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Savoring and Saving: Cooking on Vacation

Savoring and Saving: Cooking on Vacation

Matt Tracy, 45, a shoe distributor based in Portland, Maine, loves to cook. On a recent multigenerational trip to Tuscany, he and other family members cooked seven out of 10 nights in a rental villa, preparing dishes like wild boar ragù for 10 people, including his children, 6 and 9.

​ “We save a tremendous amount of money cooking,” he said. “We love going out to dinner, but with two kids and other guests it’s expensive.”

​Whether catering to allergies or other dietary needs, ensuring family harmony or sticking to a budget, cooking on vacation is increasingly popular among travelers choosing short-term rental accommodations.

According to a 2023 travel trend report from the vacation rental platform Vrbo, demand for “foodie-menities” is on the rise. Sixty-five percent of users surveyed said equipment like a barbecue, air fryer and deluxe coffee machine were more important than the destination. Nearly half cook to reduce costs.

At Airbnb, “kitchen” is the third most searched amenity among rentals after pools and Wi-Fi. The rental platform made it easy to find accommodations with “chef’s kitchens” when it introduced various lodging categories in May 2022.

“The kitchen tends to be the heart and soul of vacation homes,” wrote Josh Viner, a regional operations director at the vacation rental home platform Vacasa, in an email. It is in the kitchen, he notes, that “guests gather to not only have a delicious, home-cooked meal, but also connect and relax.”

Travelers who cook do it for many reasons: as a way to explore a place when shopping locally for ingredients; saving money; a family convenience; and more.

​ “Many clients like to have the cooking option,” said Rob Stern, a travel agent based in Raleigh, N.C., who runs, singling out “families on a budget or those who have picky eaters.”

​For others, meal prep brings them closer to their destination.

“When I’m trying to experience a place one of my favorite things to do is visit a grocery store,” said Tanya Churchmuch, 53, who runs a public relations firm in New York City.

​Preparing her own food also allows her to maintain a healthy diet. Even on trips as short as three days, she takes a mini espresso maker and steel cut oats and buys fruit locally to eat at least one meal in, saving, she estimates, between $15 and $30 a couple compared to dining out.

For Ashleigh Butler, the author of the cookbook “The Small Kitchen…

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