You can’t advertise a property as sleeping 10 people and only buy 8 dinner plates. Outfitting a vacation rental home is a science and there are certain items that just need to be there. Below are a list of the lessons we’ve learned over the last 1000+ rentals about what items absolutely need to be in your vacation rental home.

If your home sleeps 10 people, then you need 10 forks.

You know this one is coming so let’s get it out of the way first. You absolutely must have one butter knife, steak knife, fork, spoon, dinner plate, salad plate, bowl, coffee cup, water glass and wine glass for every person who can stay in your home. I know that all these items usually come in sets of 4 but, if your house sleeps 10, then you need to buy the extra set. It won’t be long until something gets broken or your forks start disappearing to wherever it is that forks go as soon as property managers aren’t looking so you’ll need the replacements anyway. If your house has a pool, you should also consider having plastic versions of all the glassware.

While we’re on the topic of cutlery, add a good set of sharp kitchen knives to the list too. A sharp kitchen knife was the number one asked for item by our guests before we figured this one out. You countertops will thank you if you purchase some extra cutting boards to go under those knives as well. There are a lot of people out there who think having concrete countertops means you can cut limes on them so we like to remind guests where the cutting boards are during check-in.

Assume that everyone who stays in your house is a coffee drinker.

Full disclosure, I am not a coffee drinker…but I live with one. I am related to many of them and I’m friends with more coffee drinkers that I care to count. The one thing they all have in common is their ability to turn into dangerous predators if anything gets between them and their first cup of coffee in the morning. Be it lack of filters, a broken carafe or the overly complicated dials on a fancy espresso machine, you can bet that their next target will be you, their vacation rental manager, if they are deprived of caffeine for too long.

Our coffee making gadget of choice is the french press. They are easy to use and there are no filters to buy, no carafes to break and no masters courses in frothing foam required. If you have a choice, the metal ones tolerate drops a lot better than the glass ones. Same goes for drip machines or any other style of coffee makers. Always spend the extra money to upgrade to the metal version. If you have to go drip, reusable filters are a nice eco-friendly touch.

Towels and Linens

Closet with backup linens and towels.
Our closet of backup linens and towels.

If your plan is to make your vacation rental profitable, then you need to be able to handle same day turn-arounds. The key to getting one group out by 11am and the next one in by 3pm is having the right number of clean linens and towels on hand. In order to accomplish that task you need to have at least 2 of everything. That means for every bed in the house you need 2 fitted sheets, 2 top sheets, 2 blankets and 2 pillowcases for each pillow.

The same goes for towels. For each person your house sleeps you should have 2 face cloths, 2 bath towels and 2 pool/beach towels (if you are lucky enough to live somewhere where you need such things). Two hand towels for every bathroom in your home is sufficient. When buying beach towels, try to choose a towel with a lower pile. Thinner towels don’t pick up as much sand which helps keep it out of your washing machine where it can do some serious damage.

Two of anything that comes in a tank.

Water tank and two types of propane tanks.

If your vacation rental home has a gas BBQ then you need to have two tanks. As far as we can tell, the universe has decided that BBQ tanks can only run out AFTER every distributor in a 100 mile radius has closed for the day so it’s best to have a backup on hand. Here in Nicaragua, most houses also use propane tanks for the stove so you need two of those as well. Same goes for tanks of gasoline for the generator, purified water, dish soap and anything else that lack thereof will send your guests scurrying to their phones to ask you to replenish. When it comes to consumables for the house, just get used to buying two of everything and everyone will be happy.

The Internet

Probably the most important thing to have two of is the internet. No matter what everyone says about needing a vacation to “unwind and unplug”, remove even the possibility of checking email or watching Netflix for more than 45 seconds and you’re going to have a mutiny on your hands. Many of our guests ask for the password before we’ve even given them the keys to the house!

Most of the problems that occur with wifi are simple fixes but we always have a backup system on hand. The internet shows up in most homes on some sort of cable but there are cellular based networks as well. These systems are not tied to cables  but use a cell signal instead which makes them easy to move around. This is great if you have more than one rental property because you can move the wireless router from house to house as needed. Many providers offer prepaid options so you only have to activate the service when you need it. Here in Nicaragua we use Cootel routers as backups for our houses. Only $30 to purchase and $20 to activate for unlimited access for 30 days. $20 is a small price to pay to avoid the aforementioned mutiny.

Cable Television

There is a legitimate argument for not spending the money on cable television in a vacation rental home. The logic goes that your guests are on vacation and will be too busy drinking Mai-Tais to care that they are missing the latest episode of America’s Got Talent. The problem is that your guests are not necessarily logical creatures (nor do they necessarily drink Mai-Tais). Take it from us, if you decide to not go with cable TV your guests will notice. More than likely you’ll find yourself explaining why you don’t have cable TV so often that it will be worth your sanity to just order a basic cable package and be done with it.

If you are still firmly entrenched on the “not in my house” side of the cable TV argument then you can get away with just having a smart TV with streaming services like Netflix installed. Having a Netflix account for the house is also a good idea so guests don’t have to input their own user information to log in.


Whether it’s a laundry service you recommend or an onsite washer and dryer, your guests are going to expect you to provide them with options for washing the Mai-Tai stains out of their favourite shirts. We specialize in short term rentals so we’re a fan of directing our guests to our favourite laundry service in town where they can get a bag of clothes washed, dried and folded for $6. If you offer longer term rentals then a washer and dryer might make more sense for your property. Either way, your guests will expect an option for doing their laundry during their stay.

Before purchasing any large appliances, you might want to read our series of blog posts on managing your electricity bill in a vacation rental home.

Hair Dryer

Prior to arrival, the number one question we get asked about the contents of our vacation rental homes is “Do you have a hairdryer?”. I haven’t had enough hair to dry for almost 20 years but every single house we manage has a hair dryer in it’s inventory.

Salt, Pepper and Oil

Salt shaker, pepper shaker and a small bottle of olive oil.

The contents of your spice cupboard will naturally fluctuate when guests consume and leave spices and other cooking supplies as they come and go. Most guests are not going to be disappointed if your supply of fenugreek is running low but we do recommend that you always stock salt, pepper and oil in your vacation rental home. Small bottles of oil work best for us. The larger bottles tend to get covered in oily drips after a while and just look messy.

Guest Book

Think back to your last vacation. How much time did you spend trying to figure out where the best restaurants are, or where to buy groceries or how to get to the beach? Wouldn’t it have been nice if there was a book somewhere that already had all these answers carefully laid out for you so you could get back to the important task of making blender drinks? That’s what a good Guest Book is designed to do.

For each of the vacation rental homes we manage we produce a customized guest book that introduces the features of the house and answers all the common questions someone new in town might have. We also include a map of town that highlights local features and the best routes for getting to and from the property. We even highlight more well lit routes for getting around after dark.

Finally, our Guests Books include the wifi passwords, some instructions for A/C use and any other features of the home that might need more explanation. It may seem like a lot of information to keep up to date but our guests love having all this information at their fingertips.

24/7 (ish) Point of Contact for your Guests

At Mango Vacation Rentals, we believe that our jobs as vacation rental managers don’t end once we hand over the keys. We provide each guest with a list of contact phone numbers for our team and encourage all our guests to contact us if they have any questions or if something isn’t working properly. We will also help arrange rides or point them in the right direction for excursions and other things to do in in the area.

Our goal with all of this is to leave each check-in with our guests feeling like they have a new friend they can turn to if they have any questions. Sure, this has caused some interrupted dinners and late night trips to troubleshoot pesky generators. That said, none of our guests have ever felt alone when they needed help and that, after all, is what friends are for.

If you are looking for more ways to create happy guests, please take a look at our blog post on generating 5-Star reviews.

The one thing you should NEVER have in your vacation rental home…

The one thing you should never have in your vacation rental home is anything that your guests CAN see but CAN’T use. It’s human nature that everyone’s happiness will instantly hinge on their ability to go kayaking the second they see a kayak in your garage. Furthermore, denying them access to said kayak shall constitute a denial of basic human rights and be punishable by a bad review. Other things that fall into this category are generators, computers, books, washing machines, clothes dryers, dishwashers, BBQ’s, motorcycles, bicycles and all forms of sports equipment.

The lesson here is easy. Guests in a vacation rental home should be able to (and will want to) use everything they find on the property. If you don’t want something used, then you need to lock it up out of sight or store it somewhere else.

Wrap Up

In summary, the initial setup for a good vacation rental home often requires more trips to the store than you might expect. That said, what you have to spend on towels or an extra BBQ tank now, will come back to you several times over in the form of good reviews and happy clients.

Good luck and happy rentals!

4 thoughts on “Must Have Items for Every Vacation Rental Home

    1. Hi Gary. Outfitting a house does require a weeeeee bit of shopping 😉 We can help you with the local stuff and we have someone we can recommend to help with larger projects like outfitting your home.

  1. Great article guys! It’s great to arrive at a vacation rental that is well equipped. A sharp knife and something to make coffee in are especially important and appreciated.

    1. Speaking as the coffee loving half of this duo I agree without reservation 🙂

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