5 Items You’ll Wish You Had at the Cabin

You’ve packed the basics: clothes, food, movies, games. You’ve planned everything down to a T, in fact. You think. But you’ve never traveled with my family.

Here’s my favorite example. We were heading to Gatlinburg for a long weekend with my sister and bro-in-law. My husband and I are classic under-packers. We are the people who will end up wearing the same thing 3 out of 5 days or begging to borrow toothpaste or deodorant. My sister, Megan, and her husband, Chris, are the opposite. They’ll pack anything they MIGHT MAYBE AT SOME POINT POSSIBLY want during the stay. Anyway, we were all driving together, so we got to their house to pick them up and hopped out to help load the car. All of their stuff (and there was A LOT of it) was by the table, so we started grabbing stuff and sticking it in the trunk. We were almost finished when I said to Chris, in a teasing voice, “You bringing this junk mail to Gatlinburg, too?” There was a small stack of fliers and brochures sitting on the table. “Yeah,” he said, in a surprising, but serious tone. “I thought we could use it to start fires.” Indeed we could. But who would have thought of toting an Arby’s coupon page all the way to Gatlinburg? Not me.

Anyway, I’m off the subject. A lot can be learned from this crazy family of mine. Don’t worry — I’ve sorted through the clutter of the over packing to find just 5 things that you may want to take on your next cabin getaway. They will make your life easier. I promise. (And my sister promises. And my mother. And my grandmother. And my other sister. Oh, I could go on.)

A Sharpie marker for writing names on cups. Don't leave home without it.

1. A Sharpie marker. We’ve all done this at home — grab a plastic cup and write your name on it. Then rinse it when you’re done and use it the next time. Convenient, and avoids mix-ups about whose drink is whose. But most cabins don’t come stocked with Sharpies. And most check-book-recording-pens-that-live-in-purses don’t write on plastic cups.)

Baggies for leftovers. Very convenient.

2. Baggies. Okay, this picture is kind-of gross, but you get the idea. There are always leftovers from meals at the cabin. And it’s likely that someone will pull out that leftover pizza to nibble on later in the week. But how do you keep it fresh? At home, you’d stick it in a container. At the cabin, baggies in a variety of sizes will work fine. You’ll be surprised the things you’ll use them for.

A quick way to warm up meals. Little fuss, little mess. I like it.

3. Crockpot. The whole idea of a cabin getaway is to minimize the work. What better way to do this than to stick pre-made chili or sloppy joe meat in a crockpot and let it cook away while you’re off hiking. When you come back, you have only to pull out buns or bowls and some chips and fruit, and dinner is ready. A crockpot is something my family had to convince me about. It is too bulky to be considered for my stream-lined packing preponderances. But it sure can save time. Who wants to pull out a pan and start warming?

My rule? Always, always use disposable on vacation!

4. Paper plates. As Joey on Friends says, “These things are no friends to the environment.” So true. But there are times when convenience wins out. Sure, they provide dishes in your cabin. But I say, why use them? Again, it’s vacation. Who wants to spend all of vacation washing dishes? Eat, throw away. That’s my method. (Whatever you do, just don’t be like my grandma, who insists on WASHING disposable dishes. From experience, I know how that can frustrate your grandkids.)

A blow-up boat? Sure, why not?

5. A blow-up boat. Okay, well, actually I’m just kidding about this. “5 Items” sounds much better than “4 Items,” don’t you think? But seriously, my parents found this boat for just a few bucks. The kids adored it. Now, if only this was a post about how to bribe your grandchildren at the lake…

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