Have you ever booked a vacation online, arrive to your destination, and realize it’s not at all what the pictures looked like? You’re not alone. It’s almost vacation season, and your BBB advises vacationers to do their research before booking rentals.
According to a summer 2009 survey by TripAdvisor.com, 43% of respondents said they were planning to stay at a vacation rental in the coming 12 months. On average, the price per square foot for a U.S. hotel is more than twice the price per square foot of a vacation rental according to a report by HomeAway, an online vacation rental company.
Your BBB offers the following tips for finding vacation rentals:
· Start your search now! Vacation properties for popular locations typically rent fast. The earlier you start your search, the more likely you will find a rental that fits your needs.
· If using a third party Web site, professional service, or renting from a rental company, always check their report with the BBB.
· If possible, take a virtual tour of the rental property, as pictures and wording can be deceiving. You can also look at the surrounding properties using Google Maps Street View. · Know what your expectations are and understand that a home rental is much different than a hotel. Check to see if a guarantee is offered that will meet your expectations, otherwise consider travel insurance.
· This will give you a better feel for the community.
· Make sure you have everything in writing. This will help you understand the rules on pets, how much the deposit is, and what is included in the cost of the rental.
· Pay with a secure form. Never send money unless you have signed the agreement, and never wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram. If possible, use a credit card so you have some consumer protection.
· Be extremely careful when renting overseas, or directly renting from an individual. Try to get references from previous renters and make sure the address exists.
· Don’t be afraid to ask questions! If you are unsure of the terms, or want more pictures, just ask! If all of your questions are going unanswered, consider it a red flag.
For more information and tips for the budget-savvy traveler, click here.