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Out of respect and courtesy for all my guests I provide them with a short check list for their week’s rental.  It’s a nice way to provide reminders but also show what you do have to offer and what they will need to think of before they arrive.  The list should be pragmatic and short, focusing only on that which is most important.  In this month’s article we are going to rework this list to think of something more than the basic essentials, but expand into other areas, such as hobbies and food items.  Not all owners and property managers are as caring and service oriented.  Some are far too busy to pay attention to the little details.  So this list should help in these types of situations:

1. Paper towels, toilet paper and tissues, need I say more?  I generally try to supply some, and have been pretty consistent; but you just never know, as sometimes people forget.  Better to be safe than sorry.

2.  Ziplocs.  Plastic containers and Tupperware is something I also have for my cottage rentals, but some rental amenities are very slim.  Ziplocs are a great alternative and they take up very little room.

3.  Various soap products in small amounts.  Little hotel hand soaps are a good option to bring, one or two.  Small bottle of dish soap and enough laundry detergent (if applicable), to cover 2 loads (and 2 dryer sheets again if available).  And don’t take it for granted that there will be shampoo/conditioner for your shower.  Again, I highly recommend collecting and saving the little hotel give away products, even it means saving the empty bottle.  You can always replenish it at home and use it on these types of weeks; they take up very little room and are a great option for renewal use.

4.  Reusable canvas grocery bags folded and tucked somewhere.  Yes you will shop again.  And you need something for storage.  Plus, if you fill one with a garbage bag, they are an amazing “emergency bin” for things such as ice, garbage container, laundry hamper, farm produce holder (if you visit a produce farm/farmer’s market) and of course for your needed groceries.

5.  Garbage bags and recycling bags, and yes I do supply them for my guests, but many do not.  Garbage is generally a bit of an issue.  I will often encourage my guests to burn what is safe and recycle the rest.  Still, there are times when no bags are available.  I recommend 2 of each to be safe.

6.  Linens, for common sense.  It is usually a discussion during the booking process, but I had some situations where the linens that were available went missing and were never discovered until the laundry closet was opened.  Departure days can be hectic.  (1 x tea towel, 1 x wash cloth, 1 x sponge, 2 x beach towels, 1 set of bed linens or more if required, always bring your own pillows, 1 hand towel , 1 shower towel), again be pragmatic.

7.  Condiment, Spice kit, knife, foil, wrap; your basic needs here for a couple of days and I recommend placing them in a large plastic container that can be used as well for an alternate purpose.  Some may provide things such as sugar and pepper, but often, when the season is busy, they do not remember to replenish.  Ever tried baking a potato without a pan or foil?  Kinda tough.  Bring a few sheets, and fold neatly, reduce reuse and always recycle.

8.  Maps of the area.  These are often free off of the internet and just require a little download and print.  I will have a local list of area attractions on my website, but so many of my guests forget to bring it along.  Do it in advance and pack it so you don’t forget.

9.  3 Day meal plan; be organised and always make sure that the first meal is not a BBQ requirement.  So often people expect propane and they are annoyed when the tank is empty.  Propane is not something I guarantee.  It is one of the hardest things to inventory.  I usually have 2 tanks available and often they are at least half full, but during our busier season, it is used more and more.  Having a “first” meal that is quick and easy that does not require grilling will make the arrival much more fluid.

10.  Drinking water.  So very important, and it is always mentioned on my suggested lists for my guests.  I try to have a 6 pack of bottles in the fridge for my guests, but it’s not always consistent, as I too run out from my supplies.  Bring one large litre bottle for the family as a safety check.

11.  Iced Tea Mix.  Great beginnings if you are tight on space and cooler room.  Place it in the Ziploc and you have an instant beverage that does not require a lot of work or fuss.

12.  Cell phone or long distance calling card.  Self explanatory.

13.  3 good pieces of firewood for the campfire.  It can be shoved under the car’s seats, and the kids can collect some broken sticks and dead leaves for the campfire in daylight hours.  You may not be able to bring a lot, but for the first day/night, it’s a nice to have, and 3 good pieces of hard wood can last long enough on the first night for the experience to be enjoyable.

14.  Bug spray.  I don’t care what anyone tells you, wind or no wind, bring it.

15.  Sun block.  Again, very important.

16.  Long sleeves and pants.  For the same reasons as #14 and #15, you cannot control nature or climate.  Be prepared.  Pack light but pack right.

17.  Playing cards and colouring supplies.  They don’t take up much room but they do offer a hobby and pastime if the weather is bad.  I have about a dozen board games available, but not all cottage rentals owners are that detailed.

18.  Cleaning products (try for ecofriendly wipes) as they are very versatile; but the notion here is you never quite know what you are walking into; I clean even after my guests clean and my dwelling always smells fresh and well groomed after each visit.  It’s nice to have a back-up plan if the cottage rental is not up to standards.

19.  Small bucket; there are some collapsible ones you can buy from the camping store.  This is a good plan for by the fire, as you just never know when you will need one.  Plus if there is no shower or tub for bathing, the bucket can be used as an option to keep the kids clean, wash your dishware etc.  (Some rustic cabins have no plumbing, only an outhouse.  You get what you ask for and pay for.)

20.  Some disposables/recyclables for eating and cooking.  Again, you just don’t know what types of pots and pans are available.  One set for one meal is a good plan in the event the water doesn’t work, or the pots/pans are so old and disgusting you’d rather plan a flower in them instead of eats off of them.  My stocked kitchen generally has newer items in them, but not all do.  And some cottage rentals do not have any cooking tools at all.  Add a flipper, large spoon and some tongues to your list.

So this is the ultimate, detailed, and organised checklist to keep you well while you are away.  The unknown or the untimely surprise can dampen any bright vacation with stress and frustration.  Avoid it.  Be ready.  PACK LIGHT BUT PACKS RIGHT!