Sometimes, it just makes more sense to rent a house or a condo instead of opting for a room at a hotel when traveling. Maybe it’s because you have a large party or you’re going to be in the area for a considerable amount of time. Renting a spot just feels more like home.
But if you’re new to this vacation rental life, there is a lot to consider when staying at someone’s property. And when you narrow down your AirBnB or VRBO searches, let these questions aid in the decision-making process.
What fees come with booking the property?
Some properties have refundable security deposits, resort fees, cleaning fees, and other miscellaneous costs that are associated with your stay. Make sure that there aren’t any overages associated with the amount of people in your party. Checking the total amount of these additional fees will prevent any last minute charges that you weren’t prepared for.
What are the specifics regarding cancellations?
Hopefully, your trip goes as planned but sometimes that does not happen. In the advent that you need to cancel your trip, find out how lenient the owner will be. Some rental insurances will actually cover the cost of conditional cancellations. And some owners will return all of your money if you cancel at least 30 days in advance of the rental period. But all properties vary, so make sure.
How are the traveling conditions to the property?
If you’re renting a property in the mountains or off the grid, you need to know if your 2WD car will be able to make it. The property owner should be able to advise accordingly.
How is the cell service in the area?
Listen. This is pretty explanatory. But some places, city or not, have horrible cell reception and that could make or break your trip.
What forms of entertainment are available on the property?
Do you need wi-fi? Do you need a place with at least 1 big TV for the family to come together and watch movies after dinner? Ask the rental owner what sources of entertainment come with the place. Be detailed, too. Find out where all the televisions, stereo systems, streaming devices, video game consoles, board games, etc. are so you can plan well.
When are the check-in and check-out times and are they negotiable?
If you’re coming from another town, state, or country, you need to coordinate your arrival times with the check-in. Some owners are lenient and will allow you to come and go anytime during the day. But some won’t depending on the volume of property bookings. Make sure everyone is on one accord.
How much parking is available on-site?
No need in everyone driving separately if the rental property only has parking for two cars. You need to know how many cars can park on-site, but also if there is additional parking nearby if needed.
What should you do to protect yourself from the wildlife?
If you’re staying in the city, this shouldn’t be a problem for you but for everyone else, peep game. Rural and mountainous areas might mean bears, deer, foxes, and other creatures you don’t usually see. The animals might be harmless, but you need to know how to play nice to make sure that you don’t run into any problems. Usually, this might mean taking the trash out to the compactor instead of sitting it outside the house, but find out just in case.
What cooking utensils and appliances are provided?
One of the perks of staying in at a vacation home is a kitchen. However, you need to know if they have a skillet or a Fry Daddy before you begin to drool over the possibility of a fried meal. Ask for a detailed list in advance.
Where are the closest grocery stores, restaurants, and attractions?
Maybe you don’t want to stay in the house all day. I get it. It’s nice to get info on the area from someone who is actually familiar with the location opposed to a bunch of tourists on TripAdvisor.
Does the owner of the property need any information from your fellow guests?
When I rented a cabin for my friends and I to ring in New Year’s Eve 2014, the property owner needed a list of our names as the community was gated off the public. The owner might also want to know who is staying at his or her property just for safety measures or to make sure that you aren’t bringing 8 people to stay at a place that sleeps 4.
If you need anything during your stay, who should you contact?
During that same NYE trip, I realized the property didn’t have an iron nor an ironing board. How, Sway? I emailed the property owner and within an hour, he responded. Thirty minutes later, we had a brand new iron and ironing board.
What cleaning supplies are provided?
Do you need to add Lysol, Tilex, and glass cleaner to your grocery list? What about detergent? From the latex gloves to soap, make sure that you have everything you need to stay as clean as possible during your trip.
What do you need to do before leaving the property?
It’s nice to just ask how should the property be left before you leave it for good. When we were leaving the cabin during NYE, the property owner just asked if we took the trash out and put the linens in the washing machine. Some might not ask for anything if they have a cleaning company coming in after your departure. But it’s nice to just leave things in the best condition after using, right?
I’ve always been one to ask as many questions as possible before booking and staying at one’s vacation property. It’s comforting when the owner of the property you plan on visiting is willing to answer all questions without any frustration.
So regardless of the vacation rental website you found the property, you need to get as much information as possible before you decide to book. Hopefully, these 14 questions will help.