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I love holidays in nature either in the bush or at the seaside. I’m not really a person who likes camping as I love my modern amenities, but self catering is something I do consider as most of the South African destinations are more expensive than going on a trip to an exotic Island.

We had a wonderful week with my sister and brother in law in a beautiful thatched lodge in Marloth Park and have come to realise that it is a great option and less stressful if you are well organised and plan well.

Keep it simple:

The human race was a hunter-gatherer for millions of years, travelling to places foraging, with the minimum of baggage, taking their shelters along. The clan gathered around the fire and the elders revealed that it was time to move and where to move to. Each member taking ownership of his water, food and shelter.

Going away on holiday is not unlike this age old example. Determine what the family wants and know what their interests are, to make the vacation a worthwhile memorable experience. Take only the essentials and not every thinkable gadget and the whole wardrobe.

Hunt for information:

Find as much information about your destination, your lodging, attractions nearby, and any activities that your family might be interested in; as that will determine what you take along. Online research can help you save money.  Keep it all in one place, a notebook, binder or on your mobile under different categories.

Prepare for the trek:

Draw-up and adapt checklists you find online or use Self-catering-checklist to suite your individual needs. Be selective and adjust after every vacation and as tastes change.

  1. Set up Meal plans, determine the quantities and kind of food and beverages that you need. Assign people to take responsibility for each meal.
  2. Draw up packing check- lists for clothing, toiletries, kitchen tools, Camping equipment and emergency supplies, for the vehicle and for first aid.

Gather the supplies:

  • Shop for food and any items that you still need, according to your lists.
  • Draw cash.
  • Check your equipment to ensure that all the pieces are


  • Depending on the roads you travel, it is advisable to decant stuff from glass bottles and bottles with popup lids to plastic bottles with screw tops. Pack any breakables in plastic bubble wrap.
  • Place your folder with important documentation and a pen in the cubby hole of the car.
  • Plastic zip-lock bags are ideal to store dry foodstuff, during rough going they must be protected from puncturing, in this instance I would suggest Tupperware or strong plastic containers with clip on lids.
  • Pack food and equipment in sturdy army boxes/trunks with sealable lids.
  • Label the boxes clearly. The contents can be itemised on a checklist for easy retrieval and restocking. Group similar items together.
  • Most of the equipment and kitchen utensils can be kept in trip ready boxes for grab and go occasions.
  • Label cans on the top with a permanent marker to find stuff easier in the food trunk.

Share the load:

Involve everyone in organising and packing their own stuff. Even a toddler can pack his favourite book or toy that he wants to take along in his very own outdoor toy bag. Assign an older child as a packing buddy to a younger child. Also to monitor that stuff gets put back during the vacation.

On the road

  • Pack lunch boxes, beverages or snacks available.
  • Don’t forget to take a garbage bag.
  • Pack toys and games in a Car organiser.
  • Make pit stops especially on a long haul.

Make this a fun a vacation, making overnight stops or to do some sightseeing to those off the road destinations one never gets to.

Establish camp – check out the accommodation

  • Allocate a home for everyone and everything, especially the keys, before everyone rushes down to the beach or the pool.
  • Add some touches of home, by placing fresh fruit in bowls for everyone to enjoy.
  • Ensure that everyone knows where things are kept and keep it organised. Set out boundaries and be mindful of others.

Now settle down, kick back with that sun downer, a good book and enjoy your vacation recharging in the comfort of knowing everything is organised and in its place, for a wonderful memorable time with your family.

Heidi Meyer
Professional Organiser

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