1. What deposit is required to book the rental and when is it returned?
Deposits vary from one property owner to another so be careful to read the rental agreement closely. In the case of the Hawaii vacation home above, the $750 deposit is returned three to four weeks after departure and receipt of an inspection from the property manager. However, not all deposits are returned, so make sure to protect yourself with travel insurance for any unforeseen circumstances. Also find out if there’s a separate cleaning fee tacked onto the cost, which includes preparing the home for the next set of renters.
2. When is the off season?
If your plans are flexible, consider going during slower times, when rents are cheaper and crowds are non-existent. The summer, say, may always be busy at Disneyland so what about moving that vacation to winter break?
3. Are any other photos available?
The more descriptive the listing, the better, but multiple, vibrant images really put the mind at ease–especially when thousands of dollars at stake. If you’d like more photos beyond what’s provided on the posting, just ask. In this digital world we live in, emailing a photo takes mere minutes.
4. What equipment is included in the rental?
For families, that may be a high chair or stroller. For adventure types, that may be a snowmobile or jet skis.
5. What grocery stores are located near the property?
One of the main benefits of renting a vacation home is being able to prepare your own meals, saving hundreds on dining out. Before you arrive, get a list of recommendations from the owner on where to pick up food or any last-minute needs like diapers and trash bags. For renters making it a road trip, it’s fairly easy to pack up the car with all the necessities, but it’s not as convenient for those who are flying to their destination.
Valerie Moloney is your resident blogger and the Expansion Markets Editor for Citysearch.com, who oddly enough, feels panicked when asked, "What's the best place to eat in Chicago?" or her favorite, "It's my birthday. Where should we go with a party of six?" No stranger to travel--and traveling with kids--she is a young mom who ODs on the Internet when it comes to planning family trips or buying clothes. Here's hoping she finds you the vacation you deserve.