How to Furnish Vacation Rentals for Maximum Rentability

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I don’t currently own a vacation rental, but I prefer to stay in them when traveling, so I feel like I have the experience from a user’s perspective to voice my opinion.

While we were in Florida for a Disney trip, we stayed at a vacation rental complex. The unit was huge, and the space was really well laid out. But they offered absolutely nothing in the way of extras. They give you one roll of toilet paper per bathroom, and if you need more, you have to buy it. What?!?

There are a few aspects that make me come back again and again, and if the rental doesn’t have these things, I look for a different unit to rent the next time I am there.

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How to Furnish Vacation Rentals for Maximum Rentability

Keep a Well-Supplied Kitchen

One of the top reasons I like to stay at vacation rentals rather than hotels is the ability to cook at least some of my meals in the kitchen, rather than going out to restaurants the whole vacation. Many of the places I have stayed at have minimum cookware: no bowls large enough to stir things in, limited serving utensils, etc.

When you are gathering up things to put into your rental, look around your own kitchen and see what you have. Your vacation rental probably doesn’t need a turkey baster, but you should have several serving spoons and at least one pair of tongs. A wine bottle opener, a whisk, a slotted spoon and a knife sharpener would be wonderful to find in a drawer.

Related: 5 Expert Tips for Managing Your Own Vacation Home Rental

Vacation rentals always seem to collect odds and ends when it comes to spices and sauces. Go above the norm, and add a few simple spices. Italian seasoning, garlic salt and lemon pepper in addition to regular salt and pepper is a great start. Add a bottle of Tabasco and a can of cooking spray, and most cooks can make it work.

Make sure everything is dishwasher safe! Everything — pots and pans, dishes, glassware, etc. It WILL be put into the dishwasher, so make sure it CAN be put in there.

People don’t typically make big, elaborate dinners while on vacation, but it is frustrating to not have even the basics.

Have Kid-Friendly Items on Hand

After I had children, I noticed that there are few kids items in vacation rentals, unless you are near Disney. Even then, there are limited options — almost like the items that are there were left by a previous guest, rather than supplied by the owner. Ikea sells inexpensive plastic dishware and cutlery in bright, fun colors. Parents will thank you for supplying these items.

A few kid-centric games like Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders will help keep the kiddos busy so the adults can talk. Kids of all ages will play with Duplo blocks (they are kind of like large Legos — too big to swallow).

Add in the Extras

If you are located near a cold place like a ski resort, please have extra blankets available for the beds. Skiers like to dry off their skis before storing them in the unit. I know I would love to find a ski-towel at a resort.

If you are near the beach, some inexpensive beach toys are so welcome. Supply extra towels so your renters don’t have to dry off from the shower with a sandy towel.

DVDs can be picked up for next to nothing at your local big box store, and a few really popular movies can be a great distraction on a rainy day. Again, remember the kiddos here, too. Some children’s movies can be scary, but the Shrek series is fairly tame.

Related: 8 Clever Ways to Save BIG on the Monthly Bills for Your Vacation Rental

Supply single-serve snacks and inexpensive breakfast options. Microwave popcorn is easy to make and inexpensive to supply if you buy in bulk. Ditto for granola bars, instant oatmeal packets, hot cocoa and bottled water. A little really does go a long way.

Make a guide book. If you know the area well, recommend some off-the-beaten-path places to visit, local restaurants that serve amazing food, and anything else that might be of interest to someone new to the area. Local hotels will almost always have a rack of brochures for local tourist places. Make a visit and grab one of each.

Are you local yourself? Include a phone number (and times that it is ok for them to call to ask questions), and tell them you are happy to make recommendations. They most likely won’t take you up on it, but be prepared for the call. Being available to answer questions really makes an impression.

Check Out the Competition

Most rentals advertise online. Click through their listings and see what they are offering. Make sure you are the best rental around. People rent cars almost everywhere, so it isn’t a big deal to drive a little farther to get to the better rental.

Investors: How do you go the extra mile at your vacation rental? Renters: What would you like to see more of?

Let me know your suggestions in the comments section below!

About Author

Mindy Jensen

Mindy has flipped numerous homes in the past 10 years, one at a time and doing much of the work with her husband. She lives in Longmont, CO, and is always looking for an ugly duckling to turn into a swan.


  1. Ryan Swan

    Thanks for the article Mindy. I’m actually in the process of furnishing a new vacation rental, so this is perfect timing. Did you ever offer to purchase food/supplies for your guests prior to their arrival at an additional cost? I figured some guests might like a few essentials (like milk, eggs, cheese, cereal, or even beer/wine) on hand when they arrive.

    • Mindy Jensen

      I am hesitant to purchase perishable goods, simply because they may not be used. A bottle of local wine or beer might be nice. See the comment below from Kent.

      I really like the single serving sizes, because I can use what I want, without wasting the rest. Would you eat out of an already opened box of cereal at a rental?

      I do like finding pancake mix in the cabinets, and I will use that even if it is opened.

      A lot of people drink coffee. Powdered creamer lasts a long time, and everyone seems to take a different sweetener, so offering a few different types will be appreciated.

  2. Kent Verge

    We have stayed in several vacation rentals in various locations (including overseas). Our favorite experience was in St. Martin where the owner left us a small “welcome basket” (in the fridge) with a bottle of water, a small bottle of wine, a small package of crackers and one of cookies, and some local cheese. As you suggested, it was not only memorable, but it was enough to make me want to stay there again — even after someone tried to steal my rental from the parking lot.

    We stayed at a place in Tuscany and were shocked that it didn’t have a wine opener when we brought home a bottle of wine. That isn’t the kind of memory you want to leave.

    • Mindy Jensen

      If the owner in St. Martin got a second stay from you, that was all worth it. And how much did it really cost him? Maybe $20-25?

      And no wine opener in Tuscany?!? Like you said, not the impression you want to leave.

      Thanks for reading.

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