Heading to a cottage for the long weekend — or any weekend — with your significant other this summer? Here’s what to pack.
Do your research.
If you’re going to a friend’s cottage — and your friend is going to be there — the place will likely be adequately stocked with the majority of what you’ll need. That said, still ask some specific questions: Should you bring your own bath towels and bedding? Are there enough life jackets for everyone? Should you get a fishing license? How are the bugs at this time of the year? What is the best grocery strategy for the weekend?
If you’re renting, ask the above questions, and some extras: Is there a telephone line or cell service? Can you bring your dog? What are the garbage-disposal procedures? Are there any community rules or restrictions you should know about? Is the water safe to drink, or should you bring your own? Can you swim in the lake? What are the expected weather conditions for this time of year? What appliances and amenities does the cottage provide? Are there any events or sites in the area you should check out?
It’s also important to note how far away the cottage is from a grocery store or shopping centre. It’s nice to know how big of a deal it is if you forget to pack underwear. (Reminder: always pack an extra pair of socks and underwear.)
If you’re renting a cottage, be sure to pack the rental documentation, contact numbers for the cottage owner or rental agency, any information about getting into the cottage, directions to the cottage and to the nearest hospital or clinic, and travel insurance docs.
In case of emergency.
Don’t expect a rental cottage to necessarily have a fully stocked first aid kit. Bring your own. Pack sunscreen, bug repellent, flashlights (with extra batteries), phone chargers, allergy meds, extra contact lenses and solution, birth control, Tylenol, duct tape, a couple rolls of toilet paper, and mouse traps.
And if you’re bringing a pet, bring vaccination information, skunk spray ingredients and a number and address for a local vet.
It’s easier to make sure you have what you need when you plan your meals in advance. Before heading to the cottage, make a list of the meals you need to shop for — don’t forget snacks and drinks — and then pack according to their prep needs. We recommend bringing your own corkscrew, coffee filters, cutting board, sharp knives, skillet, grater, peeler, plastic wrap, foil and pitcher. (Double-check that the cottage is stocked with plates, cups and cutlery. And don’t assume there will be enough salt, oil or vinegar, even if the rental cottage promises them.)
Make a food-buying plan with the people you’ll be cottaging with: divvy up the meals with each person taking full responsibility for one, shop together and split the bill, or let one person take charge and be compensated by the others. (Tip: make sure there’s a freezer at the cottage before you buy ice cream.)
Plan for a rainy day.
Protect against inclement-weather boredom by packing some entertainment. Bring books, boardgames, movies — if there’s a DVD player or a laptop — playing cards and your guitar. Bring an umbrella so you can barbecue in the rain. And pack an extra pair of shoes in case your first pair get muddy or soaked.
Bring an extra towel in case yours doesn’t dry between dips in the lake. If one (or more) of the guests will be sleeping on a pullout couch or the floor, consider packing air mattresses for additional comfort. And bring kindling, matches and some newspaper if the cottage has a fireplace. (Make sure firewood is provided.)
What’s on your must-pack list for a weekend at a cottage?