If you’re new to renting vacation homes or simply want to brush up on money saving tips, read on.
(1) Cast your net wide
A lot of people use popular websites like VRBO and Airbnb to look for international rental accommodations. But, now you can search on a variety of sites that offer their own incentives. For example, Hotels.com also offers home/condo options and for every 10th night booked you get another one free. Destinations like Orlando, Florida also link directly to home rentals on their websites (VisitOrlando) so the options are out there.
(2) Filter your search parameters to save time
There are so many options, in nearly every city, that it can take forever to read through all the listings. Treat it like you would home-buying and narrow down your search. Filter by bedrooms, amenities, pool, BBQ, air-conditioning and so on. Set your standards high (with your dream rental) and then widen the search if needed. Don’t go the other way — this can waste a lot of time.
(3) Negotiate with owners
There are nightly rates listed on the websites, but they’re never set in stone. You’ll notice “email owners” or “inquiry” options near the calendars. We’ve directly contacted owners and explained that we’re a young family on the hunt for a good price and everyone has worked with us to come to an agreeable price.
(4) Research rental rules for your destination to save time
Certain cities and islands have rules about how duration, for example. If trying to book in the Florida Keys, most have a 21 day rental minimum. We wasted a lot of time contacting owners and trying to negotiate length of stay until we were told there’s actually a minimum-stay rule down there. A quick google search of your destination (and length of rental) will help determine this before you search.
(5) Different accommodations come with their own sets of strings
Homes located in gated communities often have to run renters by a board. So there might be a bit of a process (that can take some time) before your booking in firmed up. Many condo corporations have similar rules – where the board must be notified of families that have requested to stay. Condos in fancy areas (Naples, FL for example) often restrict rentals to month-long stays to reduce the volume of tourist turnover.
The quickest bookings tend to be apartments and homes that are not part of a larger owned community.
(5) Reconfirm Family-friendly aspect
Some home-owners check off the family-friendly box because it’s a pretty broad category. Some think it just means that they’re open to renting to families. If you’re traveling with young kids, you’ll want to confirm what is meant by this; are there baby gates around stairs? Fireplaces? Sharp edges? Fenced in pool? Room for cribs/pack n’ plays in the bedrooms? When you specify your needs, owners can often let you know right away if their home will work for your family.
(7) Book well in advance – in popular spots, I’m talking about at least a year.
When considering places like Florida, tropical destinations, New York, Paris and so on, you’ll want to book well in advance. It’s almost like a wedding — the most popular months are often taken up by annual renters. Once a family finds a home they love, in a foreign city, they’ll often submit requests for repeat visits. When we were booking in Orlando and Naples Florida, most of the winter months (Nov-Mar) were taken. So plan ahead.
Hopefully the above tips help you make an amazing choice for your families stay. If you have any specific booking questions, send us an email or leave a comment.
Angie & Rick