‘We always bring a teapot’: readers share the unusual items they take on holiday

One in 30 Britons take a CD player on holiday with them, while more than a quarter still bring a camera, a survey has found. But British luggage choices range far beyond outdated gadgets. We spoke to seven people about the more unusual items they pack for their holidays.

‘We always bring a teapot with a tea cosy’

teapot and cosy
Edward’s teapot and tea cosy. Photograph: Guardian Community

We always take a tin teapot with a tea cosy to keep the lid from rattling, plus a pack of teabags. It’s a habit we picked up after our first InterRail adventure 10 years ago, when after 14 days, and on the back of a stressful delayed night train, we stumbled across a cafe in Salzburg which offered “Englischer Tee” and suddenly all was well again.

Our second trip we took teabags and powdered milk (always good to carry a little unlabelled bag of white powder through customs!) and it’s grown from there. Whether you’re in a Premier Inn in Croydon or a lovely apartment in Verona, you can’t beat a good cup of tea, a quick taste of home, a reset after a long journey, a refresher after a long day in a new city. Edward, 29, railway engineer, Derbyshire

‘I bring a mini electric pancake maker’

Lynn and her mini electric pancake maker. Photograph: Guardian Community

I bring a 1980s film camera with a stock of black and white film, a CD player and a set of Patti Smith CDs, a mini DVD player with a box set, a mini coffee machine and a mini electric pancake maker.

I love taking photos and developing them using the Caffenol method. I do like a bit of Patti Smith and I like having my boxed set of CDs with me. I use the DVD player for watching Scandi noir late at night. The mini electric pancake maker warms up buns, crumpets, shop-bought pancakes, scones and basically anything small enough to go in it.

A CD player can be used when travelling and doesn’t need to be connected to the internet. Add a small speaker and you have a mini ghetto blaster. It runs on batteries so you can use it anywhere. Lynn, 62, English language teacher, Washington, Tyne and Wear

‘My travelling companions used to laugh at me’

kitchen utensils
Patrick’s kitchen equipment and speaker. Photograph: Guardian Community

My friends and I have been on holidays to Lanzarote, Sicily and rentals in England. A small box grater always comes with me. And a sharp chef’s knife, pepper mill and non-stick frying pan. Rental properties or villas never have decent kitchen equipment, so I like to travel prepared. My travelling companions used to laugh at me but see the method in my madness when all the knives in the villa drawer are blunt.

I don’t like lying in the sun – I prefer to put some music on (with “the magic little speaker”, pictured) and rustle up lunch or dinner for us all. I love making eggs in purgatory, shakshuka, pasta and pizza, or a lunchtime smörgåsbord. The box grater, chef’s knife, pepper mill and non-stick pan have saved the day on many trips to great villas with terrible kitchen kit. Patrick, 57, work psychologist, London

‘I strongly recommend taking a shower head’

Alan with his rainfall shower head. Photograph: Guardian Community

We take a decent shower head. Too often hotels and villas have these tiny shower heads that just don’t have a good stream of water, even fancy hotels. I know we are fussy, but it transforms the stay when you can have a rain-type shower in the morning. I strongly recommend this, there is always room in the bag.

We usually go to Mediterranean countries and around the UK. We had dozens of bad showers until 2019, when we worked out the solution. It is a rain-shower type head with different settings. The water pressure where we stay is usually good so it is the shower head that lets hotels down. We stayed in an old five-star in Rhodes that had an ageing shower head. Instead of moaning, we changed it and pure luxury was the result. Alan, organic food retailer, London

‘We used to take a gramophone, but it was a bit too heavy’

record player
Simon’s record player on a camping trip in Wales. Photograph: Guardian Community

We usually take a portable record player when camping with a single box of vinyl. We used to take a gramophone, but it was a bit too heavy and loud. The photo above was taken on Shell Island, Llanbedr – but we’ve also visited Burnham Deepdale, Norfolk, and Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire.

We have quite a diverse taste in music, but when camping we love the nostalgia of past summer soundtracks. We pack a case of “village hall disco” records – which can vary from pre-Beatles bubblegum pop and odd psychedelic, to glam, novelty records (especially the late, great Bernard Cribbins), and early 80s synth (The Human League, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode). Simon, 55, Scarborough

‘If I’m not driving, I will knit’

Becki knitting
Becki’s knitting in progress. Photograph: Guardian Community

I take Fair Isle knitting with me on holiday. In the UK, I can usually take a large project such as a cardigan as there is room for the many different colours of wool and the gradually growing garment. If flying hand luggage only, I will make up a small pouch of wool with a project such as a pair of socks or a hat.

Needles are important – either five double-pointed needles or a circular needle in different sizes for most projects. If I’m not driving I will sit and knit to pass the time. Becki, 55, dyslexia specialist, Chester

‘I take a router and a potato peeler’

Sameer. Photograph: Guardian Community

We usually stay in apartments and Airbnbs as there are four of us (my wife and I and two teenagers) and we enjoy cooking. I usually take a router and a wireless access point. And a potato peeler. The peeler because the ones in self-catering places are often not very good. And the router to work around any wifi troubles. True, I can’t usually improve the underlying speed of the connection – though you’d be surprised at how often they are badly set up – but at least that way everyone in the family can access it. Sameer, 48, London

The Guardian

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