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How to Rent a Vacation Home

Next time you plan a trip, think about renting a place. A cottage, a villa, or a condo may be just the ticket to help you feel at home.

vacation homes on a lake backed by autumn color, image
Photo caption
A vacation home can provide you with a gorgeous and relaxed setting.

To save money on your next trip, consider renting a home. You’ll get more breathing space and privacy, a kitchen where you can cook, and often a reasonable rate. Here’s how to find a pad online.

Surf Around
The best rental Web sites show availability, amenities, and prices for properties advertised by individual owners or managers. HomeAway is a network of 10 sites with more than 255,000 listings worldwide. The flagship site is easiest to search by desired features, such as lodging type and size. Available rentals for March included a one-bedroom apartment for four, near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, at $1,050 a week (plus $100 cleaning fee) and an ocean-view Waikiki condo at $1,150 a week.

Check the Views
Most listings show photos; some of’s star-rated condo rentals feature videos. Read guest reviews, or ask the owner to put you in touch with past customers.

Expect Some Homework
Typically, you have to fill out an online form to inquire about reservations for each property. Or you can book a resort condo at Endless Vacation Rentals or, which may offer concierge services and daily housekeeping.

Reduce Risk
You’re generally on your own if a rental transaction goes wrong. Before sending payment, read the written contract for details on the security deposit and cleaning fees. HomeAway’s sites guarantee registered travelers up to $5,000 of protection in rare cases of fraud.

Photography by robert cicchetti/Shutterstock

This article was first published in May 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.