How do I rent a vacation home?
This may be a bit off the beaten track for you, Dave, but I'm contemplating renting a house for our annual family vacation but really don't have a clue how to proceed. Can you offer any advice on how to rent a vacation home or holiday home? Thanks!
That is indeed a bit off of our usual topics here, but that's okay. Keeps things interesting! And, as it happens, we not infrequently rent a house or condo when we travel on holiday, as a vacation rental can be dramatically less expensive than staying in a hotel.
But, fortunately, you don't have to rely on my limited experience in this regard because Christina Radvon has agreed to share her own terrific insider tips and best practices on renting a vacation home. Here's what she suggests:
Have you ever considered renting a vacation home, but thought it was only something for those people who qualify as rich and famous?
Reconsider! Renting a vacation home is one of the most relaxing options for an overnight or week-long stay, especially for larger families. Families of five get the fuzzy end of the lollipop at many hotel chains. They either have to book two rooms, or get a cot and spend a week tripping over one another and sharing one tiny bathroom. Not to mention all the big bucks spent on meals for five or more!
Vacation homes provide room to spread out, a kitchen to prepare less expensive meals (including a fridge so you can actually buy groceries to SAVE money!), plenty of rooms and beds for everyone, a yard to let the kids run wild and free, and -- best of all -- the price is comparable (often less!) per night to a hotel room(s) for the same number of people.
Renting a vacation home is simple. Vacation home listings can be found online, in phone books, even through Realtor's offices. One of the best ways to find a vacation home is by word of mouth. If an acquaintance mentions a great vacation home stay, ask questions about the area, the sights, the home itself. Get the number and call to find out more. Another great way to find a vacation home is through professional references. Many points of interest like national parks and amusement parks have local lodgings pages on their web sites. Search the lodgings listings to find more information about rental agencies and private home owners.
There are lots of questions you'll want to ask such as:
If a renter can't or won't answer any of your questions, simply move on to the next listing. If you get a good feeling and your questions are quickly answered, proceed with your booking!
The next task for many renters is figuring out how to cram everything you'll need into one vehicle! Renting a home and road tripping seem to go hand-in-hand. Many rental homes do require you to provide all your own bedding and towels which can take up a monstrous amount of space in your luggage!
You'll need to get creative with your packing (pack half as much if there are a washer and dryer available) and, possibly, rent or purchase a rooftop cargo carrier to hold all the extras. The new space-saving bags that roll out the excess air without a vacuum are great for saving space when packing blankets and pillows. Be sure to buy the extra-large bags. You'll need some elbow grease to get the pillows in and roll out the air, but they fluff up like new when you arrive and unpack! The rooftop cargo carrier also gives you the opportunity to take along a larger, more comfortable stroller or wagon for younger kids or sporting gear/toys for older kids. And a rental home has plenty of space to roll that stroller right inside at the end of a long day. No tripping or middle-of-the-night toe-stubbing and muttering either!
Some vacation homes offer that extra level of service: real housekeeping between renters. If you can find a rental with that option available, you'll probably spend a bit more, but driving and hauling all the extra stuff won't be necessary. Whatever options are available to you, make the most of a relaxing stay by treating yourselves to a few meals out and enjoy some down time at the end of each day talking about all your activities and fun times. As you and your family of sit around the living room, talking about your exciting adventures, you'll wonder how (and why!) you ever managed the expense of two hotels rooms or crammed yourselves into one tiny room.
Speaking personally, I couldn't agree with these points more. We find that our daily expenses are approximately the same as when we're home when we have a kitchen and can prepare our own meals, plus then going out for a meal is a real treat, rather than the incessant $18 bagel and oatmeal breakfast that the kids never eat anyway. Thanks for all these great tips, Chrissi! You can find Chrissi online, by the way, at the popular Passporter Boards discussion forums where she helps manage the huge volume of discussion about vacation destinations and logistics.
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