What to Bring to the Cottage This Summer

Find out what to bring to the cottage to ensure you have a great vacation like this crane on the dock in Haliburton, Ontario.
Find out what to bring to the cottage to ensure you have a great vacation like this crane on the dock in Haliburton, Ontario.

We are so lucky to have been able to book a cottage in the Kawarthas for the end of July. Now is the fun part: we have to focus on what to bring to the cottage this summer! Our cottage rental experience during the pandemic was rocky. We thought there would be a huge demand for cottage rentals this summer so we started looking early…in January! We found a cottage we liked and booked it with a deposit at the end of January for a week in July. In mid-May, the owner informed us that he had sold his cottage and we would no longer be able to rent it. He did return our deposit, but because it was already May, we knew that the availability of cottage rentals would be slim pickings.

Find out what to bring to the cottage to ensure you have a great vacation like this crane on the dock in Haliburton, Ontario.I inquired about a cottage rental I had seen online and ended up talking to Debbie Bannerman of Windrovers Cottage Rentals. Debbie informed me about a few cottages she had for rent this summer, mostly at the middle or end of August, which we would have considered, but unfortunately, the cottages were not in the location we wanted.

We decided to ask my stepmother if we could rent her cottage. She agreed, but she advised us that first, she had to get a contractor to address a mould and water problem and that it could take several weeks to repair. At the same time that we heard from my stepmother about the needed repairs at her cottage, I received a voicemail message from Debbie. She advised that there had been a cancellation at a cottage on Balsam Lake in the Kawarthas for the last week of July and wondered if we were interested. The cottage rental cost a bit more than what we had budgeted for, but with so few options due to the high demand for cottages and a strong desire to get away to cottage country, we decided to rent this cottage.

I’m so excited that we were able to rent a nice cottage with a gorgeous lakefront and good swimming. We leave in two weeks so I am in planning mode and I decided to share what to bring to the cottage this summer. If you have been invited to a cottage this year, you might want to read: “Cottage Etiquette: How to Ensure You Get Invited Back”

Having a campfire at the cottage is a fun family event
Having a campfire at the cottage is a fun family event


Grocery stores in cottage country are notoriously expensive, plus they may not stock your favourite items. Even though we will be in Step 3 of the Province’s reopening plans, grocery stores will still limit capacity so we don’t want to have to visit a grocery store often on our vacation. The following are what we’re planning on bringing:

  • fresh vegetables (broccoli, salad greens, zucchini, peppers, carrots, asparagus, tomatoes, onions – These veggies are great for salads or they can be brushed with olive oil and some Greek Spice Blend and tossed on the barbecue.)
  • fresh fruit (cherries, strawberries, plums, blueberries, lemons)
  • yogourt
  • bread, pasta, rice, crackers
  • dried or canned beans
  • olive oil, garlic buds
  • bottled juice, bottled water
  • coffee, tea
  • beer, wine
  • snacks (items like potato chips are much more expensive in cottage country)

You will be able to make a grocery run to the nearest town to pick up fresh chicken, beef or fish, milk, eggs, cheese, or any other items that could go bad on your drive up to the cottage.

Kitchen Stuff

Even if your cottage comes with dishes and cookware, it is not likely to have the specialty cooking items such as the following:

  • parchment paper
  • garlic press
  • dried spices (garlic powder, basil, dill, onion powder, curry powder, cinnamon)
  • scissors
  • coffee filters
  • paper towels, napkins
  • Lysol wipes


  • shorts, tees
  • bathing suit
  • skirt and/or sundress (for dining at restaurants)
  • blouse or nice top or nice sports shirt for guys
  • hoodie for cooler evenings
  • yoga pants or jeans for morning walks
  • running shoes, flip flops, sandals

Personal Care Products

  • cleanser, toner, moisturizer
  • sunscreen lotion (at least an SPF30), bug spray
  • toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, dental floss
  • deodorant
  • razor blades
  • lipstick, mascara, eyeshadow


  • books, board games, cards (for those rainy days)
  • candles, matches, flashlight (in case of a power outage)
  • beach towel
  • binoculars (for birdwatching)
  • camera (to take great sunset shots)
  • umbrella (hopefully, you won’t need this!)

This might seem like a long list for what to bring to the cottage, but if you are going to be at the cottage for at least a week, you will need all of these items! Also, you have to bring items you will need in case there is rain or a thunderstorm.

Enjoy your vacation at the cottage! After the last year we’ve had, you deserve it!


  1. A visit to the such a place is something that I’m looking forward to. It’s very thoughtful to plan ahead with such small details, and makes a big difference!

  2. What a great holiday checklist here. there is so much more to take than what we think and the food is a must for sure. Thank you for sharing your organised list x

  3. I have always been incharge with breads and cheese platters whenever there’s a family outdoor trip. This list is such a delight to moms like me, who wants to be always ready and prepared when called for.

  4. Your List is perfect. I am sorry to read that you had that last min cancellation but happy you managed to sort something out. I too booked a stay away back in February for August. Since then I have had to change plans so that I don’t have to cancel that trip as we really need a break. I will looking at this list again to make sure I have what I need.

    • Thank you! Yes, we were worried that we would be without a cottage this summer, but fortunately, we were able to get the second cottage! Have a good time on your vacation! Cheers, Lori

  5. I love to be prepared with a list like this and be organized for a week-long visit to a cottage. This compiled list has some great ideas nice share!

  6. I have never rented out a cottage before, reading your blog post makes me realise it is a great holiday option, particularly in the current times. Much better than staying in a hotel. Thanks for sharing the helpful list.

  7. Wow!! This is just splendid and it reminds me of my cottage holidays with my kids in Kerry, Ireland many years ago. We have to load up with all the things including bicycles and other toys to keep them entertained.

  8. I would love to spend my time in such a beautiful and relaxing place especially when you plan for your vacation well. Such a lovely cottage holiday. I have hardly enjoyed one before but would love to plan one soon.

  9. This detailed list is helpful. Love the idea of bringing some books and board games. If I am staying in a cottage, I want to stay away from gadgets too.

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