There is no arguing that one of the hottest trends in the vacation industry is private vacation rentals. Popular for decades in Europe and elsewhere, the concept has gained new fame within the United States. According to industry experts, more than half of the travelers this year intend to rent a vacation home n the next year. Vacationers prefer homes over hotels for many reasons, among them, more space, better amenities, lower overall costs and more privacy. Did I mention more space???
But while vacation rentals do offer amazing amenities and add much value, in terms of savings and quality, they have to be throughly studied before selected.
Here are important questions I ask, as an owner and operator of my own vacation rental, Vacation Homes Orange County, before I sign on the dotted line.
1) What do you mean “child- or pet-friendly?
Always ask the property owner what their definition of child- or pet-friendly is. For example, the home may be advertised as child friendly, but it might have stairs or a step down living room that might be hazardous to a wobbly 12 month old. Also, the home may accept pets, and be pet friendly, but the yard pictured on the website might not be enclosed and private, leaving you chasing your little pooch around the block in an unfamiliar neighborhood.
2) What is your cancellation policy?
Vacation rentals are generally much more strict with cancellation policies. What happens if you have a family emergency? What if there is weather related emergencies? Can you buy travel insurance? With the right questions, disappointments could be avoided if there is a need to cancel.
3) Are you connected?
Every single traveler in your group may have an iPhone, but it wont do you any good without wifi reception. Also, is the wifi signal to your liking? You may have high-speed internet connection at your own home and find dial-up connection too slow.
4) How do you check in? How many keys are issued?
Unlike hotels, you will not be greeted by front desk agents asking you how your trip was when you arrive at your vacation rental. What if you were delayed? Or what if your flight arrives super late and you will not be at your rental until after midnight? How will you check in? Always leave home with check-in instructions at hand. Be sure to have the code to the lockbox or keyless entry door before your arrival. You never know if you will be able to speak with the owner or the agent immediately upon arrival at your destination. Also, don’t assume you will be handed multiple sets of keys. If you are traveling with 2 or 3 families, it would be nearly impossible to synchronize everyone’s schedule. Besides, you may need time apart from one another or you may want to go surfing while your in-laws go bird-watching.
5) How many vehicles can you park at the house?
If you are traveling with multiple generations or several families, you’ll want to know how many cars you can park at the house. Is there additional reserved parking if you arrive in two cars? or 3? Many popular beach destination vacation rentals are very limited with reserved parking. Also ask if there are any street restrictions that would prohibit you from parking your RV or trailer outside your vacation rental.
6) Is it walking distance?
You may be renting a house across the street from the beach, but is it really walking distance? What if the cross-walk to get to the other side of a very busy highway was a mile away? Will you still feel like you are across the street and walking distance to the beach with a double stroller, cooler, 3 boogie boards, towels, beach umbrella, sand toys…well you get the point. One of the best tricks is satellite map view your destination and zoom in to the point where you can see every chipped tile off the house or building. Look for cross-walks or busy stores that have delivery hours only a rooster can be bothered with, or even unsightly buildings that may hinder your “beautiful ocean view” rental.
7) Who do we call for emergencies?
Is there an emergency number for non-emergency emergencies? Is there a property manager to call if the hot water-heater is not working properly or if the shower is not draining? You will not be happy if you are stuck with a one bathroom house for the 8 of you if you rented a 2 bathroom house. These minor nuisances may cause great inconveniences and put great strain on your vacation if not taken care of immediately.
8) What equipment is available for use?
Are there strollers at the house or portable cribs, pool toys, boogie-boards and even fishing rods? Knowing what not to pack is a huge benefit.
9) What is available and open around you?
The town you are visiting may be sold out during peak summer months, however the stores might be boarded up and your destination may be a ghost town during off-season. Ask if there are any stores open near your vacation rental at the time you visit, especially if you are not renting a car.
10) How does cleaning work?
There is great miscommunication when it comes to cleaning and what is expected of you at departure. Even if you are paying a departure cleaning fee, it is very common for a vacation rental owner to ask that you unload the dishwasher, put out all your trash, and wash and dry towels, and if you don’t, they will charge extra cleaning fees. It is always best to ask what condition you are expected to leave the rental to avoid any additional cleaning fees.
Vacationhomesorangecounty.com offers short term vacation homes in Orange County, CA. across the street from Disneyland. Vacation Homes Orange County Disney rentals are fully furnished and stocked with all the comforts of home. The mission of the company is to ensure that their customers feel at home and have unforgettable experiences during their stay.