7 tips for booking a vacation rental while on vacation


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For years, my extended family would visit my sister Margot’s five-bedroom home near Albany, New York, to celebrate the holidays. But once the wedding and the kids enlarged our party to 18, the house became too small to accommodate us all comfortably.

So two years ago my real estate expert sister-in-law Claire went online to Airbnb and found a gorgeous country resort in the Catskill Mountains area of ​​New York City with room for everyone. Two guest houses added privacy, a huge dining table could accommodate the entire crew and a renovated barn with a large play area kept the grandchildren happy. The owners had even installed a Christmas tree, to the delight of the children.

It was so much fun that when we discussed this year’s vacation plans, the vote was unanimous: try to hang Catskills property again. Fortunately, he was available.

But while this experience was a huge success, I also racked up a few horror stories from my many house rental adventures – like the time we rented a beachfront cabin in Santa Barbara, CA, which turned out to be near a freeway and overlooked a noisy, crowded beach. Uninterrupted road traffic, early morning surf camps and rowdy bonfires late at night encouraged an early departure.

Now we have learned to spot and avoid potential problems and always collect our rental deposits. Some advice from a seasoned tenant:

1. If your destination is popular, book up to a year in advance.

It may make you nervous to be committed to a location for such a long time, but due to COVID-19, many rental home owners have relaxed their cancellation policies, allowing you to change your plans without penalty as you approach. your arrival date.

2. Get a good overview of your options.

Find out the general cost and availability of homes in the different destinations you are considering. Start by browsing the major rental sites, such as Vrbo and Airbnb. Try broadening your search to include nearby towns, where availability may be higher and prices lower. If you can be flexible, play around with your date range.

3. Consider the cost per person.

The prices can seem absurdly high when you look at large houses with many rooms for a large family group. But it might not be so bad if you do the math. For my family, for example, a house at $ 600 per night costs around $ 30 per person per night, which is cheaper than most hotels.

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