Most vacation rentals come equipped with full kitchens, entertainment centers, and outdoor furniture and grills. But how those are defined can vary widely, based on the owner's view of what constitutes entertainment -- a boom box with a cassette deck, anyone? -- and whether they've made any updates in the past 10 years.
So, if you have found a vacation rental in the perfect spot, with the perfect number of bedrooms and bathrooms, make a list of what else you need to keep that vacation running perfectly and for making your home away from home.
Ask the homeowner or rental agent if the home has the equipment you need. The list below will help you think about the things you should ask about, and what to bring from home. The more you bring depends on whether you are packing a car or just a suitcase. But whatever you can bring will save you money, as well as frustration, on your trip.
There is nothing more frustrating than paying double the price for olive oil at a resort town's grocery store than you would at home. Pack a bag of basic kitchen staples, as well as basics for the first night's meal. Salt, pepper, oil, coffee, tea and sugar are things you will be looking for in the cabinets soon after you arrive.
If you want to save even more money, consider packing another couple of bags with cereal, peanut butter, jelly, bread, pasta, rice, cookies, chips, juice boxes, even some of your favorite spices. These basics are often much more expensive in resort towns that at your local supermarket. And if you are flying to your destination? For high-priced areas, such as Hawaii, consider shipping a box or two of non-perishables to your rental agent and have them hold it until you get there.
It's nice to have something special for your first night, when you are tired from traveling and you might not have your bearings. Wine, crackers, even cheese packed in a cooler will help you relax after a long trip.
Speaking of wine, if you drink it, you'll want to have a corkscrew with you. Even if the house is equipped with one, it might not be the type you favor. And, you can always use a spare, especially to pack for a picnic.
How do you like your coffee brewed? Most rentals are equipped with the basic Mr. Coffee drip machine. But if your day doesn't start right unless you have perfectly brewed coffee in your French press, then bring it along. Being on vacation doesn't mean sacrificing your creature comforts.
A Sharp Knife
Rental homes don't normally have knife sharpeners. Or people to sharpen them. If you plan to be doing a lot of chopping, then bring a knife. Otherwise, you'll just squish those organically grown local tomatoes.
Toys and Games
If you have babies, you are accustomed to bringing toys for them wherever you go. But if you have older kids, or no kids, you forget about games, in part because our busy lives don't always allow us to take time to play. But you're on vacation, so reacquaint yourself with Scrabble, Parcheesi and other classic board games that are sitting on a shelf in your house. And bring a deck of cards, too. Because chances are, that deck in the kitchen drawer is missing the ace of hearts.
If your rental has a DVD player, rent some DVDs before you come. That way, you avoid having to hunt down a rental place, sign an agreement and put down a credit card at a place you might never come back to again.
Linens, Towels and Pillows
Does your rental supply linens? If so, do you need to wash and dry them before you leave, or else pay an extra fee? It might be worth bringing your own. And if you are particular about your pillow, consider bringing yours. There is no predicting whether that pillow is going to be as firm, or as soft, as you like. If this is the vacation you've been dreaming about all year, make sure you can at least get a good night's sleep while you're there.
While this might sound like a lot to pack, it's not that much if you consider that you might have to track any of these items down once you arrive. The time and money saved will be time and money spent enjoying your vacation.
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