As delightful as it is to spend your vacation in a lovely hotel with 24-hour room service and a staff at your fingertips, sometimes you want a different experience. For instance, being true foodies, my husband and I have often felt frustrated when visiting areas with fabulous farmer’s markets that we couldn’t take advantage of because we didn’t have a kitchen.
Renting someone’s home – be it a house, loft, condo or cottage – is an excellent alternative. You’ll find yourself with more space, more privacy and, best of all, an excuse to immerse yourself more deeply in your environment.
Not surprisingly, the Internet is your best friend in this endeavor. There are now a vast number of sites that amalgamate listings from nearly every city and country you can imagine.
Some of the most comprehensive sites are VRBO.com (Vacation Rental by Owner), Homeaway.com and vacationrentals.com. In addition, sites like Trip Advisor now include vacation rentals in their ratings in addition to hotels. Just type in your destination and the words “vacation rentals” into your search engine.
Because you won’t have access to 24/7 staff, be sure to consider some key questions that may affect your ability to enjoy the property:
- Do you need a car?
- Are there a lot of steps?
- Do the photos cover all aspects of the property – interior and exterior? If not, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
- Is there a comprehensive list of amenities – TV, DVR, WiFi, hair dryer, full oven, microwave, etc.?
- Are pets allowed?
No matter where or who you rent from you’ll want to have a local contact number. We rented a house in the country in Portugal not too long ago and discovered a problem with the directions we’d been sent. Even with GPS, we were utterly lost. Fortunately, we had the local agent’s number, and she drove over to where we’d ended up and led us to our destination.
It was absolutely lovely and provided us with insights into living in Portugal that we’d never have garnered staying in a hotel.