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Vacation Rentals

Plural of vacation rental.

Does this vacation rental have air conditioning? A must-ask question!

In August we had the great opportunity to visit a few countries in Europe. We started our trip with three nights in Rome. I did what I thought was quality research discerning which vacation rental was going to be the best for me and my family. Well, sometimes doing a bunch of research can be completely wrong when a “check mark” is placed erroneously.

Here’s what happened.

I looked at several dozen vacation rentals in Rome and the surrounding area. I kept, what I thought, was a pretty good spreadsheet on all the units and kept winnowing down until the decision was made. A beautiful two bedroom apartment on a quiet street, with kitchenette a block away from Piazza del Popolo and three away from the Spanish Steps. Perfect location.

Our hosts were super gracious and helped us with a number of transportation and dining issues before we arrived. I communicated with them 100% via email, which is usually great because I had all of my notes in the palm of my hand on my phone when we arrived.

As we began unpacking in the apartment I asked our host where the controller was for the air conditioning. He said “the what? This apartment doesn’t have air conditioning.”

Did I mention that it was nearly 95 degrees at 10 in the morning?

So I checked my notes on the conversation and sure enough, there it was plain as the nose on your face: “This vacation rental unit does NOT have air conditioning.” However, I put a check mark notating that it DID. Big mistake.

My lovely wife was very understandable on the matter; as long as I found a hotel room that had air conditioning ASAP that she and the kids could stay in while I sweated it out in the vacation rental everything would be fine.

In the end we just opened up the windows and were lucky enough that during the evening it did cool down just enough to be comfortable – almost!

Bottom line: Asking questions is important but writing down the answer correctly is just as, if not more, important.

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Staying at a beach vacation rental provides you with a series of new issues different from staying in a mountain vacation rental. On our last trip, which we just returned from, we rented both. This post shows the differences between the two (at least in our experience.)

The first thing that separates the two is the critters. In our North Carolina mountain vacation rental we shared the property with deer and various un-named furry animals. At the Florida beach vacation rental we met up with dozens of lizards, a few snakes, and a ton of song birds. So the setting will determine what you’ll run into on the property. And depending on your viewpoint of wildlife, the deer may get your heart pumping faster than the snake. It doesn’t matter, it’s just part-and-parcel to the geography so be ready for anything.
The second thing I’ll point out is the neighbors. The mountain setting should provide you with more privacy than the beach, depending upon the kind of accommodations you get. If you rent condos at both places you’ll be near your neighbors and really shouldn’t have any expectations beyond your typical hotel experience when it comes to privacy. If you rent a condo face it, you’re going to run into your neighbors. Embrace the opportunity to make some new friends!
The down stroke to both, in my mind, is that sitting in a hot tub in the dark, in the mountains can be a bit spooky! And trying to relax in a smallish backyard at the beach surrounded by on-top-of-you neighbors can be bit maddening. Luckily, on this trip the beach vacation rental’s neighbors were awesome. No loudness at off-hours in the least. But we stayed in a quiet neighborhood and we knew what we were in for.
The last thing I’ll point out is travel times. Depending upon the time of year and the time of day you travel, both the beach and the mountain vacation settings can be a long drive from your destination, even if it’s only a few miles away.
Roads in the mountains are sinuous which adds to your travel time. Streets at the beach, while typically straight, can be mobbed with beach goers. So the upside is to just manage your expectations and ask your vacation rental owner or agent about the roads, traffic, and the wildlife you should be aware of when driving. And if I have to write out the differences between the mountain wildlife and the beach wildlife to you then you need to read a different blog!
In closing, I think the biggest impact you can have with your stay at either the mountain or the beach is to do your research. Ask questions about these points to the owner or agent. Look at the local websites catering to that area and ask questions there as well. The more you know going in the better, I think, your opinion of your stay will be coming out.
I’m sure I’m missing a ton of other issues about the differences between a mountain vacation rental and a beach vacation rental. If so, please point them out to me. I’m happy to oblige.
Remember to get your free copy of chapter four of The Vacationers Guide to Vacation Rentals by simply providing us an email address to send it to. You can find the form on the home page of our blog at
Make some trails!

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There are few things more nasty than the smell of stale cigarette smoke. If you want to get an additional fee or be “fined” go ahead and smoke. But remember: Smoking can be hazardous to your health and it can can be hazardous to your bank account if you smoke in a vacation rental.
I’ve been known to have a cigarette or two and a cigar now and again on vacation. However, when that happens I only do it if it’s okay with the vacation rental owner or agent and I never do it inside. That’s stupid.
Vacation rental owners don’t like it when someone smokes in their house; I don’t blame them at all. If you think about it, even if you are a smoker, take a moment to remember the last time you went into a room where a smoker was previous to you… IT STINKS!
Many owners are writing in “Smoking Fees” or “Smoking Fines” into their contracts. It only makes sense. As long as it is written in the contract that you can’t smoke and you do so anyway, you are doing so at
your own financial peril.
Some owners are even charging per butt they pick up on the property.
If you smoke you are probably not aware of the stench that comes with it. Kind of like pig farmer not knowing that his nickname around town is “B.O. Plenty.” You’re probably so accustomed to your own “odor” that you don’t notice it. Well… I’m sure you’re not stunned by hearing someone say that it is rather mal-odorous.
If you’re a smoker you have to be sensitive to things that you otherwise wouldn’t be at home. Stuff like the residual odor that is on your clothes. It’s there and it stays there for a long time. It will waft up into the nostrils of any non-smoker when they open a closet door. They’ll smell it quicker than a hound dog on a prison escapee.
If you are allowed to smoke on the property your clothes may indicate that you were smoking inside the property even if you hadn’t. I must tell you that you should probably keep the smoking jacket hanging somewhere other than inside the vacation rental.
But, with all that being said, I have to say there really are fewer joys in life than sitting on the lanai or balcony watching the sunset with a fine glass of wine, some great conversation, a little Gypsy Kings playing, and the smell of a hand rolled Arturo Fuente Hemingway Signature dancing upon the salt splashed air!
What do you think? Comment here!
And remember to get your free copy of Chapter 4 of The Vacationers Guide to Vacation Rentals by entering your email address and clicking Sign Up Now!
Make some trails!

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This topic has caused an unbelievable amount of discussions around the net.  Apparently my position of “cleaning up after yourself” has a number of VR owners more than a little miffed at me.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear.  I’m not talking about a spring cleaning project on your vacation.  I’m talking about following the instructions left for you by the owner/agent.  Some instructions can be as easy as: “Hang your bath towels on the rods. Take out the kitchen garbage. Lock the door.”

If there aren’t any instructions then just be reasonable and clean up after yourself as you would in your own home.  In many cases it is just as easy to leave a vacation rental clean as it is a typical hotel room.

I’ve only once REPEAT… ONCE encountered what I would describe as an unreasonable check out to-do list and wrote about it here:  Let me further clarify this point in saying that this particular owner was nuts.

Otherwise the check out lists we’ve encountered have been super easy and since we clean up as we go the requests are done with no further attention necessary.  I think this is more the norm.

The reason I say that we, as renters, should clean up a vacation rental before we leave is, frankly, because we should.  One reason is for our own online reputation as a renter.  If the VR was great, the owner/agent interaction was perfect and the overall experience was beyond expectations then our written, and hopefully posted to a website, review will reflect the experience.  The written review is then a referencable item we can refer future VR owners/agents to during our next reservation process.

Another reason to leave it tidy is in case you want to re-rent the same property in the future.

The final reason is, well, money.  Leave it the way you found it and you’re well on your way to getting your deposit back effortlessly.

Remember to get your complimentary copy of Chapter 4 of The Vacationers Guide to Vacation Rentals.  This particular chapter focuses on what you should do when you arrive at the rental property.

Make some (tidy) trails!


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Getting locked out of your vacation rental can be a drag, not only for you but the owner/agent as well. There are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening, so, expect the best, but prepare for the worst and here’s how.

During the process of getting your contract finalized with the vacation rental owner or agent, make sure you get the following information: If the house is accessed only via a keypad, get the code before you get to the house. Put the code into your cell phone and at least one other person’s in your party. Ask if there is a spare key somewhere on the property. Once you get to the property, find the spare key.

Make sure, absolutely, that you have a way to get in touch with the owner/agent 24/7 on your stay. One phone number doesn’t cut it. Get two or more if you can.

That’s it! Sorry for the brief post, but it’s that easy to solve this problem before it comes up! If I’m overlooking something please post here and let me know!

Make some trails!

Remember to download Chapter 4 of The Vacationers Guide to Vacation Rentals for free. Just enter your email address and click Sign Up Now!

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