Vacation rentals tips

Vacation rentals are especially appealing to families with kids – you pay a lot less for snacks and drinks at the supermarket than at even the cheapest fast-food outlet. And you don’t have to face an avenue of palms outstretched for tips.

Vacation rentals can be convenient. Many are actually handier than a hotel to the beach, slopes or whatever else is the main attraction. You don’t have to dress up for meals. You can spread your stuff around the bedroom and still keep the living room neat for visitors.

A rental can also bring you closer to the local population. Some of my favorite visits to France were those in which I rented a cottage in the countryside or an apartment in the city. Even with my halting French, coping with daily life gave a view of France that I’d never have seen from a hotel.

But before you rush off to a rental agency, consider the drawbacks, too:

A vacation rental is more like home than a hotel: You may not want your vacation to be a rerun of your life at home. Maybe you want to escape from kitchen duties for a week or so. Maybe you want someone else to clean up the bathroom and change the sheets. Maybe, when you want something, you’d rather have room service to bring it to you than chase after it yourself.

Rentals can also be a bit riskier – there are no quality standards. Unless you’ve been there before, you can’t tell whether a rental that sounds good in a brochure corresponds to a Hilton, a Avacation rental is more like home than a hotel: You may not want your vacation to be a rerun of your life at home. Motel 6 or a fleabag. You usually have to pay the entire rental charge up front, so if you find the rental really isn’t what you wanted, you’re stuck.

It’s easy to arrange a vacation rental. Many package-tour programs include apartment or condo accommodations as an optional alternative to hotels. They’re often called “self-catering” in the brochures.

Some brokers specialize in Beach house rentals Galveston. Some handle rentals throughout the world, others specialize in just a few areas. Your travel agency should have brochures from several of these specialists.

You can sometimes even find discount deals on rentals. Several of the hotel-discount programs I’ve described in other columns – such as Entertainment Publications, Encore and ITC – include condo and apartment units in their programs. Sometimes they’re in the same directory as the discount hotels, sometimes they’re in a separate program.

But a word of warning: Since there’s often no official “list” price for vacation rentals, you can’t tell whether any given price really represents a “discount” or not.

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