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What you need to know when considering a rental.

As more people are traveling and vacationing, the vacation home rental market has taken off. That means you’ll have more options and price points to choose from, as vacation home owners are realizing the benefits of renting their abodes. According to a recent iGMS report, industry data shows that guests are not only booking stays more often, but they are staying longer across a broader selection of global destinations. Due to fewer restrictions on travel, vacationers are also booking stays further in advance. So if you’re considering a vacation rental for you and your family, you may be wise to start looking and get booking well in advance of your stay.

But, with so many options available, what’s the best way to narrow down your options to the perfect vacation home for you and your family? Here are a few tips:


Consider the Destination

You can start by getting a sense of the market with a preliminary search on some of the “big box” rental  websites. However, as the vacation home rental market has grown, so have the online sites available. You may want to look at other luxury rental sites for experiences in the U.S. and all over the world.

You may also want to consider going to a boutique agency that specializes in farther-flung destinations if you’re planning on traveling.


Get on the Phone

Pictures on websites certainly help, but it’s always best to speak to an agent by telephone. (Some companies won’t even work with clients they haven’t vetted.) A good agency will be able to advise you just as a travel agent would, answering important questions like: How far away is the grocery store? Is emergency help nearby? Does the local host (if there is one) speak English? How new are the appliances? Many agents also have access to more rentals—either in a private portfolio or through other contacts—but you won’t find them by checking the website.


Know What You Want

Determine what kind of experience you’re after—particularly if you’re vacationing with a group. Do you require housekeeping every day, or are you willing to do your own dishes (if there’s no dishwasher)? Would you prefer being more isolated or within steps of town? If you’re considering extras—guided trips, an evening at the opera—confirm in advance your willingness to pay additional fees.

Unique stays are in demand right now as well. So if you’re looking for something different from the typical luxury stay – like a converted aircraft home, igloo home, or bubble house in the woods or mountainside, those types of experiences are becoming more and more available as well.


Take Advantage of Extras

The best agencies leverage their industry contacts and relationships with property owners to organize things you couldn’t arrange yourself, like a tasting in a noble family’s wine cellar or a hot-air balloon ride over the countryside. (Confirm all related fees up front.) And with more and more property owners willing to offer conveniences like smart home technology like contactless purchasing and keyless check-in, it’s certainly permissible to ask about what comes standard and what is considered an extra perk.


Read the Fine Print

Signing a contract is standard when renting a villa. Like any agreement, this protects you, the owner and the agent. Make sure it specifies which expenses are not included in the base price, such as taxes, air-conditioning or the cost of heating the pool. A basic contract will also clearly outline policies regarding property damage, as well as what would constitute an unsatisfactory stay.


Consider Buying Insurance

Renting a villa or vacation home can be a large investment. Travel insurance can help cover certain costs in the event of a medical evacuation or an unforeseen conflict. It can also protect you from bad weather delays or errors made by the rental agency.


Talk to your insurance agent or broker for more information.