As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to enjoy renting a house or apartment when I travel. It makes my trip feel more personal and comfortable than staying in a hotel, and above all I really love having the option to cook at least some of my meals.
I've also learned that creativity is essential when you're cooking while traveling. Aside from basic cookware, utensils and dishes, my expectations for the kitchen in my vacation rental are pretty low. I know better than to expect a spice cabinet like to the one I’m used to at home. I don’t expect the kitchen to be stocked with a variety of cooking oils, a pepper grinder or finishing salt. Aged balsamic vinegar? It’s probably not going to be there.
These days I take matters into my own hands and pack a portable spice kit when I hit the road! A few spices and some finishing salt can hugely improve a meal, and it's easy to add a few small containers to my suitcase or carry-on.
Tips for preparing a portable spice kit
- Label the containers: Even if you only have a few containers, this is always helpful.
- Stick with small, plastic containers: Use small plastic containers (it's best to stay away from glass), like a daily pill box or contact lens cases.
- Think about what you'll be cooking ahead of time: I'm not suggesting you plan the menu for your entire trip, but think about some of the foods you might be cooking. This will help you narrow down the spices you'll want to pack. Will you be cooking meat or fish? Do you plan to grill? Will you be baking?
- Make spice blends: Don't want to deal with a lot of individual spices? Make spice blends, instead.
- Prepare a dry rub: If you plan on cooking meat, why not pack a dry rub!
→ Related: Cooking While Traveling: 5 Spices to Pack
What would you pack in your portable spice kit?