From past blogs you’ve read all the benefits of home exchanging. Now it’s time to ask yourself if staying in a vacation rental is right for you. Before we delve into what you need to do to select the right rental, let’s step back for a moment and reflect. Ask yourself if you will be comfortable staying in another person’s home and not a room in a hotel, resort or cabin on a cruise ship. The majority of vacation rentals are owned by people who have purchased them as an investment property and who repeatedly rent them out to vacationers like you. However, there are some homes that are permanent residences rented out by the homeowner during the months or weeks when they are absent. In the latter group of homes, you will be surrounded by the possessions and personality of the homeowner.
People who have enjoyed the concept are typically of a certain mindset. They are flexible, adaptable and naturally respectful of the property of others. There are trade-offs with staying in a vacation rental and to enjoy the experience you need to know that the benefits can far outweigh any issues or inconveniences. However, living in someone else’s home may not be for everyone. Things to consider:
It’s Not a Hotel!
Unless you book (and pay) for a vacation rental with housekeepers, you will need to perform some of the ‘household’ tasks on your holiday similar to being at home. Even with a part-time housekeeper, you may find yourself making your bed every morning, washing dishes and putting out the trash. These chores as well as grocery shopping and meal preparation can consume a large portion of your vacation time… time that you likely would rather be spending at an attraction or relaxing on a beach. Then at the end of your stay, you’re required to leave the home ‘broom clean’ with all beds stripped, all countertops, appliances and floors wiped clean and the fridge emptied.
In addition to household chores, you also need to accept that someone has entrusted their home and possessions to you with the understanding that everything will be the same upon their return home. You need to be mindful of your actions and realize that the paint, upholstery, carpets, linens and counter surfaces (ie. especially wood furniture) will not be a commercial grade that hotels use in their guest rooms. This means that you need to take special care such as using coasters for your drinks and removing footwear at the entrance door.
There also is the expectation from homeowners that you will care for their property, both the home and its contents. Each evening, they may require you to collect and store all beach furniture and cushions and collapse poolside umbrellas. You can’t simply walk away leaving your towels and empty drinking glasses on the beach or poolside lounge chairs as you would at an all-inclusive resort.
And what if something doesn’t work in your vacation rental? For example, if the air conditioning system isn’t working, you can’t call the front desk staff for assistance as you would in a hotel or resort.
It’s Not Your Home!
Are you very specific in your needs and unable to adapt to new surroundings? You need to honestly ask yourself if you’re flexible enough to accept that your vacation rental will not have all the ‘comforts of home’. Depending on the home you select, it may not be outfitted with a dishwasher or laundry facilities. Your vacation rental may also be void of window screens, high-speed internet, WiFi and air conditioning!
A vacation rental may not have all the amenities and features that you enjoy at home but this is in part what vacationing should be all about… experiencing something different. I would gladly forgo a dishwasher to have a bedroom less than 20 steps to the beach. Plus, you’ll appreciate that feature (ie. dishwasher) upon your return home after living without it for the duration of your vacation!
And if something isn’t operating properly in the vacation rental, the homeowner or property manager is only a call away. In a hotel or resort, how often has an issue brought to the attention of the front desk staff ever been addressed immediately and to your satisfaction. Plus as the vacation rental is another person’s home, everything should be in working order. If not, there will be a contact number to call.
Welcome the experience and all its rewards. Put aside your pre-conceived notions and give staying in a vacation rental a try on your next vacation. You’ll hopefully be converted and destined to vacation rental living!
~ the above is an excerpt from my soon to be published book: “VACATION RENTALS
Your Guide for the Perfect Stay in… Mexico, the Caribbean & Central America ~ Everything You Need to Know Before You Go!”