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Staying at an Airbnb this summer? Here's your 'just in case' packing list

Not all rental houses are equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, hair dryers or first-aid kits — but your suitcase can be.

Airbnb essentials: travel hanger, fold-up chair, travel hairdryer, flashlight, first-aid kit
Here's a little cheat sheet for ensuring your Airbnb actually feels like a home away from home. (Amazon)

Want to know the secret to a relaxing vacation? It's stressing about it ahead of time. I jest ... sort of. "Stressing" might be too strong a word, but you want to be prepared. For me, that means making a list of everything I need to pack and taking unforeseen situations into account. While staying at an Airbnb should be pretty straightforward — they tell you all of the amenities, after all — in my experience, things aren't always as they seem.

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That "secluded slice of heaven" you booked might be feet away from noisy construction the week you're there. Solution? This portable white noise machine. Oh, and that "well-stocked" kitchen could very well feature the Easy-Bake Oven equivalent of a knife. (Bring a sharp blade from home to slice and dice with.) And because you can never take too many safety precautions, a solid first-aid kit is a must. Keep scrolling to see what else belongs on your checklist — you'll thank me when one of these buys saves the day!

Safety first! You might think all rental homes are equipped with CO detectors, but I can tell you from personal experience that it just isn't so. I purchased this very model when I stayed at an Airbnb last summer, and as a self-proclaimed worry wart, it gave me peace of mind. It's battery-powered, making it ideal for houses that are short on outlets, and it's so compact that I plan on taking it with me whenever I travel.

Check out my full Kidde Carbon Monoxide Detector review for more. 

$20 at Amazon

I think we can all agree that rental houses never. have. enough. hangers. Sorry, but the three hanging in the closet just won't do. Luckily, someone had the brilliant idea of inventing these fold-up hangers that'll require very little space in your bag — how cute are they?

"Got me through a 30-day trip," shared a five-star fan. "We brought these hangers on a transatlantic sail. Used for hanging wet clothes to dry and just supplemental to the hangers provided by the ship. Very useful. Glad I bought them."

$18 at Amazon

You can never be too careful when you're staying in a new place, and the more locks, the better, I say. You can install this gizmo on any inward-opening door in seconds. Just place the metal part into the door strike, close the door and place the red piece over the metal piece. Now, no one will be able to enter from outside.

Even professional travelers approve. "I’m a flight attendant and am in hotels four to five nights a week," shared one. "Sometimes the 'locks' just don't feel sturdy enough. This device gives me an extra layer of security and allows me to sleep at night. I keep it in my flight bag."

$12 at Amazon

Don't count on whatever coffee situation your rental has to produce a decent — or even drinkable — cup of joe. One Yahoo Life writer relies on this device for staying caffeinated on the go. It makes everything from regular coffee to espresso-style shots. Just add water and grounds, then press down. 

"We've all heard the horror stories about hotel coffee pots and the frequency with which they are (not) cleaned," says Deals Writer Patrick Hearn. "I'm a big coffee guy — can't start my day without it. This AeroPress makes it easy to brew up a great cup of coffee in something that I know is clean. It's also small enough that the size it takes up in a bag is negligible. Take that, major coffee shop chains!" 

$40 at Amazon

Traveling to a waterfront property? Lucky you. You'll definitely need more beach towels than you think, and these Turkish cotton beauties are thinner than most, meaning they'll pack down more easily. (Don't worry, they're just as absorbent!) They're designed to trap less sand — always a plus — and they're made with Oeko Tex-certified yarn. Bonus: They're attractive enough to drape over the couch to zhuzh up any less-than-stylish decor. Oh, and if the house is drafty at night, you'll have an extra blanket. 

"I'm so glad I bought this towel," gushed a content shopper. "I recently traveled by bicycle and ferry to a beach rental from NYC, and wanted something lightweight and portable to roll up and tuck into a bag in my basket or backpack and then use on the beach. This met those expectations. Looks great, feels great, travels great. I'll also be packing this to take with me to Portugal."

$20 at Amazon

Speaking of beach essentials, this fold-up chair is likely far better quality than whatever rusty chairs are awaiting you in your rental's garage. It's equipped with a four-can cooler, side pocket and cup holder, along with a padded seat and back to keep you comfy. Plus, it collapses down to fit inside its included carrying bag for easy transport. 

"They're lightweight, easy to pack into the bag, comfortable and have a bunch of places to put drinks and foods," raved a repeat buyer. "I like them so much that when our old one was stolen at the beach, I immediately ordered another of the same model."

$45 at Amazon
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$45 at Walmart$45 at REI

Just because it's vacation doesn't mean a power outage won't occur, and when you're in a new place, being able to find your way around is especially important. These small yet mighty flashlights are bright enough to light up a whole room, have five modes and include a zoomable feature. Plus, they're waterproof and were built to endure a 10-foot drop, so take 'em camping too.

"We love these little flashlights," shared a shopper. "We actually first used them on a vacation when they were available at the rental house for taking our dog out at night. They worked so well, we looked them up and bought some for ourselves. They're handheld and conveniently small, but light up the whole yard." 

$16 at Amazon

Unless you strike gold, chances are your rental host stocked the shower with the least expensive shampoo and conditioner they could find (and that's if they stocked it at all). Fill these TSA-friendly, leak-proof toiletry bottles with your preferred hair products and body wash, or bathe at your own risk!

"They truly are leak-proof!" exclaimed an impressed traveler. "They fit perfectly into my multi-compartment hanging travel bag for all our bathroom/shower needs. I filled them right up and put them to the test to see if they were truly leak-proof and much to my surprise, they are! No messes to clean up."

$10 at Amazon

Most hotels have blow dryers, but rentals are hit and miss. This teeny little dryer might not be the most powerful on the market, but it's certainly faster than air-drying and weighs a mere pound. The handle folds in to make it even more compact. 

"I purchased this hairdryer for a trip to Florida," wrote a happy user. "I like that it is compact and folds up for travel. My friends did not bring anything since they read there was a hair dryer at the rental. We didn't have one, so all my friends used it too. Their hair is thicker than mine, but it still did the job! I would highly recommend this hair dryer, it is perfect for trips and weekend getaways."

$16 at Amazon
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$16 at Walgreens$23 at CVS Pharmacy

On a similar note, you can never be too sure that there will be an ironing board where you're staying. Rather than going out to dinner in wrinkled clothes, bring this 1.7-pound steamer along — one Yahoo Life writer swears by it. 

"Last summer I had my fair share of destination weddings, and this travel steamer was the ultimate +1," said Gifting Editor Amanda Garrity. "It folds flat, so it's small enough to squeeze into my carry-on, but it still has enough power to bring life back into my dresses and boyfriend’s suits after hours of travel. And while it's an investment, it’s worth every penny, especially since I know I'll take advantage of the dual voltage on upcoming travels to Europe."

$31 at Walmart
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$37 at Amazon$50 at Macy's

In case the urge to cook outdoors strikes (and it will), this adorable little charcoal grill will allow you to satisfy your charred-meat cravings away from home. It clocks in at just 2 pounds and measures 15 inches at its widest point, making it easy to pack in the car. The 196-square-inch grate can fit a surprising amount of food, while the three lid locks keep everything in place while in transit. 

"My wife and I wanted a small portable grill for car camping," said an outdoorsy reviewer. "This little fella is perfect. We can cook two larger steaks or four burgers, or a combination of things on this little powerhouse. Highly recommend this item if you're looking for a compact charcoal grill."

Check out our roundup of the best grills for more. 

$26 at Amazon

Renting a room without access to a kitchen? You can still enjoy your morning tea thanks to this travel-sized electric thermos that one Yahoo Life editor won't travel without. In just five minutes, you'll have boiling water, and since it was designed to be leak-proof, you can take your caffeine on the go. 

"I'm a tea drinker and a cold person generally, and I travel a lot," shared Senior Beauty Editor Jennifer Romolini. "Tea options in hotels are generally terrible, so these days I never go anywhere without this portable tea kettle. It heats water in seconds, is the size of a small canteen (when not in use, the cord fits neatly inside) and is affordable too. I've had it for going on five years — it means I can have my favorite tea whenever I wake up and a cup before I go to bed without ordering a $15 hot water from room service or messing with the hotel room's (often gross) coffee machine."

$24 at Amazon

Sure, the listing might make your rental seem like it's in a tranquil location, but you don't really know until you get there. Spare yourself from the neighbors' all-night ragers with this small yet mighty white noise machine, which has 20 different sounds. Fun fact: Eva Mendes is a fan, and so am I — this is the white noise machine I use to help me fall asleep every night. 

Check out my full LectroFan High Fidelity White Noise Machine review for more. 

$51 at Amazon

You get to your Airbnb, look around, see that there's only one outlet near the bed and immediately pounce to claim that side. Sound familiar? Well, there's a way to keep the peace when outlets are few and far between. Yahoo Life's tech editor recommends this gadget, which can charge up to three devices at a time. 

"My three tech essentials while traveling: iPhone, Apple Watch and AirPods," said Executive Commerce Editor Rick Broida. "Normally that would mean three separate charging solutions, which is why I strongly prefer this folding 3-in-1 dock. It's a compact sandwich in my carry-on, but it unfolds to provide charging stations for all three devices. This one also comes with an AC adapter; steer clear of similar products that don't."

$20 at Amazon

The property might technically be a "no pets allowed" home, but who's to say the people before you followed the rules? Not to mention, houses can have all sorts of weird smells. Keep your nose happy with this popular candle, designed to neutralize pet odors. It'll burn for up to 60 hours — plenty of time to keep your vacation house fresh. 

"This product really works," raved a reviewer. "In fact, it is the only air freshener product I have tried that actually does. We live in interior Alaska where seven months of the year, temperatures are such that opening windows to air out a house is not a viable option. This takes out all types of smells, cat litter box, cooking, wood smoke from the wood stove. And so many fragrances to choose from."

$22 at Amazon

I don't know about you, but the knives at every Airbnb I've stayed in seemed like they were purchased at the dollar store. I can get by with crummy kitchen equipment in a pinch, but using a bad knife is where I draw the line. Not only is it less safe (slicing with a dull knife takes more effort, which means more slipping), it's also a huge pain to chop with a tool that barely pierces the food. If you're going to pack any piece of cooking equipment, make it a decent knife, like this reasonably priced bestseller. The high-carbon stainless steel blade was crafted to maintain its sharpness, even when tackling heavy-duty meal prep.

"I was in the restaurant business for 20 years, and although I have been out of it for while, I know a good knife when I use it," shared a culinary professional. "This lived up to the description. It is razor-sharp, and the handle and craftsmanship seem fantastic. ... I have thinly sliced tomatoes and trimmed fresh fish for sushi with it, and it performs like a chef's knife."

$32 at Amazon

Last, but certainly not least, you'll want one of these kits in the house even if you don't end up using it. With 100 pieces, this No. 1 bestseller has everything you need (and then some) to take care of unexpected cuts, scrapes and more. It includes bandages, gauze, antiseptic towelettes and a CPR mask, just to name a few items.

"I purchased this as a 'just in case' for a vacation," shared a reviewer. "Turns out, I'm more of a klutz than I thought. I fell on our first day and was glad I had the bandages and alcohol wipes! It fit just fine in my luggage and in my backpack I carried while on our excursions."

$14 at Amazon

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The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.