You have to be realistic, but if I have a feeling that I'm heading to a place where the kitchen is (to be kind) not going to be the highlight, I try to save room for a 10-inch nonstick aluminum skillet in my bag. It doesn't weigh much, and it's something that I will use two or three times a day.

There is one other piece of hardware I have started to take along, because I can't live without it, and even if you find one in your rented kitchen, it's going to be of a variety that is unusable, and that's my tongs. I use them all the time, and for some reason, non-cooks don't understand their value, probably because non-cooks always buy the lousy versions. (You want longish ones, around 10 inches, with metal tips; they need not be expensive.) Same goes with a corkscrew: I bring a $4 waiter's corkscrew because I have had enough of those wing things and those that are even worse than that.

I will not pack my mandoline, I will not pack my immersion blender, I will not pack my microplane. (Say this over and over.) I might want those things, and I might regret not packing one of them, but there's a line here that, once crossed, is going to mean you're not bringing shoes. And you gotta have shoes. (This assumes you're flying. There are times I've driven to other people's houses and brought all of those things, plus a paella pan. If you're driving, it's a whole different situation. You can bring your food processor. You can bring your Sonos, for that matter.)

Some other things I haven't mentioned that you might consider: a Melitta top and some filters, though a creative person can make coffee with a saucepan and a sock; an instant-read thermometer, if you're the kind of person who uses one daily, because you'll never see that in Other People's Kitchens; a flexible cutting board, which weighs nothing and will come in handy (at my last destination, I got scolded for leaving marks on the butcher block, even though in my opinion that's what a butcher block is for); and—if you have one—a small kitchen scale, again if you're the kind of person who cooks that way.