Vacation Rental Tips for the Budget-Savvy Traveler

July 01, 2013

Vacation rentals can be a great way to save money when traveling on a tight budget and many travelers are foregoing the “mint-on-the-pillow” experience for more reasonable accommodations. When planning a vacation, a rental is one way to save if you are willing to forgo some of the luxuries that come with staying at a hotel.

“Renting a house or condo instead of paying for a hotel may save travelers hundreds of dollars,” said Toby Barfield, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina. “Although a vacation rental can seem riskier than booking a hotel, if you do your research and pay attention to fine print, it can be a safe way to save money.”

BBB offers the following advice to travelers looking to save money with a rental this summer:

Plan Early.

Rental properties in popular locations get snatched up quickly, so start your search early.

Do Your Homework.

If you plan on enlisting the help of a professional service to find a rental, check them out at Friends and family who have vacationed in the same area can often provide helpful recommendations, also.

Manage Your Expectations.

A vacation rental is not a hotel, so you cannot necessarily expect the same level of modernization, cleanliness or professionalism. Some companies will guarantee that the property meets your expectations. If a guarantee is not offered, consider travel insurance.

Take a Virtual Tour.

It is important to view pictures of the property, and read descriptions and reviews before booking. BBB recommends consumers research the property on their own, as well.

Get Everything in Writing.

Make sure that all verbal agreements are included in the rental contract, including details on the deposit, refunds, and what is not included in the cost of the rental, such as utilities and Internet.

Use a Secure Form of Payment.

Do not send money until you have signed the rental agreement and never wire money to make a payment. BBB suggests paying with a credit card which will provide you with extra protection.

Vacation Rentals by Owner.

Take extra precautions when renting from an individual. BBB advises consumers to get references from previous renters and double-check the location of the property to avoid being scammed.