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The charm of a self-catering holiday cottage with friends is undeniable. Cozy evenings curled up watching movies, spontaneous BBQs on sun-drenched patios, and adventures galore in the great outdoors – it promises laughter, memories, and maybe a few friendly arguments over the last slice of cake. But before you pack your bags and hit the road, there’s a bit of planning involved to ensure your holiday with friends doesn’t descend into full-blown mayhem.

What To Pack

Packing for a self-catering holiday with friends involves balancing individual needs with group activities. Why not avoid packing disasters with a collaborative list? Assign categories (clothes, toiletries, games, food) and tick them off as you pack. This ensures everyone remembers their essentials (sunblock, anyone?) and prevents duplicates (no need for five decks of cards!).


  • Base layers: T-shirts, tank tops, sweaters, leggings, comfy pants for relaxing. Adjust for the climate and planned activities.
  • Outerwear: Jacket/coat for weather, depending on the season and location.
  • Footwear: Sturdy shoes for exploring, sandals for lounging, maybe waterproof boots if rain is likely.
  • Sleepwear: PJs, cozy socks, maybe an extra layer for chilly nights.
  • Swimwear: If there’s a pool, beach, or hot tub access.

Personal Essentials:

  • Toiletries: Sunscreen, insect repellent, basic med kit, hair care, etc.
  • Entertainment: Books, cards, travel games, portable speakers (check noise regulations for shared spaces). All Squirrel Lettings properties come complete with entertainment activities for a variety of ages, but if you’ve got something your group particularly enjoys, it’s always worth remembering!
  • Comforts: Eye mask, earplugs, travel pillow, favorite mug for a morning tea or coffee ritual.
  • Chargers and adapters: Don’t forget your phone/camera charger and any adapters needed for the destination.
  • Sunsnacks: Nuts, trail mix, protein bars for quick bites between meals or adventures.

Shared Provisions (divide and conquer with your friends):

  • Kitchen Staples: Salt, pepper, cooking oil, basic spices, coffee/tea, sugar.
  • Breakfast essentials: Bread, cereal, jam, peanut butter, eggs (if applicable).
  • Snacks and drinks: Chips, crackers, dips, fruits, veggies, soda, juice, snacks for outings.
  • Dinner ingredients: Choose easy-to-cook meals and consider pre-chopping/marinating some things before leaving.

Optional Extras:

  • Picnic blanket and basket: For impromptu outings or outdoor meals.
  • Beach gear: Towels, beach chairs, frisbee, sunscreen, water bottle.
  • Camping equipment: If your cottage has access to fire pits or outdoor areas, consider marshmallows, firewood, and roasting forks.
  • Board games or puzzles: Great for rainy days or evenings in.
  • Musical instruments: If anyone plays guitar, ukulele, etc., bring it for impromptu jam sessions.

Pro tips:

  • Use packing cubes to stay organized and maximize space.
  • Consider communal items like sunscreen or insect repellent to avoid duplicates.
  • Don’t overpack! You can always do laundry during your stay.
  • Check if your cottage provides certain essentials like towels or dish soap to avoid unnecessary packing.

Remember, packing for a self-catering holiday with friends is about balancing individual needs with shared activities. Communicate with your group to divide responsibilities and ensure everyone has what they need for a fun and memorable vacation!

What To Cook

Eating well on a self-catering holiday with friends is key to a happy and harmonious vacation! But with so many mouths to feed and activities to juggle, meal planning can feel overwhelming. Fear not, fellow foodies! Here are some tips to keep everyone satisfied and your kitchen stress-free.

Embrace Easy Meals

  • One-Pot Wonders: Curries, stews, and one-pan pasta dishes are lifesavers. Less chopping, minimal dishes, and everyone gets a hearty, flavorful meal.
  • Sheet Pan Suppers: Toss veggies, meat, and potatoes together and let the oven do the work. Perfect for when you’re back from a day of exploring and need a quick, healthy dinner.
  • Breakfast Buffets: Set out a spread of yogurt, granola, fruits and pastries. Let everyone personalize their plates and enjoy a relaxed morning fuel-up.

Get Creative with Leftovers

  • Soup Transformation: Leftover roast chicken or vegetables become a nourishing soup the next day. Add noodles, rice, or a dollop of pesto for extra flavor.
  • Pizza Party: Transform leftover pasta or tortillas into mini pizzas. Toppings can be anything from veggies and cheese to leftover sausages or chopped chicken.
  • Salad Reinvention: Leftover grilled meats or roasted vegetables add protein and texture to a fresh salad. Experiment with different dressings and toppings for a new take on lunch.

Don’t Forget the Fun:

  • Theme Nights: Pick a country or cuisine and whip up a themed meal together. Mexican Fiesta night with fajitas and margaritas, Italian trattoria with pasta and pizza, or a Greek feast with souvlaki and gyros – the possibilities are endless!
  • BBQ Bash: If your cottage has a BBQ, make it a night to remember! Grill burgers, hot dogs, and veggie skewers, toss up a salad, and enjoy the outdoors with friends and laughter.
  • Potluck Party: Assign everyone a dish to bring for a potluck dinner. It’s a fun way to try new things and share favorite recipes.
  • Order In: Feel too tired to cook? Pick a night where you all chip in and order a take away. Some self catering properties even have discount codes for local restaurants available so you can get a treat for the best possible price!

Bonus Tips:

  • Plan before you go: Decide on meals beforehand and make a grocery list to avoid impulse purchases.
  • Utilize local markets: Explore nearby farmers markets for fresh, seasonal produce and unique ingredients.
  • Get the gang involved: Delegate cooking tasks or have everyone contribute to prepping ingredients.
  • Keep it simple: Don’t try to be a Michelin-starred chef on vacation. Focus on tasty, easy-to-prepare dishes that everyone will enjoy.
  • Most importantly, have fun! Cooking together can be a bonding experience, so relax, laugh, and enjoy the process of creating delicious memories with your friends.

Where To Sleep

Assigning bedrooms on a self-catering holiday cottage break with friends can be a delicate dance. It’s a balancing act between personal preferences, fairness, and the desire to avoid bruised egos (and possibly pillows thrown in jest).

Pre-trip Planning:

  • Know your numbers: Make a list of guests and note any age-related needs or limitations. Is someone a light sleeper? Does anyone require accessibility features?
  • Cottage intel: Research the sleeping arrangements beforehand. How many rooms are there? What size are the beds? Knowing the layout helps with pre-planning.
  • Open communication: Talk to your friends! Discuss preferences for room size, sharing beds, or being near certain people. Don’t assume everyone wants to bunk with their BFF.

Dividing the Spoils:

  • Draw straws: The tried-and-true method for random assignment. Add an element of fun by making decorative straws or drawing names and rooms on slips of paper.
  • Rock, paper, scissors: Another classic, perfect for settling small disputes or adding a bit of competitive fun.
  • Auction system: For those who like a bit of strategy, organize a mock auction where friends bid on their preferred rooms using “funny money” or points.
  • Needs-based allocation: Prioritize based on age, accessibility needs, or snoring habits. Ensure light sleepers or young children get quieter rooms, while couples or night owls can take the livelier spaces.

Compromise and Collaboration:

  • Be flexible: Things might not go exactly according to plan. Be open to swapping rooms or sharing space if someone truly needs to be in a specific room.
  • Consider doubles: If there are enough double beds, some friends might be happy to bunk up to free up space for others.
  • Sleeping bag solutions: If the cottage has extra spaces like a living room or a loft, bring sleeping bags or portable mattresses for additional sleeping arrangements.


  • Laughter is key: Keep the mood light and fun! Use the room allocation process as an opportunity for bonding and friendly teasing.
  • Communication is crucial: Talk openly and honestly throughout the process. Don’t bottle up resentment; address any concerns or preferences head-on.
  • In the end, it’s about memories: Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on creating fun memories and lasting friendships, not who gets the corner room.

By planning ahead, communicating openly, and remaining flexible, you can ensure everyone sleeps soundly during your self-catering holiday cottage break. Remember, a good night’s sleep is the foundation for a fantastic vacation, so take your time, have fun with the process, and get ready for sweet dreams and happy adventures with your friends!

Bonus Tips For Holidaying With Friends

  • Leave no trace: Respect the local environment and follow responsible tourism practices.
  • Unplug and unwind: Put away your phones and laptops, embrace the company, and enjoy the simple joys of being together.
  • Embrace the unexpected: Laugh off mishaps, go with the flow, and remember that sometimes the best memories are made from the unplanned moments.

With a bit of planning, a dash of flexibility, and a whole lot of laughter, your self-catering holiday cottage getaway with friends is sure to be an unforgettable adventure. So pack your bags, grab your best pals, and get ready to conquer the cozy chaos!

At Squirrel Lettings, we sleep smaller and larger groups, and have a variety of rooms available, from romantic couples rooms to child friendly smaller rooms, and everything in between. If you’re a big group of friends traveling together, we’ve got space to accomodate you! Don’t forget to book direct with us to get the best prices and the personal touch.

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