Vacation rentals are quickly changing the landscape of travel, particularly how we travel. It used to be that travelers on a budget sought vacation rentals for their affordability over hotels, but now, the trend has moved to the mainstream, with options for every budget including some high roller rentals in the most desirable locations.
The advantage many travelers are finding is the more casual, destination-specific vibe and opportunities for interaction with locals. The downside? Sometimes you don’t know exactly what you’re getting and risk a disappointing stay. Not sure what to look out for, or have safety concerns? We consulted an expert and The Travel Org co-founder, Angela Collyns, who shared her top five tips for choosing vacation rentals smartly.
For a number of years, I ran a very successful vacation rental business based in a beautiful coastal area of the U.K. I managed a large number of high-end properties and my number one rule was very simple: Don’t stay in a rental property which is not as good as, if not better than, your own home.
It can ruin your whole vacation if you turn up and the property is not as you expected! If anything, when booking try to exceed the expectations. The property needs to be pristine in terms of cleanliness, the bedding sumptuous, everything working properly, and it’s the little touches that can make all the difference.
My top tips on picking a vacation rental include:
- Draw up a list of what is essential and what is desirable – If certain things are essential to your stay like a swimming pool, large kitchen, outside space, then DO NOT COMPROMISE! Desirables are great but will not make or break your stay.
- Research the location. Do not automatically assume the property description is correct i.e. the distance from facilities, the beach, tourist attractions, etc. These items can put a real wrench in your plans so do your homework so that when you arrive you can relax and enjoy.
- Check out a selection of reviews. When looking at customer reviews, check for common themes like cleanliness, decor, neighbors and more. One bad review should not spoil the booking, but if certain complaints are consistent, you should probably take notice and reconsider. Also, previous customers will often post photographs in their reviews, so check these against the property’s official photos.
- Evaluate the booking procedure. If the booking site is quick and easy to navigate, this will give you the confidence that this is a professional vacation rental and bodes well for your stay. If it is complicated and includes a lot of hurdle, this may raise doubts about the quality of the offering. Do not be afraid to ask questions or make enquiries and the answers will be indicative to how well managed the property is.
- Get organized before your trip. Use a travel organizer to store all the documentation including property access, directions, journey details, and more so on the morning of departure you are organized and have peace of mind. I suggest The Travel Org because it is made with genuine leather, comes in a variety of colors and is a safe, stylish, and convenient way to carry all of your travel essentials!
Angela Collyns is the CEO of The Travel Org, a travel accessories company that was created after a fruitless search for the perfect travel organizer as a gift for her son.
Before starting The Travel Org, Angela ran a vacation home & property management firm. She also ran a successful interior design and home furnishings business alongside her husband Robin until late 2008. In 2010, Angela and Robin took up a joint position as General Managers of a boutique hotel in the UK called The Godolphin Arms and oversaw the properties $2.8 million renovation. They remain the General Managers there while running The Travel Org with their son Ben.
About The Travel Org
The Travel Org, a mother-son family business, was founded in 2013 by Angela and Ben Collyns. It includes a line of travel products including its signature all-in-one leather travel organizer, Travel Org, as well as other trip accessories including Travel Org Luggage Tags and Travel Org Eye Masks. The company also offers Travel Org Insert Packs to store additional travel documents in your Travel Org to keep the adventure going! Follow them on Twitter @thetravelorg / Instagram @thetravelorg.