Almost every year for the past 5 years (except from the one where I was heavily pregnant) my friends and I have gone away to Center Parcs for a girlie weekend. We usually go in March and have now been to quite a few of the different Center Parcs around the country. This year we are returning to Elveden Forest (in Suffolk) for the the second time.
I’m quite nervous as this will be the longest time I’ve spent away from my darling daughter. At the same time, I am desperate for a weekend away with my friends (who all live a 3 hour drive away from me and I don’t get to see very often).
As I feel like somewhat of a Center Parcs veteran, I thought I’d share with you what I’m packing for my weekend away. The essentials, the ‘luxury items’ and the boring (but useful) stuff. I’m only packing for myself obviously (hurrah!) but I figured this may help anyone else planning a girlie break at Center Parcs who perhaps hasn’t been before.
I should warn you at this point that I’m somewhat of an ‘over-packer’ but I’m a firm believer that ‘It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared’. Oh and I also hate paying for over-priced items at the on-site supermarket. ;)
A Girls’ weekend at Center Parcs: What to pack
Clothes (duh!) – underwear, socks, sportswear, PJs and swimwear, a warm jumper and a rain mac.
Trainers (and depending on the time of year, wellies!)
Hair bobbles: This is something I quite often forget to pack but they’re essential if you have long hair and your planning to do any of the activities.
Make up/face wipes
Shower gel + shampoo and conditioner
Towels: Bath towels are supplied (in Comfort Plus lodges) but you’ll need to take your own towels for swimming.
Phone + charger
Camera + charger: you’ll be making great memories with your pals so remember your camera!
Rucksack: If you’re normally a handbag kinda gal, you’ll be better off ditching it in favour of a rucksack. It’s extremely hard to cycle with handbag over your arm. Just ask my friend, Sam! ;)
A torch: Whilst most of the paths are well lit, you are in a forest so once it get dark, it’s useful to have a torch to hand.
A bike seat cover: If you’re hiring a bike from Center Parcs then it’s well worth investing a few pounds on a bike seat cover. The first year that we went, we found the bike seats incredibly uncomfortable. We ended up trying to put together makeshift bike seat covers using tea towels, plastic bags and cellotape. It looked as ridiculous as it sounds.
Squash: As well as a bottle of squash for the lodge, I’m also taking a couple of small bottles of concentrated squash to take out and about with me. I’m not a fan of fizzy drinks and I find water a bit bland!
Re-usable water bottle: talking of drinks, buying them all of the time can get expensive so take a bottle with you – fill it up at your villa and pop it in your rucksack for when you’re out and about.
Hairdryers/straighteners: Hairdryers are provided in most CP accommodation (check online) but I always prefer to use my own.
The luxury items:
DVDs: Our accommodation has a TV/DVD player. For us, it’s been a bit of a tradition that every Center Parcs break, we have one ‘movie night’ in our lodge where we watch a film with pizza, snacks and drinks. Usually, we each take a film and then decide which one to watch together on the night. This year I’m taking ‘If I stay’ – no idea if it’s any good or not but from the synopsis, it sounded sufficiently chick-flicky.
Bubble bath: I very rarely have a bath at home (that isn’t shared with my toddler). I always think there’s something else I should be doing. As much as I enjoy being active at Center Parcs, it’s also a rare mummy break for me so I fully intend to make the most of it. I’ve packed some Radox and I’m looking forward to a nice hot soak in the tub – without a manky bath toy in sight.
Face mask: – See above! ;)
Tea bags/Coffee/Hot chocolate: I’m not a coffee or tea drinker (I know!) but I am partial to a hot chocolate. If the weather remains the same as it has been lately, then I suspect it will be cold and wet during our stay at Center Parcs. It’ll be a nice treat to get back to our lodge and have a post-swimming/cycling hot choccy! The other girls will no doubt be bringing a stash of their favourite tea bags/coffee granules.
Treats: Chocolates are a must and no girls’ weekend away would be complete without them!
Booze: Neither myself nor my friends are particularly big drinkers (we are off to Center Parcs not Ibiza, after all) but we do like the odd cocktail. I’m packing some ‘skinny’ strawberry daiquiri (because I’m a Slimming World bore!)
Book(s): Whether you’re staying at Center Parcs with family or friends – it’s nice to have some downtime in between all of the active stuff.
The boring stuff:
Hand wash: From memory, I don’t think this is supplied. I’m taking a couple of bars of antibacterial soap for the bathroom and kitchen.
Loo roll: If I remember rightly, you are provided with a roll or two to ‘get you going’ but you’ll probably need more if there’s a few of you staying in a lodge together.
Dish towels: Again, you are provided with one or two but it’s useful to take a few extra. :)
Kitchen towels and antibacterial spray: *CLEAN FREAK ALERT*
Paracetamols: The last thing you want is for your weekend away to be spoiled by a headache or period pains. I always keep a packet of painkillers in my rucksack, just in case.
Pocket packs of tissues
A re-usable shopping bag: particularly useful if you’re planning on using the Parc Market and want to avoid paying 5p per carrier bag.
A pound coin: for your swimming pool locker.
First aid kit: always be prepared!
I hope this is useful for anybody heading to Center Parcs for a girls’ weekend. You will be sure to have a great time – we always do and that’s why we go back, year after year. :)