5 Things I look for in a Vacation Rental

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I have made list after list of the best way to make Big Woods Cabin feel like your home. I have worked on the description of our house, researched the right pictures to share, organized and reorganized household items, etc.

We have debated and talked about what would be important to someone looking for a vacation home.  Drawing on our own experiences of a rental search we came up with a top five list.


1. Credible ownership with pride

To make a house feel like a home takes work.  When we pick a rental for our family we want it to be “fun” but also functional and working.  The little things matter.  I’m talking about little things like light bulbs, working components, and cleanliness. I have friends that have rented based solely on price and have been thoroughly disappointed with the lack of attention to detail.   Even more importantly you want to make sure you know that the house is actually there and as represented.  You want to know that someone actually cares that you are staying at their house. This isn’t like renting a hotel where if it’s awful or broken you likely can quickly find a replacement.  There shouldn’t be surprises. 


2. Family friendly

It’s a stage of life- but traveling with kids of any age brings different demands and desires to a vacation.  I remember finding a house near Phoenix, AZ that we wanted to rent and it had a white couch- like snow white.  It was a beautiful place but there was no way I was going to be able to relax thinking about all the ways my kids were going to dirty it up. I remember another place that was full of knick-knacks-  more worry about the kids breaking them.  We want our kids to freely be kids, even on vacation.

On top of this we always look for a place with things like laundry facilities, a pool, toys, baby items, and an outdoor space.


3. House Options

I think this involves a lot of personal preferences, but for our family we look for: a king bed, a grill for cooking, wifi, an outdoor space, a unique style/look and a pool.


4.  Setting

I’m the mom that makes sure before we go on vacation that I have a general idea of where the nearest hospital is.  I also don’t mind cooking on vacation, but there needs to be a grocery store in a reasonable distance.  Furthermore- I want to be in a neighborhood and area where I feel safe.   Finally- I want something that we wouldn’t have at home.  Maybe it’s a bunk bed for the kids, the lake near by, a pool, a quiet area to enjoy nature, or an amazing kitchen… something that makes the place special to me specifically.


5. Reviews

I look for reviews with a good mix of  positive comments and constructive criticism.  I love seeing owner responses to reviews.  I don’t mind if every single review isn’t 5 star.  I care more about the authenticity of the comments and the details they reveal about the property and owner.  I’m looking for comments like- great to respond, very clean, and other specific items that you could only learn by interaction and actual experiences.  We all know that good lighting and a great camera angle can hide a lot.  Multiple comments confirming the same thing are much more telling to me.

How does my list compare to yours?  What are your non-negotiables?


- Tera