Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Self catering abroad? Travel essentials

a basic Greek kitchen in a self catering apartment
I've got to admit that I'm a bit of an obsessive planner when it comes to holidays. I love holidays and want them to go well, so I do plenty of research beforehand (accommodation, beaches, public transport, local restaurants serving vegetarian options etc.), to make sure we chose the right resort and have a great time when we're there. We generally stay in self-catering, budget accommodation in Greece and to keep costs down once we're there, I pack various 'essential' items, which some family members seem to find a little over-the-top!

It's worth knowing that kitchens in Greek self-catering accommodation are often very small and basic (see photo). You will generally have a 2 ring electric hob, a fridge and a sink, plus one set of basic crockery and cutlery. Microwaves, toasters and even kettles can be scarce, so check reviews or contact the owner before travelling to make sure you have everything you need.

Foods to take :
These foods tend to be expensive in Greece as they are imported.
tables outside a traditional Greek taverna
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Teabags/coffee
  • Marmite (squeezy in plastic jar)
  • Peanut butter (in plastic jar)
  • Packets of dried veggie burger/sausage mix (not available in Greece).
  • Small sachets of herbs/spices
Kitchen equipment:
  • Washing up liquid - decanted into a small bottle
  • Tea towel
  • Ice cube bags/tray
  • Sponge scourer/dish cloth
  • Corkscrew/bottle opener
  • Small sharp kitchen knife in original packaging
  • Small plastic sandwich bags to wrap sandwiches etc.
  • Adaptor plugs
Equipment to take for picnics on the beach:
  • Picnic mat/s with waterproof backing
  • Small insulated cool bag (use small frozen water bottles as ice packs)
  • Small beach parasol 
Depending on accommodation reviews, you might want to buy these in the UK and leave them in resort or pass them on to fellow holiday makers:
  • Small 2 slice toaster
  • Travel kettle/small kettle
Although we generally eat out most evenings, I prepare a basic breakfast and lunch each day, which really helps to keep down the cost.

  • Travel wash
  • Camping washing line and a few pegs
Basics to buy in resort:
  • Fresh bread each day (enough for breakfast and lunch)
  • Jam/marmalade
  • Fruit juice
  • Water
  • Soft drinks, beer etc for an evening drink on the balcony!
  • Fresh fruit/salad ingredients
  • Small bottle of vegetable oil
  • Eggs (omelettes, fried eggs etc)
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Ice-creams - much cheaper at the supermarket, than from your hotel/apartment!
If you're travelling on a very strict budget and want to cater for all your own meals, try some of my camping recipes, for simple, budget-friendly meals which can be cooked on a 2 ring hob. 

Rachel has some more great family holiday tips and ideas over at Midlife Single Mum.
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  1. We go to Tenerife and like you, always go self-catering. There is one fabulous veggie restaurant, El Limon, in Puerto de la Cruz but apart from that veggie food is hard to get hold of.
    We take peperoni-type veggie sausages with us which are lovely as part of a salad or added to rice/pasta dishes.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation and the tip Belinda :-)


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