After staying at more than fifteen vacation rentals over the last few months we’ve learned a thing or two about what you absolutely need to pack when staying in someone else’s home.

Why didn’t anybody tell us?!

After our coast to coast trip last May we took inventory of our “Vacation Rental Bag” to see what we’d acquired.

One thing to note, the bag is always the last item packed in the car, right after the cooler. This way we can easily get to items while in transit, should we decide to have a picnic at a rest area or just stop at the park for snacks and to stretch.

We used a large reusable grocery bag, but to help keep things organized inside we collected things in gallon and quart-sized zip-lock baggies. The soft bag works great in the car on top of the other things. We also switched from a hard cooler to a soft cooler for a better fit in the trunk.

I’m sure many readers have lists of there own with a thing or two we’ve missed. I hope they’ll share. Here’s our list of kits.

The Kitchen Kit
If you had to boil down the items you use most frequently in your kitchen you might include some of these items. Especially important are seasonings and condiments but you might also need some breakfast items. Please note, I have yet to stay in a home that doesn’t have salt and pepper. Often, there are spices left behind by other travelers.

Greek seasoning
Cinnamon
Garlic pepper
Hot pepper flakes or cayenne
Ketchup
Mustard
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Peanut butter
Jelly

We’ll keep a stick or two of butter, eggs and a quart of milk in the cooler when we know he have a late arrival and won’t have time to shop before morning. A box or two of cereal for the kids makes a great snack during the ride and has you ready for the morning meal. And don’t forget to pack your favorite tea or coffee complete with sweetener or creamers.

Paper and Plastic Kit
Because we like to picnic, we have an extensive paper and plastic collection in our bag.

Paper plates
Napkins
Plastic silverware
Baby wipes
Quart and gallon-sized zip-lock bags
Coffee filters
Tin foil
Toilet paper
Paper towels
Tall kitchen garbage bags

Cleaning Kit
There are also a few supplies we like to bring that help us keep things clean. Many are already in the homes at professionally managed vacation rentals, but you may have a preferred brand.

Laundry detergent
Softener sheets (better to pack these with your clothes so they smell fresh)
Dishwasher detergent
Sponge
Scraper

Fix It Kit
Just in case something needs to be put back together you might want to have these on hand. For example, our license plate loosened and almost slipped off on the last leg of our trip. We were able to quickly screw it back down tight because we had the small compact tool.

Sewing kit
Leatherman multi-purpose tool