Booking the Vacation Rental of Your Dreams
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Heading to Europe for a getaway or planning a Caribbean beach vacation? You may want to consider booking a private home or condo rather than a hotel.

Private vacation rentals can offer more space and extra perks and amenities — like fully equipped kitchens, free bikes to use and private pools — that can make your trip more enjoyable and save you money. A recent survey by travel research site TripAdvisor.com found that the number of Americans who plan to stay in vacation rentals is rising: from 44 percent in 2013 to 52 percent in 2014.¹ Booking a vacation rental requires more research than a standard hotel, however, because each rental is different.

Find the right one

Certain web sites specialize in connecting private owners with potential renters. HomeAway.com, VRBO.com and Airbnb.com all offer rental listings in places around the world, replete with photos, amenity listings, rental fees and availability. Search tools on the sites can help you narrow the options in each location by number of bedrooms and bathrooms, price and proximity to your vacation destination.

Read the reviews

Most vacation rental sites offer property reviews along with each listing, so you can read previous renters’ experiences. These reviews can be valuable in judging whether a rental is right for you and steer you away from properties that aren’t suitable.

Ask questions

As you review property listings, write out detailed questions for the owner, bearing in mind that some listings are more detailed than others. Questions might include: How many beds does the rental have altogether and what size are they? Are pets allowed? Does the rental have wireless Internet? Is a parking spot included? Who would we call if something breaks? Make sure to speak at length with the owner and address any concerns that could affect the quality of your stay before you commit to a rental. The owner, after all, knows the property better than anyone and can likely give you helpful tips for your stay.

Book early — but mind fees

The popularity of private vacation rentals means the most sought-after rentals often get snatched quickly — especially during peak travel season. Don’t wait too long to book once you’ve firmed up your trip plans. Keep in mind, however, that some rental owners require deposits that they may keep all or part of if you cancel.

¹TripAdvisor.com news release, “Vacation Rentals Even More Popular With U.S. Travelers In 2014, According To TripAdvisor Survey,” Feb. 13, 2014.

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