Tips & Bits

Ace Self-Catering With Kids

As much as I relish the laziness and luxury of a hotel or a resort where you don’t lift a finger, the reality is that it’s often far more relaxing and fun to do self-catering with kids. Quite often a budget issue too!

I draw my personal line at camping. Gasp! I know, that’s a terribly non-South African thing to not enjoy. It almost feels like a dirty secret! We’re one big outdoor-loving country after all. I happily camped when I was a teenager, from the snowy Swiss alps to sleeping on the banks of the Orange River after a day of 40-degree heat and canoeing. The (B.I.G) difference then was I only had myself to worry about! I went on to have a career in the travel industry selling luxury property and then came along kids. Camping days, well, they just slipped away! I love the outdoors but now with 3 kids, the thought of spending a fortune to try to make homeless style living tolerable whilst dragging along everything but the proverbial kitchen sink holds zero appeal to me. It feels like work. We generally find our happy space with self-catering style holidays.

Here I share what I rate as my top benefits when self-catering with kids plus my tips and my personal self-catering checklist to download for FREE. You’ll never forget those braai tongs or matches again!


The F Factor

No, no, not that “f” word but rather flexibility! Flexibility and freedom to enjoy time according to your own routine and to eat what and when you want. Many self-catering options come with braai (bbq) facilities. Braaing is in our South African DNA. Collectively as a family, we love a relaxing braai together on holiday. Fire burning, wine in hand for the adults and the kids run around playing. Bliss!

Sundowner drinks on self-catering holiday


A cottage or an apartment has more space where family members can spread out and are less likely to get on each other’s nerves! Especially mommy’s or neighbours. There may be also a garden or outdoor area that you can spill out onto from your property. My kids literally have the wilderness straight off their patio when we stay in the Karoo.

Kids running in open Klein Karoo landscape at Sangwe Cottage Touwsberg


You’ll stretch your budget further with self-catering as your accommodation costs will be less than in a hotel. It’s easier to accommodate a larger family or a couple of families together in a house or villa. You can manage food and beverage budgets more easily too. As a family of 5, this matters to me!

Ok so now that we’ve covered the benefits of self-catering with kids let’s move on to see how to ace prepping for your holiday! I feel good when I’m organised and I’m definitely a (obsessively) list kinda girl. Very helpful for self-catering!

View of Reebok cottage at Kwetu Guest Farm



The first thing I do when planning a self-catering holiday is print off an inventory to work from. I created one after I got tired of forgetting things on trips despite best efforts not to. We stay in places with varying levels of what is provided and in opposing seasons so my inventory caters for this. Sometimes we stay where shops and restaurants are nearby and we also stay in places where the nearest anything is 40km away!

Depending on where we will be staying and at what time of year, I start by crossing off all the things I know that we don’t need. Ah, that looks better already!

I’ve included a totally nerd worthy Self-Catering Checklist as a FREE download for you! It’s in an editable format based on fairly young children but you can customise for your family depending on kid’s ages.

Family sunset walk Gloria Farm

Pack Ahead Of Time

Inventory or not, I don’t enjoy last-minute chaos. Invariably with family life, there are always curve balls which add to stress levels if you’ve not done adequate prep. Start setting aside relevant clothes and items that you won’t need until your holiday a couple of days ahead of time already. I also set aside a crate or 2 in the pantry with the non-perishable food that I’ve bought for the trip.

Plan Meals

This is not about diminishing holiday spontaneity, but you’ll find that by planning at least a few meals, it minimises wastage and taking along items you don’t need. You’re less likely to overspend in supermarkets whilst away. Always keep meals extra easy for the day you arrive and the night before you leave especially if there’s an early start.

There you have it! If you enjoyed reading this post, you may like to read my top tips on road tripping with kids. If you have your own tips about self-catering please drop a comment!

Don’t forget your FREE Self-Catering Checklist

One Stop Wanderlust showcases family travel and family-friendly outings in South Africa. Grab a coffee and stay on the blog to find more exciting wanderlust worthy ideas and tips.


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