Our 2023 Vacation Packing Checklist

How to Create the Best Packing List for Vacation in a Rental Home:
The Ultimate Vacation Packing Checklist

The ultimate packing list for vacation

You’ve reserved the perfect vacation rental home and planned some fun things to do to make the most of your getaway. But there’s always that final, somewhat daunting task that comes right before the actual vacation: packing! This doesn’t have to be stressful, since forgetting something isn’t typically the end of the world. Most of the time, convenience stores within driving distance will have what you need. That being said, it always feels good to be prepared – and it’s a relief to have everything you need as soon as you arrive. Below, you’ll find helpful tips to help you prepare the ultimate list of what to pack for vacation in West Michigan.

What to Pack for Vacation: Overview


Getting Started: What to Bring to a Vacation Rental Home
Food Packing List Tips & Tricks
Sunny Days: Beach Vacation Packing List Ideas
What to Pack for Vacation in Cold Weather
Packing for Two Weeks vs Packing for a Weekend Trip
Traveling by Car: Packing for a Road Trip 101


Getting Started: The Essential Vacation Packing Checklist for a Vacation Rental Home


Here’s a basic list of what to pack for vacation. You’ll no doubt have your own needs, but these are some of the most important items to remember.

Personal Items

Travel Packing Checklist Ideas for West Michigan Vacation Rental Homes
BVW Unsalted Vacations provides a small starter kit including miniature bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, one makeup remover wipe, and a bar of soap in each bathroom.
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Face wash
  • Body wash
  • Skin care products
  • Makeup Remover
  • Shaving cream and razors
  • Tweezers
  • Lip balm
  • Comb or brush
  • Deodorant
  • Insect repellent
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and mouthwash
  • Hairspray and styling products
  • Makeup and Makeup Remover
  • Nail Clippers
  • Contact solution and extra contacts
  • Glasses and glasses case



  • Driver’s license or photo ID
  • Credit or debit cards
  • Passport, if traveling internationally
  • Printed directions and access code for vacation rental home, since cell service varies depending on where you are
  • Printed information for car rental

Clothing, Outerwear, & Accessories

Vacation Packing Checklist for West Michigan

  • Casual outfits, including socks and underwear (one per day of vacation)
  • One or two dressy outfits (Depending on what you plan to do, this might be a good idea for special occasions)
  • Jacket
  • Jewelry and accessories for each outfit
  • Pajamas
  • Casual shoes
  • Dress shoes
  • Belts
  • Rain gear and umbrellas
  • Purses, backpacks, and/or tote bags
  • Sunglasses
  • Winter coat, boots, hats, scarves, and gloves (During colder months)
  • Swimwear and sandals (For beach vacations, as well as vacation homes with pools and hot tubs)

One important thing to consider is the amenities at the vacation rental.

Household Supplies & Products

  • Paper products, including extra toilet paper and paper towels
  • Aluminum foil, plastic wrap, plastic baggies, and portable food storage containers
  • Must-have cookware or utensils*
  • Matches and charcoal for grilling
  • Wood for bonfires
  • Roasting sticks for S’mores and hot dogs (for rental homes with fire pits)
  • Coffee filters, coffee grounds, Keurig pods, and cream/sugar
  • Citronella candles
  • Extra bags for bringing home souvenirs from your trip

Pet Supplies

  • Portable food and water bowls
  • Favorite toys
  • Bags and scoops for cleaning up after your pet
  • Kennel or crate
  • Leashes, collars, harnesses, etc. (Make sure to include identification tags in case of separation!)
  • Food
  • Life jacket for dog, if you plan on boating

If you’re interested in finding a pet-friendly vacation rental in West Michigan, check out our list of Pet-Friendly Getaways Along the Lakeshore.


  • Camera, memory cards, and charger
  • Coloring books or Sudoku
  • Puzzles
  • Pens, pencils, markers, and/or crayons
  • Books
  • Games
  • Favorite kids toys
  • Extra camp chairs and beach chairs

ElectronicsTravel Packing Checklist for Families

  • Handheld gaming equipment
  • Camera, memory cards, and charger
  • Mobile phones and extra chargers
  • Laptops and chargers
  • Extension cords

Health & Wellness

  • Yoga or Pilates Mat
  • Portable handheld weights
  • Vitamins
  • Prescription Medications

First Aid & Emergency

  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Epi Pens
  • A few extra days of prescription medication, in case of delay
  • Bottled water (In case of an emergency such as a traffic jam, power outage, etc.)
  • Pain relievers and allergy medications
  • Bandages
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Portable first aid kit
  • Emergency cash
  • Extra snacks

When you book a vacation rental home through BVW, many of the standard household items are already provided for you. These include laundry detergent pods and dryer sheets, if your home has a washer and dryer. BVW Unsalted Vacations also supplies hand soap, dish detergent, trash bags, bedding, bath towels, and beach towels. If your home has a dishwasher, then dishwasher pods are also stocked in the home for you. You can also expect to find kitchen towels, dish soap, and dish cloths.

BVW Unsalted Vacations provides one roll of paper towel and three rolls of toilet paper in each bathroom to get started. Depending on the length of your vacation, you may need to use more. Remember to pack extra toilet paper and paper towels!

You can also expect to find a hairdryer, iron, and ironing board in our vacation rental homes.

*Our kitchens contain standard equipment, including pots and pans, plates, utensils, microwaves, and toasters. However, if your meal planning hinges on a specific item (such as a certain brand of skillet), make sure to bring this item with you!


Food Packing List Tips & Tricks


Of course, many people just want to eat out on vacation. After all, isn’t exploring local eateries part of the fun? However, cooking in your vacation rental home is a great way to spend time with loved ones. Having food on hand also allows the various members of your group to snack and eat meals when they individually want to.

First, decide roughly how many meals you want to prepare in your vacation home for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This will help you determine how many meals to prepare. For example, if you plan to eat out for five of the seven nights, then you’ll only need to plan two dinners. Then, make a list of ingredients for each recipe in every meal. A little meal planning will go a long way!

Don’t forget to include:

  • Canned goods
  • Milk, cheese, butter, and eggs
  • Vegetable or olive oil
  • Essential spices
  • Frozen desserts like ice cream or popsicles
  • Plenty of snacks, such as trail mix or chips
  • Cooking spray
  • Condiments
  • Beer, wine, and spirits


Beach Vacation Packing List: Making the Most of Your Warm Weather


Although many items in the above list include essentials for a Lake Michigan beach vacation, check out this list below for a quick recap:

Family Beach Vacation Packing List Tips

  • Beach chairs*
  • Beach umbrella
  • Swimsuits
  • Sandals and/or water shoes
  • Sunscreen
  • Beach toys
  • Lightweight jacket for cooler evenings
  • Insect repellent
  • Beach cooler
  • Swimsuit Cover up
  • Lightweight clothing
  • Beach toys and corresponding beach bag
  • Sunhats
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Portable chargers


Remember, many beach vacation must-haves can be rented. This includes bikes, kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards. Just make sure to make arrangements ahead of time! BVW Unsalted Vacations provides one beach towel per guest in each rental home. This will save you space when packing for a beach vacation!

Some, but not all, of our rental homes are equipped with beach chairs. However, we always recommend bringing extra beach chairs to ensure that there is enough for everyone in your group. BVW Unsalted Vacations also provides a professionally laundered beach towel for each guest during your stay.


How to Create a Cold Weather Packing List


What to Pack for Vacation in Michigan: winter boots, hats, gloves, scarves, skis, and sleds

If there’s one thing to love about Michigan, it’s the incredible variety of the seasons! And luckily, there are many fun things to do in Michigan year-round. However, your packing list for vacation is going to be very different in December than it is in July. We hope this cold weather vacation packing checklist below will eliminate any stress as you prepare for your upcoming trip!

  • Well-insulated winter jackets
  • Hat
  • Gloves and/or mittens
  • Scarf
  • Winter boots
  • Hand and foot warmers to place in your gloves and boots
  • Cross country skis
  • Snow shoes
  • Downhill skis/snowboards
  • Outfits with plenty of layers
  • Extra thick socks
  • Long underwear
  • Plenty of moisturizer and lip balm, since cold weather can cause dry skin

Remember, many snow equipment, such as skis and snowshoes can be rented.


Packing for Two Weeks vs Packing for a Weekend Trip


Without a doubt, packing for a weekend and packing for two weeks is a little different. The list below includes some key things to keep in mind as you pack for your vacation in a rental home, depending on the length of your stay.

  • When it comes to clothes, remember that you can pack just a few outfits and simply launder them between wears. This will save space in your suitcase! So, you may only need to pack a handful of outfits for a two week vacation. Most homes have a washer and dryer. However, local laundromats are available in the event that your rental home does not have laundry facilities.
  • If you’re flying, make sure to pack an extra outfit and your essential items, such as medication, in your carry-on. This is a good way to prepare for luggage delays or losses. If you are packing for two weeks, include a few extra outfits.
  • Remember extra entertainment items for longer trips. For example, bring a few different books for a longer vacation… It’s always good to have options! Your kids might also enjoy toys to rotate throughout your stay.
  • Be sure to bring extra toilet paper and paper towels for a two week vacation. Since you’ll be spending an extended period of time in the home, you’ll want to avoid making toilet paper runs at inconvenient times!

While it might be tempting to pack everything you might ever possibly need for a long vacation, remember that stores exist for a reason. You can also use services like Instacart or Doordash to have groceries, supplies, and restaurant meals delivered right to your doorstep.


Packing for a Road Trip: When You’re Driving a Long Distance to Reach Your Vacation Rental Home


Nobody wants to get stranded, but it’s inevitable that many road trippers will experience delays in the form of inclement weather or car problems when traveling. Depending on where you live, you might be driving a long distance to reach your vacation destination in Michigan. In this case, it’s important to get in the mindset that you are packing for a road trip as well as a vacation.

Make sure to have the following items on hand when traveling by car:

  • Spare car key that is stored on a separate ring from your main car keys
  • License and registration
  • Car manual and insurance information
  • Driver’s license
  • Plenty of extra snacks and bottled water for each passenger
  • Extra diapers and baby food
  • Ice scraper
  • Cat litter or salt
  • Tire chains
  • Snow Shovel
  • Toilet paper
  • Portable gas container
  • Extra windshield wiper fluid
  • Paper map
  • Car phone charger and/or portable chargers
  • Warm blankets and travel pillows
  • Portable entertainment like iPads, Kindles, books, and activity books
  • Cash for tolls


Remember to Bookmark This Vacation Packing Checklist!


Hopefully this vacation packing list will make this step of vacation preparation easier. Remember, you can easily pick up most forgotten items at nearby convenience and grocery stores. And if you don’t feel like driving or going to a crowded store, you can always opt for delivery.

Thanks for stopping by  our Michigan travel blog! Make sure to bookmark this page so that you can easily reference it when you are creating a packing list for vacation rental homes. Guests who enjoyed this vacation packing checklist also enjoyed VRBO vs Airnb vs Booking Direct.

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