A cosy cabin holiday is one of the most chilled breaks you can imagine, full of lazy days basking in sunshine or the glow of a fire, as you drift from meal to meal without ever really knowing what the time is. It does, however, take a tiny bit of work to be that relaxed, so we’ve put together our cosy cabin packing list. It’s always key to read the details of the place you’re staying, because you might find that many of the things on this list are provided, although we’re yet to see a place that leaves out complimentary swimming gear.
So, give it a read and you’ll be ready to shove some well-chosen things in a bag, head for your cosy cabin and dissolve into a few days of soothing natural peace.
The warm jumper, hat and gloves are always worth packing, even in summer, because if you sit around a fire pit for long enough into the night, parts of you start to get cold. Not your front, which is slowly roasting, but your back and feet. The only way to avoid this without taking thick layers is to rotate slowly and constantly, but this makes conversation difficult. The waterfproof is a good one to stuff into a corner of the bag as well, British weather being what it is and swimming stuff might be used to throw yourself into a river or, more likely, for some steamy hot tub time.
General rule: Pack light and pack old. A cabin holiday is about relaxing. You’re likely to wear the same T-shirt for a couple of days and come back with all your other clothes still pristine in the bag. Don’t take your finest threads either, as everything you wear is coming back infused with woodsmoke and memories. But mainly woodsmoke.
The strong walking boots or shoes are entirely optional of course. Maybe you’re going away for some total cosy cabin downtime, but if you do end up stomping through some countryside, you’ll want a tough sole and preferably some protection for your ankles and toes. You might think that “Easy-on day wear” just means shoes, but it is worth being selective if you have options. Coming back from a hike and struggling out of one pair into shoes and into another can be annoying when all you want to do is jump in the car or head for the pub. The flip flops or slippers are for bumbling back and forth if there’s some open ground or a boardwalk between you and the fire pit/ hot tub/ hammock.
General rule: Always keep a pair dry. If it’s wet outside and you’re driving to a trailhead, then leave in your walking boots and make sure your normal shoes stay out of the rain.
This is one of the most important categories for checking the listing carefully, as there‘s no point turning up with that whole boar you’ve been saving, only to find there’s no oven. Similarly, you’ll many places provide breakfast basics and you can plan your packing accordingly. The ready-made meal for night one is a winner, especially if you’re arriving late. You can just heat it up and not fuss with cooking. The cool bag is enormously useful if you’ve checked the listing and found you need to bring milk, butter or other meltables. Breakfast stuff is highly subjective of course, but snacks should be broken down into three sections – hiking fuel, afternoon lazing and pre-dinner, with each section getting progressively less healthy as you move from nuts and fruit, to biscuits, to crisps. The after-dinner drink could be hot chocolate, but many of the team favour a hip flask of something fiery. Marshmallows can be eaten “en flame simple” or as ‘smores - a toasted marshmallow and a piece of chocolate sandwiched between two sweet biscuits.
General rule: Shop local! Part of the joy of staying somewhere new is exploring the area’s flavours. See if the owners can point you to a good farm shop or even produce anything on their own land. It’ll taste better and you’ll be supporting local businesses.
The best things in life are free and the best thing about a cosy cabin holiday is that it comes with lots of those things. There’s nothing like the calm that comes from tending and watching a fire, whether that’s a wood burner indoors or a fire pit outside. So the entertainment section of your packing list is always going to be tricky. Playing cards if that’s your thing, maybe a board game that you never get seven free hours for at home. You might pick up your paintbrush or pencil for the first time in ages, tick off one of the great classic novels or gorge on trashy crime thrillers. If the weather’s looking good, then maybe stick a couple of outdoor games, like Kubb, in a bag too. But remember that just being in nature and lying around in your cosy cabin can be entertainment enough.
General rule: Try to use your cosy cabin holiday for tech detoxing. Maybe deliberately go somewhere with no wifi or even phone signal. It takes a day or so to stop checking your phone, but when you do, you realise how much mental fog it causes to be always listening for the next notification or scrolling mindlessly with your head down.
Everyone has those little things that they put on their packing list without really knowing why. The miscellaneous oddities that almost never come out of the bag once you’ve arrived, but when they do, you get to be so smug about having them with you. A torch is always a good one, because some of our places will have unlit ground between parking and the space, or tracks through the woods that you’ll need a good light to navigate. The first aid kit is self-explanatory, the lip balm and hand sanitiser are always useful if you’re spending a lot of time (and pennies) outdoors, and the pen knife? Well, you can pretend it’s because you know how to get a stone out of a horse’s hoof, but we all know it’s because of that nagging worry that there might not be a corkscrew provided. Maps are handy if you know you’re going seriously rural, because if phone signal drops out you could be suddenly stuck. Multiple bags are handy if you’re expecting rain, because you can keep snacks and dry clothes in reserve, while the scruffy towel is for wild swimming and use as an impromptu picnic blanket, because you don’t want to ruin one of the pristine white ones in some places. As for a pen and paper, it’s surprising how often you find you need one – whether it’s for something as simple as keeping score in games or writing down those big life thoughts that come when you’re away and relaxed.
General rule: If it fits in that little pocket in the top of your bag, take it. Because one day, one day, it will have its moment.
We think that the best thing about hiding yourself away in a cosy cabin for a few days is leaving all the stress of the world behind. We’ve already mentioned getting away from your phone, but try ditching all the cosmetics too. Hair product, makeup, anything that you put on, then use another thing to remove, and another thing to soften the effects of the removal. We prefer to pack our favourite moisturiser, then leave it at that, living raw and natural for a couple of days and not worrying about anything at all.