Holiday Planning & Packing Checklists
The ultimate holiday checklist collection with travel planning and packing tips for families of all sizes. Don’t just dream about it, start planning today.
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If your trip is well organised, your holiday abroad will be stress-free and provide a lovely break in routine.
But, forgetting something important can spoil your trip and we want don’t want that to happen to you.
So, we compiled the ultimate holiday checklist collection with vital travel planning and packing tips for you.
Holiday planning checklists
Here is how to plan a holiday and stay organised, list-by-list and check-for-check. If you need further guidance, access our holiday planning hub for more resources. We offer practical travel tips and advice, such as ‘where to stay in Cape Town‘, to help you make the most of your family holiday abroad.
Find out as much as possible about your destination by getting answers to these questions on your pre-holiday checklist:
- When is the best time of year for a holiday?
- What is the weather like?
- What can you expect of the environment? When visiting a city, you need to pack different items from when you are visiting rural countryside.
- What travel documents do you require to enter the country? This is an important item on your holiday planning checklist. South Africa requires unabridged birth certificates for minors entering or exiting the country.
- Does the country require certain inoculations? For instance, some African, South American and Asian countries require yellow fever vaccines.
- What additional medication (apart from any routine personal medication) should and can you take? For instance, malaria prophylactics is important to take when visiting the Northern parts of South Africa.
Your family holiday checklist can include different types of accommodation for research.
- Determine which type of accommodation would be best for you: self-catering, hotel, guest house, or bed and breakfast (B&B).
- What is the most convenient and safest area for tourists to stay?
- Would I need plug converters?
- Can I drink water from the taps?
- Is there sufficient bed linen, blankets and towels?
- Do I need to pack beach towels or do they come included?
- Do I need mosquito repellent?
- Is the accommodation serviced?
- Is there a grocery/convenience store nearby?
- What are my public transport options and where are the stations located?
Tip: Holiday packages which include flights, accommodation and activities could be a good option for your overseas holiday if you don’t have time to plan every detail.
- Research your destination to make sure you include all the “must do” highlights. For instance, no trip to Cape Town is complete without a trip up Table Mountain, a visit to the V&A Waterfront, and a day trip to the Cape Winelands.
- Find out which activities and sights you can see and do that matches your personal interests. If you are, for instance, an animal lover, what encounters can you include in your holiday? If you fancy outdoor activities, plan ahead and pack the appropriate gear.
- Choose tour guides and book the most important excursions beforehand to secure your spot(s) and avoid disappointment.
Holiday and travel planning tips
First off, select a destination that speaks to you personally. Then, consult your family or friends to make sure everyone in your group will enjoy the destination too.
If you are travelling with small children, it is important to have the necessary services and healthcare readily available. Travelling with little ones can be challenging. So, selecting an “easy” urban, developed destination will put less stress on your family.
Once you have finalised your destination, book your flights. Check arrival and departure times for convenience. It may, for instance, be challenging to find transport from the airport to your accommodation after midnight. Make the necessary transfer arrangements before arriving at your destination.
Make sure you know how to get around once you have reached your destination. Study the country, city and destination map. This will help you find the right area to book accommodation. It will also show you what type of activities are available within easy reach. And, read up about the availability of public transport.
Do you require a tour guide or translator or is it easy to navigate your destination? Today, you shouldn’t feel helpless if you can’t speak the lingo because translation apps for your mobile phone are plentiful. That being said, knowing the basics of your destination’s language is a huge plus, and that’s where a language learning app such as FluentU comes in handy.
Draft an itinerary detailing the sightseeing and activities that you would like to do. You can slot these into a daily planner closer to the time if they are, for instance, weather dependant.
Remember to arrange for your home, garden and pets while you are away. Consider getting a house sitter for peace of mind. If you can’t, secure space in a kennel or cattery for your pets.
International travel checklist
- Make sure you have a valid passport for international travel.
- Visa requirements is an important priority on your international travel checklist which should be dealt with by an expert.
- Do you require any special vaccinations? And, how long before departure, do you need to have them?
- Is it necessary to take any special medication, for instance malaria prophylactics?
- Check if you have sufficient travel and medical insurance. Top up if necessary. Adventure holidays such as skiing and abseiling trips are high risk. Make sure you have sufficient cover should you break a leg and are airlifted by a helicopter. Does your cover allow for a hospital stay should you become ill?
- Take a valid credit card (check the expiry date) plus a backup credit card with sufficient funds available.
- Make sure your card (VISA, MasterCard, AMEX, etc.) is accepted and your ATM PIN number is compatible with the ATMs in the country you are visiting.
- Exchange cash in the correct currency. It is useful to have some spare cash on you for small expenses. You may need to pay taxi fare, buy a bottle of water, or tip staff.
- Do you need power plug converters for your electronic devices?
Travel packing checklists
Make a list of your travel essentials when doing holiday planning. List the things you simply cannot do without on vacation. For some it may be their hairdryer, for others a certain brand of make-up remover or sunscreen.
Families with children often have more complicated lists. for instance, do not forget the favourite toy or teddy bear without which your child struggles to fall asleep.
General holiday packing checklist
- Toiletry bag with shower gel, shampoo, shaving gel, makeup remover, etc.
- Underwear and socks
- Long pants, short pants, shirts, t-shirts, skirts, dresses
- Shoes and slops
- Belts, ties, jewellery
- Sun wear (hats, sunglasses, sunscreen)
- Chronic medication, basic first aid kit with medication and equipment
- Glasses and contact lenses
- Tablet/notebook and chargers
Packing checklist for adults
- Pack at least one smart outfit. You never know what a holiday can produce. You may just get the opportunity to meet with a potential business partner. Or land a booking at a dressy restaurant.
- When going overseas, it may be worthwhile to pop into the duty free shop. Buy a bottle of your favourite tipple and perfume to take along. Check the country’s customs rules so that you do not exceed the allowance.
Packing checklist for children
- Pack in some non-electronic entertainment. A pack of cards, dominoes or a travel chess set can come in handy during long waits. There is always space for a favourite toy car or doll.
- Inflatable swimming tubes or armbands, a boogie board and wetsuit may be necessary items on a summer holiday checklist.
Packing checklist for babies
- Babies can go through many sets of clothing in just one day. Pack spare sets in your hand luggage.
- Do not forget bibs, pacifiers, sterilising equipment, bottles, nappies, washcloths, wet wipes, nappy cream, bedtime soft toys and a favourite warm blanket.
- It can be wise to add inflatable swimming tubes or armbands to your beach holiday packing list.
- Your checklist for a baby can also include a travel cot and highchait, buggy or pram, baby sling, baby car seat or car booster seat, and wet wipes.
- You also need your baby’s changing mat, changing bag, powdered milk, baby food, plastic plate, bowl, mug and cutlery, bedding, intercom, storybooks and toys.
Beach holiday packing checklist
Keep your beach holiday packing checklist uncomplicated for a relaxing vacation. Apart from swimwear, pack in:
- Beach bag
- Beach towels
- Sun hats
- After-sun lotion
- Ki koi or beach wrap
- Beach toys such as bats, a frisbee, bucket and spade and fishing net for kids
Summer holiday packing checklist
You may need these on your summer holiday in a sunny city such as Cape Town:
- Active wear
- Hiking socks and shoes
- Mosquito and bug repellent
- Sun hat
- Sun screen
- Inflatable pool lounger
- Beach mat or towel
- Snorkel equipment
- Beach bag
Winter holiday packing checklist
Make sure you are a packing pro when compiling your packing list for a cold destination:
- Waterproof hat
- Wind- and waterproof jacket
- Sun glasses
- For ski trips, include a ski mask, ski jacket and pants, thermal underwear, thick socks, plenty of layers, good boots and lip balm.
- Ensure your travel insurance is sufficient and that your medical insurance covers your winter sports.
Hand luggage packing checklist
Your hand luggage checklist is an important one. Travel documents and important medication buried in suitcases checked into the haul are useless. Make sure your carryon bags adhere to the airline rules.
Your carry on packing list should include:
- Passport (ID document is sufficient for local travel)
- Travel documents for instance, unabridged birth certificates for children under 18
- Foreign currency, credit card and travel money card
- Driver’s/driving licence
- Travel pillows or neck and lumbar cushion
- Chronic medication that has to be taken at certain times
- Moisturiser and other necessary toiletries – check that the bottle size is no more than 100ml each
- Ear plugs, eye mask, tissues, wet wipes, lip balm
- Headphones, tablet/notebook, cellphone and chargers
- Entertainment such as books/kindles/magazines/kids’ games/playing cards
- Make sure each person has a warm top to stay cosy on the airplane (wear your heaviest garment when flying).
Wondering what not to pack in your carry-on luggage?
Remove items such as sharp objects (even manicure sets may contain these), pocket knives, flammable items, explosive materials, chemicals and pepper spray from your bag. Any illicit drugs should also not make their way into your hand luggage.
Check your operators flight rules or the TSA website for carry-on luggage restrictions.
Checklist for last minute items
Before you leave home, make sure you have:
- Activated your out of office email
- Checked that your luggage comply with airline luggage restrictions
- Arranged with a neighbour or house sitter to keep an eye on your home and plants
- Turned off the oven switch and geyser at the distribution board
- Check that there are no dripping taps
- Removed all perishables from the refrigerator
- Downloaded important travel apps to enhance your experience
Additionally, write down the number of your airport parking space. Most people forget this and consequently wander aimlessly through the parking lot, jet-lagged and annoyed, in search of their vehicle. Don’t let this be you!
Travel packing tips
And now, some travel hacks to make your packing less of a pain.
Less is more. How many times have you returned home with a heavy suitcase laden with unworn clothes and unused items? Be conservative when packing. Self-catering homes rented from Nox Rentals are all fitted with laundry facilities. Luxury villas and apartments are serviced daily. You would also be able to arrange laundry services.
Weather can vary. When packing for a summer holiday, always include a reasonably warm sweater or jacket. Take this along in your carry-on luggage to double up as an airplane pillow. Similarly, when packing for a winter holiday, a lighter shirt or short-sleeve T-shirt may come in handy on unseasonably hot days.
Finally, get hold of a free printable pre-holiday checklist, or use this guide to create your own, and check against it while preparing for your holiday.
Travel planning and packing apps
Still worried about forgetting something? Download a travel checklist app. A currency converter app and an app with downloadable travel guides can come in handy too.
Planning for a holiday is part of the fun!
There is nothing more exciting than planning your holiday. You can make it super easy by being well organised. Remember the success of any venture lies in meticulous planning.
When compiling your ultimate holiday checklist, make sure Nox Rentals is in your accommodation section. We arrange rentals of luxury villas in Cape Town and are available to assist you with your travel questions and concerns.
Planning to visit Cape Town?
Our team of Cape Town locals can show you idillic holiday homes in the right area for you, and assist with anything you’re unsure about.