Looking back over the past 30 to 40 years, it’s fair to say the must-take holiday staples have changed somewhat. Whereas once you wouldn’t have stepped foot on an airplane without your trusty Polaroid camera and a copy of Reader’s Digest, these days your camera is built into your mobile phone and you’ll probably spend most of the flight watching a film (or playing games on said mobile phone).

Yet despite this inevitable change, there are still some things that have lasted the test of time and continue to be essential items to pack into your suitcase or flight bag. So, here’s a list of some of the items that refuse to succumb to the digital age:

1. Deck of cards – Laptops, tablets and mobile phones are all very well, but none of these can replicate the simple joy and bring people together quite like a deck of cards. Whether you’re holidaying with family, friends or travelling alone, there’s a card game to suit all ages and tastes. You can take them to the most remote corners of the earth and you’ll always find at least one person who understands the rules of Black Jack.

people playing cards

2. Sun cream – Yes, a somewhat obvious inclusion on the list but you cannot argue that it hasn’t stood the test of time. In fact, if anything it’s significance has only grown as we become more aware of the potential damage the sun can do to our skin. Brands may have changed, and we’re still shocked how much a bottle sets us back, but we’ll keep buying it until we evolve to become immune from sun damage.

Sun cream

3. Paper Passport – We’re not quite ready for iris scans or microchips under our skin (yet), so the humble paper passport continues to be our ever-faithful travelling companion to prove who we say we are. The very first concept of a passport was mentioned in an Act of Parliament in 1414 and has taken various shapes and forms ever since. It remains the one thing that brings us out in a cold sweat at the thought of losing it whilst abroad.


4. Hawaiian shirt – Very much a phenomenon with the male of the species for many a decade, the ‘loud’ holiday shirt is as common as confusing currency and sunburnt shoulders when travelling abroad. A combination of warm weather and the fact that you won’t bump into anyone you know equals a feeling of liberation that renders all pre-existing fashion sense redundant for a week or two. For the other 50 weeks of the year it resides in the darkest corner of your wardrobe.

Hawaiian shirt

5. Cash – Despite the universal acceptance of credit cards and debit cards in foreign countries these days, most holidays begin with a visit to the bureau de change to pick up at least a handful of notes and coins for those inevitable cash-only scenarios you’ll face on holiday. Spent mainly in taxis and at those small supermarkets who haven’t quite got around to ordering card machines, there’s something comforting about having cash on you and it’s unlikely that will change in the years to come.

Foreign money

6. Travel Agents – Ok, not technically an ‘item’, but allow us a little artistic licence on this one. Although many holidays are researched and booked online these days, the humble high street travel agent is (just about) holding on and it’s understandable to see why. Aside from the obvious benefit for the older generation who are less comfortable with technology, being able to speak with a human being about something you’ve probably been waiting for all year makes a lot of sense. They probably have first-hand knowledge of the place you’re travelling to and can broker deals with airlines and hotels to potentially save you money. Oh, and they don’t lose connection halfway through the booking.

Travel agency on high street

Disclaimer: All prices contained in this article were correct on the original date of publication. Prices may change over time, so for current prices, please get a quote.