This year especially is a hot market for vacation home rentals in the United States. Families looking to escape their homes and explore a new area are finding vacation homes to be a great option. If you are considering renting a vacation home for a family vacation, there are some things you’ll need to consider before and after you book.
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Vacation Home Rental Tips For Families
Finding a Vacation Rental
This season, it can be a little challenging to find the perfect vacation rental for your family. Be patient, and look in a variety of places. In some cases, you may also get lucky and find a last-minute cancellation, so keep looking.
Start out by looking at the popular booking websites, including Vrbo (Vacation rentals by owner) and Airbnb. These sites make it easy to search based upon your dates, preferred location, and desired amenities. You can book directly through them.
You may also want to ask your friends for suggestions. There are some people who book their homes privately – not through a large website.
Of course, you will want to be cautious, and make sure that you know who you are sending money to. You can save money, and find a great gem of a property, but you won’t have the protection of booking through a large website. So, be sure you have some references.
When you are looking for a vacation home, you’ll also have to be selective with your vacation dates. Some homes will have a three-night minimum, while others may require a weekly stay starting on Saturday or Sunday. To get the perfect property, you may need to adjust/extend your vacation dates.
What to Look For in a Vacation Home Rental
Once you find a property that fits in your budget, travel dates, and location, you’ll need to look at some other things. The most important is the size of the home and the number of bedrooms. You’ll also want to learn about the specific location/neighborhood, the amenities, and the other benefits to the house.
As you look at the listing, you’ll want to be aware of a few things. If there are any reviews of the property, read them all thoroughly. You should also look through all of the photos.
Keep in mind that often, photos in these listings will be taken with a wide-angle lens. You’ll also want to see how many bedrooms there are and where they are located. If it’s summertime, find out if there is air conditioning in the home.
A while back, we booked a three-bedroom vacation home. When we arrived, one of the “bedrooms” was a set of bunk beds in a hallway upstairs that felt very unsafe for kids. The second bedroom was in the basement – where we definitely couldn’t have the kids sleep alone.
We recently booked a vacation house that has one bedroom that is only accessible by walking through another bedroom. That worked out fine for us but could be an issue if you are booking with another family. That was mentioned right on the listing so we were aware of it before booking.
What Questions to Ask About Vacation Home Rentals
Before you book the home, there are some specific things you should ask:
- Find out about specific amenities that are important to you. If a pool or beach is listed, find out if these are open to guests or are part of a community clubhouse/membership.
- Clarify the room situation if it’s confusing on the listing.
- Ask any other questions, including information about the location.
- Find out about parking, especially for city rentals.
After you book the property, you’ll want to get the answers to these questions:
- What you need to bring – sheets, toiletries, towels, etc.
- The cleaning process for check out, including where to put the garbage, sheets, and towels as you leave.
- What types of cleaning supplies are provided, like dishwashing soap, sponges, etc?
- What the WiFi password is
- Check-in procedure/lockbox code
- Check-in and check-out times
- Information about BBQ grill, firepit, etc.
Typically a vacation home may provide some supplies, like napkins, toilet paper, and garbage bags. During our recent stay, we received a bag with one of each item, which was perfect for our short stay. For a longer stay, we would have needed to bring some of our own.
What to Bring to a Vacation Home Rental
If you aren’t sure, it’s a good idea to bring a bag filled with essentials. We have a pre-packed bag with the following items:
- Garbage bags
- Laundry supplies – washer tabs, dryer sheets
- Lysol spray and wipes
- Dishwashing detergent for handwashing and dishwasher tabs
- A sponge
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Toiletries like bath soap, hand soap, shampoo, and conditioner
I also add in my hairdryer, as it isn’t a guarantee that there will be one in the home.
You may also want to bring food for snacks and to cook, as well as coffee if you drink it in the morning. Alternatively, you could always find out where the nearest grocery store is. Grocery delivery is also an option, and some rental companies offer it directly.
Depending on the home, you may need to bring your own towels and linens. Find out in advance. On our recent stay, the towels were provided in sealed bags, and we only used what we needed.
Have you stayed in a vacation home?