It’s not difficult to see why over half of travelers prefer vacation home rental to hotels and only 23% prefer hotels. 

Vacation homes offer more space, flexibility, comfort, and are often cheaper. They are a popular choice for families and couples looking for a relaxing, stress-free trip and something different from the norm.

But renting vacation homes can be a minefield. How do you know you are getting a good deal? And with so many vacation home options, how do you pick the right one for you?

This guide covers everything to consider when choosing a vacation rental home for your trip.

Search More Than One Vacation Rental Site

First, you should search for a place to stay on more than one vacation home rental site. Many vacation rentals have business-savvy owners or big management companies running them. They often list their properties on more than one site.

But some smaller owners who run one or two vacation rentals as a side hustle might only have time to update one site. So, it’s a good idea to look at a few.

Here are some of the top vacation home rental sites:

  • Airbnb
  • VRBO
  • TripAdvisor
  • Expedia
  • Agoda
  • Turnkey

There are tons of others, but these are the top websites that should cover the entire area you hope to stay in. Plus, there might be perks to booking on one site over another if you find a property on two sites.

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For example, on every 10th night you book through the site is free. On Airbnb, the hosts can leave return reviews for guests, so you need to follow their rules and be on your best behavior.

Comparing rental fees of the same properties across the sites is another positive.

Consider the Location and Neighborhood

Next, narrow down the location where you would like your vacation home rental to be.

Start researching all the things you want to do during your vacation and places to go. Use a maps tool like Google Maps to pin those locations so you can see the attractions you want to be near. Read blog posts and travel guides on your vacation destination to discover the best neighborhoods.

Consider the amenities you want to be near. Is there a grocery store nearby? Do you want to be able to walk to the local bar and back after a few drinks? Ask yourself what is most important.

With this in mind, you might prefer to stay “off the beaten path” or in a residential area to keep within your vacation home budget. If you have a car, this might be a preferable option with few downsides.

Make a List of Essentials and “Nice to Haves”

There are some things you will be willing to compromise on in a vacation rental and some things you aren’t. For example, if you love staying in wooden lodges or cool auxiliary dwelling units, then a high-rise apartment will not do.

Make a list of your vacation home rental non-negotiables. These could include:

  • Equipped kitchen
  • Parking space
  • Laundry facilities
  • 24/7 check-in
  • Outdoor space
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And then make a list of your “nice to have” items. These could include:

  • More than one bathroom
  • Proper bedrooms for everyone (not a pull-out couch)
  • Desk or workspace
  • Big oven 
  • Heated pool

Your desired vacation home rental might not exist within your price range in your ideal location or there might not be one at all. Creating a list will help you figure out what you really want in a vacation home to avoid disappointment.

Choose a Vacation Home Rental With Cool Extras

Having said that, a vacation rental home with a cool feature could turn a great trip into a memorable one. And not only do they increase the enjoyment of your trip, but they show that the vacation rental’s host cares about the enjoyment of their guests.

Many rentals offer entertainment like board games, streaming services, and video games. These can be life-savers if you experience bad weather during your trip and need to stay indoors.

If you are an Instagram fan, many vacation rentals have cool hanging swings and hot tubs. You will be able to enjoy the activities while making all your friends back home super jealous.

And outdoor vacation homes with backyard features like pizza ovens, BBQs, and fire pits will provide endless fun for the whole family. Who doesn’t love fire-cooked pizza and making s’mores?!

Read the Reviews

This might seem like an obvious point, but you should always read every review before booking a vacation home rental. (Unless a property has over 100 reviews, of course!)

Pay attention to comments about communication with the host. Sometimes things break or go wrong, but as long as you have a responsive host you will be okay.

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Note any noise complaints, safety issues, and heating and cooling issues in particular. You want working air conditioning if you are visiting a warm place in the summer! 

Also, look for any comments where a previous guest mentions something that the host falsified or did not mention in the home’s listing. If they gloss over an important issue, it shows they are not honest and you cannot be sure what else they did not include.

Negotiate the Price

The last thing to consider when booking a vacation home rental is the price. Often on vacation rental sites, you can either book straight away or request to book. But there is almost always an option to contact the host.

If you have time, always contact the host and ask for a discount in the nicest way possible. If you have great reviews and are staying for a long period of time (more than two weeks) they might be happy to cut you a deal.

Otherwise, you can book the vacation home as normal. But you don’t know if you don’t ask!

Enjoy Your Stress-Free Vacation

Booking a vacation home rental instead of a hotel means that your trip is more likely to be relaxing, comfortable, and under budget. And if you follow these handy tips, you will make your vacation even better for the whole family.

Need more travel advice? Browse our website for plenty of other helpful tips and tricks!

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