Airbnbs are great, and if you haven’t already tried one, feel free to signup through my link 😛 However, they present a new challenge when it comes to packing. Hotels have standard fare: towels, mini toiletries, hair dryers, etc. But when staying at someone’s home, what basics might you need to bring on your own and what should a decent host provide for you?
First, what you shouldn’t need to bring:
Towels, Sheets, and Other Linens
Hosts should definitely be providing these things. It’s not reasonable for someone to travel with Bed, Bath, and Beyond in their suitcase. However, and this is big, you don’t get to be picky. Asking for specific types of these items (certain thread count sheets, beach towels in addition to “normal” ones, etc) is a bit too far. Now, this doesn’t mean they won’t have some of these items, especially if they’re in a particular location (a beach house is much more likely to have beach towels than a mountain cabin for example), but if you need something like this, either ask before your trip or come prepared.
If your Airbnb has a kitchen (and you will have access to it), basic cooking utensils should be provided. Now, remember the key word here: basic. This means, plates, bowls, cutlery, a pot/pan and a knife or two, and a few other utensils. This does NOT mean they will have that vegetable scrubber you love at home ( a real story I heard recently from a seasoned Airbnb host). If you’re staying at someone’s home rather than a dedicated rental property, you’ll likely find a wider variety of tools, but again, ask before you go if you’re going to need something in particular.
So the trickiest of all items for Airbnbs are toiletries, and this generally varies by host. While lots of places will provide basic shampoo and soap, this can come in many forms. You won’t necessarily get those little bottles you’re used to at a hotel (and if you do, please don’t steal them just because you can, at least use them first). If sharing a big bottle or generic brands aren’t your cup of tea, bring your own. Hairdryers might be included (check the listing) but don’t expect any electronic “accessories” beyond that.
So What Should I Bring Then?
First, start packing like you would for a trip at a hotel. This means your standard clothes and non-basic toiletries (that includes toothpaste!!!). Next, consider your plans for the trip. For example, visiting a European city means you probably won’t be doing things that differently were you staying at a hotel, and therefore don’t need to pack differently. But a beach or ski vacation probably means some extra toys might be in order. Some of these items might include beach towels, pool or snow toys, and sunscreen.
Beyond location specific extras, also think about the new opportunities provided by staying in a home rather than a hotel. This includes things like cooking and laundry. For these, you might want to bring reusable shopping bags (some places require them) if you’re planning to cook, or laundry detergent pods if you’re particular about brands.
Last, remember to bring items to fill the gaps in amenities hotels might provide. For example, an Airbnb is unlikely to have a gym. If you still need your workout during your trip, bring any gear like bands, yoga mats, and running shoes, you can’t operate without. Hotels might not provide items upfront, but they’re also more forgiving when you forget your toothbrush, razor, etc. The average Airbnb definitely won’t have these for you, but guaranteed you can buy them there!
Speaking of buying things, don’t rule this out as a great option. In all likelihood, you booked an Airbnb because at least in part, having a kitchen is a great option. No Airbnb is going to provide your groceries, meaning you’ll be making a trip to the store regardless. Consider saving some luggage weight by buying throw away versions of toiletries and toys if you can manage. Especially in the US, every convenience store will have a travel sized section anyway, so what’s the point of lugging things all the way there when you can just buy on arrival?
Protip: Airbnb’s “Amenities Section”
After all that, each Airbnb will be different. However, Airbnb definitely thought about and tried to address this problem. Before messaging your host, or even booking a place, make sure you review the Amenities section in detail. Here, hosts have checked yes or no on the most common requests. Make sure you review this for any deal breakers before booking a place.
A big one to watch out for is “Essentials,” described by Airbnb as “towels, sheets, soap, and toilet paper.” If a host doesn’t have this box checked, you probably need to bring more than what I’ve outlined so far. When in doubt, use the “Ask host a question” link before booking or at least packing. And just remember, you can always get things at your destination even if it’s a little more stressful.
But to avoid that stress, you can filter on properties with the items you need most when searching by clicking the “More Filters” button.
You can also read past guest reviews to get a sense of what items your host might provide. Located at the bottom of a listing’s page, past guests are encouraged to review their stay and hosts in turn will review the guests (keep that in mind when asking for ridiculous items like that vegetable scrubber!). Often times guests will mention that everything they needed was there, or call out the few items they expected that were missing. This is a great resource of people just like you that already successfully (or not) packed for their trip!
Did I Miss Anything?
For those that already completed past Airbnb stays, did you pack any essentials that made your trip that much better? Or did you have a host that provided absolutely nothing? Share in the comments below to help future travelers like you!