Pack these ingredients and you will prevail

By Rebecca Firkser
Updated May 23, 2018
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Credit: Photo by Andrew Purcell

Anyone who has stayed in a vacation rental knows that the kitchen is often the most ignored space. From my experience, if you find a half-full bottle of vegetable oil and a very sticky—why are they always sticky?!—jar of cinnamon, that’s as good as it’s going to get. I’ve gotten to the point in my inability to deal with discomfort by that I bring my own stuff to rentals, both in terms of gear and ingredients. Usually there will be a store nearby where you can buy perishables like milk and eggs, but packing a little emergency kit with items like good olive oil and flaky sea salt can really make your breakfasts better.

If you’re traveling with limited luggage you may need to edit down this list. You’ll know what’s most important to you when you see it—pack wisely.

Coffee or tea

While some Airbnbs have nicer coffee setups than your local cafe, most won’t have more than a sort-of broken French press and a stale container of Folgers. The least you can do is bring your own beans. Same goes for tea, unless you’d prefer the two packets of Lipton stuck to the pantry wall. Of course, there’s probably a cafe nearby that will make you a decent warm beverage, but you have to leave your accommodations for that. If you’re a coffee-or-tea-before-anything-else-person, BYO. When I’m really pressed for space, I bring packets of instant coffee in my suitcase, which will get the job done.


A box of Bisquick (or some other mix that makes pancakes, waffles, and biscuits) is a lifesaver. You can make a massive pancake breakfast without having to buy five-pound bags of flour and sugar at the local market.

Nut butter

Nothing saves bland instant oatmeal or dry toast like nut butter. Pack a jar of your favorite and you won’t be sorry.


If you’re anything like me, using the mysterious clumpy spices in the cabinet of your rental is pretty much out of the question. Pack a few small tins of your favorites—for me, that’s cinnamon, za’atar, smoked paprika, and cumin.

Olive oil and vinegar(s)

Frying an egg in the last dregs of old vegetable oil is not ideal. Pack a small bottle of olive oil to prevent that from happening. And while you’re at it, toss in a small bottle of your favorite vinegar.

Good salt and pepper

It’s likely that your rental's kitchen will have a salt and pepper shaker, but who knows, seasoning with them could honestly be worse than bland breakfast. Don’t risk it, and pack small versions that grind whole peppercorns and good sea salt.

Your go-to hot sauce or condiment

You never know when you’re going to need a hit of Cholula or a spoonful of chile crisp. Pack a jar, save a breakfast.