This blog is for bottom-up dispensers of cool who enjoy eco-travel deals and healthy living. We feel that "the small, the slow, the local, and the personal" will build the new economy. Your comments will help enrich this information for all of us.
Whadya Want? Great views? Smoke-free? Gourmet kitchen? Barbeque grill? Write it all down so you quickly sort through your choices. Be prepared to choose between your needs versus your wants.
Look, Look, Look. Play the numbers, look at lots of properties to get a good idea of what your money will buy. You'll learn the meaningless, overused, buzz words used to describe features you want to avoid--along with the current market prices for the features that mean something to you and your traveling companions. Try at least ten Internet searches for what you want, be creative. That super sweet Sedona vacation rental you're looking for may not turn up on VRBO because it's likely that owners who've rented their quality property for several years have plenty of repeat guests, they don't need to pay for listings. Turning up their website may take a search using a unique term or clicking through to page four or five.
Google smoke free or comfortable, affordable vacation rental and you turn up homes with character, not just the timeshare vacancies. World-class amenities also make good search terms--try infinity pool or vacation rental, new furniture. If you're vacationing outside the U.S., learn what terms have meaning in your country of interest. Europeans take "holidays" not "vacations." Try self-catering or guest home instead of vacation rental.
Make a Good First Impression. Let owners know that you'll be a responsible guest by sharing your strengths or experience. Stayed in vacation homes before? Mention it. Owners will like that you know the ropes. Don't smoke or bring your pets? Include that in your introduction. Have pets? Mention that too, cat lovers connect! Find the best digs for Fido. Don't just fill out the inquiry form with your dates of travel and email address, put a face on your message and you'll be much more likely to get the owners' attention when you ask for a deal or peak season dates.
One Man's Floor is Another's Ceiling. Even if you can't tour the property in person, don't just settle for a quick glance at the photographs. Check out the closet space, ask about water pressure, nearby noise disturbances, whatever is important to you. Don't ask yes or no questions like, "Is it a quiet location?" Ask, "What noise disturbances are nearby?" Then you can decide for yourself.
Close the Deal. Understand what you're agreeing to do. Pay mandatory fees at checkout for keys, cleaning, tips? Is key pick up only during specific hours? Will you have more paperwork? Can you get a discount for paying cash? Referring a friend?