Ask Trip Coach: Vacation Rentals

From decoding rentalese to avoiding extra fees, our Trip Coach has all the keys to making your next stay a successful one.
Owned by TripAdvisor, this site rates its roughly 100,000 listings based on input from former guests.
The time-share clearinghouse lets you rent units at more than 4,000 resorts for far less than you'd pay by booking directly.
This one-stop shopping option lists over 100,000 units—all individually owned—in 140 resort areas. Call to check availability (800/467-3529).

What to be wary of while you search.

The property "sleeps ___ people"
Where exactly will those people sleep? Triple bunks? Foldout futons? Does your six-foot-tall clan really want to sleep on fulls?

The rental has a "kitchenette"
There's a lot of ambiguity in that "ette." Will you be cooking on a hot plate all week? Are we talking full-size fridge with freezer? Are pots, pans, plates, and utensils supplied?

The photos are spare
Everyone knows that pictures are the way to sell a place. If a listing for a four-bedroom beachfront villa only includes a close-up of the living room sofa, you have to wonder what you're not seeing.

The owner is evasive
An owner who won't answer questions, return your messages, or supply references is the rental market's equivalent of a used-car salesman who won't let you kick the tires. This one could be a clunker.

The vacancy calendar is completely empty
Sure, you have your pick of any of 365 days, but that means there's not a single soul willing to pay to stay in this place. Do you really want to be the first?

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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