Vacation rentals can be a great way to save money if you plan to be in one place for a while and have a large group or family. Hotels can get expensive and a vacation rental generally allows you more space and freedom. On the downside, you generally have to fend for yourself when it comes to mealtimes and cleaning up. However, there are a few ways that you can actually get even more bang for your vacation rental buck.
Use a Vacation Rental Site that Allows Contact with the Property Owner
There are many different ways to book a vacation rental via the Internet, but the best sites, including HomeAway, allow you to have direct contact with the property owner. This allows you to ask specific questions about the home, its amenities, the area, and can even allow you to bargain a bit. For instance, if a home is just outside your perfect price range, being nice to the owner may get them to drop the price a bit or you may be able to bargain your way into a better rate.
Stay Away from Main Attractions
Traveling for fun often has a purpose, like you want to visit a national park or stay right on a world-famous beach. By booking a vacation rental slightly off the beaten bath, you can often save more than a few bucks and also stay in a more luxurious home. For instance, Malibu is one of Southern California's most notorious beaches, but the vacation rental prices are pretty much exclusively for the very rich. By finding a spot further north on the coast, you can stay right on a beautiful beach in a beautiful home and avoid the crowded beaches of Malibu-but still be close enough to visit for a day trip south.
Like booking any type of travel, it pays to be flexible with your dates when you book. You'll have more options if you book at least 90 days in advance, which is especially helpful if you do have a very specific destination in mind or need to coordinate with other parties. However, you may find that by booking later you can save money by taking advantage of last minute deals listed on the site. Like hotels, it also pays to be flexible in your time of year. Going at a time when the kids are in school may help save money.
Travel with a Group
If you are looking into vacation rentals, chances are the property can host more than one couple or group. Vacation rentals are ideal for large families as well as for groups traveling together so that you can split the rental fees.
Take Advantage of the Home's Perks
Staying in a hotel is nice because of things like maid service and room service. Staying in a vacation rental has its own perks too, like a kitchen and laundry room. Thrifty travelers have been known to cook their own meals in order to save on the cost of eating out, a common necessity of a hotel room stay. If you are staying for a while, it can also be helpful to make sure that your vacation rental offers a laundry room so that you can do your laundry without paying a Laundromat. And bad weather on vacation is never fun, but rather than being stuck in a cramped hotel room, you can usually find some games to play or take advantage of a video library.