How to Choose a Vacation Rental
Accommodations,  Blog,  Travel Planning,  Travel Tips

How to Choose a Vacation Rental

Selecting the best place to stay while traveling can be difficult. Where you stay, even if it is just a place to lay your head, can make or break your trip. Here are our tips on how to choose a vacation rental in 5 easy steps.

How to Choose Vacation a Rental

How to Choose a Vacation Rental through Ratings

Ratings are an important aspect to look at when selecting an accommodation.

  • Always look for review ratings of at least 4.85 or greater out of 5, and 8.5 or greater out of 10 (depending on the booking site you are using). Why settle for a mediocre place? Also, if you choose a place with lower ratings, you should expect that there is a reason. Do not just think to yourself that the photos look nice and ignore the reviews. Assume that there is a reason for lower scoring properties. Although, be careful not to miss a great place due to one disgruntled person. If you notice one person writing things that are inappropriate, unrelated to their stay, or a host responding gently telling their side of the story in an articulate way, you may want to disregard this review. If this one person writes repeated negative reviews their’s is only one of a few, it could lower the host’s standing unfairly.
How to choose a vacation rental

How to Choose a Vacation Rental by Reading Reviews 

  • Read the reviews carefully.
  • It is important to “read between the lines” for criticism that may not be obvious at first.
  • Often reviewers tend to hesitate on writing negative comments because hosts can retaliate if there were problems reported during the stay. In these cases, the host is likely watching out to see what reviews pop up, as they already know issues that occurred and they are trying to get out in front of the negativity.
  • So, you need to read reviews very carefully and look for suggestions that may not at first be obvious, that there could be a problem. If you stick with review ratings above 4.85 or 8.5 (depending on the booking site), you are less likely to encounter negative experiences.
  • Another clue that there could be a problem with a property, is a massive number of reviews.
  • This is because, if an accommodation has tons of reviews, it usually indicates that the place was popular and has sustained extensive use. If owners are not regularly refreshing and updating, what was once new and spectacular could now be dated and/or worn.
  • Sometimes the review ratings are skewed by the positive reviews from a long time ago. So, it is really important to read the most recent reviews to check for complaints.
  • Newer listings with high ratings, a reasonable number of reviews, and positive recent comments, are generally safest.
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Location of the Vacation Rental

Some rentals present beautifully in their photos, with fantastic reviews, but can be located far from services or activities.

  • Choose your location carefully.
  • If you have a car and plan on driving, this may not be a problem, but if you plan on walking to all the things in a particular area, sometimes it’s better to just stay in the vicinity.
  • If the rental is on the outskirts, check for public transportation nearby, but also take note of how early and late it runs, and also how frequently. The last thing you want is to have your evenings cut short or to have a late start everyday because you are stuck.
  • On the flip side, if you are looking for a quiet, isolated spot to walk, relax, or hike, or be in nature, be sure you understand the setting where the property is located.

Consider Your Needs

Take time to consider your needs. For example, if you are traveling for a period of time, you likely will need to do laundry. Choose a vacation rental that includes laundry when possible. Even if it’s a bit more expensive, it is worth it to do your laundry at your convenience, rather than cutting into your fun time.

  • Laundry
  • Proximity to Groceries
  • Parking
  • Public Transportation
  • Safety/Neighborhood
  • Shower or Tub
  • Accessible
  • Well stocked kitchen
  • How many people are staying?
  • House, Condo, Apartment, Villa, Treehouse, etc.

Personal Preferences

Often there are many properties to choose from within your desired destination. Some places offer features like jacuzzis or swimming pools. If you plan on taking some chill time and just hanging out, perhaps this would be an important consideration.

My personal preference is to always have a private outdoor space everywhere I stay. It could be a balcony, terrace, garden, etc but it is important to me. I always feel it enhances the space and gives me a place to blog, relax, have a glass of wine, reflect on my day, plan my travels, and watch the world go by. 

  • Swimming Pool
  • Jacuzzi
  • Private Outside Space
  • Furnished Outdoor Area
  • Full Sized Kitchen
  • Style or Decor
How to Choose a Vacation Rental

Additional Considerations When Choosing a Vacation Rental

There are also many other things to think about when choosing a property. Here are a few more important ones.

Premier or Super Hosts and Guest Favorites

Consider booking with a “Premier” or “Super” host. Properties hosted by a person with this title, claim to have a proven track record and have gone above and beyond with their property, helpfulness, and overall guest experience. There is an entire strict checklist that the host must pass.

However, in 2024, these hosts are less prominent on the some websites. Airbnb, for example, has now added “Guest Favorites” which appears to be more property focused and less looking to the host. Nonetheless, these featured properties are certainly something to consider.

Vacation Rental Individual Property Policies

Each property has its own set of rules.

How Long is Your Stay?

Consider rentals that have a minimum night requirement, meaning you must book for the minimum number of nights required by the host. It varies and could be anywhere from 1 to a week or a month. Also, some locations have maximum nights too, so perhaps you cannot stay more than a week or a month.

Change of Plans

Be sure to read the cancellation and modification policy for each property. Some rentals do not allow cancelations after a certain date, or perhaps at all. Others will not allow you to change or shorten you length of stay. Lengthening your stay is not usually a problem if the place is available.

So, think about what is important to you in order to make your travel comfortable, safe, and happy. While a room may just be a place to sleep, if it is dirty, uncomfortable, unsafe, noisy, or poorly located, it can affect the overall tone of your trip. So, choose wisely!

Booking Your Vacation Rental

All of this said, the best rentals sell out fast, so Browse Properties and Hold Your Next Vacation Rental now! Not sure where to go? The world is your oyster: See Jenny in Wanderland tips on How to Choose Your Travel Destination

Jenny’s Tip: It is important to reserve early to be left with a good selection. More and more people are renting their properties, but in my opinion, there are only a handful that would meet my personal standard.

THIS area in Italy has some properties with amazing sea views and is really special!

We stayed in a rental HERE in this area more than once, and I would definitely stay again! Not only does this historic seaside town have a great deal to do, but it is less expensive then staying on the Amalfi Coast and has hourly trains to Naples plus frequent ferries to Capri and the Amalfi Coast.

THIS beautiful villa in the heart of Bordeaux is on my personal bucket list because it just looks perfect.

Also see Jenny in Wanderland article, How to Choose the Best Accommodation – Jenny in Wanderland


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