When you are planning a Florida vacation, either taking the family to Disney World or sneaking away with your significant other for some time in the Keys, your first inclination is likely to book a hotel room in which to stay for the duration of your trip. The fact is, you have another option that you may not be aware of for lodging; you can stay in a private vacation rental home instead!
What Is a Vacation Rental Home?
A vacation rental home is a private home or condo that has been made available by its owners for the use of others on a short-term basis. Such homes can be rented either directly through the owner or through a management company. Homes like this are located in many different popular Florida vacation spots, including Orlando and the Panhandle. And you can find rental homes ranging from a one-bedroom condo in a community to an eight-bedroom house on its own lot. While it is important to note that some homes will require minimum rental periods, from one night to one month, there is always a Florida vacation rental home that can accommodate either a short trip or an extended vacation for a couple or for the whole family.
Save Money by Staying in a Private Home
There are many benefits to staying in a vacation rental home instead of a hotel room, and the primary one is cost. When you rent a home for your Florida vacation, you will be paying a flat rate for a spacious place that has bedrooms for everyone – and often also has multiple bathrooms, a game room, a kitchen, and even a pool (that you won’t have to share with strangers). Your vacation rental home may also provide you with access to exercise equipment or to a gym in a condo complex. For example, in October 2006, an average hotel room for a Florida vacation in the Orlando area cost around $100 per night, while a three-bedroom home in the same area only averaged approximately $111 per night – not much more for a bigger space with better amenities!
You can save even more money with a Florida vacation rental home by cooking some of your meals in the kitchen rather than by going out to restaurants every night. Simply stop by the local grocery store for some basics – you can even stock the freezer with ready-made meals to save time, as most rental homes have microwaves available.
Additional Benefits: Amenities, Convenience, and Privacy
And your vacation rental home may also include amenities that hotels simply can’t match, such as a hot tub, a big screen plasma television, high-speed Internet service, and the latest video game systems, all for your family’s personal use during your Florida vacation. Most of these extras are included in the basic cost of your rental, although you may have to pay an additional daily fee if you wish to have the pool heated. You can easily find out from the owner or management company just what will be included in the rental fee – and you can also request certain must-haves when searching for a Florida vacation rental home.
Another great benefit of a vacation rental home is the convenience factor, particularly for families. Many of the homes that are for rent are in close proximity to major theme parks or beaches, which can save you a lot of travel time – and therefore increase your time spent enjoying your Florida vacation, rather than sitting in traffic while traveling from an out-of-the-way hotel. Plus, when you’re done sightseeing with the family, you will have all of the space you need to get away from the kids for some peace and quiet – they’ll have their own bedroom and you’ll have yours!
Renting a home is the perfect option for couples taking a Florida vacation as well. A vacation rental home offers privacy that you can’t get at a hotel (or even at a bed and breakfast). You can choose to spend your days at the beach or just enjoy the amenities with which the vacation rental home is stocked – and you don’t have to speak to another person for the duration of your stay, unless you want to!
How to Rent with Confidence
When you find a vacation rental home through a reputable listing website or through a travel agent, you can feel confident knowing that the home and the owner have been screened. You don’t have to worry about whether the home exists – or whether it’s been maintained well. If you are able to rent directly from the homeowner, you will often be able to see actual pictures of the home in which you will be staying for your Florida vacation and to ask questions about the particular amenities and the specific location. A management company can also answer your questions, but it may only be able to show you pictures representative of the type of home you will be renting.
Treat the Rental Home with Respect
Bear in mind that there is no maid service with a vacation rental home – you’ll be in charge of changing the sheets and washing the towels yourself. You will also need to pay a security deposit up front that will be refunded when you leave the home in the condition in which you found it. It is best to always inform the owner or the management company of anything that is broken when you arrive – and anything that may have been broken by the time you leave. Remember that while you are enjoying your Florida vacation, you should always treat the rental home the same way you would treat your own home. People who choose to rent out their homes are trusting you as much as you are trusting them, and there should be mutual respect involved.
Travel Insurance Can Give You Peace of Mind
Finally, it is highly recommended that you take out travel insurance before embarking on your Florida vacation. Unfortunately, without insurance, you have little recourse if you have to suddenly cancel your trip due to illness or other unforeseeable circumstances. Remember – the home owner has reserved the vacation rental home just for you, and he or she will expect to be paid no matter what. However, with travel insurance, you can recoup some or all of your costs in case your Florida vacation plans change. Travel insurance is very affordably priced, so make sure to ask your travel agent or your booking company for more information about your options.
The experience of staying in a vacation rental home rather than a hotel can be a rewarding one. As long as you do your research and make sure that you have all of the information that you need, you can be sure that you will enjoy your Florida vacation in comfort and style.