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What to Look for in a Vacation Rental

vacation rentals Mar 20, 2020

Choosing the right vacation rental is crucial because the quality of your accommodation will really impact your overall experience during your vacation. You can get your money’s worth by comparing your options and doing some research before booking anything.

These simple tips will help you find the right vacation rental for your trip:

1. Research different areas and neighborhoods for your destination. Narrow down your options to safe neighborhoods and to areas that are near main roads or public transit hubs.

2. Once you find a potential rental, check the surrounding area with Google Maps. Look for businesses that could be nuisances (pubs, clubs) and locate the nearest stores, doctors, and hospitals.

3. Make a list of the amenities you would like to find in your vacation rental.  A rental with a fully-equipped kitchen would help you save money on food, but you might also want a rental with a good Wi-Fi signal, parking, air conditioning, and maybe a private pool.


4. Make sure it's close to the attractions you're interested in.  Nothing is worse than thinking you're close to an attraction or venue and then finding out that it's a 40-minute commute.


5. Check online reviews and ratings. Ensure the reviews are written by travelers who actually stayed in the rental.  Yes, people will leave ratings even when they haven't stayed there.  Look for reviews that mention a place that is not well-kept, problems with payments or issues with the owner of the rental are red flags.

6. Look for photographs and videos of the rental. Look at them carefully to ensure that every room and amenity is shown. The place should look clean with no signs of damages. Don’t hesitate to ask for more photographs or videos.


7. Use a well-known and reputable company, like Airbnb, VRBO, or Homeaway.  When you use these companies, your payments are much safer than renting from someone on Craigslist or Facebook.  Look for Hosts who have had at least one guest review, so you know they are real.

8. Find out who you are renting from.  Again, using a reputable company to book your vacation rental really helps.  When using Craigslist or other sites, the person you talk to when booking the rental might not be the owner. There is a high incidence of fraud on other sites.  Beware!  If you still decide to take that chance, at least do some background research on the person or agency you’re renting from and avoid booking a rental if it’s difficult to find out who you’re renting from.

9. Read the rental contract very carefully. What are the cancellation policies?  Can you get your money back if someone gets ill and is unable to travel?  The contract should cover what you are paying for, list the amenities included, and specify when the rental will begin and stop. There should be policies regarding damages you might cause and details about payments and refunds.


10. Think about getting rental insurance in case emergencies arise.  Things happen and when you're planning and paying for the trip of a lifetime, it may be worth the small investment of travel and health insurance.  My favorite is with American Express (yes, the credit card company) but many sites offer insurance, as well.


11. Save money by traveling with family or friends.  The best part about staying in a vacation rental is you can have lots of bedrooms and bathrooms, plus save money by cooking "at home."  Save even more by getting a slightly bigger home that can accommodate family or friends.  Make the trip even more memorable, too!

Be flexible! If you can’t find a rental with the exact amenities you want, you could, for instance, choose a rental without a pool as long as you’re within walking distance of the beach or a public swimming pool.

Once again, limit your options to rentals that correspond to your budget and look for something that is clean, well-maintained, and offered by an individual or an agency with an excellent reputation.

Always have a backup plan in case the vacation rental you booked online doesn’t meet your expectations. Find out whether or not you can get a refund and put together a list of nearby rentals, inns, or campgrounds in case you need to change your accommodation at the last minute.

Word of mouth can be a great way to find the perfect rental. If you know anyone who recently traveled to the destination you’re interested in, ask them where they stayed.

If you cannot get a recommendation, take the time to do some research, and don’t hesitate to contact the owners or the rental agencies for the rentals you’re interested in. Have a budget set in advance as well as a list of amenities you desire to easily narrow down your search.


Now go and grow! 



Michelle R Russell

© The Prosperity Process, LLC  

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