Tips for Choosing a Vacation Rental

Published on Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Make sure you and your clients know what to expect from a vacation home rental.

Renting a vacation home is growing in popularity for travelers who prefer the sanctuary of a private home over the sometimes chaotic schedule of large hotels and resorts. Talk with your clients about their lifestyle and previous vacation experiences to see if this is something they might like.

Why Rent a Vacation Home

Privacy is one of the primary reasons people rent a house, according to research by HomeAway.com, a leading online site for the vacation rental industry. More than 40 percent of those who have never rented say privacy is one of the reasons why they are considering; 72 percent who have rented in the past say “getting away from others” is the best reason to rent a home instead of more traditional lodging choices.

“Vacation rentals not only allow an escape from a crowded hotel pool but privacy from family members along on the trip,” wrote Jon Gray with HomeAway. “Privacy, quiet and space on vacation are invaluable when trying to disconnect from the stress at home and reconnect with family or friends.”

That’s why one couple – let’s call them the Smiths – have rented homes on four vacations. Most recently, they rented a home in Hawaii with seven other family members, including small children.

The Smiths had plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms as well as a number of porches and outdoor spaces, nooks and crannies on the inside that could easily be used as a quiet escape. Walking along the beach, sitting by the pool or sitting quietly and reading – everyone was able to do exactly what they wanted, usually gathering together or meals or other activities. 

Typically, the average vacation rental home is about 1850 square feet. Compare that with an average hotel room that is about 325 square feet.

When using a short-term vacation rental, guests have a much better opportunity to get to know the local culture and the community. Talking with locals at the market or even neighbors are enriching travel experiences that simply can’t happen in hotels.

Typically, the average vacation rental home is about 1850 square feet. Compare that with an average hotel room that is about 325 square feet.

A big consideration when renting a home is how much you like to cook or want to cook while on vacation. In general, it can be a big savings, particularly for quick or easy meals like breakfast or afternoon snacks. That could save enough money to splurge on activities or souvenirs.

Depending on the number of individuals traveling and your lifestyle interests, renting a house is usually a little cheaper than a hotel, particularly in places like the Caribbean. Aruba and Nassau, The Bahamas are the two destinations with the largest volume of vacation rentals, but nearly every island in the Caribbean has a good selection of rental properties. Always double check on parking availability on the islands though.

A final note about benefits of vacation rentals – it’s almost always easier to travel with a pet when renting a home than staying in a hotel.

Tips for Finding the Right Vacation Rental

  • Make sure the house is managed by a professional real estate rental agency.
  • Make sure the house is in a safe area or a development that has security. (Some people like to search Google Earth to get a feel for the neighborhood).
  • Read the reviews to get a better idea of what the property is really like. The more reviews and photos a vacation home has, the better.
  • Talk to the homeowner and ask a lot of questions so you know what to expect upon arrival.
  • Talk with your homeowners insurance to see what might be covered in case of accidents. Check with your travel insurance provider to determine if additional insurance is needed.
  • The booking window for vacation rentals is typically 90 days, so the sooner the better to ensure you have options to perfectly accommodate your family or group.
  • Get all rental rules in writing in advance, including check-in/out times, cancellations and refund policies.
  • Call first before paying to confirm the details of your reservation and payments before making the purchase.
  • Pay online by credit card or via secure services like PayPal. Never ever consider mailing cash.
  • Get the name of an on-site contact or property manager who can help you in case of an emergency or any issues arise.
  • If renting in another country, know how to call for emergency services.

 Any vacation rental should be protected by travel insurance. Consider becoming a RoamRight partner to make sure your clients are covered.

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