The Complete Cottage Packing List for Self Catering Holiday

Space, or lack thereof.  It’s the one big problem with luxury hotel accommodation.  And one of the big reasons we have come to embrace self-catered rental accommodation with their separate bedrooms, lounge room and kitchen, there’s space for everyone.

The Collins Dictionary defines self-catering as, “If you go on a self-catering holiday or you stay in self-catering accommodation, you stay in a place where you have to make your own meals.”  That means you are going to have to pack a whole heap more stuff than just your clothes.

But don’t fret we’ve got you covered with this complete cottage packing list for self-catering holidays along with a meal planner and a grocery list. Plus a free printable PDF checklist.

In this Cottage Packing List Your Will Learn:

Cabin to use self catering packing list for holiday
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Before You Pack for a Vacation Rental

To start planning your packing list for your self-catering holiday you will need to know:

  1. How many days you are travelling
  2. What your self catering accommodation supplies
  3. What activities you have planned
  4. What other facilities are nearby eg. supermarkets, butchers, fruit and vegetable stalls
  5. Which meals you want to eat at your self catering accommodation

You may also like to read our…

The Cottage Self Catering Packing List

Kitchen Essentials

Generally, when you stay in a self-catering cottage you should find supplied basic kitchen equipment like crockery, cutlery, glasses, pots, pans, cooking utensils, kettle and toaster.  Some self-catering accommodations also include a measuring jug, mixing/serving bowl and a grater.  But you should always check with your choice of accommodation to ensure which items are supplied and what you need to bring.  Many accommodations will also supply a starter kit of coffee, tea, creamer, salt and pepper sachets.

However, they rarely supply the other pantry items you take for granted which are always in your kitchen.  Pack:

  • Alfoil
  • Clingwrap
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Plastic containers for leftovers
  • Tea, coffee and sugar

Top Trip Tip: Double check to ensure washing up liquid, sponge, tea towel and garbage bags are provided

Self Catering Food List- Dry Goods

In addition to these kitchen essentials, I add the following items from the pantry

  • Tomato ketchup
  • Jams, preserves, honey and vegemite (I’m Aussie 🙂 )
  • Pancake mix
  • Bread
  • Crackers
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Lots of snacks (if you have kids)

Top Trip Tip: Put these items and the kitchen essentials into a large plastic crate*

Self Catering Food List – Cold Items

These items all get packed into an esky/cooler box* with a few ice bricks to ensure it all stays cold for the journey to your self-catering vacation spot.

  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Fruit
  • Vegetables/Salad
  • Cheese
  • Cold luncheon meats
  • Meat for main meals eg chicken, steak, chops, premade hamburgers
    • We like to BBQ as much as possible
  • Premade meals eg casserole, bolognaise
    • You may want to add rice and/or pasta to the dry goods
  • Drinks (wine, beer, soft drinks, juices)
  • Dips and nibbles

Top Trip Tip: If you freeze your main meal meats it helps keep everything else cool and the meat stays frozen for the road trip


You will need to check exactly what your accommodation includes but many self-catering cottage accommodation options provide bed linen and a bath towel.

Linen supplied in a self catering cabin
Cabin at Pemberton’s Diamond Forest Farm Stay

So you will just need:

  • Face wash
  • Beach towel
  • Pillow (if you are a little fussy, like me)

If no linen is provided add:

  • Sheets
  • Blankets
  • Bath towel

Top Trip Tip: If you’re taking your pets you may like to add an old sheet for the couches so the pets don’t make any stains or leave hair behind


Not that anyone wants to do laundry on a vacation but if you are staying for any length of time you will need to wash clothes.  Check what facilities are available at your cottage rental.  Some may have a laundry within the cabin; others may have a communal laundry facility.  Some cabin rentals include a washing basket, clothes horse and pegs others none.  So let’s assume at this stage you need everything.

  • Washing basket or large garbage bag
    • Even if you are not planning on doing laundry, pack a large garbage bag for dirty washing to take home
  • Pegs
  • Detergent (decanter just enough for the trip into a zip lock bag or travel container)
  • Rope to make a washing line

Top Trip Tip: Do your research on your vacation rental home.  If the answers are not on their website don’t be afraid to email for clarification

Discover the best ways to do

For the Kids

Packing for kids for any trip can be a minefield.  Currently, on Tips 4 Trips we have three detailed packing lists for kids:

  1. Packing list for baby or toddler
  2. Packing for tweens
  3. Three essentials to pack for kids
bag of toys next to kids car seat onroute to self catering vacation rental
Setting up the kids for a road trip

In a nutshell, you need to pack this list of items for a vacation rental family trip.

  • Snuggle friend
  • Colouring
  • Activity books
  • Reading books
  • Scooter or bike (if you have room)
  • Helmet

Top Trip Tip: Place this bag of goodies including a few snacks next to your child for road trip entertainment as well


On occasion, you can even find a self-catering accommodation that allows pets.  If you plan on taking your furry family member pack:

  • Animal bed
  • Animal food
  • Bowls
  • Leash
  • Rope for extra length to wander
  • Poo bags

Top Trip Tip: Save space with collapsible food bowls, they are also really handy when you head out on day trips

Documents and More

No matter whether you are taking big trip abroad or a weekend getaway road trip you can’t leave home without:

  • Passport or at least identification
  • Credit card and money
  • Travel documents
    • Tickets
    • Accommodation confirmation
  • Phone
  • Chargers
  • Camera
  • Maps

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Personal items

Of course, you will also need

Use the Ultimate Trip Packing List to complete your travel packing checklist.

Top Trip Tip: If you download the free ultimate travel packing list you will have it available for every dream trip you embark upon

Planning Your Cottage Packing List for Self Catering

I hope that you found some inspiration for self-catering food ideas in this cottage packing list.

If you download the free Cottage Self Catering Checklist “Welcome Gift” (link above) you will also receive:

  1. A free one-week self catering meal planner and
  2. A self catering shopping list to help you buy all the groceries for your vacation rental trip.

I hope that you come to embrace the same flexibility and space that self-catering vacations have brought to our family holidays.  Let me know about your travels in the comments.

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  1. This list is good for a camping trip too. As a matter of fact it looks very similar to what I pack (except for some of the cold items). I have pantry items and toiletries ready to go (and I restock after every trip). #MondayEscapes

    1. What a great idea to have the dry goods box prepared Ruth. You are ready to head off on a getaway at a moment’s notice.

  2. We get shopping delivered for the week on the first night so we don’t take food or household goods but we do always take our nespresso coffee machine and pods. Plus outdoor activities for the kids and their bikes. This year we are taking guitar and karaoke machine for a music night and I’ll be taking glow sticks for the kids. Last year I took a pinata!

    1. Wow, what fun things to take Jo! I hadn’t considered a karaoke machine and the Nespresso machine sounds like a very wise move. I know people who even pack there’s in the suitcase when they travel overseas.

  3. Perfect list! I also include some flour, but otherwise you nailed it! Thanks for linking up this week with #wkendtravelinspiration!

    1. I hadn’t thought of the flour – I wasn’t going to bake 🙂 But you also use flour for so much more – a thickener in sauces as a coating for rissoles, fish and chicken. Thanks for the tip JIm.

  4. I also pack my own tea because I really hate cheap supermarket tea. I like a very firm pillow but learned a trick: if you wind up in a place with too-mushy pillows, fold a towel or two up and slip them inside the pillow case and it will give you the support you need!

    1. That’s a great tip for beefing up the pillows Eileen. I have the opposite problem of liking a low soft pillow – hard to find. I have tried using a towel but it’s too hard. So I pack my own if I have room.

  5. I know it sounds a bit obsessive but I sometimes also take my own frypan. So often I find the pots and pans in otherwise lovely self-catering cottages so awful I don’t want to eat anything which has been cooked in them.

    1. I don’t think that sounds too obsessive Lyn. The only problem with self-catering accommodation is that the cleaning of the kitchen utensils is up to the previous tenant. If they don’t wash properly then when you arrive you have to wash everything before you start. On occasion, I have had to rewash everything.

  6. The packing list is very useful. I used to freeze a prepared meal (like a lasagne) and use it in the cooler to help keep things cool when traveling. It would defrost and could be used as the first (or last) evening meal during the trip.

    1. A premade meal – perfect Rhonda. A healthy homemade meal with no cooking – that’s a holiday!

  7. Great list! Cooking related stuff is usually last on my mind when I pack, but it really can make things easier and save you money. #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    1. I don’t really want to cook too much on holiday either Anisa, but taking a few basics including breakfast can save considerable money and make life a little less stressful when you first wake up.

  8. Growing up staying in Timeshares was about the same. They provided a lot, even vacuums, but we had to bring a lot of our own things. I still bring my own tea when I travel because most hotels I find have the cheap disgusting tea. And I’m picky about the English tea. #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    1. Nothing wrong with that Lolo. I think the morning coffee or tea is so important – it sets you up for the day.

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