What To Know Before Staying At A Vacation Rental

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Things you need to know before staying at a vacation rental

Summer is fast approaching and you know what that means? VACATION!!!! It’s time to book your vacation. One great way to save money is to book a Vacation Rental. When traveling with your family a hotel room can become expensive and not to mention cramped if you are staying somewhere for more than a few days, or if you travel with a family of five like we do. We love staying in a vacation rental and they are becoming very popular. We’ve been able to find some fantastic deals online. There are some things to know and consider before you you book a vacation rental.

Here are 11 things that you need to know before staying at a Vacation Rental.

1. How do you “Check In” and “Check Out”? This may seem like a silly question, but there isn’t a front desk with the light on waiting for you. Ask about late check ins and what time do have to be out of the house.

2. What attractions and amenities are close by? Is there beach access? Are there a lot of restaurant options and grocery stores within 20 minutes? Sometimes the advertisements can be a bit misleading. Make sure to do your research.

3. What is really in the kitchen? There may be a stove, oven, fridge, and microwave in the kitchen… But are there any pots, pans, dishes and silverware? One of the great ways to save money on vacation is by preparing your own meals. You may need to pack a few pans and buy some paper plates and plastic cups. And don’t forget to ask about the Coffee Maker

4. Do they have additional equipment for use? Some rentals keep a few things on hand for renters use such as portable cribs, strollers, snorkel gear and beach toys. 

5. How does cleaning work? Some rentals require you to do some cleaning. Such as loading the dishwasher and putting dirty linens in the washing machine. Find out as well if there is an extra fee for what they would consider “extra dirty”

6. Is there an emergency or “on call” number for problems. What if a toilet breaks or you accidentally lock yourself out of the rental. You need to know someone will answer when you call to report a problem or need help.

7. What items are NOT provided? If you are used to hotel vacations, you don’t have to think about toilet paper, towels, paper towels, and even coffee. Ask for a list of supplies provided so you can pack what is not on that list. Keep in mind that some tourist spots can have stores with marked up prices on basic need items. Avoid that extra cost by bringing things from home.

8. What is the room configuration? Some vacation rentals advertise that they sleep 10. You get there and expect 4-5 rooms and it is a 2 bedroom! Find out if half your guests will have to sleep on pull-out couches and air mattresses before you book your rental. You don’t want to be tripping over one another your whole vacation. 

9. You can negotiate! Most rentals are negotiable. From the deposit to the weekly rate. Doesn’t hurt to ask! 

10. Photograph on Day One. Take out your camera and snap pictures of the rooms in the house. This will secure that you cannot be blamed for broken or missing items that you did not break or remove.

11. Read the WHOLE Contract! Sometimes the fine print can really bite you in the rear! Carefully read the contract before signing. Ask for clarification on anything you don’t understand or feel comfortable with. You want this to be a memorable and relaxing vacation!

*Tip* We always bring a keychain with something large attached to it and put the provided key on that. The key that they provide is just that, a key and it can get misplaced. Having it on something larger really helps with being able to find it.

Where do you want to book a Vacation Rental?

Heather Reese
the authorHeather Reese
Heather Delaney Reese is the storyteller and photographer behind the lifestyle and family travel blog, It's a Lovely Life®! For the past decade, she has vacationed over 150 days a year with her family. She is a vegan, and loves being by the water, spending time with her children, husband, 2 Shih Tzus and Cat.


  • I like the idea of keeping the key on a lanyard! Knowing me, I’d misplace it somewhere.

  • These are all really great tips. It is definitely important to read the entire contract.

  • This is very helpful. I’ve never stayed at a rental home or condo, or anything of the sort. We’ve always stayed in a hotel, but I would love to have something more homey. This will definitely come in handy for our next vacation.

  • These are all great tips. So many people may be so excited about the price or location that they forget some of these other things!

  • I’ve never stayed at a vacation rental before, but I seriously want to try it out on our next vacation. These are so helpful for me, since I’ve never done it before and not sure what to expect.

  • These are great tips. I would not have thought if dishes are included or not. I would love to get a vacation house in the Bahamas.

  • I’ll have to remember these. It would be pretty cool to try vacation rental but I’m pretty new to staying in places other than hotels.

  • We have stayed at vacation rentals for family reunions before. They are usually great. I have know people that have had some problems before though. SO great tips to follow.

  • WHat great tips. I would never have thought about how to check in and out. Thanks so much for sharing. I want to look into vacation rentals for our Summer vacation.

  • What is really in the kitchen…that’s your best point. You can get to a place and not even be able to cook cuz there isnt even the basics. And if you just would know you could bring a few pans of your own.

  • I’m really not a beach sort of person, but I have always wanted to travel to Europe, especially Ireland. I think a comfy home rental there would be perfect!

  • Great tips, Heather! I really like your tip on photographing the rooms upon arrival at the property. Another thing to ask your host prior to booking a place is the noise levels around the property. Especially, if you’re traveling with infants. Thanks for sharing once again.

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