The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. ~ Psalm 121:8
Our family loves to go on vacation. We don’t travel nearly as much as we’d like to but we do know that we get to travel more than a lot of people. One thing we’ve figured out on our vacations is that we really prefer to get a rental house rather than a hotel room. There are many reasons for this but primarily it’s because we get to have many of the same benefits of being at home while experiencing a new part of the country. We’ve had the opportunity to stay in several rentals through VRBO and Airbnb so we’ve been able to compile a list of important items to pack when you go. I’m going to do a fairly comprehensive list of what you’ll need but I’m starting with my top 3 must-haves at my home away from home:
1. My own blanket – I like to cover up when I’m watching TV or when I’m reading, no matter what the temperature is outside. Most rentals will have extra blankets but there is nothing like the softness and comfort of my own!
2. A good kitchen knife – If you are planning to do much cooking at your rental house, a good knife to do prep work is a must! The knives in the kitchens are never very good and that makes it hard to do much cooking. I’ve always packed my good knife but for our last trip, I got lazy and didn’t want to get back into the kitchen box before we left so I didn’t bring it. Big mistake! I had to have Curt help me dice an onion because I had to push down so hard to cut through it.
3. Command hooks – It never seems like there are enough hooks in rental homes or hotel rooms, especially if you are doing any activities that require swimsuits and beach towels. I always pack 4 command hooks and strips so we can put them on the wall of the tub to hang drippy swimsuits. When we’re ready to leave, I pull off the strip and stick the hooks back in my toiletry bag.
Ok, so those are my top 3 must-pack items. Now, let’s get into a more comprehensive list of things you will need for a vacation rental home:
Every home we’ve ever rented has been pretty well stocked for what we need when it comes to meal prep: pots & pans, silverware, can opener, even salt and pepper. There are some things (along with whatever food you need) that you won’t want to forget, I’ve added in some links to make it easy for you if there’s something you need to add to your cart.
1. Coffee and filters – We just really can’t start our day without a cup or 3 of coffee. Waking up early and sitting outside or in a quiet living room drinking our coffee is the best way for us to enjoy the morning and get our day started. While most homes will have a traditional coffeepot, you might want to double check with your host. Our apartment in Algiers Point only had a Keurig and I had only packed regular coffee. We did find a French Press so it worked out but there was certainly a moment of panic! We bring the same coffee we use at home because they come in handy little pre-measured packs; it’s not a fancy coffee but it’s better than Folgers and the price is right. I also put a few tea bags in a baggie to bring with me in case I need a nice cup of hot tea in the afternoon.
2. Paper goods, etc – Most homes will provide you with a few things but if you are staying for more than a couple days, you’ll need to bring some extras:
a. Toilet paper – Each house starts you off with a full roll in each bathroom and a lot of houses will have a couple extras under the sink. For our family of 4, we usually go through 1 roll per day so that’s what I pack but we usually don’t use it all.
b. Paper towels – for a week, I usually bring 2 rolls but we could probably get by with 1.
c. Trash bags – Just like at home, we need about 1 trash bag per day. A lot of the homes have more than 1 to start but I don’t want to get caught with no place to put garbage.
d. Paper plates/cups – for supper, we usually use real dishes but for breakfast and lunch, it’s nice to have paper so it’s easier to clean up. I also bring plastic cups and a sharpie to write our name on them to cut down on dishes.
e. Baggies & Aluminum foil – I bring a few of each size of baggie for leftovers, ice packs, whatever we might need. Quart baggies are good for putting your phone in before going to the beach or pool. Aluminum foil is also good for leftovers, to use as a makeshift cookie sheet, and to cover the grill grates if they are rusty or look gross.
3. Cleaning supplies
a. Dishwasher tabs – There are usually at least 2 already, so I typically pack 1 for each day we’ll be there. I will sometimes bring a small bottle of regular dishwashing liquid too for hand washing dishes but I’ve found that most places already have some and hand soap will work in a pinch too.
b. Laundry detergent and softener – a must-have in any vacation rental is a washer/dryer. I really like not having to pack quite as many clothes and keeping up with laundry so I don’t have a huge pile when we get home. Every rental house we’ve ever been in has had detergent of some kind there but I still grab a handful of detergent pods and dryer sheets to take with us. I also always make sure I bring a tote bag that can do double duty as a laundry basket.
c. Clorox wipes & Air freshener– We always travel with Clorox wipes whether we’re renting a house or staying at a hotel. It’s always nice to disinfect a place when we get there and makes clean up easy while we’re there.
4. Cooking essentials – Like I mentioned, most places will have salt and pepper but not much else so on top of the food you’re planning to fix, there are a few more staples you’ll want to remember:
a. Extra spices i.e. garlic salt, Italian seasoning, whatever spices you cook with.
c. Hot sauce
d. Cooking spray and oil
e. Tongs/spatula for the grill
f. A good knife, of course
5. Toiletries – You will obviously need to pack your own toiletries, most places do have a hairdryer so I usually leave that at home. On top of the normal stuff, we pack the following:
a. Sunblock and aloe vera
b. Medications – Make sure you bring your prescription meds and otc meds such as ibuprophen, allergy meds & tums.
c. First Aid Kit – what is in this kit varies with what our activities are going to be but generally speaking:
i. Bandaids – all sized, regular and waterproof
ii. Bug Spray & Itch cream such as hydrocortisone or Benadryl
iii. Nail clippers and tweezers
v. Antibacterial wipes
d. Night light – not really a toiletry but, it’s nice to put a night light in the bathroom so you can see where you’re going in the middle of the night.
6. Entertainment –When we rent a house at the beach, we like for the beach to be our entertainment so there are a few things we bring along for that. For any other rental house, we are typically done with our day after supper so we like to bring games with us to entertain the kids. These are some of the extras that we bring along for fun:
a. Outside fun
iii. Sand toys
b. Inside fun
iii. Chargers – we, of course, can’t forget chargers for all of our phones and laptops. What on earth would we do if we couldn’t stare at our screens for hours?! This is also important because Curt usually needs to spend some time each day doing work. Just keep in mind, a rental house has a lot more space and outlets, so check really good for chargers still plugged in before you leave. I’m pretty sure I left my Fitbit charger in Algiers.
7. Beach Vacation Specific Stuff to Pack
a. Beach Towels
b. Beach Blanket
c. Beach Chairs
d. Small cooler – good for taking drinks down to the beache. Beach Bag/tote
g. Sun hat
h. Boogie boards
I usually pack paper goods, food, etc (anything we will use up) in a cardboard box so we have extra room to pack on the way home. I also like to pack some stuff in tote bags that I can then use for a beach bag and laundry tote. If we are going camping or to the beach and need a lot of extra stuff like boogie boards and beach chairs, we use a rooftop carrier so we have plenty of room for everything. We bought the SportRack Vista in 2017 and we really like it. We use it 1-2 times per year and have been happy with it, it is light weight and easy to install. SportRack is a member of the Thule Group but doesn’t have the big price tag. This little rack has done a really good job for us and survived wind advisories most of our trip to New Orleans and over to Dauphin Island.
I’m sure I’m forgetting some stuff, just like I do every time we go on vacation, but I think that should take care of most things you’ll need for a vacation rental. If you get there and need something, there is always a store nearby. I hope you get the chance to use my packing tips for a great summer vacation!
What is your must pack item for vacation?