So you’re planning on getting away this summer? You deserve it! Because more and more of us are opting to stay in Airbnbs over hotels, we figured all you soon-to-be travelers could use some pointers on how to make the most of someone else’s kitchen. You’re a Williams-Sonoma shopper, which means you’re definitely someone who is going to want to cook even though you’re on vacation. Here are 10 tips and tricks to make sure the experience is fun and relaxing.
1. Read (and reread) the listing before you reserve.
Does the place have a gas stove? A charcoal grill? A coffee maker? Most listings are detailed enough to tell you all of these things. Read the listings carefully—you can even inspect the listing photos to see what you can make out and read the reviews—before you book, so that you really do know what you’re paying for. A place may look totally Insta-worthy, but you’ll like it less if you realize upon arrival that it only has a single countertop induction burner.
2. Ask your host some questions.
We get the impulse to try to be an easy and quite guest, but most Airbnb hosts want to talk about their towns and their homes. Ask them questions when you book, before you come, or even once you’ve arrived. What’s their favorite nearby grocery store? Is there a must-try bakery in the hood? Is there anything you need to know about any of the appliances? This is the hospitality business and your host wants to be hospitable.
3. Bring your own chef’s knife.
If there’s one thing most home cooks are extra picky about, it’s our chef’s knives. We like what we like and we don’t want to worry about having to work with a dull one. Or one that’s rusty, shorter than we prefer, or what have you. If possible, you may be better off just bringing your own. And this goes for anything else that you have super strong opinions about. If you can’t see cooking for a week without your favorite spatula, bring it with you.
4. Take inventory before you head to the grocery store.
Other lists like this one will tell you to see if you can set up a grocery delivery service to drop off your preordered goods the day you arrive, but we vote against that. Because it’s best to get in the kitchen and take stock of what’s there and what you’ll need. Do you need ketchup? Aluminum foil? Olive oil? Scan all the cupboards and then update or start your list. Then, if you want to use a delivery service, go for it. More pool time for you!
5. Try whatever’s local.
Even if you’re planning to stay home for most meals, you can still get a taste of the local flavor. Check out the local markets to see what nearby farmers are growing what artisans are making. If your Airbnb has, say, lemon trees in the yard and you’ve been cleared to help yourself, it’s time to literally make lemonade.
6. Get acquainted with the coffee maker ASAP.
Before you get too deep into Vacation Mode, find the coffee maker and the necessary supplies. Make sure you have what you need to brew a pot—and that you know how to work the device. You do not want to wake up on Day Two, feeling slightly sun burnt and hungover and not be able to caffeinate.
7. Make breakfast at home.
No matter how much cooking you plan on doing in your Airbnb, breakfast should almost always be something you do at home. For one, it’s a good way to start the day. It’s also one of the best ways to save money on a vacation.
8. Simplify your meals.
Your Airbnb kitchen might not be as large as your home kitchen. Or as well stocked. For these reasons, it’s best to keep your menus fairly simple. Opt for dishes that don’t require any special equipment or hard-to-find spices (unless you’re willing to bring these things from home). Be prepared to pivot if need be or to just leave something out.
9. Embrace the snack board.
We don’t care how much you love cooking, you still need a vacation from it on your vacation! That’s where the snack board (and all those local finds) comes in. Load a cheese board up with cheeses, fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, and whatever else you find at the market and there you go—lunch is served.
10. Open any and all windows in the kitchen.
Hopefully you’ve gone somewhere warm and sunny. Now, let all that fresh air into your cooking space. This way, you’re not all cooped up while you work.