Holiday essentials on the cheap

BJHAB9 Packing for family vacation. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown.  Excitement; Family; Packing; Travel; Vacation; Anticip

It's holiday season – and that means it's time to start stocking up on the things you're going to need for your week or two in the sun. Let's face it, holidays are expensive these days – so here are our top-tips to try to make sure the essential items you need to take with you won't Costa Packet as well...

Sun cream
Whether you're old school and call it sun tan lotion or you prefer the Americanised "sunscreen", you'll still need to make sure you've got a good supply of factor 15 (or higher) for your break. Testing carried out by Which? Has found that some supermarket offerings actually outperform the big-name (and big-money) brands. Look out for Bogof or 3 for 2 deals as well and you will get the goods for a fraction of the price you'd have paid at the airport or while away.

Insect repellent
It's not all fun in the sun while on holiday, and one of the drawbacks of living in a hot country tends to be a greater number of bitey insects. Leave it until you get abroad to stock up on repellent and you'll face high prices and limited choice, so it pays to research the resort you're visiting and come equipped.

If you can stomach the strong chemical smell, then Deet (or diethyl-meta-toluamide to give it its full name) is the stuff to get – and a roll-on or stick variety can offer better value and be more effective than more diluted sprays. Another option is Avon's ever-popular Skin So Soft – a body oil infused with citronella which has been used by outdoors types for years as an insect repellent. As well as offering better value than many "proper" repellents, it will also leave your skin, erm, so soft. Don't just go to the supermarket or chemist for these, check out the internet to see if there are any good offers at the time you're buying.

Relaxing on the beach can be a time-consuming business – and you're likely to be glad you've got something to read. While buying books at the airport is part of the ritual for some of us – the choice can be a bit limited if you don't want celebrity or sporting biographies or popular fiction. Instead, why not spend a bit of time beforehand looking for books that you really want to read and picking them up cheaply secondhand on the internet or from a charity shop? You could get your whole holiday's reading for the price of one title from Waterstones.

Mobile credit/data
OK, this is not a traditional "essential" - but some of us find it hard to put down our smartphones even when on holiday – so it definitely counts as such for those poor addicts. If you know you want to make calls or use the internet while away, it's worth checking out whether your provider offers any special holiday packages rather than just accruing high charges ad hoc. If not, you could consider picking up a SIM card from a rival provider, or even one in the country you are visiting.

Basic medications
From hangovers to minor injuries, there are plenty of reasons you could need painkillers or sticking plasters while away. Grabbing a pack of paracetomol, some rehydration tablets or powder and a pack of plasters from the supermarket could save you enough for a nice meal out – if you're unlucky enough to have to use all three.

You've packed your hair straighteners, gadget chargers and hairdryer, but don't forget the adaptor to go with it. If you don't already have one (or more), get on the internet or look out for special promotions in the supermarket. Just make sure that, if buying online, that it meets the required safety standards.

Home comforts
Don't leave it until you get there to realise that you need your favourite brand of teabags or baked beans, because you'll end up paying through the nose for them. You can probably grab what you need from the kitchen cupboards before you go. Just leave out a pair of shoes or two if you haven't got the space – you never wear them all, do you?

Have you done your holiday packing yet? Leave a coment below...

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