The five items you must pack for a self-catering staycation

Mother and two daughters sitting by fountain at holiday camp in Wales.
We expect more from our self catering holidays nowadays... (Getty Images).

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This month, families across the UK will head off for some desperately-needed R&R in the country, on the coast or up the mountains. With foreign travel still proving tricky and subject to change, many are opting for the nostalgic certainty of a good old British self-catering break, whether it's in a converted castle or a cosy cottage.

And while memories of damp candlewick bedspreads and unpredictable kitchen amenities may now be confined to history, thanks to customer demand for Netflix and dishwashers in the nation's holiday homes, it's also a sad fact that there will almost always be something missing when you arrive. 

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No matter how many people you need to cook for, you'll turn the kitchen inside out looking for a wooden spoon. Or somehow, the promised beach towels will fail to materialise. Or the pillows will be made of rock and wire wool (judging by the texture).

These things won't ruin your holiday, or course - but with a little forward planning, you can ensure you don't go without home comforts for a week or two. 

Here's the 5 things you should pack for a stress-free break.

1. A sharp knife

Woman chopping fresh cucumber.
Don't rely on blunt old cutlery for your holiday feasts. (Getty Images)

After a succession of guests have used the same small vegetable knife to chop onions, bone a chicken, cut bread and attempt to fix the cupboard door they broke, no wonder it's as blunt as a Yorkshireman after two hours' sleep. If you're hoping to cater for several people, some of whom eat meat, some who prefer fish fingers, and one or two who only like baked beans on toast, you will need a knife that works. Buy one with a knife guard for safe packing, and keep it close. A sharp, multi-purpose, short-handled chopping knife is perfect.

Our top pick: Fully Forged Stainless Steel Cook's Knife 20cm Blade | £24.99 from Lakeland

Fully Forged Stainless Steel Cook's Knife 20cm Blade
Fully Forged Stainless Steel Cook's Knife 20cm Blade

2. Kitchen roll

Close up of unrecognizable man cleaning spilled juice from the table.
Things will spill. Rule One of any holiday. (Getty Images)

Seemingly, cottage owners often believe that one measly tea-towel will sort your wiping needs for a full week. Unlikely. Kitchen roll, however, will double as serviettes for greasy food, wipe spills, tears, nosebleeds, and be invaluable in the car when somebody's drink goes flying as they crane over to look at the sea. Keep it near you at all times. 

Our top pick: Regina Blitz Household Towel | £9.13 from Amazon

Regina Blitz Household Towel
Regina Blitz Household Towel

3. Pillows

Is it a relaxing cloud, or a lumpy sack? (Getty Images)
Is it a relaxing cloud, or a lumpy sack? (Getty Images)

It may seem middle-aged and fussy after a wild youth of sleeping on beaches, bunkbeds and burlap sacks without a problem. But you don't want your twanging back ruining the holiday because your neck's been at a 90 degree angle all night. Also, if you like to sit up to read, the one crushed, limp pillow provided may not do the job. You've got to pack a pillow or two, as they nearly sang in Oliver! 

Our top pick: Synthetic Soft Touch Washable Standard Pillow | £10 from John Lewis & Partners

Synthetic Soft Touch Washable Standard Pillow (John Lewis & Partners)
Synthetic Soft Touch Washable Standard Pillow (John Lewis & Partners)

Our top pick: Specialist Synthetic 2-Way Memory Foam Standard Support Pillow | £45 from John Lewis & Partners

Specialist Synthetic 2-Way Memory Foam Standard Support Pillow  (John Lewis & Partners)
Specialist Synthetic 2-Way Memory Foam Standard Support Pillow (John Lewis & Partners)

4. Food savers

Several plastic food containers with leftovers.Click to see more food shots:
Do your leftovers spark joy? (Getty Images)

You're catering for a bunch of people using unfamiliar equipment and ingredients, half of whom don't even eat the same things. Of course there are going to be leftovers. So you can either wrap everything in the cheap clingfilm provided, and have a fridge like a tomb of unidentifiable Egyptian mummies, or you can pack an interlocking set of food storage containers, and holiday happily every after, with everything in its rightful place. Tough choice. 

Our top pick: Crofton Food Storage Containers | £9.99 from Aldi

Crofton Food Storage Containers
Crofton Food Storage Containers

5. Google Chromecast

Family watching TV - Soft focus
Screen team: Who cares if it rains? (Getty Images)

Yes, you want to get away from it all and switch off. But do you want to be limited to five channels, with gloomy teenagers throwing themselves about with boredom as the rain lashes down outside? That would be a no. A Google Chromecast plugs into the TV and streams music, movies and TV from a smartphone, meaning the whole gang can gather round and watch something decent together. Leaving you free to switch off (or start re-watching The Crown from series one.) 

Our top pick: Google Chromecast | £30 from Amazon

Google Chromecast
Google Chromecast

Read more: The mistakes people make on staycations

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