REHOBOTH, Del. – My husband and I have vacationed at the beach in Rehoboth, Delaware, with our dogs for many years. We always stayed at a pet-friendly inn, except for one weekend at a condo. Nobody told us to bring our own bedsheets and towels, though, so an emergency shopping trip was needed before we could go to sleep.
This year we rented a whole house for a week, and we knew not to make that mistake again. But I figured there were less obvious mistakes we could make. Here’s what I learned, with the help of friends who’ve done this a lot.
“Bring towels” seems obvious, but there were a couple things I wouldn’t have thought of: Kitchen towels for drying your hands are nice, even if you’re not planning to dry dishes, and while this place supplied a bathmat, not everyplace does. Bring your own pillow if you’re fussy about that sort of thing.
What’s supplied with vacation rental kitchens varies enormously, as do different people’s plans for cooking, but here are some general tips.
You’ll probably have plates, cups, glasses and cutlery. But if you’re going to cook, a lot of things that seem basic may not be available. No one leaves their best chef knife at a beach house, so bring your own knives. Pasta might seem like a simple vacation meal, but you may need to bring a colander. And while our house had both a gas and charcoal grill, there were no implements for cooking on it. The only tongs were made of plastic. We had to poke sausages with regular forks, which is far from ideal. Potholders are also something so basic you don’t think about them, but they might not be in the kitchen.
The kitchen will likely have some kind of coffee maker but you might want to ask what kind. We brought ground coffee then had to go buy Keurig cups. If you’re a tea drinker, you’re probably on your own. If you don’t bring a tea kettle, a Pyrex measuring cup to boil water in the microwave will do in a pinch.
Serious vacation house cooks recommended planning menus in advance because you can’t count on more than maybe salt and pepper in the kitchen. You can decant basics like cooking oil into smaller jars to save space and money. Bringing foil, plastic wrap or containers for leftovers might save you some frustration. Our kitchen had plastic containers but no lids.
Bathroom and cleaning
We were told to bring paper goods, so we packed toilet paper, paper towels and tissues. Previous guests had left some of each, so we left ours to pay it forward, but you may not be so lucky, so at least don’t forget the TP. Many liquid hand-soap bottles were also around, but no bar soap, which is probably thrown out by the cleaning staff. Consider bringing dish soap, laundry soap and maybe a cleaning spray. Remember you won’t have a maid coming in daily.
Packing for your pet for a house is mostly the same as going to a hotel. Just remember that a “pet-friendly” rental may not be safe for your dog. You probably have trash cans at home that your dog can’t get into. At this house, the bathroom trash cans were small enough for our pug to get into. And we were fortunate to discover the easy way that even a 15-pound dog could easily push the screen door open because the latch didn’t quite work.
It’s nice to have a house full of closets instead of everything being crammed into one hotel room. But those closets may not be full of hangers, so if you care about being unwrinkled on vacation, bring your own. Extension cords or power strips for electronics might come in handy, especially if the house is old. My biggest regret was forgetting the lap desk that I use for my laptop, which made it less comfortable to post all those vacation photos to make my friends jealous.