Image by George Hodan

Holidays are about relaxation, but we all know that they can also be a major cause of stress, both in the planning and the execution; and keeping everyone happy all of the time presents certain challenges.

When it comes to a self-catering holiday in a holiday cottage, the key is to be prepared but also be flexible. Here are our tips for a successful, and happy, holiday.

The Advantages of Self Catering

For a family holiday, self-catering gives you much greater flexibility, because you can come and go as you please. Of course, while this means you set your own schedule, it also requires a bit more planning on your part.

You’ve also got potentially more freedom in terms of space – your holiday cottage has more to offer than a hotel room, and while there may not be the facilities immediately to hand that a hotel can offer, you’ve got other choices – surrounding attractions, countryside etc.

There’s also more freedom in not feeling immediately labelled as a tourist – staying in a holiday cottage gives you the opportunity to feel more embedded locally and comfortable in your own skin.

Choosing Your Location

Obviously, location is key. While you might like the abstract concept of self-catering, the reality and what sort of holiday you can expect, will very much depend on where you choose to go on holiday to.

So, if you’ve got kids, think of what they’ll want to do, and what you’ll need to keep them happy and occupied – if, for example, birdwatching and nature reserves are not their thing then make sure your holiday cottage is located somewhere where there are attractions and things that will appeal to them, as well as you.

Think about what you’re looking for and match the location to it – whether it’s rural seclusion, beaches, attractions or entertainment.

What is the immediate outdoor space going to be like – will you have a garden, or even a pool? This can make a big difference to how you find your self-catering holiday experience. Having outdoor space gives everyone on holiday a greater sense of personal freedom.

What You Get and What You Should Bring

What you get in your self-catering accommodation can vary, so you should always check in advance. Your cottage might come with a fully-equipped country kitchen, or something more basic.

Is there a washing machine, a television, kids’ toys? What sort of cutlery, crockery will be supplied, and do you need to bring your own towels?

Knowing what to expect in terms of facilities also affects what you decide to pack for your holiday. If there’s a washing machine, you can pack less changes of clothes, for instance.

Always bring the essentials with you – first aid, a loo roll, and a corkscrew!

And have basic supplies of food and drink with you for the day of your arrival, in case the local shop is closed and there’s nothing provided at your accommodation address. Again, location is important: do you need a food shop nearby to fit in with your holiday plans?

There’s a self-catering holiday to suit most people, so try and choose the one that will best suit you – be prepared for your holiday, but also be prepared to relax – planning is important, but so is enjoying the moment.