In the past, traveling meant staying in hotels and motels. Now, thanks to the internet, you have much more control over your travel experience and can book directly with property owners who have vacation rentals. However, there are a few things you’ll need to think about before going the VRBO route.How to choose the perfect Vacation Home Rental. This is a short guide on six things to consider before settling on one.
6 Things to Look for in a Vacation Home Rental
1. Start Planning Early
The best piece of advice is to start early. As is the case with any travel-related product, timing is everything. As you get closer to the day of travel, supply shrinks, demand increases, and prices reflect the narrowing gap.
Most vacation rentals will take reservations at least 12 months in advance, so start looking as soon as you’ve selected dates and know where you’re going. This will allow you to relax in the weeks leading up to your vacation.
2. Inquire About Capacity
Here’s an inside tip: Always ask about the “real” capacity of a property. When property owners list capacity on a website, it’s not always a realistic figure. For example, a property may say that it sleeps eight people, but that number may include two pullout sofas. Depending on your situation, a pullout sofa in the living room may not work well.
Furthermore, you need to think about the amenities. If a house sleeps 12 but only has two bathrooms, are you really going to be comfortable on your vacation? All these details matter.
3. It’s Okay to Negotiate
Most people are so conditioned to staying at hotels, where the listed price is the actual price, that we forget there’s some flexibility in VRBO listings. The property owner can easily raise or lower prices. If you notice that specific property has lots of vacancy, consider negotiating for a lower price. The worst thing that could happen is they’ll say no and you’ll end up paying full price.
4. Research the Property and the Owner
Never take someone’s word. As you know by now, not everything you see on the internet is true. Over the years, there have been a number of rental property scams and you don’t want to be the next victim. In addition to researching the property and verifying details, you’ll also want to vet the owner.
Run Google and social media searches of the owner’s name, just to make sure everything checks out. You should also see if they have profiles on other listing sites and read through reviews of their properties. Choosing the perfect vacation home rentals for your vacation is crucial, as your accommodation can make or break your experience.
5. Protect Yourself
“Always get a formal lease agreement that lays out all the terms of the rental, which protects both you and the owner should something happen,” travel writer Colleen Kelly says. “Read the fine print—especially the cancellation policy, which tends to be stricter than at hotels—and bring a copy with you on your trip.” Kelly also points out that it’s normal to pay in full prior to your stay, but you can try to negotiate a 50 percent deposit.
6. Use Multiple Sites
“It can be time-consuming to hunt down the perfect vacation rental, so consider using a site that aggregates all of the rentals posted across the Web,” travel writer Erin Gifford suggests. There are dozens of these sites and you’d be surprised to see the discrepancies between them.
Take it Slow
Assuming you start planning well in advance, there’s no rush to book a property. You have plenty of time to sort through your options, contact owners, negotiate prices, and get everything squared away. Mistakes happen when people get pressured into making choices and forget about small, important details.
As they say, slow and steady wins the race. Or in this case, slow and steady lands you the best possible vacation home rental.