Tips to help you rent and enjoy a vacation home

No matter where your travels take you, renting a vacation home is a nice option to consider. Having a home with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, a kitchen to prepare meals, and amenities your current home doesn’t have makes for an unforgettable time and lasting memories.

No matter where your travels take you, renting a vacation home is a nice option to consider. Having a home with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, a kitchen to prepare meals, and amenities your current home doesn’t have makes for an unforgettable time and lasting memories.

Over the past several years my family has rented vacation homes in the United States and Europe. Each home we rented was amazing and offered many benefits. Some of the benefits we enjoyed include:

  • The ability to do our laundry. The vacation homes we’ve rented included a washer and dryer. Doing laundry each night after an enjoyable day meant less packing and fewer suitcases.
  • The ability to cook our own meals. My wife enjoys preparing meals and I enjoy cooking on the grill. Being able to plan, prepare, and cook our meals while on vacation made them feel a bit more special. Being able to eat poolside, overlooking a beach or city skyline is spectacular and hard to beat. While it’s more affordable than eating out every day, make sure you try some local restaurants as well.
  • The more the merrier. We like to travel with our friends when our schedules align. Therefore, renting a home together allows us to get a larger home with more amenities at a cheaper price.
  • Nice amenities. The homes we’ve rented included all the comforts of home plus many more. A fireplace, hot tub, swimming pool, and tiki torches made for memorable stays.
  • Amazing views. Based on your budget, you can rent homes with some extremely stunning views.
  • Plenty of privacy and security. Private balconies and entrances as well as fences offer a sense of seclusion which is necessary to have a relaxing vacation. In addition, access codes and 24-hour security may be provided.
  • Plenty of homes to choose from. Based on the destinations we’ve visited, there have always been many homes to select.
    If you’re thinking about renting a home for your next trip, here are some tips to consider.

1. Don’t procrastinate. Renting a home is different than renting a hotel room. When it comes to renting a home, there are usually a ton of homes to choose from, all with different amenities and price points. However, before you rent a home, you’ll need to do your research. I’d suggest renting a home at least six to nine months before your scheduled vacation. There’s nothing worse than working on trip logistics at the last minute. The more time you give yourself, the happier you’ll be.

2. Research, research, research. Prior to booking our flights, my wife spends countless hours researching potential homes on websites such as Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway. Reading reviews from other travelers has been key to helping her select our homes. The more reviews written on the property, the better. While determining price is a part of the research process, here are other things to consider:

  • The amenities provided
  • Transportation options
  • Parking
  • Home safety
  • Standby power backup
  • Neighborhood safety
  • Distance from restaurants, bars, and grocery stores
  • Distance from attractions

3. Communication is key. After finding the right home, the next step is to message the homeowner or property manager with your questions. Obtaining additional details can go a long way in helping you feel comfortable prior to booking it. If the owner or manager isn’t responsive or you feel your questions aren’t being answered, move on to the next property. Always go with what your instinct is telling you.

4. Check out the property virtually. While you may not know the address until the actual booking takes place, you can use apps such as Google Earth or the maps on the rental website to get a feel for what the neighborhood looks like and what’s around the property. A virtual walk through the neighborhood is cool! 

5. Determine what amenities are available. Basic amenities include a full kitchen, internet/WIFI, cable/satellite TV, air conditioning, laundry machines, and parking. For a more memorable vacation look for amenities such as a pool, hot tub, fireplace, and a porch or balcony with a spectacular view. You won’t be disappointed.

6. Inspect the property upon arrival. When you arrive at your home, it’s exciting to finally be there. If you’ve experienced long travel time it also can provide a sigh of relief. However, before getting too comfortable, it’s a good idea to inspect the property. If you find something broken or a stain on the carpet, take a picture and then notify the homeowner or property manager immediately. In many cases, they’re probably aware of it.

However, the last thing you’ll want is to be charged for something you didn’t break. Here’s a list of items to check out:

•    Flooring
•    Furniture
•    Doors
•    Windows
•    Showers/tubs
•    Toilets
•    Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors
•    Appliances

7. Discuss the security deposit. Security deposits protect the property owner from unexpected damages renters cause. However, the amount they charge, when they’ll refund it, and how and when they use it is up to their discretion. It’s wise to have an upfront and open conversation about this as well as the total payment. Again, if you don’t feel comfortable with what you’re being told, look at a different property.

8. Inquire about the cleaning fee. Being charged a cleaning fee is standard practice for vacation rentals. However, each owner may require something different from you. For example, you may be required to strip the beds and do the dishes before you leave. Other owners may just require you to lock the door on your way out.

9. Inquire about maintenance issues. Make sure you know whom to contact if there’s a maintenance issue during your stay as well as how quickly they’ll respond.

10. Follow the house rules. Be respectful of the property and follow their rules. This will ensure you part ways on good terms and get your security deposit back.

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