HomeAway Inc. is the world’s largest online vacation rental site, with more than a million rental listings in 190 countries. The average vacation rental home is 1,850 square feet, which is almost six times the size of an average hotel room of 325 square feet. This is a great deal for families and groups, said Jon Gray, senior vice president of HomeAway Inc., as the average HomeAway vacation rental costs $1,520 a week, or $217 a night — with no booking fee.
“Bottom line, when it comes to family or group travel, nothing beats a vacation rental,” Gray said. “They offer twice the space at half the cost of a hotel room, making them perfect for not only stretching your legs, but also your budget.”
Vacation homes run the gamut from rustic cabins in the mountains, to a beach cottage on the shore, to a condo rental in a major city, or a fairy tale-like castle in the countryside. Many of the rentals come with private pools and other amenities, like barbecue grills, that aren’t typically found at hotels. Also, Gray said, having a fully equipped kitchen saves on dining out or ordering room service in a hotel.
Some tips for booking a vacation rental:
■ Book early — ideally 90 days or more in advance (although last-minute deals can be found) for more options.
■ Read reviews to learn what other travelers say about the property. Not only will travelers get an unbiased viewpoint, but they will get more insight into what is offered and what they need to bring.
■ For those looking to save money, consider vacation rentals that are farther away from popular tourist attractions, such as historical sites, theme parks, and beaches.
■ Use reputable sites that have a substantial inventory and a proven track record.
■ Call the owner or the property manager before booking. They not only will know specifics about the property, but also will be able to provide an insider’s perspective on the destination.