How to Cook, Drink, and Entertain Better in Your Vacation Rental

·3 min read
Yeti Soft Cooler, High Camp Flask, Riedel O Wine Tumblers, Jute Tote Bag
Yeti Soft Cooler, High Camp Flask, Riedel O Wine Tumblers, Jute Tote Bag

Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Prissy Lee

Even before the Great Disruption of 2020 necessitated short trips closer to home, one of my superpowers was booking vacation rentals that met (or exceeded, even!) my every whim. I'm that person who trawls booking sites for hours on end, poring over every detail of a listing, its photos, and reviews. I look for design-forward interiors and curation with character, lots and lots of natural light, a comfy bed, generous entertaining spaces—but above all, a well-equipped kitchen.

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I've especially honed this skill during the past year. With international travel off the cards and a cautious avoidance of planes and hotels, my husband and I took to the road. What kinds of things did we look for in listings before we booked? Beyond the obvious descriptors, there are a few key giveaways in photos that point to a thoughtful kitchen space: a stand mixer, a lineup of sharp-looking knives on a magnetized rack on the wall, the brand of cooking appliances, an ample-looking spice rack and pantry, and Dutch ovens, cast-iron, or enamelware on open shelving. We'd also read all the reviews, looking for specific comments about the kitchen, hoping that other food nerds would offer us valuable clues.

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Naturally, there's only so much you can plan for, but one small insurance policy is to bring a few useful things with you. It comes as no surprise that many on the F&W team are just like me, keen to cook with local produce and eat delicious things while on vacation. Here is a collection of our go-to tools we take with us on the road to ensure cooking is always a pleasure.

AeroPress Coffee Maker, Atmos Vacumm Cannister, Elemental Spices, Messermeister Adventures Folding Knife
AeroPress Coffee Maker, Atmos Vacumm Cannister, Elemental Spices, Messermeister Adventures Folding Knife

Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Prissy Lee

Aeropress Coffee Maker

Caffeine fiends who prefer a better brew than what a French press can offer know to travel with a small, lightweight AeroPress. Get the reusable Fellow Prismo filter attachment and do away with single-use filters.
($30, aeropress.com; $25, fellowproducts.com)

Atmos Vacuum Canister

Use these Atmos canisters to transport coffee beans, loose-leaf tea, cereal, or marshmallows. The lid never comes off by accident, and the air pumps out of them to seal in your ingredients, keeping them super fresh.
($30, fellowproducts.com)

Messermeister Adventure Folding Knife

For the past eight years, my go-to knife has been a Messermeister. I used to wrap it in a dish towel to transport it; luckily, they released a six-inch foldable version, ideal for trips and camping.
($80, messermeister.com)

Elemental Spices

It's wise to travel with a few seasonings that will work with local ingredients wherever you go. Burlap & Barrel's garlic powder adds savory depth to marinades, and Spiceology's rosemary-Dijon rub perks up meats.
($8, burlapandbarrel.com; $14, spiceology.com)

Yeti Soft Cooler, High Camp Flask, Riedel O Wine Tumblers, Jute Tote Bag
Yeti Soft Cooler, High Camp Flask, Riedel O Wine Tumblers, Jute Tote Bag

Photo by Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Prissy Lee

Riedelo Wine Tumblers

The last rental I booked had an exceptional kitchen, but only cumbersome tumblers—not great for the lovely wines we brought along with us. I always bring a box of these stemless glasses in the car for exactly this reason.
($33 for two, riedel.com)

High Camp Firelight 750 Flask

I generally premix a batch of Negronis and take them in a glass mason jar, but this is a much safer way to transport your batched cocktails and has fancy tumblers included. Also, no leaks—this thing seals tight!
($125, highcampflasks.com)

Yeti Hopper M30 Soft Cooler

Being a traveler means bringing home tasty stuff for later, like local cheeses, charcuterie, or veggies. A soft, insulated cooler bag that keeps everything chilled down for hours is key, like this hardcore Yeti cooler bag.
($300, yeti.com)

Jute Tote Bag

My husband is in the wine trade and has been using these totes for years to cart bottles to wine tastings. They come with bottle dividers that store flat. Simple, sturdy, and inexpensive, they fit nicely behind a car's seat.
($7, totebagfactory.com)

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