There are many great reasons to rent a vacation home instead of staying in a hotel. If you’ve decided that a vacation rental is right for you, the next step is actually finding one. Doing so can be a bit confusing; most popular vacation destinations have plenty of options to choose from. While saving money is great, you’re also going to want to choose a place that will suit your own specific needs. After all, you’re probably going to be spending plenty of time there.

Look below for a handful of prime tips for finding the vacation rental that is right for you.

Photo Credit: Val.Pearl

Spend Time In The Area

If you’ve already zeroed in on a particular area where you’d like to rent a vacation home, chances are that you’ve visited the area several times already. Still, prior to signing on the dotted line, it helps to spend a weekend or so at an area hotel - and to explore the region. With the goal of finding a suitable vacation home in mind, your search will be much more fruitful - and your stay will be more purposeful. In the end, you’ll have a much clearer idea about where you want to rent a home when you take the time to get to know the area better.

Ask Around

While you’re visiting the area where you’d like to rent a vacation home, try to meet a few other people who do the same thing. Ask them for advice about how they found their vacation home, and for pointers about where you should look. Since they’re already renting a vacation home in the area, they’ll have unique insight into the particularities of the area. It never hurts to get as much advice as possible, so keep your ears open for people who are already renting nearby.

Consider Your Priorities

For some people, having a vacation home that’s right on the beach or smack-dab in the middle of the action is critical; for others, saving money by staying a bit further afield is perfectly fine. Some vacationers value a stunning view; others place a lot of importance on being in a small, close-knit community. Sit down and figure out what your own top priorities are, and put them at the center of your search. That way, you’ll eventually arrive at a vacation rental that will satisfy all of your most important criteria.

Use The Internet

When first beginning an online search for the perfect vacation home, the dizzying array of options can be positively intimidating. Don’t give up, though; take the time to sort through the various online resources. Eventually, you’ll find websites and listings that will come quite in handy during your search. Using the Internet can save you a great deal of time and frustration, so take the time to sort out the sites that actually provide relevant information from those that are purely fluff. In the end, your online search will have been more than worth it.

Ask For References

As you narrow down your list of prospective vacation homes to rent, ask the landlords or property management companies for references. Typically, they should be able to provide you with testimonials or reviews from previous renters; this will help you get a feel for whether or not the home will work for you or not. Hearing the viewpoint of people who have stayed in a vacation home can give you a unique perspective that can be positively priceless during your search. If a landlord can’t provide such information, proceed with caution.

Make A List Of The Facilities You Want

A great way to narrow down your list of choices when searching for a vacation rental is by coming up with a list of amenities and facilities that you absolutely must have. Things like onsite pools and hot tubs can help cut your list down to a more manageable size. Decide how many bathrooms you’d optimally need, for example, and only consider vacation rentals that meet those specifications. If you want a home with a deck or balcony, make sure that you point that out to landlords as you make your calls. Doing all of this will make your search more manageable in the long run.

Figure Out The Size That’s Best For You

Even if you and your spouse will normally be the only two people staying at your vacation home, you should consider whether or not grandkids and other family members will ever visit. Ensuring that there’s plenty of room for everyone will help you get the most out of your vacation rental. Many times, it’s well worth it to pay a bit more for extra space, even if it won’t be used the entire time you’re visiting. Be realistic and come up with a square footage or number of rooms that will work for you.

The Perfect Vacation Home Is Within Your Reach

As convoluted as a search for the perfect vacation rental can seem from the outset, taking a measured and pragmatic approach will yield excellent results. At all times, remember to be realistic - and remember that the vacation home you choose should positively thrill you. In the end, taking all of your most important criteria into consideration - and being realistic about your budget - will help you track down a vacation home that will make your visit more exciting and memorable than you’d ever imagined possible.