Finding a Vacation Rental for the First Time

May 7th 2016

Whether the idea is to get away from it all or just to have a go-to place for the annual family get-together, if this is your first time renting a home for vacation, you might not know what to expect or how to make plans for the trip. How do you find a place? What do you need to bring? Do you need to plan for preparing meals, or will you have access to a fully stocked kitchen? Will you need tools you wouldn't normally use, such as a lobster cracker? Will you be cleaning the bathroom, or will someone do that for you? Additionally, how do you ensure that you're not going to be scammed? 

Most vacation rentals are processed through brokers, who usually have a website where you can review the rules that outline what is included and what you need to bring. You'll also have to pay close attention to the property descriptions, and remember that most homes rented for vacations will include basic essentials, such as a full kitchen, towels and extra sheets for the beds. Find the reviews from previous renters as well; you'll want to see how other vacations enjoyed the rental and if it fit their needs.  Asking the homeowner questions also is a good way to obtain information.

Here are five basic tips that will help you find a great vacation rental:

Plan Now

You'll want to get ahead of the crowd when finding a rental home. If you think you might want to go somewhere special next summer, start looking a year ahead of time. Some people will book vacation homes year after year, so they tend to go fast. You can book pretty far in advance, especially for beachside rentals, which tend to go quickly. Choose the dates you want to be away and begin searching as early as possible to improve the selection of homes available to you.

Watch Out for Those Scams

It's a sad fact of life, but many people are still out to get a quick buck and run. Avoid vacation homes listed on sites like Craigslist, where the general public is allowed to post the homes. Stick to the home rental sites that broker vacation homes. Get an extra sneak peek of the homes by using Google Maps to make sure that the location meets your expectations. Make sure to read reviews of the property and possibly ask for references from past renters to make sure the property is what it claims to be online.

Hold Back on the Packing

Check the list of what the property offers before packing your suitcases. Look for the things that you would expect, as well as the things you would like to have on vacation, such as corkscrews in the kitchen.  Call the property rental company and ask if there are any items offered for rent directly from the company to make your stay more enjoyable. For example, some beach property brokers will rent beach chairs to vacation home renters, while mountain lodges might offer sleds or skis for renting.

Saving Money Happens Here

Renting a vacation home means you are traveling to a home away from home, with the option of cooking meals on site. Extra amenity fees commonly charged by hotels, such as extra towels, simply don't exist in a vacation home where there is a washer and dryer for a fresh towel every day. While hotel costs are expected to rise, vacation home prices are expected to stay even, saving many travelers a fair amount of money.

Get a Home Away From Home

As this will be a home away from your home, make sure that the rental contains the same amenities that you have at home. For example, do you want cable television in the bedrooms?  Do you have a pool at home that you enjoy? Grab a rental with a pool included. Get a grill or a hot tub that helps you relax when you are in your own home. Check out what types of family entertainment are included in the rental home as well in order to keep everyone entertained while vacationing.

Image Courtesy of Ken Teegardin via Flickr

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