insurance policy
  • A Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) for every family member if travelling in Europe
  • Digital copies of important documents saved online - including passports, driving licence and travel insurance
  • Credit and debit cards and foreign currency
  • Glasses or contact lenses if you need them
  • Prescription medication and an up-to-date copy of your prescription
  • First aid kit

What should I pack for a beach holiday?

Chances are you’ll be heading somewhere sunny and warm. This means you can swap out chunky layers for lightweight clothing and have more space to play with in your luggage.

As well as the obvious swimwear, shorts and t-shirts, don’t forget to pack:

  • Sunglasses
  • A beach bag
  • Sun hats and caps
  • High SPF creams
  • After-sun lotion
  • Flip flops and sandals
  • Beach towels
  • Inflatables and beach activities
  • Goggles and snorkelling kit
  • A reusable water bottle
  • Books and magazines
  • Waterproof cover or bag for devices
  • Travel plug adaptors

What should I pack for a family holiday?

Having more people and age ranges to pack for means there’s a higher chance of forgetting something. But making a list for each family member is a good way to avoid this.

Plan for your arrival by putting towels and swimwear at the top of your bag (or nightwear depending on what time you’ll be arriving), so the kids can be ready as soon as you get there.

Your family packing list might include:

  • A spare set of clothes for hand luggage
  • A set of activities, like toys, sticker books and games
  • Nappies to get you through the first few days
  • Nappy cream
  • Bottles and water sterilisers
  • Powdered baby milk
  • Food and snacks
  • Wet wipes
  • Car seat
  • Bath toys
  • High SPF creams
  • Sun hats, sunsuits and armbands or swim vests
  • Pram
  • Parasol or sun shield for pushchair
  • Travel cot and portable highchair
  • Children’s headphones and travel pillows
  • Mosquito repellent

What should I pack for an activity-based holiday?

Whatever adventure you’re planning, having the right kit in your luggage or rucksack means you won’t have to waste precious time once you arrive.

If you’re going to be outdoors for most of your trip, then packing lighter and smarter is the way to go. And if you’ll be doing organised activities, see what kit is included before you take or buy your own.

Don’t forget that you'll need to get the right travel insurance to make sure your holiday activities are covered, they won’t necessarily be included as standard on a policy.

Your activity holiday packing list could include:

  • Backpack
  • Swimwear
  • Light, breathable clothes
  • Travel clothes wash
  • Wind and waterproof trousers and jacket
  • Microfibre towels
  • Walking shoes or hiking sandals
  • Suncream
  • Sunglasses
  • Insect repellent
  • A GoPro camera
  • Water bottle
  • Torch or headtorch
  • Portable battery charger
  • First aid kit
  • Specialist equipment like hiking sticks and wetsuits (if they’re not supplied with your activity)

What should I pack for a winter getaway?

Whether you’ll be skiing, snowboarding or having a relaxing winter trip, packing for a much colder climate means taking thicker, warmer clothing and bulkier kit.

You can bring your own equipment, like ski boots and snowboarding helmets, but you’ll usually be able to hire them at the resort.

Remember you’ll also need travel insurance that covers snow sports.

Your winter packing checklist might include:

  • Thermal layers
  • Waterproof ski jacket and salopettes
  • Ski socks
  • Shoes or boots with good grip
  • Ski gloves
  • Warm winter gloves
  • Ski goggles
  • Sunglasses with UV lenses
  • Warm hat
  • Neck warmer
  • Warm casual clothes
  • High SPF cream and lip balm
  • Small rucksack
  • Muscle pain relief
  • Spare passport photos for your ski lift pass

What should I pack for a city break?

If you’ll be exploring a city for a few days, you won’t need to take too much. But there are a few essentials that can help to make your trip a success.

For a city break, it’s a good idea to take:

  • A local guidebook
  • Comfortable shoes or trainers
  • Clothes for layering
  • A light waterproof jacket
  • A small umbrella
  • A city map
  • Evening clothes
  • Hotel confirmation with the address on it
  • A scarf or pashmina
  • Currency and travel wallet
  • Portable charger
  • Camera
  • A bumbag or small backpack
  • Face mask (check the requirements of the country you’re visiting)

What should I pack in a travel first aid kit?

Whatever type of trip you’re going on, it’s always a good idea to pack a basic first aid kit. Taking one can help you quickly manage minor ailments and injuries while you’re away.

A good rule of thumb is to pack a small amount of everything you’d normally have in your medicine cabinet at home.

For example, your travel first aid kit could include:

  • Adhesive plasters in assorted sizes
  • Blister plasters
  • Gauze and first aid tape
  • Over-the-counter painkillers
  • Antiseptic cream and wipes
  • Saline sachets
  • Insect bite relief cream
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Antihistamines
  • Travel sickness tablets
  • Insect repellent
  • Safety pins

Things to check and do before you travel

To help your holiday go smoothly, you need to think about more than just which items to pack. Your pre-travel checklist should also include the following tasks:

  1. Take out travel insurance

    Get this as soon as you book your trip and make sure you have the right cover for any activities you might do

  2. Protect your gadgets

    Your travel insurance may already include cover for them, so check your policy. If it doesn’t, you can buy an add-on to protect your devices while you’re away

  3. Check your passport will be valid

    Make sure your passport is valid and has the required length of time left on it before you travel. It can take up to 10 weeks to renew your passport, so do it as soon as possible

  4. Find out up-to-date baggage allowances

    Restrictions vary between airlines and can change at short notice. Make sure your bag is the right weight and size before you set off

  5. Contact your bank

    Let your bank know you’ll be going abroad and the dates you’ll be away to avoid them blocking your card when it’s used overseas

  6. Check travel times

    Make sure you allow enough time to get to the airport or departure point and keep an eye on expected roadworks and traffic delays

  7. Switch things off

    Before you leave home, turn off the heating (except in winter) and water, and don’t leave electrical items on standby. Switch off all kitchen appliances except the fridge and freezer

  8. Set timers

    Use automatic timers to turn lights on and off in the evening to make potential burglars think you’re still at home

  9. Let neighbours know you’ll be away

    Give them your emergency contact details just in case and leave a spare key with nearby family or close friends

Compare travel insurance

Find quotes for single trip, annual trip and backpacker travel insurance from over 40 UK insurers.^

Get started

^As of May 2023, there are 43 active travel insurers on the panel at

See if you can save on your travel insurance

Get quotes