News & Advice

All the Essentials You Need to Transform Your Airbnb Into a Carefree Oasis

A little pre-planning can add a serious dose of relaxation to your next vacation rental getaway.
Woman walking along edge of pool in backyard
Thomas Barwick/Getty

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Early on in the pandemic—at a time when we were all still hesitant to walk into grocery and big box stores—I booked an Airbnb near my relatives’ home outside of Washington, D.C., in order to strike the balance of getting face time while still safely distancing. Out of an abundance of caution, I pre-ordered and packed every single item I might need during the weeklong stay so that I never had to step into a store, no matter what situation arose.

From filling a small bottle with Spray ‘n Wash in case of stained laundry to bringing an extra all-purpose towel, a few bags of frozen stir-fry P.F. Changs for quick but fresh(ish) meals, and a laptop stand for more comfortable remote work, I felt fully equipped to take on any situation.

What I didn’t anticipate was that once I hauled in all my bags and unpacked, a wave of calm would immediately sweep over me. No more of that settling-in chaos that involves finding a local market for food and essentials. My vacation clock had started and I could focus on the joy of being away from home.

Stocking up in advance may seem like a tedious part of trip pre-planning, especially now that the grocery story feels less scary for most, but whether you’re going to a remote location—like a secluded treehouse or A-frame cabin—or simply don’t want to waste valuable vacation time dealing with rote tasks, all it takes is a bit of strategizing to ensure your focus can be completely dedicated to your vacation the moment you unlock the door.

The kitchen

When it comes to food supplies, start with the basics. A relaxing getaway can quickly go awry if hydration falls to the wayside, especially if you're spending time in the sun or going on adrenaline adventures. Wary about the tap water? Keep hydrated by stocking up on the bottled stuff: Smartwater Alkaline, for example, serves as post-workout fuel, Smartwater Antioxidants elicits extra balance, Smartwater Flavors add just a dash of fruitiness, and the Smartwater+ drinks focus on everything from tranquility to clarity. (In case your rental doesn't have recycling bins, bring along a bag to store empty bottles in until you get home.) 

Depending on the length of your stay, you'll want to mix it up when it comes to produce. For stays of three or four nights, a mix of fresh fruits and veggies should do the trick, while adding in some frozen products will help if you’ll be there longer. Prepackaged family-sized frozen stir-fry meals may seem like a cheat at home, but here, it means all the ingredients are already put together—all you have to do is stir and serve. Transport groceries in a Yeti Roadie 24 Hard Cooler or for extra portability, opt for an Otterbox Backpack Cooler

Favorite cereals and other dry foods can be packaged up and organized in food-grade reusable Stasher Bags, and your favorite condiments can come along in Whiskware Dressing Shakers.

Check your Airbnb listing to see what kitchen supplies will be provided. If the basics aren't there, consider investing in a portable cooking utensils set; this 24-piece set from Haplululy comes in a handy carrying case with a specific slot for every item.

Yeti Roadie 24 cooler

Stasher Starter Plus reusable bags

The living room

Here’s an opportunity to set the tone for how you’ll spend your time throughout the stay. If family fun and entertainment are on the agenda, pick out a game designed for instant bonding time. Thinkfun's Escape The Room line has challenging puzzles suitable for ages 10 and up, from the mysterious Stargazer’s Manor to the intricate The Cursed Dollhouse, where players actually build a dollhouse. For the more musically-inclined, choose the Magic Sing Karaoke Bluetooth Mic and Speaker and stage a home version of American Idol.

If chilling out is the goal, consider a portable meditation chair, like Pebbl’s The Starter, or a yoga set, like Gaiam’s Yoga for Beginners set, to turn a corner of the room into a Zen zone.

For those working remotely, bring along an uber-thin Espresso portable monitor to instantly create a more user-friendly workspace. A Purple portable cushion can make any chair in the Airbnb more comfortable, too.

Purple Simply seat cushion

Gaiam Yoga for Beginners Kit

The backyard

Now here’s where you can truly have some fun and personalize the home to your liking. If the Airbnb has a pool, let your imagination go wild with Funboy’s pool floats, which come in everything from a Malibu Barbie Golf Cart to a Disco Dome shape.

If you're staying somewhere with courts, take a swing at the latest sports craze of pickleball with this set of two paddles and four balls in a convenient carrying case. For more game options that only require a yard, choose Franklin Sports’ Outdoor Game Set, which comes with everything you need to play backyard badminton, volleyball, flying discs, flip toss, and horseshoes.

For a simple way to upgrade the mood and keep the party going after dark, pack these mini white lantern string lights to hang on a patio, gazebo, or even in the trees. A portable speaker can't hurt, either.

Welly Excursion Kit

Franklin Sports Outdoor Games Set

Miscellaneous essentials

Sometimes it’s the smallest extras that go the furthest in providing comfort while you’re away from home. In the pandemic age, a tub of Clorox plant-based disinfecting wipes is always good for a once-over wipe down, especially on high-touch and sensitive surfaces like kitchen counters and remote controls.

A first aid kit is always good to have on hand; the Welly Excursion Kit is a savvy set with 200 pieces, including bandages and hydrocortisone packets.

And to make sure you’re truly taken care of, spoil yourself by bringi along a virtual assistant in the form of a smart speaker like the Echo Dot to help answer any questions that may come up, play games, and provide the right background music for all your vacation moods.

Echo Dot (4th Gen) Smart Speaker with Alexa

Welly Excursion Kit