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July 06, 2018

The Best Way to Pay it Forward in a Vacation Rental

Ah, the vacation rental kitchen. Will it have sharp knives? Will it have knives at all? How about a blender? 

What if all the pots are janky? The VRBO listing said “sleeps 10,” so why are there only enough plates and utensils for four? Old Bay or Lawry’s would have been thrilling, but salt and pepper would have been enough. Before you know it, you’ve added another chunk of change to your vacation budget for kitchen essentials.

Which brings me to the point: packaged fresh herbs are expensive. In the summer, a lot of us rely on potted herbs that regenerate as fast as we can pick them. In a vacation rental, you won’t be able to enjoy your plants all summer, but picking up a basil plant and using it for the week is still cheaper than buying a little clamshell of basil every two days. After you unload the car, make a quick assessment of the kitchen, arm yourself with a list and some reusable bags (yes, even on vacation), and head to the grocery store to get everything you expected to find and didn’t. While you’re there, pick up a few potted herbs. I usually get parsley and basil, since I use them the most.

At the end of the week, leave those potted herbs behind for the next vacation cook, who’ll be happy to save a few bucks. Leave a friendly note, maybe including a few thoughts about what you enjoyed in the area, and know you’ve done the right thing. 

Now, you can use the plants in the plastic pots they come in, or plant them in empty pots you find at the house. (It seems like every house has a stack of unused terra cotta pots propped up against an outside wall or in the corner of the porch.) If by some miracle you find no pots, take a moment to wonder who these people are who actually keep their homes organized and get rid of what they don’t use. Take another moment to wish you were that kind of person. Or not, your choice. 

If you want to ramp it up, head to the closest Goodwill and buy a couple of pretty planters, which will cost you next to nothing, and you’re already saving on herbs. Take a moment to wonder if the planters you buy are, in fact, castoffs from the vacation house owners, because wouldn’t that be funny? Now picture the next people who stay in the house, marveling at the kind of person you are: one who’s generous and plants herbs in pretty pots for whoever might need them.