Recently, Ella and I had a wonderful weekend getaway at Sherkston Shores cottage resort – but getting ready for the cottage got me thinking about how packing for a cottage or timeshare are totally different than packing for a hotel.
I usually just pack a carry-on for a week-long vacation with my daughter, but cottages are different so today I’m sharing with you what I’ve learned over years of timeshare travels and I’ve added a free printable packing checklist for your next rental cottage or timeshare vacation!
The major difference between a rental cottage and an owned cottage is you don’t have the benefit of leaving items year-round that you will need for every visit. Often, timeshares or rental cottages come with the basics – plates, glasses, a few basic cooking items, and furniture.
However, things like bed linens, towels, toiletries – things that you might not think of – are sometimes not included, and if you don’t plan ahead that can cause a real kink in your plans.
There are two types of packers – the minimalists and the “boy scouts.” One packs light and purchases if a need comes up, and the other packs for every eventuality to avoid extra costs and errands on vacation.
Both types of packers have their merits, but it’s best to strive for something in between. You want to pack what you will reasonably need and then for a few “likely scenarios” but the more you take, the more you will have to deal with and more you are likely to leave behind (like I did my $60 face wash on our last trip…).
Recently, we rented a cottage for a weekend in Sherkston Shores. It was an amazing weekend, the cottages were wonderful and the resort was really clear about what was included within the rental and what to bring.
(I definitely suggest checking out your specific cottage or timeshare’s site before you pack to see if they have a similar list – or even give them a call to check!)
Beyond the “living essentials,” you need to plan for the specific type of trip you’re having:
- Is it a beach trip? Water park?
- Are you walking around a big city or shuttling to a theme park?
- Will there be tons of down time, or will you basically be at the cottage to eat breakfast and sleep?
- What will the weather be like – and how will that affect not just what you wear each day, but your daily plans
- Will the kids need strollers or will the day be broken up with lots of opportunities to rest
Look into how the area differs from home – for example, Florida has insane mosquitoes sometimes so while we don’t use bug repellent at home, it’s essential when we’re there. Allergies might not bug you at home, but that field beside the cottage might give you a flare up.
Also, you may only use 2 towels a person per week at home, but at a cottage it might be more like 2 towels a person per day! While at Sherkston we had access to laundry, that’s time out of your vacation to wash towels so you have to decide between bringing a ton of towels or spending part of your vacation in the laundromat.
Before moving on to the list below, check out some highlights from our Sherkston Shores vacation – and then make sure to read my cottage packing tips and grab your free printable packing checklsits:
What to Pack for a Cottage Vacation
With any rental property, it’s good to have paper copies of any confirmation numbers, agreements, etc. Just in case someone entered something wrong, or your phone is acting up/not connecting to internet, etc. You want written confirmation of almost anything important.
Including hand towels and dish towels. (I forgot dish towels but used that as a convenient excuse to head out to Walmart and buy Pioneer Woman dish towels!)
Foil, Disposable Cups, Plates, Paper Towels
You may be fine washing dishes daily at home but maybe you’ll want to look into disposable (biodegradable) alternatives for the weekend? Foil is also nice for leftover barbecue and saves you having to bring every conceivable tupperwear container to the cottage.
Okay, you’re not equipping a shelter, but it’s generally a good idea to bring band aids, after-bite cream, pain medication, etc. A flashlight is also good in case you arrive at night and can’t figure out the outdoor lighting.
Dish Soap, Detergent, Garbage Bags
Typically, you will receive a tiny bottle of each upon arrival but once they are gone you’re on your own. I typically bring 2 dishwasher tablets, a tiny sample-sized bottle of dish soap and a few garbage bags to keep the place tidy.
Food including Condiments and Ice Packs
If driving, I just load up a cooler with enough food for the weekend. Be sure to include spices, condiments, etc. Also, look into the coffee situation before you arrive. Sherkston had Keurigs so I knew I’d need K-cups, but most resorts will have the kind that require you to bring your own filters and ground coffee.
Also, look into the water quality of the area if you’re typically a tap water drinker – Niagara has limestone which my daughter loves, but Florida for example has awful tasting tap water.
I also ALWAYS pack ziplock bags, no matter where we are staying. They are good for leftovers, wet bathing suits, individual snacks during the day.
Oh, and you need to pack the ingredients to make s’mores. It’s non-negotiable.
Non-Basic Kitchen Appliances
Weird, but I bring my daughter’s smoothie blender when we’re driving. She’s not a breakfast eater and veggies are sometimes not attractive when on vacation and there’s lots of other (more indulgent) food on offer. Starting the morning with a smoothie is a good option, but most time shares and basic cottage rentals don’t include blenders.
If you regularly use any non-typical utensil, you will need to bring it with you.
Hand soap, toilet paper, bath items – you will need to bring it all!
Bring one extra outfit and that’s it. Two bathing suits, no matter how long the stay. A warm sweater and warm pyjamas for cold nights.
Camera, charger, phone charger, GPS.
Bring a couple DVDs for rainy days or late night cuddles. Board games or card games. We also brought some fun color-changing powder for the bonfire which kept the kids happy after s’mores time was over.
Everything discussed in my road trip post (free printable below).
Does your family rent cottages or timeshares? What items would you add to these lists?
Be sure to check out our Review of Sherkston Shores here or some of our other travel posts here.