Most families take a vacation at some point during the summer. With school out for a few months, it is an ideal time to take a road trip, go to Europe or head to the beach for a week. Hotels can be expensive family vacation option. Often times a vacation rental can be a more cost-effective way for families to travel.
For the last few years, I have rented from HomeAway. Not only do I trust them because of their Book with Confidence Guarantee, but with over 2 million unique vacation rentals to choose from, HomeAway has the best selection of homes. These are my tried and tested tips for finding the perfect summer vacation rental.
Vacation Rental Search
I’ll admit that I have a bit of a type-A personality. I like to thoroughly research houses before I book. One of the best features on HomeAway is the option to create a favorites list. I currently have a dozen or so lists bookmarked with my ideal vacation rentals. It is easy to just click the red heart icon on listings to add to them to your favorites. By saving places ahead of time, once I know what area we are going to it is very easy to go back and inquire about a booking. I also keep dream vacation list with homes I hope to rent one day like this estate in the South of France.
Read the Reviews
The best advice comes from someone who has already been there. Prior renters offer valuable insight about the home that is often times more than you will get from the listing description. This is important because you want to know when you show up, that everything is as you expected. When we arrived at our house on Eleuthera it was exactly as the pictures depicted. Reading the five-star reviews ahead of time confirmed that we wouldn’t be disappointed with our rental choice.
Use Google Maps
The last thing you want to find is construction going on next door while you are trying to relax on summer vacation. You’ll also want to see the true proximity to your neighbors. Listing photos don’t always accurately portray how close they may be.
The first summer we rented a beach house in Cape Cod we wanted to know just how far the “easy walk to the Atlantic Ocean” would be. We found by looking at Google satellite maps that while the house is close to Nauset Beach, you are still quite a walk to the actual ocean. It required going to the end of the road, cutting through a hedge and then trudging over a dune to actually get to the beach. With families and a lot of beach gear, this was important to know.
Correspond with the Owner
Every time we rent a house we contact the owner prior to our arrival. They are always responsive and incredibly helpful. I usually have questions about the kitchen. I like to ask about which items are already in the pantry. We usually stop at the grocery store before we arrive at our rental and more often than not, the houses already have items like salt, pepper, spices, cleaning supplies and coffee filters. One of the best summer vacation rentals we had on Cape Cod even came with a stocked wine refrigerator. The owner simply asked that you replace what you drank.
Inquire about Wi-Fi
At this point, I’d be surprised to find and vacation rental that didn’t have an internet connection. However, the strength of the signal can vary. We once rented a house where the router was located deep in a corner of the basement which resulted in only being able to get wi-fi if you were standing the directly in the room above it. This may not be important to everyone, but if you work while you are on vacation, or have teens that need to be connected all the time, you’ll want to check on this.
We had trouble with the wi-fi in the flat we rented one summer in Edinburgh. However, the property manager sent someone within 15 minutes of our phone call to remedy the problem. He was prompt, kind and courteous.
Our Next Rental
We are off to Ireland this summer with my extended family. Taking all of my own advice, we found this outstanding property on the Ring of Kerry. We’ve been communicating with the owner of the Caragh Lake House owner for several months. He has even created his own website to help visitors plan their trip. It has suggestions for day trips, where to go food shopping and places to rent boats and bikes. I can’t imagine that when we arrive this house will be anything less than what we have anticipated.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by HomeAway. However, it reflects the honest opinion of my experience without outside influence.
Photo Credit: South of France and Ireland photos are courtesy of HomeAway.