First time renting? Here’s what to expect and what to pack

If you and your family are all-inclusive vacationers, the prospect of your first independent stay can be daunting.

Instead of a 24 hour front desk to answer any questions and have all your meals provided, you’ll be the one cooking, cleaning, and finding the closest place to buy a corkscrew if the one in the drawer is broken.

For your first stay at the chalet, you want to ensure a blend of home comforts without having to pack everything except the kitchen sink.

However, a careful reading of the property listing can alert you to some potential issues that you wouldn’t expect to find in your typical resort.

And if you want to be sure, contact your booking site or Airbnb host in advance to check which essentials are available or to pack in your luggage.


You might be planning on having all your meals out, but one of the perks of staying is that you can save money at least by having breakfast at home or having a favorite. home after a long day exploring a new region. .

Look carefully at the photos provided – do you see an oven and hob in the kitchen? How big is the refrigerator? Is there a freezer for ice cubes or will you have to settle for lukewarm cocktails during your stay?

The list should specify kitchen facilities, but don’t be surprised if some smaller places only offer a toaster and microwave. You might not feel like cooking a Sunday roast while you are there, but an oven can be useful for making an easy pizza, reheating a pastry without it getting soggy, or roasting veggies for a quick soup and hearty.

Pots and pans can be a bit hit and miss. There will definitely be some cooking utensils, but don’t expect an immaculate frying pan with the non-stick surface intact. While there shouldn’t be any lingering burnt food, over-enthusiastic cleaning could leave pans punctured and pitted. And don’t expect there to be a dishwasher – you might be rolling up your sleeves, so packing a few extra tea towels wouldn’t hurt.

Kitchen facilities may be different from what you are used to

Most cabins should have a small supply of salt, pepper, and cooking oil – often left over by previous visitors – but if something is essential for your meal plans, transfer it to smaller containers and bring along. it with you. Your own tea bags, your favorite coffee, and a few packets of cookies are another easy way to make your home-away-from-home more, well, comfy!

If you plan on cooking, it’s worth bringing a good knife rather than relying on the usually dull supply in the drawers, a potato peeler (which can serve as a grater for nifty chunks of cheese), a bottle opener and plastic boxes for any leftovers.

And don’t expect plates and glassware to match – breakages are common and replacements may not be from the same set. If you do break something, leave a note or contact your host to explain so they can let you know if there is a charge rather than a surprise later addition to your credit card. It is also worth taking photos of any major damage to the property before unpacking and sending them to the host so you don’t risk being blamed.

Bed and bath

Towels and linens will almost always be provided, but don’t assume – read the website listing again to verify any ‘please bring your own’ requests. The last thing you need is an urgent trip to the nearest supermarket or main street to buy bedding sets or a bath towel.

While some upscale hotels offer a menu of firm, filled pillows to meet all needs, anyone with an allergy to goose or duck down may also want to bring their own pillow into their chalet, as what can be considered a luxurious arrangement for many can leave you with itchy eyes and unable to sleep.

How does the heating work and is there automatic hot water? Older properties may still have a cylinder or even an immersion heater that you will need to plan for.

Make sure to check if the place you are staying has everything you need - like towels!
Make sure to check if the place you are staying has everything you need – like towels!

And don’t assume that a self-catering cottage has a bath or shower. It could be a tub with a shower head attached to the faucets instead, or maybe to save space it’s just a shower, which could make the bath out of the way. less relaxing children. Again, the photos on the site listing can help you avoid disappointment.

Shampoo, conditioner, and soap are another item of preference that you might want to take with you to familiarize yourself; although there may be some, without daily room service, don’t expect them to be restocked during your stay.


It would have to be a very secluded chalet to not offer a TV these days, but don’t expect it to be loaded with Sky, Netflix, or Disney + – it may not even be compatible with those systems. or be connected to the Internet. In some areas, the signal quality may leave you with only channels 1 to 5.

There are two ways to tackle it: skip the box for the week and take in the view from your chalet window, or grab a few of those must-have books that you’ve never really read and relax with. one of them in the evening. in place. The point of a vacation is to get out of your usual routine, even if it leaves you with a lot of catching up on TV when you get back.

If they have Netflix, make sure you know your own password in case you need to log in – and remember to log out when you leave or someone else might delete your watchlist. .

But if you have some must-haves that you don’t want to risk spoiling, grab a laptop or watch on your phone – they might be small screens, but they’ll make sure you don’t miss a thing.

This leads to wifi – again it’s rare that a chalet doesn’t include it in the price, but it might not be at the speeds you’re used to and if you have three kids who are all trying to streaming their favorite show or YouTube channel, you might hear more grunts than gratitude for taking them away.

You can bring a wifi dongle for that extra boost, but be aware that some of the signal issues may be due to you staying in a converted barn or an old stone cottage where the thick walls will never be tech-compatible. .

You may need to bring your own entertainment while on vacation
You may need to bring your own entertainment while on vacation

Instead, many sites will have a stack of board games and puzzles for old-school entertainment, as well as a library of paperbacks thrown away by former guests. For added security, why not wrap Jenga blocks or a deck of cards and download instructions for some family games like Go Fish, Crazy 8s, Hearts or Rummy?

Finally, do your research

If you are staying in a new area, you may have checked out local attractions and cafes in advance, but don’t forget the practicalities you might need in an emergency or just to make your stay a good one. little more pleasant.

  • How far is the nearest hospital or A&E?

  • Do you have a number for an emergency dentist?

  • Where can you park – if there is no off-street parking, will you have to pay to keep your car near the cottage?

  • Will you be able to unload and recharge the car outside your accommodation, or will there be transportation?

  • If you are staying in an apartment, is there an elevator and how many flights to the top?

  • Are there access issues like narrow or steep stairs and low beams?

  • Is there a supermarket nearby for groceries and a place to buy milk if you run out before breakfast?

  • If you have specific dietary needs, are local businesses and restaurants catering to you?

  • What is nearby? Your peaceful week might be less enjoyable if your chalet is next to a noisy pub or workshop. Enter the address in Google StreetView to explore the neighborhood.

  • Bring your own first aid kit with all the necessary prescription drugs, bandages, antiseptic cream, and pain relievers that you usually have at home.

  • When you get to your accommodation, check where the fuse box and switches are located so you don’t look for a light in the dark in a strange room. Take your own torch just in case, or keep your phone handy.

  • Have your host or agency number handy to immediately report any problems or seek advice if you have trouble turning on the hob or unlocking the door.

  • If you’ve booked through Airbnb, remember that not all hosts are business people – their own home might be vacant for you, so don’t expect the kind of response a business would provide.

  • And if you think the chalet is not what you were promised – if it is dirty or unsafe – contact the host immediately to seek solutions. They might not be able to enchant the extra room you thought you would get, but you might resort to a discount or refund if you were misled.

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