/ Travel & Leisure

What home comforts do you travel with?

Man sitting on full bag

Let’s play Family Fortunes. If Vernon Kay said, ‘we asked 100 people what home comforts they take with them on holiday’, what do you think the most popular answers would be?

In fact, 1,000 people were asked this very question as part of a recent survey by the World Travel Market. And this is what the survey revealed:

Teabags 30%; supplements (vitamins, protein shakes) 20%; picture of a loved one not on holiday with you (including pets) 11%; condiments 6%; teddy bear 4%.

Surprised by any of these? It’s worth saying that nearly half of the people surveyed said they don’t take any home comforts with them at all. I fall into that camp. With the growing number of airlines charging for hold luggage, I’m keen to leave out anything I don’t think is essential.

OK, so a few teabags don’t take up much room, and I’ve had many tasteless cups of tea abroad, so I can understand that one. But condiments? Jars of Marmite, ketchup or pickle can take up valuable room. Plus, isn’t this a sign that these holidaymakers have no intention of getting properly stuck into the local food? And by extension, the local culture in general?

I can understand that expats abroad could hanker after the tastes of home, and there are stores across the world that stock British fare, like Heinz beans and Weetabix. But surely we can do without our food routine for a week or two, and be a little more adventurous?

Home from home – our travel essentials

I did a quick straw poll around the office too. And yes, teabags did crop up more than any other item, but there were plenty of larger items too.

One colleague packs slippers for the evenings after spending the day in ski boots. Another always takes her own soap, and won’t sleep in a hotel bed without wrapping her own case around the pillow.

Others pack Cornflakes, bottles of strawberry-flavoured water, orange squash concentrate (‘because I probably won’t like the taste of the water’) and even packs of rice cakes (‘as I know I won’t be able to find the healthy snacks I want in Spain’).

Another friend takes her laptop and own DVDs because the local TV programmes would be no good to them. Of course, there are some resorts that are so anglicised that all the British newspapers are on sale and bars broadcast British TV shows. So you get the ‘best’ of both worlds if the only reason you’ve left the UK is for better weather! I tend to shun these resorts in favour of somewhere that’s a uniquely foreign experience.

What little (or large) reminders of home do you take with you when you go away?


I’ve had real fun flicking through TV channels in Greece for a few minutes every day waiting for my husband to get ready before going out in the sunshine. Soaps in a foreign language are even more hilarious than in your own, you can learn a lot about the local culture thanks to the ads, and some music programmes give you the (not unpleasant) feeling that you’ve dived into a time warp. In Spain I’ve found out that (at least some) news channels there have a much, much, broader scope than here geographically speaking, which has made me even more dissatisfied with our comparatively ultra-parochial BBC.

All of that to say that I pack the minimum essentials not only to save money on the flight price but also to me the whole point of going away on holiday is to immerse yourself in where you are and not bring home with you. (And referring to a recent convo, not bringing home with me includes taking a break from technology.)

Tablet (kindle app, phone, email, music, satnav/maps), camera and tea bags are my essentials. Maybe the wife!

Generally it takes about 6 months of being away from home before I start missing any home comforts – and they are usually food related! Cup of tea and a bacon sandwich probably being top of the things I miss. I remember being very excited after 8 months of living in Ecuador, to meet an English man married to an Ecuadorian who had a stash of marmite and PG Tips which he had had shipped over… We became good friends.

We have just been in Tenerife for a spell, staying at a fairly good hotel, but how we wished we’d taken a few decent breakfast cereals, marmalade, teabags, and loo rolls with us. We always take our own soap, shampoo, shower gel and other toiletries because you never know what will be provided and whether it will be any good, even in high grade establishments. We don’t bother with phones and other gadgets, nor with UK newspapers and magazines, because the whole purpose of getting away is to escape.