Vacation rentals can make for a great holiday, if you know what to look for. You’ll want to research location, price, and size before making your booking.
Vacation rentals are different from hotels. There are fewer reviews available, more options, and sometimes you don’t know if you’re dealing with a company or an individual. Don’t give up and book the familiar chain motel just yet though. With a little research, you can not only get a great deal, but find the perfection spot for your next holiday.
There is bigger difference than you’d think between on the beach, beachside, and within walking distance. If you want to open the door to sand and ocean, you’ll probably pay a premium on vacation rentals, especially during the summer months or spring break. You’ll also have to book a minimum number of days (although this is usually required year-round) and pick your days well in advance as they will go fast. If you are travelling with a big group or children and don’t want to be driving back and forth constantly, the closer to the beach or desired attractions the better. Even a short ride of ten to twenty minutes can turn your holiday into a chore rather than a relaxing break.
Vacation rentals come in a variety of sizes, but you can always expect them to be larger than the standard hotel room. They can range from smaller units—one bedroom and one bath, that can fit up to four people on average, to homes that could house twenty or more comfortably. A full kitchen is the norm as well as a living area. If you are sharing quarters but desire some degree of privacy, look for condos that have bedrooms separated by a living area and that have enough bathrooms. Some condos and townhomes are connected to other units, so be sure that you ask the manager about any tenants that may be occupying at the same time. You don’t want to end up with thin walls and a week-long frat party during your family trip.
In the summer and during holiday seasons you aren’t likely to find many deals, unless, of course, you head to a cold beach for Christmas. The best time to find cheaper rates is during the shoulder season, which is a small window between busy travel periods, such as after spring break but before the fourth of July. September is another great time as most children are back in school and there are no major holidays. The best way to get a good deal on vacation rentals is to simply ask. A filled property is more desirable than zero vacancy, so if there are few takers many managers or private owners will be happy to give you a small discount or another incentive to fill it. In terms of overall affordability, an average hotel will cost $150 to $200 per night, excluding tips and other fees. Vacation rentals require a minimum length of stay (3 days or greater is common) but weekly rates are cheaper, around the $700 to $900 range for a one to two bedroom unit.