The Best Knives to Bring On Vacation — and How to Pack Them Safely

If you want to cook in your vacation rental and enjoy the experience, you'll want some decent knives. Here's what to bring and how to tote them.

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June 29, 2021

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Photo by: Aleksandar Reba / EyeEm / Getty

Aleksandar Reba / EyeEm / Getty

Michelle N. Warner is a food stylist at Food Network.

When you show up to that vacation rental or Airbnb, you never know what the kitchen set up will be — and the knives available can often determine how well you'll actually be cooking for a crowd on your trip. Or maybe camping is more your speed; you'll want to tote some decent knives for cooking outside, too. Here's how to choose the best essential knives for traveling and how to pack them safely.

Try a Knife That's Easy to Travel With

Investing in an affordable, verstable and easy packable knife or two that you use expressly for trips isn't a bad idea. I really like the Kuhn Rikon colorful knives — they're great price and they stay sharp after many uses. If you want to pick just one knife to keep things simple, we suggest you get the Kuhn Rikon Santoku with a 6-inch blade. Its smaller size and dedicated sheath makes it easy and safe to pack, and it's efficient shape is great for slicing and chopping most things — except bread.

If you're planning on picking up a crusty baguette to make sandwiches or enjoy with a cheese plate on your trip, you'll need a bread knife. Packing a full-sized bread knife can be cumbersome since they are often so long, but the Kuhn Rikon Sandwich Knife is only about 10 inches, and it glides through bread. Plus, it's a great shape for spreading mayo and has a super-handy grater tip for scraping and spreading butter smoothly.

Looking for a full set of knives dedicated to your travel needs? If you cook a lot on vacation, this isn't a bad idea. Amazon has a colorful 12 piece set that is easily totable — and you won't confuse them with the utensils already at the vacation rental. They're lightweight and each come with their own blade guard for easy packing.

Or Pack Whatever You Already Own — Safely

If you want to pack the knives you already use and love every day, get some magnetic knife guards for traveling. These do a great job at protecting your blades (and you!) when you're packing them. We like the magnetic guards because they can fit a variety of knife shapes and sizes, and they stay on tight, which is key for safety.

Once protected with a guard, you don't want to just throw the knives in your suitcase. For easiest and safest traveling, pack them in soft case called a knife roll. Cooks use these when traveling between kitchens all the time and it keeps both you and your knives safe. The soft structure makes it lightweight and easy to use, but this is another reason the blade covers are important — you don't want them poking through the fabric.

This waterproof canvas knife roll is the perfect size for carrying just a few essential knives. Or if you’re looking for the mid-size option, this Messermeister eight-pocket roll is an industry standard that most chef’s use. And of course we’re not going to stop you from packing all of your favorite utensils if you really want — in that case, go big with this knife bag backpack that carries it all.

Other Tools for The Trip

Whatever size knife roll or bag you picked, you should have some extra spots for pakcing a few other essential utensils. Think about what you'll really miss if you don't have it. Our go-to items include a waiter's style wine and bottle opener. This one is fantastic because it has two steps for removing a wine cork, reducing the chances of it breaking. Plus it has a handy bottle opener for beer or soda. I'd also throw in a silicone spatula for all your stirring needs, and a turner for grilling or making pancakes. If you’re camping, a pair of tongs is always useful, and if you’re keeping it minimal a good pair of chopsticks will double as tongs and a whisk. And don’t forget the can opener! I love this one by Kuhn Rikon for its streamlined single handle.

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