The face of travel is constantly changing. More families and individuals are opting for an alternate form of vacationing than ever before. And with the average American spending anywhere between $4400 to $6600 per year on travel, finding a vacation rental (as opposed to your typical hotel room) has become more and more appealing.
But with all the options out there, finding the perfect vacation home rentals can seem like a daunting task. Not to worry! Get ready to break out your suntan lotion and flip-flops, because you are about to discover how to find your next vacation rental in no time.
Start Early and Do Your Research
Unlike your standard hotel room, good quality vacation rentals, especially for larger groups, get booked early. Some like to do annual trips to the same beach house or cabin, either due to the great location, price, or quality standards the rental has.
So start looking at least six months (or more) before you want to take your trip. Check out online maps and fun things to do in the area. Also, be sure to take a look at the location of prospective vacation home rentals in relation to the various activities you would like to do while there.
Do a comparison, if you can, of vacation houses that are similar in scope when it comes to the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Read the reviews of past guests if you can, and see what they had to say about certain issues and if they were handled quickly or not.
If you have a question about the particular accommodation you are looking at, a lot of online sites give you the option to contact the owner. An owner or company that is friendly, obliging, and quick to respond to your questions points to good customer service.
What if you find them dismissive or unwilling to get you the information you requested? Then you can probably expect the same kind of treatment on your vacation.
Make Sure Your Vacation Rental Has What Your Trip Needs
Whether you are planning on getting your luxury vacation rentals in Orlando or Eleuthera or somewhere in between, pick a vacation rental that suits your needs. What are some features to look for?
The basics include the number of rooms and bathrooms. Usually, each listing will tell you the largest number of people that the vacation rental can handle. Do not try to push the envelope by squeezing too many people for the sake of saving a few dollars. This can make for an uncomfortable stay, and a lot of vacation rental companies have a policy of not returning your deposit if you ignore the rules.
What other features should you look for? Well, if you are traveling as a family with children, amenities like a washer and dryer might be appealing. Another thing that some who are used to staying in hotels expect is daily housekeeping or towel and linen service.
Yet, each vacation rental may have its own policy (or none at all). So looking into what they offer in particular will help so you aren’t surprised to find your towel still on the floor the next day.
You might want to keep in mind other things people who are used to hotel stays often take for granted, like functional wi-fi. This service is sometimes not available in some vacation rentals that are located in a sparsely populated or mountain-surrounded area. So if this is a deal-breaker, check to make sure it’s available first before booking.
And are you thinking of bringing your pet along? There are many affordable vacation rentals out there that welcome your furry friend, but not all do. Before assuming you can bring Fido along, you might want to ask the owner or company first about its pet policy.
Make Your Booking Through a Reputable Travel Agency or Online Company
Sorry, Craigslist, that means you are out of the running. Listings on Craigslist have a tendency to be misleading and a scam. So, when searching for vacation rentals online, look through websites that are credible and have a well-established customer base.
Never, EVER accept a listing that requires you to wire money directly to the owner. They have the option to then ‘disappear’ with your money, leaving you with no rental in the end. Instead, go with companies or individuals who will take the standard call-in or online reservation, and do so with a credit card.
Be Willing to Shop Around
Depending on the time of year, sometimes vacation rentals are more affordable than others. There could be discounts offered during a particular area’s ‘slow season’.
Or there could be a group rate that would help in planning that next family reunion. So be willing to look around for a little bit and do some price-comparison.
Shopping around includes finding out what their cancellation policy might be. Sometimes it is better to book a rental that may be a little more expensive for the sake of being able to alter or cancel the reservation if something should come up.
And whatever you do, realize that the old mantra ‘if it seems like it’s too good to be true, it probably is,’ can also apply to renting vacation homes. In other words, if you find that luxurious five-room beach waterfront condo at the height of summer for a cost similar to a stay at the local Days Inn, then you might be disappointed when you arrive to find a leaky roof and an air conditioner that doesn’t work. Go with what’s affordable, but don’t be taken in by grandiose claims at discount prices.
Get Ready to Pack Your Bags
It’s always fun looking forward to your next getaway. And despite all the planning, saving, and foresight involved, it’s well worth all the work when you get there. So follow these tips and you can experience the luxury vacation rental lifestyle in no time — and don’t forget the suntan lotion.
Are you looking for more good vacation, home, or lifestyle ideas? Browse our online magazine for some more healthy lifestyle tips!