From Sheraton to Chalet: The Guide to Affordable Vacation Rentals

One of the best kept secrets in affordable travel are private vacation rentals. From rural chalets to chic brownstones downtown, private residence rentals are an economical alternative to traditional lodging. For about the same price as a cramped hotel room, families can rent a comfortable space with separate bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, living areas and plenty of bathrooms. Many fail to take advantage of private rentals because they do not know where to find listings, are uncertain about the trustworthiness of the renter or simply do not know if the particular rental is a good bargain. This guide will help vacationers become truly rental savvy.

Luxurious Diversity

Whether travelling abroad, planning a week at the beach, a weekend in the city or a family trip to Disney World, there is a clean, inexpensive and safe private rental available. Here are a few examples:

European Country Charm

Within 10 minutes of the beach and a five minute walk to a quaint village on the southeastern Spanish coast, this lovely three bedroom, two bath home offers a private pool and sleeps seven for as little as $700 per month. Quite a lot less than the $2,500 plus charged at a fancy Barcelona hotel.

Exotic Island

Treasured for their beauty and seclusion, the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean can also be affordable. This chalet for two offers beach views, a living room, bedroom and private bath for less than $1,200 per week; compare that to the over $6,000 for a similar week at the Four Seasons.

Luxury Townhome

In the heart of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, the entire family could spend a weekend in luxury and comfort in this beautiful brownstone. For about the same price as three nights in a small hotel room, the whole family can stretch out in two bedrooms and save a little on meals with the fully equipped kitchen.

Redneck Riviera

If you love walking on white sandy beaches and swimming in crystal blue waters, staying in a comfortable and affordable beachfront home on the Gulf of Mexico might be your sort of redneck rendezvous! This lovely three bedroom, three bathroom beachfront residence near Gulf Shores, Alabama offers all of the amenities and sleeps 10 for less than $3500 per week during peak season, an unbeatable price.

Theme Park on a Budget

After a long day of Mickey, Minnie, lines, crowds, fast food and strollers, what family wouldn’t want to return to a four bedroom, three bath home with a pool, spa and game room to stretch out, cool off and relax? This lovely private rental in Orlando is only six miles from the theme parks and rents for less than $150 per night; compare that with the $700 per night for two bedrooms at a Disney Villa.

Finding a Rental

There are a number of resources to help individuals and families find vacation rentals that fit their needs and budgets.

The Vacation Rental Market

At Condé Nast Traveler, vacationers learn everything they need to know about affordable villa vacations from travel expert Wendy Perrin; her authoritative guide helps travelers find the best deals and rentals in more than 30 countries. Travel and Leisure also offers a wealth of information on renting vacation homes, and its tips include which sites to use when renting in Europe, like Airbnb, and even renting “an entire country.”

Experts offer travel tips for vacation rentals, such as booking far in advance, authenticating the property and researching the owner, at MSNBC.com.
Anxious travelers can rely on certifications from the Vacation Rental Industry Association (VRIA), which inspects properties and certifies owners, so guests can feel confident they will get the properties and amenities they reserved.

Savvy Renting

Interested consumers can learn about a common vacation rental scam at ABCNews. Travelers can also read how Lisa was scammed, even though she verified the address and deposited money into an actual bank account, in an article from the New York Times. Those who want to insure against being scammed can purchase extra protection at the Carefree Rental Guarantee from HomeAway..

In addition to those already mentioned, there are a number of other reliable vacation rental sites. Roomorama offers homes of all sizes in countries throughout the world for the “discerning traveler.” At Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO), vacationers search over 190,000 properties worldwide; VRBO’s interactive map and helpful filters allow renters to drill down and find exactly what they want in very little time.

Wimdu advertises it will get travelers a good deal by helping them to “travel like a local.” Brave travelers will find good deals in up-and-coming neighborhoods with sites like 9flats.com. The truly intrepid can save a lot of money by “swapping” their home with another’s at Love Home Swap, which has rentals available in over 90 countries.

Whether it is an exotic location or family vacation, there is a private vacation rental to fit every need. Wise travelers know they can save money while enjoying a comfortable lodging by investing a little time into researching and finding an affordable vacation rental.

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