There are many benefits to choosing a rental home over a hotel for your vacation: You get your own space, including a kitchen; rentals are cheaper and cozier for larger families than several rooms at a hotel; and you get to live in an area where real people (not tourists or business travelers) live. Unlike a hotel, however, vacation rental amenities and prices are not always consistent from place to place, and pricing sometimes feels like it’s subject to the whims of the owner. It’s important to know what you’re getting into when you book your vacation rental…
So, if you think you’ve found your dream home, here are some questions to ask before you sign the rental agreement.
1. Can the rental accommodate your special needs?
Vacation rental owners try to be accommodating, but sometimes the unique charms of a home may interfere with your ability to enjoy your vacation. If you have allergies, make sure the home is pet free. On the other hand, if your dog is a member of the family, then make sure the home is pet-friendly. If you have a bum knee, then make sure there’s good parking and not too many stairs. If you’ve already made reservations before you discover that the accommodations won’t work for you, then you may lose your deposit. Determine your needs before you book.
2. What appliances do they provide?
You can almost always count on there being an oven, a fridge, and a TV, but other appliances are not always standard. If it’s a long trip like a summer rental, then will you need laundry, a dishwasher, or a grill? Every home is different, and even places that advertise laundry may only have a clothes washer, not a dryer. Get the specifics so you’re not surprised when you arrive.
3. Get specific on location
Ask for distances to nearby things you need or want access to (the beach, the grocery store, etc.). You’ll be amazed to discover that “beach front” can also mean “a ten minute walk to the beach”. If the home advertises a destination as “close to” or “walkable”, then you need to find out just how far the owners are willing to walk. A ten minute walk to the store may be easy for a fit proprietor, but out of the question for a guest who walks with a cane.
4. Linens, towels, toiletries, kitchenware – are these included?
In some destinations, it’s standard for guests to supply their own linens. Many rentals may request that you bring your own beach towels. Others, like hotels, will provide you with shampoo and soap, and some owners even stock the kitchen not only with normal supplies, but herbs and food staples as well. Ask the owner what’s included so that you don’t have to make a midnight supply-shopping trip when you arrive.
5. What do I do if something goes wrong?
This question is important and frequently overlooked. You need to know who you can contact and how fast they will respond in the event of an emergency. If the power goes out, if the AC stops working, or if any of the thousand things that can go wrong in a house do go wrong, you’ll want to be prepared.