A cottage is definitely an investment—but there’s no reason a great cottage experience has to be expensive. Check out these super-cheap items that just make life by the lake that much easier. Many also double as excellent camping provisions, so you’ll be set for all your outdoor needs.
What are some super-cheap things that you couldn’t do without at the cottage?
Mosquito head net
OK, it’s a little dorky looking—but if you’ve ever tried to work outside when the bugs are bad, you’ll be happy to have a hands-free way to keep the mozzies out of your mouth. Perfect for picking raspberries, too.
Plastic rain poncho
It’s light, it’s packable, and it’s cheap. If you’re going a long distance over several days, then yes—you might want a proper rain jacket. But if you’re only taking a day hike, a poncho is a good alternative to stuffing your jacket in your pack.
Picnic blanket, rain shelter, makeshift bathtub (just dig a hole and line it with the tarp), trunk liner—a tarp is endlessly useful. Keep a couple in your car and a couple at the cottage—you’ll be amazed at how often you use them.
Keeping your head warm is important, and wool is a great material—it’s insulating, and doesn’t hold onto water. Plus, a hat can double as a hand or foot warmer as well.
Iodine is perfect for disinfecting cuts, and that germ-killing power can also be used on untreated water to get rid of anything icky. You have to leave the water for a while to let the iodine do its work, but that’s better than getting beaver fever.
Good for little clean-ups, cotton balls also work as kindling in a pinch. If you get a tick stuck on you, soak cotton balls in dish soap, hold them against the tick for 20 seconds, and watch the tick fall off.
These are easy to pack and dry super-fast—so no towelling off with a damp towel anymore. Plus, you can find them just about anywhere, including the dollar store.
Do we even need to include this? Makeshift bandage, tent patch, blister shield—duct tape is endlessly useful. If you’re camping or hiking and don’t want to schlep along an entire roll, wrap some lengths around your water bottle and use as needed.
Specifically, Tic Tac boxes. They’re super useful for packing spices and tiny items that might otherwise get lost at the bottom of a backpack or suitcase.
Foam floor tiles
Whether you’re camping or simply have folks sleeping on your cottage floor, laying down some foam floor tiles can make for a much cushier experience. Add a bedroll or inflatable mattress, and we’ll bet you won’t even know you’re on the ground.
Those hanging shoe organizers are perfect for keeping other things corralled—try one out with condiments and cooking supplies, or toiletries. If you’re at the cottage, hang it over the door. If you’re camping—well, that’s what trees are for.
Phone protectors, stuff sacks, pancake mix containers—Ziploc bags are hugely useful. Pack a variety of sizes to you don’t use more plastic than you need. Bonus: pop a cork or two into a baggie to make whatever’s in there float.
Yes, they’re great toys, but if you’re in a pinch (or you just want to reduce what you pack) upside-down Frisbees make pretty good plates, too.
The uses for pool noodles are surprisingly varied. Yes, you can use them to float around the lake, but they’re also great bed rails (tuck them along the edge of a bed, under the fitted sheet), roof rack pads, hands-free cardholders, and a multitude of other awesome hacks. Check out our article on pool noodle hacks for instructions and more ideas.