I’ve Stayed in Airbnbs All Over the World — These Are the Smart Lessons I’ve Stolen for My Own Kitchen

published Jun 28, 2022
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Credit: Getty Images/Oscar Wong

The world wide web is a fantastic resource for finding all sorts of cleaning and organizational hacks. Of course, the only way to know if these tricks work for you is to try them IRL. And that’s why I love staying in Airbnbs — I get to try out all sorts of new-to-me systems to see how I like them. The ones I like the best? I take them home with me! Don’t worry — I don’t actually steal anything tangible (just the idea!).

These are the very best lessons I’ve stolen from my various Airbnb hosts all over the world.

1. Every kitchen needs a menu binder.

Raise your hand if you have a precarious pile of takeout menus at home? Raise your hand if you’re always desperately searching the internet to see what your local diner has on offer? For anyone with their hand in the air, I have a better way. Every kitchen needs a menu binder. The best hosts keep them all together so that guests can see what’s in town, but you should keep them organized — ideally, in a three-ring binder with clear sheet protectors! — so that it’s easier to find what you’re looking for when you need it.

Credit: Caroline Schnapp

2. A nice tray can make things feel more purposeful.

Some Airbnb hosts will leave out a little welcome tray in the kitchen. Usually, it’s accompanied with a lovely little note and some snacks, and the whole thing is a sight for sore eyes after a day of travel. Set up a little tray for yourself at home — use it to highlight some good-for-you snacks or even your coffee accouterments. The tray makes the whole setup feel more purposeful and pulled together. I even like a tray for holding dish-washing supplies!

3. A splatter lid is a must-have microwave accessory.

No one wants to open a microwave to find hardened splatters from a previous nuking session! The cleanest Airbnbs I’ve stayed in all offered vented splatter lids — and the lids were always kept right in the microwave. This way, they were kind of impossible to ignore. (You can’t exactly heat your food without moving the lid and, at that point, you may as well put it over your dish!) I ended up buying a collapsible one for my own kitchen. Now, instead of cleaning the microwave, I have more time to plan my next vacation!

4. It’s important to protect what you can.

Short of putting plastic covers on their couches, Airbnb hosts do what they can to protect their homes. I’ve seen lots of shelf liners in refrigerators (to contain messes), sink protectors (which keep basins from getting scratched), and gap fillers (to prevent crumbs and spills from falling into the space between the oven and the counters). And I’ve installed all of these in my own home.

Credit: Sarita Relis Photography

5. Overstock items can be hidden away in baskets.

Many Airbnb hosts provide extra cleaning supplies (think: paper towels, soap, etc!) that don’t necessarily need to sit out or in a cabinet. Instead, they’ll often put them in cute baskets, which get stored on top of the upper cabinets or on a shelf. You can also use this trick for pantry items and cooking tools you don’t use too often. Speaking from experience!

6. Cabinet and pantry doors can be used as extra storage.

Turns out, the backs of pantry and cabinet doors can be valuable real estate. Inspired by some Airbnbs, I bought this extendable, extra-long pantry door storage system to take advantage of space that was going wasted. And guess what? Now I have one on nearly every closet door in my home.

Have you learned any smart lessons from Airbnbs? Tell us in the comments below.