Helpful hints for vacation rental shoppers

SAN DIEGO – When booking vacations, many families find vacation rentals to be a more affordable lodging option than hotels. Though it’s still entirely possible to find a great deal at a hotel or resort, vacation rentals have become a popular option for families looking to save some money and spread out a little more.

Vacation rentals are often homes located in popular tourist destinations. The rental owner may spend just a few weeks living in the property then rent it out to vacationers when he or she is not occupying it. Vacation rentals are advantageous for many reasons, but there are still a few things rental shoppers should know before signing on the dotted line.

*Know what you’re getting and get it in writing. Vacation rentals often advertise that everything is included, but that is not always what it seems. If the rental agreement says Internet is included, make sure the home has WiFi and high-speed Internet. You likely won’t want to pack your own wireless router or buy one upon your arrival, so make sure the amenities included in your rental are spelled out in significant detail. If the agreement says utilities are included, make sure that means regardless of usage. Some might only extend to a certain dollar amount, in which case you might receive a utility bill long after your vacation has ended.

• Choose the right destination. Vacation rentals are often most affordable when they’re located in popular destinations where rental owners must compete with one another for tenants. That competition keeps the prices down and makes rentals more feasible for cost-conscious vacationers. Less popular vacation destinations may still boast vacation rentals, but they are likely to cost more because there are fewer of them and the owners will be looking to make as much as possible.

• Find a rental with a full kitchen. Another benefit vacation rentals have over traditional hotels or resorts is they typically provide renters the ability to cook their own meals. That can lead to substantial savings over the course of a typical vacation, especially for families. If vacationing during the warmer months, inquire about the availability of a barbecue that allows you to spend a few nights enjoying dinner under the stars with your family.

• Find a rental that’s accessible to local entertainment and sights. Even the most affordable vacation rental might not work if it’s not close enough to local attractions, entertainment, restaurants, and nightlife.

Isolated vacation rentals may waste valuable time during your vacation and make you less likely to book activities or go out at night.

• Make sure the rental is safe. Adult vacationers won’t have to focus as much on a vacation rentals safety. But adults traveling with children should examine photos of the property closely to ensure there aren’t any safety hazards that might put kids at risk of injury. Avoid cliffside rentals that aren’t fenced in or heavily wooded areas where kids can easily wander off and get lost. If the property has a pool, make sure that pool is fenced in so youngsters can’t fall in when their parents aren’t looking.

• Don’t send money before signing a lease. A vacation rental should come with a leasing agreement similar to a traditional apartment rental. Many vacation rentals are handled by reputable real estate agencies that are well equipped for questions. Ask for references on the property from past tenants. Keep a copy of the rental agreement to refer to as needed before, during, and after your vacation.

Vacation rentals are often a great option for families. By employing a few tricks of the trade, families can find rentals that meet all their needs without breaking the bank.

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