Travel

The Consummate Traveler: Renting a Holiday Home Away from Home

BY Michele Goncalves TIMEDecember 23, 2012 PRINT
Epoch Times Photo
Pictured is a vacation villa in the south of France. Renting a home can often provide more value than staying at a hotel when traveling with a group or family. (Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images)

I consider myself a homebody. Given the choice between a hotel resort, and renting a house for a vacation, I prefer staying in a home.

I like the intimacy of being in a new neighborhood. I also like the privacy and tranquility that it offers versus a crowded and noisy resort hotel. Another high note is that it frequently is a more cost-effective option for a family vacation.

I have rented homes via the internet for family vacations twice in the past three years, and my experiences have been very positive. My most recent week-long rental was a three-bedroom luxury home with a heated pool and hot tub in Coral Springs, Florida, for just under $2,000. It ended up being a perfect holiday in every way. I’d like to offer some tips for those who may be interested in looking into the home rental option.

1. Rent Direct From the Owner

In many popular cities, there are often rental agencies that you can use to help find and reserve vacation homes. While there may be a certain degree of safety in taking this route, it may cause the price to go up. I have personally used VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner). You simply correspond with the owner to confirm prices, dates, and sign a rental agreement spelling out all the rights, rules, and costs. The process is fast and direct—just the way I like it.

2. Prioritize Your Must-Have List

Much like you do when buying a home, make a list of what you absolutely must have in order to have a happy vacation experience. For my family and me, we really wanted a gorgeous outdoor space with grill, in-ground pool, and hot tub. This was the No. 1 criteria. For others, it may be proximity to the beach, or having a pool table or tennis court on the property. If you are clear about what you want, it will make your search (through an endless number of listings) much quicker and easier to find a match.

3. Scrutinize Pictures and Reviews

I had chosen both rental homes by focusing mostly on reviews written by prior guests and analyzing pictures posted on the website by the owner. If there is no photo or limited photos—be wary. There may be some surprises waiting for you. I am very picky and demand a pristine living environment, so having photos to look through gives me a better feel for the condition of the home and the amenities. Both homes I chose had only glowing reviews. There were none that suggested a problem. Other homes I scanned had mixed reviews, which immediately made me look elsewhere. Follow your instinct and choose wisely.

Spending quality time together with your loved ones in a beautiful and cost-effective home makes for great memories. I highly encourage everyone to consider exploring this option for a future trip.

As always, I wish you all the happiest of travels.

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