Center Parcs walkway

Preparing for a family holiday to Center Parcs

Today we are heading off to Center Parcs at Elveden Forest until Friday and this is actually our second visit there now. We only went for the first time last year (the same week) but we quickly fell in love which is why we’re going back this year for a family holiday with my Mum, sister and her partner.

Last year I made a couple of pretty big mistakes when it came to packing so this year I have taken a much better approach and written lists for everything. Somehow, I managed to forget my own clothes. I think I was so busy packing for John and Erin that I didn’t really think about myself as much as I normally would have. The annoying thing is, my clothes were in a pile on my dressing table ready to be packed… they just got missed! Pre-Erin I would never have done this but it seems I lack the packing skills I once had.

So, to save someone else making a mistake I thought I’d write a post about things to pack and things you probably shouldn’t forget!


I know this might sound so, so obvious but I clearly managed to forget clothes so it’s easily done. Also, depending what time of year you visit you might need a lot more than you think.

As we have now been for the 1st week of October 2 years in a row we have had to take quite a lot with us. The weather can be very unpredictable at this time of year and as we had just last week, one day can be glorious sunshine where I could wear a strappy top and sandals and then the next day I could need boots and a jumper.

The best way to pack clothes for Center Parcs is to think about layers and take a couple of different pairs of shoes with you to make sure you’re as prepared for all weathers as you can be.

Animal Food

This is something we did not take enough of last year but as first time visitors then, we really didn’t know what to expect. Again, this is something you can buy from the Parc Market but buying from a local pet shop will get you a lot more for your money.

Just outside of our lodge we had so many birds, rabbits, deer and squirrels so we went with bird food and nuts. The amount we took last year barely lasted us 2 days because Erin just wanted to feed the animals all of the time. I’m sure if you take more than you think you need it won’t go to waste, especially if you have children with you.

Animal Food


What you take for food really depends on a couple of different things; how often you plan on eating out and what time of day you plan to arrive. Last time we ate out quite a lot just because we wanted to try all of the restaurants at Center Parcs but this time we’re planning on eating in more.

Unless you pay for early arrival, your lodge won’t be ready until 3pm but you can arrive any time after 10am. This is where you need to think carefully about any food you want to take with you as you don’t want anything frozen to defrost or for meat to be sat in any kind of heat for hours and hours. Planning your meals carefully before your holiday can save you quite a bit of money as you won’t need to shop in the Parc Market on site.

If you’re going to be eating in the lodge then you need to make sure you take things like salt, pepper, sauces etc. as these aren’t provided.

You will be able to get pretty much anything you need at the Parc Market but be prepared to pay higher prices than normal. Some items aren’t too bad but some items will cost quite a bit more than what you’d pay in a regular supermarket.


I can only comment on the lodges we have stayed in so far, which are the New Woodland Lodges, and these come with a TV and DVD player but not a lot in the way of channels or anything else to do for the time that you’ll spend in the lodge. DVDs or games are great for evening entertainment or if you don’t want to take something bulky, a pack of cards would do nicely as well.

Erin especially needed quite a lot to do because unless she was feeding animals and trying to get squirrels to come inside, there was nothing for her to do. This time I’m taking a few DVDs for her, a tablet, colouring books and crayons, stickers and a couple of other small games.

DVDs and games

First Aid

Last year we ended up needing extra Savlon for something that I can’t remember now and I remember anything medical cost a fortune in the Parc Market. Going on holiday with a toddler means taking the usual things like Calpol, plasters and enough magic cream (Sudocrem) to cover Erin in but we mustn’t forget ourselves at the same time. Be sure to take things like paracetamol, Ibuprofen, thermometer, bug repellent and maybe heat patches depending on what activities you’re planning!

You never know what might happen so it’s good to be prepared and I find that first aid supplies don’t really take up a lot of space.

When you’re packing for the family, especially when it comes to children, I think you can never take enough. It’s always better to take a bit more than you think you need rather than be caught short like I was last year. 

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