January 23, 2018

6 Tips to Help You Find the Ideal Vacation Rental


vacation rentalAs many of you know, I’m a big fan of vacation rentals. With a family of six, it’s a great way to go. I really like the extra living space and being able to eat breakfast and dinner in the house. And, I love, love the quiet and privacy that comes with being able to close bedroom doors at the end of a long day.

In July, I’m taking my two older girls (who’ll be 8 & 10) to Paris for a week, and we’re going to stay in a vacation rental once more. You’d think by now I’d be an expert, but no, I’m having some troubles securing just the right rental, so I thought I’d share some of my learnings and a few tips.

1. Choose a Reputable Vacation Rental Service: I’ve used HomeAway several times, and for my trip to Paris, I’m checking out FlipKey. Both services are free to use and make it very easy to find rentals with the amenities you want in your preferred locations.

2. For Peak Times, Book Six Months in Advance: July is high season in Paris (and in many other cities, too) and many of the rentals I’ve looked at have already been secured by other families. I’m just over four months from my travel dates and am surprised that so many apartments have already been snapped up.

3. Decide on Which Amenities You Want: Do you need a washing machine or a dryer? How about air conditioning or wi-fi? While wi-fi is available pretty much everywhere, a washer and air conditioning are much harder to come by, particularly in Europe. So, know what amenities you need, and what you can live without.

4. Know Where You Want to Stay: Before you look for vacation rentals, do some research to figure out which district you want to stay in that will be close to must-see attractions on your list. For example, Paris is divided up into 20 districts, so I’ve needed to ask around and research which ones might be a good fit. I even sent out a tweet on Twitter about #Paris and got some great feedback.

5. Ask the Owner or Property Manager Questions: Read the rental’s description and seek clarification from the owner or manager, if necessary. For example, when we stayed in Puerto Rico, the listing said the rental had air conditioning, but when we arrived we found out that only the bedrooms were air conditioned.

6. Confirm How You Will Access the Vacation Rental: Before you finalize arrangements, be clear with the owner or property manager about when and where you will meet on arrival and how to get to the rental if you do not plan to meet up at the vacation rental. Nothing puts a damper on a vacation like waiting (and waiting) to get the keys or poor (very poor) directions to your vacation home.

Have you rented a vacation home? Tell me about your experience, good or bad, in the comments section.

Photo Credit: stayatcondo


  1. This is a useful article for travellers.

    I would add that because there are so many booking portals for travellers to use when booking their holiday/vacation, you don’t necessarily need to book 6 months ahead of time. Here are some more – http://www.needmorerentals.com/rent-a-holiday-home/ Most are getting very sophisticated with search filters to help draw up your ideal shortlist.

    It’s also worth noting that many rental home owners/managers now specialise in catering for families. They will provide toys, books, films and/or welcome packs to keep your children occupied.

  2. Hi there
    I would agree with all these but if you are travelling with children I would look for more. Many vacation rentals these days offer so much more for families. A cot and a highchair just doesn’t cut it anymore.
    I own a vacation rental in SW France (www.cahorscountryhouse.com) and we provide everything you could possibly think of for babies, younger children and older children. Most of our guests fly so really do not want to have to pack “everything but the kitchen sink”, they really could just bring their clothes – everything else is there.
    We, along with other holiday properties, go a step further too, to really enhance the holiday experience for families. We use the Holiday Buddy package. Oscar the Owl lives (in felt form) at our house in France and before the holiday sends a couple of emails with some specially written and narrated stories and a cool Holiday Kit to all our younger guests. On arrival he is there to greet them with a letter and the children are encouraged to take him out and about with him.
    So dont just settle for a bog standard vacation rental – look for a truly family friendly one – you will find it.
    Jo Price

  3. I would also add that another option to consider with vacation rentals is working with professionally manage vacation rentals vs. individually owned rentals. You can still rent a home or condo for your vacation, but stay in a place that has a property management company involved.

    This has a few advantages for families:
    – Dont have to deal with communicating/setting up times and meeting information. Saves time and hassle
    – Usually you have onsite maintenance and front desk service in case of any issues
    – Transactions are safe and secure (so sending money to individuals)

    Good tips though on the advanced booking. I totally agree on 6 months out (sorry Damian).

  4. I agreed, but there are few more things which are must while planing a trip. Its vital to have a cover for you or your group or your family. An travel insurance cover which suites your needs well.

  5. The tips which you have provided are very useful. This information will be very useful to the travelers!!

  6. These tips are very useful who is planning a vacations. There are few more things which are must while planing a trip.

  7. Riyanwillson says:

    There are many service providers available who would help you get an apartment on rent for you. You simply need to browse through the catalogue and choose the one that fits in your requirements, taste and budget as well. Make sure you select a reputed website to book your accommodation so that you have a good stay.


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