How to Choose the Perfect Vacation Rental
Hotels can be expensive family vacation options. Often times a vacation rental can be a more cost-effective way for families to travel. If you are a looking to spend less, have more room and even an oceanfront view, consider a home rental for your next vacation. For the last few years, I have found the best vacation homes using a these tips.
Vacation Rental Search
Having a type-A personality I like to thoroughly research vacation houses before I book. Whether it is a condo on the Gulf Shores of Alabama or a villa in Costa Rica I do my due dilligence before signing the rental contract.
One of the best features on VRBO is the option to create a Trip Boards. I always 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 boards. 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. You can also share these boards with your travel companions. I also keep a dream vacation list with homes I hope to rent one day like this estate in the South of France.
The best advice comes from someone who has already stayed at the vacation rental. 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 at your beach house, that everything is as you expected. When we arrived at our rental 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 house by the beach 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 rental 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.
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. Alhtough we usually stop at the grocery store before we arrive at our rental home more often than not, the houses already have items like salt, pepper, spices, cleaning supplies and coffee filters. One our favorite vacation rentals in 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 home 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.
Ireland Vacation Rental
Taking all of my own advice, I found this outstanding property on the Ring of Kerry for a multi-generational trip with my parents. I communicated with the owner of the Caragh Lake House owner for several months to iron out all the detaisl. 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 wish more vacation home rentals had this type of information available. It certainly makes travel planning easier.
This house made our Best Vacation Rental Homes Around the World list.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by VRBO. However, it reflects the honest opinion of my experience without outside influence.
Photo Credit: South of France and Ireland photos are courtesy of VRBO.