Top 7 Travel

Vacation Rentals: Top 7 Tips When Booking a Vacation Rental

Posted on 8 April 2014 by Mitch Wilson

Top 7 Things To Keep In Mind When Booking a Rental Property For Your Vacation

Going beyond the basic description of a vacation rental property

When I am traveling and I am going to be somewhere for more than a few days I prefer to rent a Condo or a House over staying in a hotel. For me a hotel is nice for a few days but after that I get a little sick of the $70 breakfasts and having to tip six different people before I even walk out of the door. Over the years I have found some great places and some not so great ones and here are a few things to keep in mind when booking a vacation rental.

7) Always Check the Cancelation Policy – No matter how dependable you are sometimes things come up and you need to cancel or postpone a trip. Sometimes you have a lot of notice and sometimes you have very little. What I have found is some rental agencies are very flexible as far as canceling while others aren’t at all. I can understand not getting any kind of refund if you cancel a few days or weeks ahead of the scheduled trip but some won’t refund your money even if it is more than six months in advance which just isn’t fair or right as they have plenty of opportunity to fill the vacancy. Avoid the hassle up front, check and pay attention.

6) Look at the Place on the Map – Near the beach, a walk from the beach or near the park are all pretty subjective terms and phrases and if the location and proximity to certain things are important to you, make sure you are near them. Of course the rental agencies are going to want to present their property in the most positive light and appeal to the most people but maps don’t lie and these days there are a lot of ways to map out the exact distance and course it takes to get just about anywhere. Take the few minutes and use the resources available to you.

5) Use Common Sense in Pricing – If a place is much cheaper than all of the other places around it, then you might not be getting what you expect. While if price is your number one concern and finding the lowest price is all that is important by all means just grab the cheapest place you can find. If you are looking for the same amenities as similar listings at a fraction of the price, usually that place is too good to be true.

4) Compare Fees – Two of the more common fees are cleaning fees and a security deposit for damage and these can vary widely. For cleaning fees just look at the other listings in the area and while they may be a few dollars difference if it is any more than that, question it or avoid it. As for the damage deposit, I am less of a fan of this as I am certainly not going to spend my vacation walking around a condo looking for damage I might be accused of later. The best solution here is to find units that offer damage insurance which usually runs a just few bucks and this way if anything happens or you didn’t notice something you are covered.

3) Check the Check in and Check Out Times – Some unit owners are really flexible about this and I have had cases where my flights my flights arrived very early in the morning and the owner just charged me for a half of a day so I didn’t have to worry about where I was going to put my things or how I could kill time before I could enter the unit. Some unit owners are absolutely inflexible and some unit owners just ask you to call and check and if no one is in the unit the day before you can just come when you arrive. More than once I have just booked the day before so I don’t have to worry about it or book the day after if I have a later departure time.

2) Pay Attention to the Descriptions and Pictures/ Ask Questions – Terms like full kitchen and kitchenette are different and what some people call a kitchen are different. The kitchen thing I found missing before I knew to look or ask in the pictures is an oven. If you want to make a frozen pizza or something one night without an oven, it isn’t going to happen. A common one in general is the number of people it sleeps; this could entail a pullout couch which is pretty standard but I have seen it mean an air mattress which is playing dirty in my book, Another one is Satellite TV or Cable TV, these can be different than basic cable or premium cable or the name of a specific cable company. I have stayed at places that said Satellite TV and it meant just the local channels. While I am usually not on vacation to watch TV, watching the news or sports in the morning with my coffee is part of why I stay in a rental.

1) Pay Close Attention to the Reviews and the Reviewers – Some people only leave reviews if they are bad and we need to take a look at this. Has this person just left one review, as they were so happy or so pissed off they created an account just to leave a review? If so something is really good or bad. If more than one person has done this, maybe you better believe it. Some of the things I check for in the reviews beyond the basics of clean or the location being accurate are some of the little things like: “the place was fantastic except the internet didn’t work the whole time” or “And the kitchen was stocked with quality pans and even most of the basic spices so I didn’t have to go out and buy them”. As in most things, it is all in the details and these are the things that could be difference makers in your stay. 


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