Several years ago, my family and I decided we would take an extended trip to the UK to celebrate our children’s educational accomplishments. As a family, we had never been “across the pond”, as they say, and we were overjoyed at the idea.
However, we already knew that hotel rooms present a problem when trying to meet our dietary needs, or our budget. Recently we had been reading about renting whole homes for reasonable prices anywhere in the world, so decided to look into it. So we began the process and it turned out to be quite a learning experience.
There were so many factors to consider when renting a vacation rental home, but what were the most important, at least to us. After going through that process and then actually renting and enjoying them we have come up with five of the most important considerations that we found to be on the top of our list. They are listed below, but in no particular order, as each one was just as important as the other four.
1. Make Sure The Vacation Rental Home Accommodates The Number of People in Your Party, The Way You Want To Be Accommodated.
We were a family of four and finding a home with the right sleeping configurations was a chore at best. Most of the listings we found said the home would sleep four people, but when we looked further into the details we found that sometimes the sleeping arrangements were on the couch or on the floor on an air mattress. These configurations were not suitable to us for the extended amount of time we would be staying. We needed three bedrooms so that our son and daughter could have a place to crash and relax or nap as needed. It took us some time to find the right homes, but in the long run it was well worth it.
2. Be Clear About What Charges You Are Paying For
We found that each vacation rental home owner had their own pricing structure that can include base rental and any extras such as departure cleans, pool heat, security deposits, accidental damage waiver premiums, etc. Some of the owners outlined all the costs up front, and some were vague about what the extra costs would be.
We learned to ask lots of questions about the pricing and we only dealt with the owners who would take the time to explain the process to us as well as provide a clear total amount. We did not want to travel all the way to the UK to find out we had extra costs that would eat into our fun budget.
3. Know What Amenities are Included With Your Rental.
This one we learned the hard way. One of the homes we rented said they supplied towels. But when we arrived we found it was just bath towels. And one per person. There were no facecloths or hand towels.
Another home we rented advertised free Wi-Fi, but when we arrived we found that the router actually belonged to a neighbor and in order for us to access the Wi-Fi we had to stand in one spot in the living room just to get a weak signal. At the time we were trying to SKYPE with an ill relative back home on a daily basis, which meant all huddling around the person holding the computer, making the task somewhat difficult.
Vacation rental homes are often self-catering which means you will supply your own toilet paper, dish soap, soap and shampoo, etc. By knowing this up front you can make the necessary accommodations needed for your family. Always ask the homeowner if they have an amenities list. Many owners have a website that lists what is included and if there is an extra fee for them.
4. Plan Arrival and Departure Times Around Check-in and Check-out Times of the Home
Most vacation rental owners have check-in and check-out times in place. Knowing what they are is very helpful in planning your travels, because they there is usually not much flexibility around them. In general it takes longer to prepare a rental home for the next guest than it would for a hotel room, and the check-in/check-out times are arranged to account for this. Remember, in a vacation rental home there are multiple rooms to clean, as well as the outside areas.
Often times housekeeping will arrive within minutes of your departure to get the home ready for the next guest. Some owners do have early check-in or late check-out times, but be prepared to pay an extra fee for this. The owner generally has to block the home for the 24 hours prior or after in order to accommodate this.
5. Be Sure to Know the Rules and Policies of the Home
The last thing you want to happen is to arrive with Fido only to find out he can’t stay in the home with you. Make sure if you are traveling with pets that you rent from a pet friendly home.
Most vacation rental homes prohibit smoking. This not only just keeps the house from smelling bad, but helps keep the home free from allergens for the next guests. Our son has life threatening asthma, and just being in an area that a smoker has been in can bring on an attack for him. We had to make absolutely sure that every home we rented was smoke free.
In Florida, each resort establishes their own set of rules above and beyond the owners policies. These usually include quiet hours, limits on number of vehicles allowed for each home (this is to reduce large parties), and rules about the types of vehicles allowed. Most resorts do not allow RVs or towed vehicles. For those traveling with these vehicles, arrangements must be made off-site to store your RV or boat.