We do what I would consider a fair amount of traveling in our family. We travel a lot for vacations, weekend getaways, camping, and sports/dance competitions.

As much as we love checking out new hotels and resorts, we love the convenience and the money we save from actually renting a whole house.

Here are 9 things that you need to know before booking a vacation rental.

1. How do you “Check In” and “Check Out”? A big change for most people is the check in and check out process. There is no front desk like a hotel. Some homes we have rented have mailed us the keys, some have a locked box at the house, and some use a rental company where you go to pick up and drop off the keys. Make sure you ask about late check-ins and what time you have to leave.

2. What attractions are nearby? How far away is the beach? What are the restaurant options and grocery stores within a short drive? Make sure to do your own research ahead of time. Sometimes the descriptions can be a little misleading.

3. What is really in the kitchen? There are usually the basics like a stove, oven, fridge, and microwave. But how are you going to cook anything if there no pots, pans, dishes, and silverware? Be sure to check what’s included.

It’s hard eating 3 meals a day at a restaurant when you have kids! Let’s face it, we can only take so many tantrums, spilled drinks, and broken crayons. Renting a house lets you at least have some meals in a relaxed atmosphere of home.

4. Do they have additional equipment for use? Some rentals have extra items for renters to use such as portable cribs, beach chairs, coolers, and beach toys. This will save you from having to buy extra stuff that you might only use for 1 day.

5. How does cleaning work?  Verify if there is a cleaning service or if you have to clean yourself. My suggestion is to pay the additional amount for the cleaning service. I know everyone wants to try to save some money on vacation but who wants to spend the last day cleaning?!

6. Is there an emergency number for problems? What if a toilet gets clogged or you accidentally lock yourself out of the house, is there someone you can call? On our last vacation, we paid to have the pool heated and the heater was not working. We called the emergency number and they came to fix it right away!

7. What items are NOT provided? Ask for a list of supplies provided so you can pack what is not on that list. I always try to rent a house that includes linens and towels. It is a real pain to have to pack towels and sheets.

When you are used to hotel vacations, you can take for granted that toilet paper, paper towels, etc. are all included. If you know what is included ahead of time you can usually pack some things that you need to avoid marked up “tourist” prices at your destination.

8. What is the actual bedroom situation? Some vacation rentals advertise that they have 3 bedrooms when one of those “bedrooms” is actually a pull-out couch in the living room. Make sure you are ok with the sleeping arrangements before you book.

9. Leave everything the way it was when you came. You do want to make your vacation home feel comfortable but you should always remember that this is someone else’s house and you should be respectful. If you move a chair or a sofa to get a better view of the tv, be sure to move it back.

If you follow these tips you will have an amazing time at your vacation rental. Happy Vacationing!!