Tips for finding a great summer rental


— The growth of lodging websites such as Airbnb and VRBO has given travelers more temporary housing options than ever before. Such sites may appeal to those vacationers who want a taste of home away from home without having to pay potentially exorbitant hotel prices.

The cost savings of vacation rentals can be considerable, providing more bang for budget-conscious travelers’ bucks. But vacationers who have never strayed from the hotel/resort path may be hesitant to dip their toes into the vacation rental waters. While travelers accustomed to staying in luxury hotels may need to adjust their expectations when booking vacation rentals, the following are some ways to find a great vacation rental that suits you and your fellow vacationers.

· Make a list of your lodging priorities. Popular lodging and vacation rental websites offer an array of options, so make a list of your lodging priorities so you can find the right fit without having to peruse hundreds of listings. If you want to save money by cooking your own meals, then a home with a full kitchen may be your biggest priority. If beach access tops your list, then you can save time by searching for oceanfront homes or condos. If saving money is your biggest priority, then expand your search to properties further away from coastal areas or homes, but are within walking distance of local nightlife. What you sacrifice with regard to view and convenience you’ll recoup in cost savings.

· Don’t pull the trigger too quickly. Low prices may tempt prospective travelers, especially those accustomed to staying in expensive hotels, to book lodging before they full vet a property. Fight the temptation to book a rental before you have done your homework. Learn as much about the rental as you can before booking your stay. Read reviews of the property and carefully examine the property listing so you know exactly what you are getting. Carefully examine any photos included in the listing, and try to confirm that the property is not in foreclosure, which may pose problems when you’re ready to embark on your trip. Find out as much as you can about the property owner as well. Some are renter-friendly while others may have poor reputations.

· Determine who handles any potential problems that arise during your stay. Unlike a hotel stay when you can simply call the front desk and request a maintenance staffer be sent up to address any problems that arise in your room, you may be on your own in a vacation rental should the refrigerator go on the fritz or the air conditioning unit suddenly stop working. Determine how problems are handled before booking a rental. Rental homes that are part of a homeowners’ association may have on-site maintenance ready to respond to any issues, while homes offered by private homeowners may come with no such benefits.

· Book early if you’re attending a specific event. Hotels book up quickly on busy weekends, and so do vacation rentals. Vacation rental prices fluctuate just like the cost of hotel rooms, so begin your search early if you are traveling to attend a festival or another event that figures to attract large crowds.