Until I lived on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I thought vacation accommodations were limited to hotels, motels, and bed & breakfasts. When I arrived in Nags Head back in 1996, I noticed that virtually all the houses on the ocean side of the main highway displayed “for rent” signs. I needed a place to live, so the bounty of rental signs was encouraging, but after just a few calls I realized all these homes were not year-round rentals – they were vacation rental homes.
Private individuals who own these residences stay in them two weeks out of the year and place them in a rental program for the remainder of the year, providing vacationers with an option other than hotels or motels. In the U.S., this type of accommodation is prevalent in the country’s most popular vacation spots: Hawaii, Florida, and destinations on both coasts, although their popularity is growing in the interior as well. Vacation rentals are also available in tourism hotspots around the globe – places such as Mexico, the Caribbean, South Pacific, Europe, Asia, and even Africa.
Vacation rental properties are never rented by the night; for most the minimum term is one week and some (such as in parts of Florida) require a minimum stay of one month. Arrangements can be made through vacation rental firms that represent owners in specific cities, but more and more, owners are marketing and renting their properties directly through websites that allow free listings of vacation rentals, such as Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO).
Staying in a vacation rental has its advantages. Most newer properties provide unparalleled amenities such as a private pool, hot tub, rec rooms with billiards, media/theater rooms, and multiple master bedrooms with private baths. Having a fully equipped kitchen allows guests to save money on restaurants, and because many vacation rentals have six or more bedrooms, multiple families can band together to make the high rents more affordable.
If you plan to vacation at one of the more popular tourist destinations this year and want to stay in a “home away from home,” then a vacation rental might just be the perfect solution.