When the time comes for a family vacation, many people assume that they’re going to be staying in a hotel. Vacation rentals, however, offer a vast array of options. You can stay in a full-size home, complete with individual rooms for everyone in your party–and the best part is, in many cases, it will cost less than renting the number of hotel rooms you’d need to put up your family for the duration of your trip.


A vacation rental can make for a dream vacation. A vacation rental cottage, house, or condo is a wonderful way to experience the comforts of home and live like the locals do when visiting a destination.

A vacation rental refers to renting a furnished house, condo, apartment, villa, or studio on a temporary basis. Vacation rental periods typically range anywhere from daily to weekly. Vacation rentals are available for a variety of vacationers and budgets. They can include a budget apartment or a huge private ocean-front villa with luxury amenities. You can find vacation rental houses or condos just about anywhere including mountain ski areas, remote islands, major cities, or just about anywhere else that you want to visit.

Generally, a vacation rental costs less than a similar hotel room in a comparable area. Also, vacation rentals are usually better set up for families. Many have kitchen facilities to cook your own meals. Vacation rentals typically offer a larger amount of space. They might include more than one bedroom and separate living area. A vacation rental allows for more privacy and you can stay in a residential area versus a more touristy area.

Some of the things to consider include the reservation process, which is different than hotels. Another thing to consider is having to make your own beds and clean each day, as typically daily cleaning are not included in a vacation rental. Ways to lessen the impact of these issues include dealing with only reputable owners or trusted vacation rental companies. Some of these companies offer additional services, such as maintenance, check-in, and daily cleaning.

But, how do you find the perfect vacation rental for your or your family, especially without actually first visiting it? How do you know which vacation rental properties offer the above services? Pictures can sometimes be deceiving. Research is the key to finding the vacation rental of your dreams. Read on to find some tips that will help you find the vacation rental of your dreams.

Know the Area

Know your destination’s neighborhoods. You might find a perfect condo in what appears to be a lovely community, only to later learn that it is known for rowdy college kids and parties all night long. If you are traveling with your family, make sure that you find out which neighborhoods are quieter, and more family friendly. If you are traveling with a group of buddies, you might want to choose something a little more active. Researching the different areas ahead of time can make your vacation relaxing and enjoyable.

Choose a Trustworthy Vacation Rental Company or Owner

Property owners often contract with management companies to handle the rentals of their vacation rental properties. These companies may have a local office or a website. Vacation management companies market the vacation rentals, provide photos and information, and handle billing and reservations. They may also be responsible for managing housekeeping, check-in, and maintenance services.

Booking through a management company will typically ensure housekeeping services, professional staff, and assistance with reservations. Respectable companies will ensure that information provided is accurate. They will also have formal agreements and standardized, policies covering cancelation, responsibilities of the owner, and guarantees.

Sometimes it is possible to find out information about vacation rental properties through internet listing services. Listing services usually do not take responsibility for ensuring that the information displayed is accurate. They usually only display property information and photos that are provided by the property owner. Therefore, you will be more likely to have to obtain information from the owner about booking and cancelation policies.

Pick Your Amenities

Decide which amenities are required and which ones would be nice to have. If you must check in with work while on vacation, then Wi-Fi might be necessary. For others who want to disconnect while away, Wi-Fi may not be needed at all. Start by narrowing down your lists to the must-haves. Get rid of any properties that do not include your necessary amenities. It is always best to double check with the property manager or owner to confirm the amenities in advance. That way, there will not be any surprises when you check in. If you cannot live without air conditioning and then discover that your rental home has no air, this could ruin your vacation.

Investigate the Rental

It is important to research any rental that you are considering to determine if it will be the right rental for you and your travel companions. If you are traveling with small kids, then your ideal vacation rental might be a lively place that offers tons of nearby activities and restaurants. On the other hand, if you are planning a romantic couples getaway with your sweetie, your ideal vacation rental might be in a quiet, secluded area. It is also important to consider the set-up of the rental. While a lovely stone staircase might be a nice touch for a couple traveling together, it could be a hazard for a family with a 3-year-old.

Some of the ways to investigating a vacation rental include checking out travel-related websites for reviews and other information about the rental in question. It is often helpful to search the name and address of the vacation rental that you are interested in and the property owner’s name and the name. This is a good way to obtain additional information about any property that you are considering renting. You might discover the owner was incarcerated for fraud in the past or find numerous complaints from previous renters. Likewise, there may be tons of positive information too.

Choose Your Vacation Rental

Once you have chosen a vacation rental, double check photos, and online reviews to make sure that you have chosen the right rental. When it comes time to make a decision, pick a backup choice, in case your first choice is not available. Sometimes, it can take owners a few days to get back to you. If there is a price change or another problem that makes you re-consider your options, it is best to have a backup choice. Having a backup rental in mind can be really easy to move on to another property if you don’t get a good feeling from a property at any point of the rental process.

Get a Written Rental Agreement

Get your rental agreement in writing and go over it. Many vacation rentals do not have similar policies as hotels and other types of lodging. Some rentals do not offer linens or other things that are typically provided in a hotel room. It is best to review the dates, check in times, check out times, included amenities, and payment requirements. Ask the owner or property management company about anything that is not clear. This will ensure that you know what to expect and won’t be surprised by extra fees and charges for things like pets or cleaning.

Using the tips and tricks outlined above will help ensure that you find the vacation rental of your dreams.