“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson
More and more travelers are leaving home…for a home! Today you can find anything from a castle to a tree house! Whether it’s a spare bedroom, an apartment, a guest home or villa, you can enjoy the creature comforts of home on the road. Retired couples, solo travelers, students, families…no matter what category you fall into, there’s a rental that is perfect for you!
Depending on your budget and the country, region, city, amenities, and the type of vacation you want to have, vacation rentals can provide a literally thousands of possibilities and a rich source of travel options you may have thought impossible. Create your own wish list and have fun finding your next vacation stay!
You will want to do your homework and planning. Here are a few guidelines you will want to consider as first-time renters:
- Is the property professionally managed or rented by its owners?
- Is a rental contract required?
- If not, how will all transactions be handled?
- Will you need to make a security deposit? What are its return/refund policies?
- What are the renter’s cancellation policies?
- What pre-departure steps are required from renters (cleaning, laundering sheets and towels, etc.)?
- Are there fees for additional guests?
(Source: USA Today and Smartertravel.com)
Other helpful guidelines:
- Be clear about what your requirements and needs are. What is negotiable? What is not?
- Pay attention to the details and read the descriptions carefully.
- There may be three bedrooms, but only one bathroom. So, it may sleep six but…do you want six of you sharing one bathroom?
- Is one of the “beds” a rollaway in the living room or ? If so, is that ok?
- Look at the size of the space. I’ve read some phenomenal descriptions with cute photos then read that it’s only 400 sf…is that adequate?
- Are the kitchen facilities important? What are they? Are they adequate for your needs?
- If it’s on the third or fourth floor or higher, is there an elevator?
- If you’re traveling solo, know about the neighborhoods and choose rentals in secured buildings and/or on the second floor or above .
- Is there a minimum stay requirement?
- What are the check-in and check-out times?
- What facilities are you sharing? (Especially important if you’re renting a spare room.)
- Location, location, location! Most rentals show a map, look carefully to be sure it’s conveniently located for what you want to do. You may save a few dollars by renting further away, but end up spending it on buses, cabs and in time wasted. If you’re renting a car, where can you park?
- Go with a reputable company/organization. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true…
- Reviews a great way to “fact check”. Again, be sure that they are recent stays and that the reviewer(s) are similar in demographics. In other words, a young student may be fine with a tiny bedroom and no private bath, but will you?
- That personal touch: You may notice little extras that the owners have done for their renters that aren’t included in the general description, but are noted in the reviews. Examples would be a welcome bottle of wine or basket of local products; personally meeting you at the train station or near the rental; providing helpful information (brochures, etc.) and recommendations for nearby restaurants, sites and amenities; if staying in their home,, offering optional meals with the family for a fee.
- Be realistic about your budget range.
- Know that the popular rentals will book way in advance so be sure to check their availability before you fall in love with it!
Some of the more popular sites are: Vacation Rentals by Owner (www.VRBO.com), HomeWay (www.homeaway.com), AirBNB ( www.airbnb.com) and Vacations Abroad (www.vacations-abroad.com). There are also specific country/region sites such as The Parker Villas for Italy.
Interested in offering your home or room? All of these sites can help you and, if you’re interested in exchanging or swapping. there are reputable sites, such as www.homeexchange.com, to help you.
No doubt this is a trend that will continue to grow.
Just goes to show that there really is no place like home!
(Note re: websites cited – this list is by no means all inclusive nor is it an endorsement.)
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