Most everyone has some knowledge of the vacation rental. What I’d like to do here, in the confines of this article, is provide some insights that may not be quite so well known and that will allow you a more successful search for your accommodations.
The term vacation rental is most commonly used in the United States of America. In other parts of the world, they are known by different names, in the same way the term elevator is used here in the states but the Brits call it a “lift”.
We’ll begin by defining the term vacation rental. It is a furnished, apartment, condo or single family home available for rent on a nightly or weekly basis, with weekly being the most common.
Here’s where things take a turn. Outside the United States, they are known by other terms such as holiday rentals, self-catering rentals, holiday cottages, tourist rentals, agriturism (in Italy), ferienwohnungen (in Germany) and gites (in France). The terms vacation and vacation rental are uniquely American and you rarely hear them used elsewhere in the world. The point is this. If you are searching the Internet for a “vacation rental”, don’t forget to search the other terms I’ve just shared with you. This simple “trick”, for lack of a better word, significantly expands the properties and destinations available for your review.
Many vacation rentals are available directly from the owner, others are listed with an agency or service that manages the properties and still others are available through owner cooperatives. It is frequently easier to deal with an agency, but I would not discourage anyone from the other options. They are all viable. It is simply a matter of personal preference.
If there is any downside to the vacation rental, it is that unlike branded hotel accommodations, you will not know definitively what your accommodations will be like until you arrive. Each vacation rental is, by the very nature of the beast, unique. You can look at photos, read reviews and do all the due diligence, but the fact remains that until you walk in the door, you only have an impression of the place. When you arrive and experience the accommodations in context with the surrounding environment, you must be prepared mentally for the possibility of disappointment. I don’t mean to imply that the place will be unlivable or horrible. You simply need to acknowledge you have developed an image in your mind through your research and the actual accommodations may not match that image. It is equally possible that the accommodations will exceed your expectations!
What I’m trying say is there is an element of risk in the vacation rental, albeit small, but it is there. Proper research is essential to your comfort level. But remember, the branded hotels can surprise you too! Construction work, improper maintenance, a poorly trained staff and other factors can affect your experience in these accommodations as well.