If you are traveling as a family or group this year consider staying in a vacation rental. They offer travelers access to a whole home, on average twice the space at half the cost of a hotel room, along with a host of budget-friendly amenities. Kitchens make it easy to prepare food rather than eating out every meal, while access to washing machines allow travelers to pack less and avoid paying hefty bag-check fees. Many feature added perks, including private pools, hot tubs, game rooms and gathering spaces for everyone to join together and form special memories throughout their stay. Those are likely some of the reasons why 84 percent of those who stay in a HomeAway vacation rental plan to do it again on their next family trip or group getaway.

Cape Town Rental with Swimming PoolFive Essential Vacation Rental Planning Tips

1. Use Sites with the Most Inventory. The more homes to choose from the better your chances will be of finding a property that meets your specific budget and needs, including size, proximity to an attraction, or pet-friendly requirements. Travelers should check out HomeAway.com as it is the world’s leading vacation rental marketplace with more than one million listings in 190 countries.

2. Read Reviews and Talk with Homeowners. Reviews are a great way to get a better idea of the property and can offer additional insights from other travelers. Once you have selected a home, pick up the phone and call the homeowner or property manager to ask about anything important to you, like if there is a childproof gate around the pool or if it is wheelchair accessible. 

3. Secure a Rental Agreement. Ask for all the details in advance via a rental agreement, such as check-in/check-out times and house rules, to avoid any last-minute surprises. Since rentals are generally reserved further in advance than a hotel room, be sure to note important items such as the refund date.

Yucca Valley house with sunset view4. Secure Your Trip. Vacation rentals are a high-ticket item, so it is important to take steps to safeguard your transaction. Always call ahead to confirm the details of your reservation before making a purchase, and only pay via secure services like PayPal or a credit card. Additional insurance can be purchased to protect travelers from a variety of situations, ranging from property damage to cancellation protection.

5. Go Mobile. Turn your mobile device into a digital concierge. HomeAway has established a number of new partnerships to enhance the traveler experience. Through our app, travelers will be able to request car rides from Uber, order groceries through Instacart for delivery to their rental, and access Gogobot to help plan local activities and find recommended restaurants.

10 Must-Visit Vacation Rentals to Stay Before You Die

Maldives Beach Houses

 Bonus: Four Tips To Get a Great Vacation Rental Deal

1. Be Flexible. The booking window for vacation rentals is typically 90 days, so the sooner the better to ensure you have options to perfectly accommodate your family or group. That said, there are always last-minute deals, too, as sometimes cancellations occur and owners are willing to offer deals to fill open weeks. Check out the HomeAway “Special Deals & Offers” filter. 

2. Seek Out Shoulder Season. Owners may also give you a better rate if you book in the low or shoulder seasons.

3. Go the Extra Mile. Look for vacation rentals farther away from popular attractions, such as the waterfront, theme parks and so on. The farther you are from tourist attractions, the less you can expect to pay.

4. Stay Off the Beaten Path. Search for properties in lesser-known destinations. They can still be great vacation spots that may cost less because there’s less demand.