By Candyce H. Stapen
Some 94% of vacation rental travelers find rental homes reduce vacation stress because they come with kitchens, according to a study by Wyndham Vacation Rentals. Kitchens reduce stress by eliminating the need to get the group dressed to dine out, reserve a restaurant table in advance or stand in a long line without a reservation. More than half of those vacation rental travelers feel that not having to get ready to go to a restaurant for every meal provides a more enjoyable vacation.
What’s more, by having their own kitchen on vacation, vacationers can save money, calories and time. A rental kitchen lets them reduce weekly food costs by up to 75% and calorie intake by as much as 50%.
Plus, kitchens add convenience. Forget about having to find a restaurant open at 6:30 a.m. for your preschooler who is demanding oatmeal. In your rental’s kitchen, both of you can stay in pajamas while she has breakfast. When your teen arises at noon, he can still chow down on his favorite cereal instead of complaining about having to order from the lunch menu at the local café. And kitchens facilitate snacking at any hour.
Finally, kitchens also make it easy to follow special diets. Is someone in your group lactose intolerant or a strict vegan, or do they eat only gluten-free foods? Although restaurants are improving at accommodating such dietary preferences, not everyone complies. With your own kitchen you can cook meals that you know will be both tasty and healthy for those on restricted-eating regimens.
Follow these tips to make the most of your vacation rental’s kitchen:
Consider a weekly meal prep service or grocery delivery. Look into nearby grocery services to have staples like milk, juice, bread and some cold cuts delivered shortly after you arrive. For even added convenience, use a service like HelloFresh to bring meal recipes and all the prepped ingredients you’ll need right to your rental for the week. .
Plan your week’s meals ahead of time. Many vacation rental travelers like to eat breakfast in; create sandwiches to go for lunch at the beach, in the woods, on a kayak trip or a picnic; and eat dinner in a few times during the week. Be flexible but know what groceries you need for meals so you won’t overbuy or waste time with repeated runs to the store.
Don’t forget kitchen staples. Buy, or bring with you if you’re driving and the car has room: pepper, salt, spices and other condiments; paper towels; garbage bags; sponges; liquid soap for hand-washing dishes; dishwasher detergent; and plastic food storage bags, plastic wrap and tin foil. Also, pour your favorite olive oil into a small bottle. You likely won’t need to use an entire bottle while away.
Find a local market for produce. Ask the rental manager if there’s a nearby farmer’s market. Depending on the season, this can be a great place to stock up on fresh corn, sugar snaps, peas, peaches, strawberries and other locally grown items.
Make sure the kitchen comes with what you need. Ask the rental manager ahead of time about what items come with the stocked kitchen, including questions like:
- What type of coffee maker? If you’re a coffee fanatic and driving, consider taking along your home coffee maker or buying a small travel version. Drip coffee enthusiasts can tote a plastic coffee cone and a box of filters.
- What is the size of the largest pot and baking dish? Can the pot cook pasta for eight and can the baking dish hold enough lasagna or baked chicken for two days so you don’t have to cook dinner every day?
- Is there an outdoor grill? If so, are there grilling tools? Consider packing a few of your own as well as a meat thermometer, not typically among the standard items.
- Should I bring a slow cooker/crockpot? That way you can brown the chicken or beef in the morning, add the meat, vegetables and sauces and turn on the timer. When you return to your rental later, the aromas of the barbecue chicken or beef stew welcome you to your ready-to-serve dinner.
Sources: Wyndham Vacation Rentals Summer 2015 Road & Rentals Study, 2015; University of Missouri Cost Comparison Study, 2012
Long-time family travel guru Candyce H. Stapen writes for many publications and outlets. She has written 30 travel guidebooks, including two for National Geographic.