Cottage Packing Checklist

There’s nothing quite like spending time at the cottage with family. If you managed to snag a cottage rental for the long weekend (or anytime this summer for that matter!) know that before you relax on the dock, you need a plan.

Not sure what to bring? Our cottage packing list has everything a family needs for a fun and safe vacation. Find our cottage essentials list below, then read on for more expert tips and advice.

Want to make packing for the cottage even easier?  Download a comprehensive list of the following cottage packing supplies and check them off as you shop and pack!

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Personal Hygiene



Kitchen Supplies


Outdoor Fun

Games/Indoor Activities

Accessories and Extras


  • Fishing license
  • Boating license
  • Rental agreement
  • Health cards and/or insurance cards for everyone in your family

Cottage Rental Tips for Families

Here are some expert tips to help make the most of your cottage rental experience.

  • Your rental agreement (and other important documents): Once you finalize your rental with the owner, the cottage rental owner will send you the “house rules,” a document that outlines everything you need to know. Be sure to read it thoroughly and ask any questions before you go. The same goes for recreational licenses like fishing or boating: Know the rules for fishing and boating where you’re cottaging. Many places require license for both.

    Quick tip
    : Since most cottage rentals nowadays can be booked online via apps like Airbnb and VRBO, you don’t necessarily need to print out rental agreements. But a dead battery or weak Wi-Fi could derail things, so it’s a good idea to have a physical copy at the rental either way, for easy reference as well.
  • Guide book: A guide book explains everything the renter needs to know including the above-mentioned house rules (re: pets, noise, occupancy, septic tank info, parking), COVID updates, Wi-Fi password, important contacts (nearest medical clinic, hospital, fire department, owner’s contact), info on using appliances such as the TV, coffee maker or BBQ, and fire-pit rules and the location of the fire extinguisher. “We typically send through a digital version to our guests a couple of weeks before check in so they can familiarize themselves with the rules,” says interior designer Tiffany Piotrowski of Barrie, Ont. who has been renting out her Amabel Beach House in Ontario’s famous Sauble Beach through Airbnb since 2018. “It also has a list of things we provide and a list of ‘don’t forget to pack items’, so it’s great for them to have ahead of time.”
  • Local attractions: Some owners will share their favourite spots to help guests enjoy their stay. “We love to let our renters know our favourite spots,” says Piotrowski. While you may expect to spend your days on the dock, ultimately, the kids will appreciate an adventure into town for homemade ice cream, or tacos, for example.
  • Kitchen supplies: While the kitchen will be stocked with utensils, dishes, pots and pans, cutting boards, a coffee maker and other basic items, you will have to bring all of your food, drinks and snacks. If there’s something you and your family love to eat that won’t be widely available in a rural area, be sure to plan ahead.
  • Fire pits: First, find out if the cottage allows fires outdoors. Is there a designated area? It’s the responsibility of the renter to check if there is a fire ban, says Piotrowski. “Most local township websites will have this info.” If there is a ban, it’s due to excessive dryness which can cause fires to spread out of control quickly. Do not have a fire if there is a ban. Any fines or damage will be your responsibility.
  • Damage deposits: Some rentals will include a damage deposit that will be refunded after departure, others don’t. Just know that you are responsible for any major damage. “A host can choose to opt into a security deposit,” says Piotrowski. “I do think it’s a good incentive to encourage guests to take good care of the home.” If you or a family member break something, tell the host immediately. “Any major damage to the structure or finishes could be cause for an insurance claim. I’m really appreciative when guests are upfront when something’s been broken because it gives us time to fix it before the next guest arrives.”
  • Extra guests: It’s a huge no-on to add to the occupancy of a rental. Yes, you can have a guest during the day, but no extras overnight. “More and more, townships are cracking down on occupancy rates for rentals, and can result in hefty fines for the owner if they aren’t being followed,” says Piotrowski. “In addition, many rentals run on septic tanks, which can only accommodate so much waste.”
  • Pets: If you want to bring your pet, it’s best to search for pet-friendly rentals. However, it doesn’t hurt to check with the owner even if it says “No pets.” “I think it’s always worth an ask!,” advises Piortrowski s “We allow pets, but it does need to be discussed ahead of time to make sure they’re suitable, and so I can go over additional pet rules (no pets in beds at our place!).”

Print this Cottage Packing Checklist

It will help you keep track of everything you need to stay organized whether you’re shopping or packing

Cottage packing checklist

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