"" Writer's Wanderings: Vacation Rentals - Finding Your Special Place

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Vacation Rentals - Finding Your Special Place

A trip to the Smokey Mountains and a stay on the beach in North Carolina were our first experiences with vacation rental properties. They worked out well and we have lots of fond memories of those vacations.

When we wanted to take our kids and grands to Disney World we saved a lot of money by renting a house that would accommodate all eleven of us since one family had to stay home with a newborn. It also gave us the opportunity to have a home base to visit with each other. In addition, we could cook a few meals and make lunches to take into the park. The house was a short drive from the entrance to Disney and it worked out so well that we did it again several years later with a house that could accommodate fourteen of us (we've grown even more since then).

More recently we have rented several condos in Key Largo and yes, become snow birds for the winter.

Rental properties are available all over the world and are often a much nicer way to station yourself in an area and explore for less than a hotel or B&B especially when you have the opportunity to cook some meals. Several sites online are available to peruse properties: VRBO, Dwellable, Homeaway and Flipkey (owned by TripAdvisor). Here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Not all pictures are the same. A good photographer or edit job can make something look a whole lot better than it is. Look for outdated kitchen appliances and other clues that it might not be exactly as portrayed.
  • Check out guest comments on a different site. Sometimes the comments are all from friends and family giving the place a good name or the opposite can be true--the competition tearing it down. Find the middle ground for something closer to the truth.
  • Call the owner if possible and ask lots of questions like how many beds and are they beds or pull out couches. Is there a cleaning fee? Amenities like shampoo, laundry detergent (if there's a washer/dryer), hair dryer. Much of that may be on the listing but if not, be sure to ask.
  • Get it in writing if you can. This past year, we had someone who said, "Oh, just send me the first month's payment and we'll be fine." We insisted on a lease agreement since we were counting on staying more than a month.

Happy travels!

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