A self catering or Airbnb packing list is different to the usual holiday packing list.
Knowing what to pack for an Airbnb can be the difference between a comfortable, safe stay and one that is not.
We have used Airbnb for several years in the U.K and around the world and this list includes the essential items on our Airbnb checklist.
This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (at no extra cost to you), that help to meet the costs of running this web site.
Table of Contents
Safety gadgets for your Airbnb packing list
Safety gadgets are essential items as you will not have the security that is provided by a hotel, resort, legal inspections or regulations.
Airbnb’s may advertise security features but there is no guarantee as to their working condition.
A door lock or wedge
Airbnb hosts and possibly previous guests will have front door keys so can enter your accommodation at any time if they wish to do so. We discovered this one evening in an Airbnb in Paris!
There are two options you can use to protect yourself.
You can pack your own travel door lock which are small, lightweight and durable.
It is easy to fix into a door to prevent it being opened from the outside. These door locks are easy to remove but I recommend practising this in case you need to exit in an emergency.
Use the door lock in addition to, not instead of, the lock which is already on the door. If you prefer a non metal door lock, check out the Life venture plastic lock that we use.
Alternatively, use a simple door wedge under the door. Wedges are quick and easy to install and remove especially in the dark or in an emergency.
But wedges vary in quality, are not suited to all floor types and rubber or wooden wedges can be heavy for carry on only travel.
If you prefer a wedge rather than a door lock then check out this innovative door stopper with sensor alarm.
It is adaptable to different door frames and comes with an alarm sensor with various sensitivity settings and is one to use if you have a sleepwalking child or curious toddler.
Plus, it doesn’t just have to be used on the front door or bedroom door as you can also fit it to balcony or swimming pool access doors.
Carbon monoxide alarms
A travel carbon monoxide alarm should be on every Airbnb checklist.
Airbnb’s are unregulated accommodation and are not required to fit carbon monoxide alarms and, in our experience, very few Airbnb’s have one.
We use a Kidde Carbon Monoxide Alarm (7 x 12 x 3 cms) which weighs just 200 grams. It is good value for money as we also use it at home when not travelling. Another option is the compact, plug in Kidde Nighthawk but it is slightly heavier at 400 grams.
However, after staying in an Airbnb that had painted over their smoke alarm, we now pack a combination smoke and carbon dioxide alarm.
This unit weighs 400 grams but as it has a lithium battery remember to pack it in your carry on backpack.
A personal alarms are useful for home and travel and its small size makes it an Airbnb must have item.
We use these lightweight 30 gram alarms with a useful LED light for fiddling with unfamiliar locks in the dark.
Identity address card
A basic but effective safety measure we use for Airbnb accommodation is an identification and address card for the children to carry.
We write the address of our Airbnb in local dialect, the phone number of our host and our mobile number onto the card and put it in a plastic card holder.
This is attached to the kids clothing by their belt or carabiner or popped into their daypack. Our kids found these cheap, simple cards more comfortable than the expensive identification bracelets we initially bought them.
We made these cards in case we got separated but now my husband and I also carry one as it isn’t easy to remember the full address of an Airbnb if you move frequently!
You can read tips on how to travel safely with children here.
A First Aid Kit
Most Airbnb’s will have a basic first aid kit but as you run the risk of items being used and not replaced I recommend bringing your own. We have used ours so many times with our kids.
Check out this comprehensive waterproof First Aid Kit. It has 200 items but it is just 7 inches long and surprisingly lightweight at 12 ounces.
Nightlights are not just for travelling with children as they can stop you stubbing your toe stumbling (or worse) around a dark, unfamiliar Airbnb.
Essential hygiene items for your Airbnb packing list
Quick drying towels
If you are wondering do Airbnb’s have towels, then yes, most of them do but do you want to use them?!
We always pack our own quick drying travel towels rather than use the towels at an Airbnb.
The microfibre towels are lightweight, easy to wash and quick drying and are available in a range of sizes. Each one comes with its own carry bag.
If you are travelling as a family, I recommend purchasing a different colour towel for each person for easy identification.
Click here to see the full range of these excellent towels.
Anti bacterial cleaner
Some form of anti bacterial cleaner is an Airbnb essential and many Airbnb’s will stock some in their cleaning cupboard for you to use on arrival. But not all do.
A quick clean of door knobs, cupboard handles and taps on arrival may prevent you contracting a sickness bug that could ruin your holiday.
Anti bacterial wipes are the easiest option but not an environmentally friendly one. You could bring a small bottle (under 100ml) of anti bac spray and a reusable cloth.
Alternatively, a quick, easy, non chemical option is to use a portable ultraviolet sanitizer.
Flip flops are a must pack item on any trip. Use as slippers, on a balcony, around the pool or in the bathroom to prevent fungal infections.
We are a carry-on only travel family so we choose to stay at Airbnb’s with a washing machine. But we have frequently find laundry soap isn’t provided and I hate buying a large box at the local supermarket only to use a tiny amount during our stay.
I pack a couple of laundry tablets from home in a waterproof labelled bag. Avoid powder which can be suspect!
A bar of soap
I’ve lost count of the times that we have arrived at an Airbnb to find used soap in the bathroom.
I don’t mind used shampoo but I draw the line at used soap especially one that is covered in hair!
Toilets rolls should be the most basic of Airbnb amenities but you would be surprised how many times we have been caught out.
Bring at least one toilet roll with you just in case!
Practical items for your essential Airbnb packing list
International Plug Adaptor
This is an Airbnb must have yet very few have them so a plug adaptor is a must pack item if you are visiting a country with different sockets.
Consider a space saving all in one plug adaptor and charging unit with 4 USB ports plus one Type C charger which comes in its own handy travel case.
I rarely pack ear plugs but as I lay in an Airbnb bed in Argentina directly opposite an all night nightclub I wish I had!
Now I never leave home without them and you can purchase a pair for all the family here.
Packing list for an Airbnb with young kids
The following products are not essential items to pack for an Airbnb stay with young kids but they do make life a little easier.
If you can, choose an Airbnb that offers these items though we did not find many properties that do.
Portable high chair
This portable seat harness from Liuliuby offers good support for the baby and I like the secure, padded harness that can be adapted to fit different chairs.
Unlike other fabric wrap style portable chairs, the snug fitting harness straps on this seat will not be easy to wriggle out of. Plus, it is lightweight and easy to clean.
However, like all portable high chairs it lacks head support so is for older babies with head control who can sit unaided.
Portable stair gate
Use a pressure mounted gate to avoid damaging walls and ideally one that can open rather than one you have to hop over.
Travel black out blind
We used to make our own black out blinds with sarongs and tape but they were time consuming and ineffective.
A travel black out blind was a game changer with its adjustable size and easy to use suction cups.
We used a Tommee Tippee travel black out blind similar to this one. It comes with its own travel bag and weighs just 200 grams.
Cutlery and crockery
Avoid embarrassing breakages (glasses are our nemesis) by adding child friendly crockery to your Airbnb packing list.
The above items in my essential Airbnb packing list will help you enjoy a safe, comfortable stay at your Airbnb or VRBO accommodation. If you discover any items that should be on this Airbnb checklist, please let me know.
Read our tips for booking and staying in Airbnb here.