Saturday, July 12, 2014

Vacation Home Rental - Tips and Hints

In my last post, I offered my thoughts on why your family might want to rent a vacation home and where you can go to find the right one. If you missed that post you can read it here.Today I want to share my strategy for packing, prepping the house and enjoying your vacation in a vacation home rental.

As you can imagine, after five different rentals in five different houses, I have a few tips and suggestions for making your stay feel like a vacation even if you have to cook and do laundry. 

All of the vacation homes (unless noted in their description) are equipped for you to just bring your clothes and toiletries.  Towels and bedding are always provided.  Kitchens are usually stocked with the basics - plates, pots and pans, cups, coffee pot, cooking utensils and silverware. 

Pay attention to the details. Do you like to grill? Make sure there is a barbecue at the property that you can access. Is the beach close? Do they mention beach towels? You may need to bring these with you. Is the lake close? Is there room to park your vehicle and your boat? Does the rental have phone, TV and internet? These details should be included in the online descriptions. If not, just ask.  An email or phone call to the property manager should get you the answers you need to whatever your questions might be.

The Kitchen
The pantry in a vacation rental will be sparse. You will probably have the basic spices - salt, pepper and whatever has been left by a previous renter. For example, I bought of bottle of vanilla to make some cookies while in Oregon.  The lid of the (really inexpensive) vanilla cracked. Rather than bring it home and risk it spilling, I left it for the next person to use. You will probably have access to some baking soda, flour, sugar and coffee. Your vacation rental should include paper towels, toilet paper, dish soap and if your lucky a roll of foil and plastic wrap. 

What you bring with you will depend upon your method of travel, how much you plan to use the kitchen for cooking and what retail establishments your destination offers. If you are driving like we did, you are only limited by the size of your vehicle. Additionally our destination had a large super center to shop at so we opted to buy most of our food stuffs when we got there.  We packed a small plastic tote with our favorite bottle of olive oil, our go-to grilling seasoning, some salmon seasoning (we were at the ocean,) crab cracking utensils, my hubby's favorite grilling tongs and a few sippy cups for the boys. I also grabbed a box of resealable plastic bags - I use these for some much more than food storage - and threw it into one of our suitcases. We also brought an empty ice chest to use on day trips and for bringing cold items home when the trip ended. 

After we unloaded our luggage we surveyed what the rental house had and didn't have that we knew we might want to have handy during our stay. Our first stop was the grocery store with a shopping list designed around a loosely planned menu.  We could have dined at the numerous restaurants that Brookings offers, and we did have a few restaurant meals, but we feel so much more comfortable making our own. After all if we didn't want to cook, we would have stayed at a hotel.  

Shopping Suggestions
  • Buy the smallest size container of necessary condiments - mayo, ketchup, mustard.
  • Ignore 2 for 1 specials. As tempting as they may be, you will likely only need one of whatever it is. 
  • Consider a 1/2 gallon of milk rather than the whole gallon. (With two growing boys, we still bought the gallon.) 
  • Cereal, crackers, lunch meat, cheese and salad dressing.  You only need one of each. Now is not the time for everyone to pick their favorite flavor or variety.  Unless of course you are prepared to 1) take it home or 2) discard whatever is remaining when your stay concludes. 
  • Get some paper plates. After all you are on vacation and this will ensure a few less dishes you will have to wash.
  • Reusable plastic cups. Our rental had beautiful glasses. I have two rambunctious boys. Plastic cups are a necessity. And since it is summer time you usually can pick up four for less than $2. 
  • Buy a small bottle of your family's preferred laundry detergent.  Their may be one in the vacation rental already but having the same one you use at home might save a family member from an unnecessary skin reaction. 
  • Choose food items that you can eat more than once. Fresh salmon one night became salmon cakes the next night. Steak and potatoes for dinner become steak sandwiches for lunch or steak, eggs and potatoes for breakfast. 
Does the town your vacationing in have a dollar store? This a great place to pick up those reusable cups, beach buckets for the kids or random kitchen utensils that the house does not have. Example - our last rental only had one pot holder. I bought two for $1 at the dollar store and left them for the next renter.

Going Home
We didn't eat everything we bought when we arrived at our vacation rental home so it needed to go home with us. We also bought a few local foodie type items - cheese, cheese and more cheese - that we were taking home to friends and for our own indulgence. That's where the ice chest came in handy.  But what about all of the dry goods? Cereal, crackers, bread, chips and the other items were brought to begin with needed to be transported home so we picked up one of those 18 gallon plastic totes. The lid is locking so nothing was going to fly out from the back of our truck and I can always use another tote at home.How about you?

We did throw out a few things. We had one egg, a few pieces of fresh fruit (fresh fruit can't cross the state line into California,) about two scoops of ice cream left in the freezer and a few leftovers from previous evening. All of this went into the trash. There was a box of frozen juice popstoo and we had only eaten four of them. I wrote the date on the box and left them. Maybe the next renters would have kids that might like these. If not they could throw them away.

Unexpected Perks
While on our vacation, one of our little guys came down with a 24 hour stomach bug. Having the extra space of a real house made it easy just to hang out all day and watch movies (that we rented from one of those one day movie rental dispensers like Red Box.) No one was on top of anyone and my sick little guy could rest without having to share a space with his brother. Keeping his brother out of that space was a whole other story but we managed. 

And finally...

Take time to enjoy the vacation. 
We are already planning next years trip and looking for the perfect house online to rent. 

Do you have a favorite family vacation tip?
Thanks for reading. ~mrs. c


  1. I love it ... Cheese, cheese, and Cheese! My kids are teens now so when we go on a trip together nothing comes home in the ice cooler. I miss the days when I would be sure to pack enough can goods ( veggies and spaghetti -O's) count out exactly how many pieces of bread for each day, eggs, and juice.

    I'm looking forward to following your blog - your images are breath taking!

  2. If you are planning vacation with your children then vacation home rentals could be the solution to your vacation nightmares! While you plan your vacation, it is important that you take a moment to consider great benefits that you will get when you rent a home rather than a hotel room. Here visit our site for rent apartment home.

  3. It is a very good post and very handy tips and hints. Vacation rentals are definitely an important part of the vacation. With nice rental you can enjoy the stay as well as have peace of mind which is quite important. For more tips on vacation rentals visit here fashion hotels.



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