Searching for the perfect place to stay can be a daunting task. Scrolling through pages and pages of search results, travelers are often faced with literally hundreds of vacation rental options even after narrowing down the basic parameters like dates, occupancy, and budget. Avoid these common mistakes before making the final selection to prevent unexpected frustration and disappointment upon arrival.
Booking a Property Without Researching the Exact Location
One of the most common mistakes when booking a vacation rental is failing to do enough research about the location. It's easy to hit that book button with enticing photos and an alluring price tag, but regardless of how amazing the accommodation itself is, it's equally important to consider where exactly it's situated. This can be especially tricky if it's the first trip and travelers aren't yet familiar with the area. While everyone's needs vary, here are a few key points to think about when searching for the perfect vacation rental:
- Safety: Of course this term is relative, but almost everywhere in the world has a rougher part of town. Safety also applies to the property itself; are there ground-floor windows? Is there security fencing? Perhaps for a large group, it is a bit less of a concern, but for a solo female traveler, it may be more of a priority.
- Transportation: Travelers should consider walkability, access to public transportation, and taxi/rideshare costs if visiting without a vehicle.
- Noise: While this isn't always easy to verify ahead of time, try to determine proximity to the local nightlife districts. Those looking for rest and relaxation don't want to end up staying in a party zone. By the same token, those looking for a wild time don't want to cause trouble with the neighbors in a peaceful part of town.
Not Reading the Reviews
Oftentimes there is a wealth of information found in the reviews that travelers may have never even thought to consider. Aside from the obvious information, there is a unique insight into the finer details of the property. We're talking about things like a particularly dreamy (or uncomfortable) mattress, drafty windows next to the bed, or which room has the best mobile phone coverage.
Feedback on host responsiveness is particularly useful, even more so for longer stays. There is nothing more frustrating than being faced with a property issue and not being able to get it resolved in a timely manner.
Making Assumptions About Amenities
Norms and expectations in regard to standard household and property amenities vary significantly. It's always better to ask ahead of time rather than have an unexpected surprise upon arrival.
One of the biggest misunderstandings is the inclusion of air-conditioning in a hot climate. In many places outside the United States, air-conditioning is uncommon or found only in certain rooms of a home (like in the master bedroom, for example). Another common practice is for guests to incur a surcharge for the use of a/c. Hot water also tends to be the exception rather than the rule throughout places like Latin America and Southeast Asia, so ask ahead of time if a steamy shower is a priority.
If planning to work remotely, be sure to inquire about a property's internet capabilities prior to booking. This is especially important if located in rural, mountainous, or remote terrain, or when traveling to any developing country.
When booking a vacation rental in somewhere like a major city or in a popular beach destination, do not assume that there is on-site/secure parking available, or that it is free. Particularly with apartments or condominiums, parking spaces may or may not be included with the rental, and if so, don't expect more than one parking space even for a group booking.
Lastly, it's a good idea to ask about things like a hair dryer, beach towels, or any other bulky items that are inconvenient to haul around. Why waste valuable space in your suitcase if the same items will be available in the vacation rental?
Overlooking House Rules
Will anyone really notice if the occupancy limit says six guests, but two extra friends decide to come along? Most likely, yes. While it may seem like no big deal to throw a couple of sleeping bags on the floor, the maximum number of guests is almost always non-negotiable. During the permitting process for vacation rentals, occupancy limits are determined by the issuing authority rather than the owner's discretion.
Even if guests are just dropping by for a visit and not actually staying on the property, this isn't always allowed. Be sure to check with the owner or property manager ahead of time. If any guests of the non-human variety are coming along, be sure to book a property that is pet-friendly.
Breaches to any of the above can result in penalty fees or being kicked out of the property on the spot without any refund.
A Few Last Words of Advice About Booking Vacation Rentals
Now that readers know some of the most common mistakes to avoid while searching for the perfect vacation rental, let's wrap it up with some final tips.
The booming popularity of vacation rentals versus hotels has been a double-edged sword that has both helped and harmed many communities. Make a positive impact by booking a locally-owned property. A local host is also a wonderful resource who can provide tons of valuable insight into the area.
Finally, social media has become a popular and more budget-friendly alternative to the major platforms when searching for a vacation rental. Unfortunately, this can also create more vulnerability for scams, so just be sure to exercise caution before making any financial transactions.