You Won’t Believe the Crazy Kitchen Tools Our Readers Pack for Vacation

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

When you go on vacation, what are the tools and other kitchen essentials that come with you, and what gets left behind? This is the question we posed to our readers earlier this week and I have to confess I was surprised — and thrilled! — to discover our readers are just as guilty of packing everything but the kitchen sink as I am.

Kevin from Milwaukee keeps a set of back-up pots and pans, plus “knives, spatulas, bowls, tongs, and lighters” at the ready! Others were slightly more discerning, but as a rule, our readers like to make sure their vacation rental kitchen is well-stocked with their stuff.

Here’s what our readers pack so they can get into their cooking groove wherever they are.

Of course, it almost goes without saying that most of our readers travel with their chef’s knife — and many also bring along their paring knife. As a general rule, they also bring salt and other spices, a corkscrew, a can opener, and a pair of tongs, plus some dish towels, and plastic bags.

They also bring a lot of other things. Here are some packing suggestions, some of which may surprise you.

1. Oyster Knife

More than one reader counts this shucking essential as a staple in their vacation rental kit.

After many years at seaside cottages, and having just returned from 2 weeks of car camping on Prince Edward Island I will share what goes in my permanent and minimal kitchen box: Paring knife, vegetable peeler, can opener, waiter’s corkscrew with bottle cap pry (local craft beers don’t have screw caps), aluminum 1 cup measure for dry and liquid, nested measuring spoons, oyster knife. – buttercups
My partner and I go to a ton of Airbnbs – we both love to cook, and it’s amazing how unpredictable the kitchen setup can be! We loosely plan meals to figure out if we need to bring any special tools or ingredients. I’m a light packer in general, but for a whole week away it’s nice to have a small box/large tote bag with the essentials:

+ chef’s knife and paring knife
+ mandoline for slicing or grating
+ whisk, metal spatula, can opener, small tongs, measuring teaspoon + tablespoon, matches
+ lemon squeezer
+ simple wine key (cannot stand complicated wine devices!)
+ coffee set-up: chemex, burr grinder, filters
+ kosher salt, always!
+ a couple of kitchen towels, gallon-size ziplock bags, parchment paper or foil
+ specialty items, depending on the plans/season: pizza stone, oyster knives, cast iron dutch oven in the winter for soups or braising (which you can pack smaller items into), baking or pie pans, spices. – west.of.eden
(Image credit: Faith Durand)

2. Cast Iron Pan

Many of our readers will not have to wonder what to do when they show up to their vacation kitchen rental only to find there are only nonstick pans. That’s because they travel with a cast iron pan of their own:

Whether driving or flying, I always bring paring and chefs knives, a medium Epicurean cutting board, cast iron skillet, favorite tongs, a spice kit & pepper grinder, favorite coffee cup, and “my” wine opener. – ErnyRay
We go to the beach several times a year so I have a box packed with several knives, tongs, micro plane, silicone spoon, Trader Joe’s salt and pepper grinder, and my Penzy’s essentials. I have a crate filled with my Tassimo maker and pods, a 12″cast iron skillet and my 9″ all clad skillet, and two large Turvis Tumblers with lids for coffee and adult beverages. The skillets are heavy to load up the stairs to the cottage but use them for everything except pasta water. – osutouncc

3. Waffle Maker

If you’re planning to make waffles, you’ll need a waffle maker.

Just did this a week ago- the knife, the cast iron frying pan, cutting board, wood spatula, and the waffle maker. I don’t always bring the waffle maker. – Niely Morgan

4. Cutting Boards

If you care about your knives, you probably also care about your cutting board (a bad one can wreak havoc on those blades). That’s why our readers pack this kitchen must-have.

I have been known to bring more kitchen items than food when on vacation. Especially on camping trips. If we are renting a cabin, I make a point of finding out what the owner provides in the way of kitchen equipment when I’m making rental arrangements and take it from there. I do bring my own cutting boards, well wrapped and stored in canvas covers I made to fit. – sabechamp
My knives and a small cutting board. In case the house doesn’t have one that’s good for the knives. – Katie Chung
(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

5. Coffee Maker

Not only do our readers bring their own beans, but they also bring their coffee maker of choice, be it a French press, mini-Keurig, or Moka pot.

Good coffee before leaving the house is essential! My French coffee press goes in first followed by my favorite knife. Sometimes my cast-iron skillet too. – sfsal
I am such a coffe addict that I bought a keurig mini to take on vacation. – reiterfarm

6. Digital Thermometer

This kitchen tool is a favorite of ours, chefs, and, it seems, yours too.

I divide my year between SD and FL every year. I always pack my thermapen and Wusthof knives except this year when I left my thermapen at home. I couldn’t live without it so I ended up ordering a second one. I guess a second set of knives will be in order next. – neverensz
(Image credit: Diana Yen)

7. Slow Cooker

Our readers love their slow cookers so much, they take them on vacation.

I always take a cutting board with my knife—they are scarce in rentals. For active days on the beach, I take my crockpot. Pop some meat in there in the morning, serve with quick, fresh local veggies after slogging back over the dunes and showering. Takes away the urge to eat out. – Cran
I usually fly for vacation, so things like cast iron aren’t practical, but I always pack my chefs knife. If its a driving vacation I’ll pack my cast iron skillet and crock pot. – Kallie Bell Arroyo

8. Electric Griddle

When cooking for a crowd, it’s never a bad idea to have an electric griddle that can fry up rashers for the entire crew.

Oversized electric griddle (oversized meaning I can fit a whole pound of bacon on it). We usually vacation with family, and the griddle is on breakfast duty almost every morning. – Michelle Boyd

9. Microplane

This kitchen tool is ideal for grating cheese or adding some zest to your vacation rental dishes.

A good chef knife, a non-stick pan, cutting board, wine opener, microplane for grating cheese. – Michelle Marquardt Smith
(Image credit: Martin Turzak)shutterstock

10. Blender

It seems I’m not the only one who travels with my blender in tow.

My little blender and always my knife and cutting board (as i can’t use boards that have had meat cut on them); a few teatowels and my own dish cloths; my potato peeler and usually a platter or two. – Veet’s Cuisine

Did we leave anything out? What other tools do you bring with you to your vacation rental?