From Panama City Beach, Key West, and the Florida Keys to the Smoky Mountains, Cape Cod, Las Vegas, and North Carolina, vacation rentals can save you money while also offering you all the comforts of home. There are several ways to find vacation rentals that are a good deal while allowing you to enjoy yourself with your friends and family. To find these vacation rental homes near you, you will need to do the following:
1. Start a Search for a Location
Beyond the preference of location, every vacation rental search should begin with what you want to do during that vacation. If you’re looking for a beach vacation in your area, you’ll be searching for beach houses in places like, for example, Myrtle Beach or the Florida Keys, if you live in South Carolina or Florida, respectively. Most booking sites have a search function that allows you to search by location. So, if you’re in Florida and want to rent in the Florida Keys, you’ll type in ‘Florida Keys.’ Some booking sites will even go a step farther and allow you to search for vacation rentals within a specific area. For example, you can say that you want to vacation in a rental home that’s no further than 30 miles away from your address. The site will then display all of the available locations within that 30-mile area around your home.
Additionally, if you’re from North Carolina and want nothing more than to lounge around, you may consider an apartment rental or something in a quiet beach area like Carova Beach. But if you’re a nature lover living in California and are looking to be out and about, you may consider cabin rentals around beaches such as Montaña de Oro State Park or even the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
2. Begin Your Search Early
The saying that “the early bird catches the worm” definitely applies when looking to renting cabins, beach houses, condos, or vacation homes. By starting your search early, preferably six months or even a year in advance, you will be spared any unnecessary stress, hidden fees, or other additional costs that often come with booking last-minute. And while giving yourself at least several months’ time may seem somewhat excessive, you should always know that great vacation rental homes will be booked almost as soon as they become available.
Once you have a specific destination in mind, as well as an approximate period when you want to vacation, it’s a good idea to have a real estate agent that specializes in the area look up suitable rental homes on your behalf. But when you’re working with real estate agencies, make sure that they are well-known and respected in that area.
3. Consult Multiple Sources
Except unless you have some favorite source, it’s always advisable that you search for rental homes in multiple locations. In doing so, you will be able to find a better deal and learn more information about the area you want to visit. If the area is near your own location, it’s also advisable to ride around the area and see if there are any homes that advertise renting their home for the season.
While this tactic may be more time-consuming and may not always generate results, it can provide a more cost-effective alternative to hiring an agency to search on your behalf. While the rental homeowner will be responsible for paying the brokerage fee, the cost will be factored into the home’s rental price.
The same principle applies to booking sites, even if you have your favorite go-to site for home rental searches. But if you want to find the best vacation rental available on the market, during the time period you want, as well as in the price range that you’re looking for, you should examine multiple sites. Among these sites and aggregate listings, you should consider the following:
As one of the world’s largest travel sites, Vrbo is one of the best vacation rental sites on the market. It has a user-friendly design and a vast inventory. Its search results page will provide its users with a map view and detailed listing such as the number of bathrooms, bedrooms, square footage, nightly rates, the maximum number of guests, and the type of accommodation.
There are many different ways of filtering the results based on the location, such as oceanfront vacation rentals, beach vacation rentals, lake houses, etc. They can also be filtered in terms of features and amenities such as Wi-Fi, hot tubs, pools, and more.
Booking.com is another giant in the vacation rental industry, but it also holds other types of accommodations in the form of hotels, B&Bs, cabins, beach houses, condos, apartments, and more. This is a site that’s a favorite option for travelers who are open to a wide variety of lodging options. To look solely for vacation rentals, users will need to make an additional filtering step. Like Vrbo, Booking.com offers plenty of information in terms of house rules, amenities, guest reviews, as well as the option to contact the host through the site.
The site also tells you whether the booking will be nonrefundable or if you can cancel without a penalty up until a specific date.
Airbnb has become almost synonymous with short-term rentals. Airbnb offers abundant listings in the most popular travel destinations, both in the United States and abroad. The listing page provides useful information right at the beginning, including traveler ratings, prices, guest capacity, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, key amenities, and more.
As a meta-search site, HometoGo allows people to search many of the vacation rental sites, including some on this list. Each of the listings will provide you photos of the property, user ratings, and reviews, type of lodging, as well as where you can book the property. You can also toggle the price filter that will let you show you either the nightly rate or the total cost of your stay. This feature comes in handy when you want to adjust your price range accordingly. You can also filter based on location, amenities, or user ratings.
Like Booking.com, Expedia offers various accommodation types, including hotels, cabins, beach houses, condos, apartments, and all sorts of other vacation lodgings. One of this platform’s best features is that it has some useful features such as “Business-friendly,” which includes properties that provide breakfast and Wi-Fi, and “Family-friendly” listings that include various conveniences and activities for kids.
Even though Tripadvisor is best known for its hotel and restaurant reviews, the platform also provides vacation rental listings. You can filter based on price, distance from landmarks, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as several other factors. You can also change the order of results based on criteria such as the number of bedrooms, traveler ratings, online booking, and more.
The platform also hosts a mix of properties that can be paid either online or through direct arrangements with the owner.
A Greater Town
Similar to HometoGo, A Greater Town has a huge database of vacation rental listings all across the United States. The beauty of this platform is that you can have access to listings that exist on other platforms such as Vrbo, which means that it can become a go-to site for your vacation rentals. You can also filter your listings based on towns, the date it was published, the author who published it, and more.
4. Have Flexibility With Your Dates
If you are planning to visit popular tourist destinations like Miami Beach, Lake Tahoe, or the Florida Keys during peak season, always be prepared to encounter fierce competition and high prices on most existing rental properties. If it’s possible or desirable, it’s always a good idea to move your vacation to the off-peak season, as you will find more availability and far better prices. This means that you can find an excellent vacation rental that will fit all of your wants and needs, and probably then some, at only a fraction of the price that you would have to pay when that vacation rental was in particular high-demand. Again, this is a good reason you should start your search early since you will have more time to find a great opportunity and prepare your working schedule to fit your vacation.
5. Understand the Terminology
Like most other industries, vacation rentals have their own terminologies that would be useful for you to understand. For example, terms like Beachfront or Oceanfront vacation rental may seem to indicate the same thing, but only the former will guarantee that you’re on the water. If you’re looking for cabin rentals during the winter months, you should also know that Direct Ski Access typically means that you are no more than a shuttle ride away from a ski slope. Ski In/Ski Out, however, means that you will be skiing directly from your rental cabin. For this reason, you should learn what these terms mean and ask for additional pictures of the rental property if not enough were provided online.
If you follow the tips above, you will be in a far better position to not overspend on space and amenities. Together with A Greater Town, you will be sure to find a dream vacation home in your area, where you can spend a wonderful time with friends and family at an affordable and fair price.