In Travel

How to Book a Vacation Rental for Cheap

Today is the first day of spring! Many of you are looking forward to the warmer weather and preparing to book those vacation rentals. While I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in this area, I once booked a 5-night stay in a beautiful two-story cottage by a lake in Florida for $140 less than the advertised price.

A two-story, lakeside cottage for just 90 bucks a night? Not bad!

A two-story, lakeside cottage for just 90 bucks a night? Not bad!

Florida lake with chairs full kitchen inside cottage second-story bedroom in cottage

How did I do it? Follow the tips below:

  1. Try to book last minute. 
    This is risky, but it can pay off in the end. I waited until just two and half weeks before my arrival date to find a vacation rental in Florida. There were plenty in the area that hadn’t been booked yet. As a result, the owners were anxious and many were willing to cut down on prices to get the place booked–or else they’d miss out on money completely.
  2. Look at the outlying areas.
    Do you really need to stay in the heart of the city? By looking just 20 miles outside of it, you can get rentals for way cheaper. I ended up staying in the middle of nowhere in Florida, a little town called Hawthorne, but the lakeside retreat was beautiful and serene. Since I had my car, I could drive anywhere I wanted to, so staying outside the city was a great choice.
  3. Don’t go through a rental agent; try to deal directly with the owner.
    Certain sites will charge you fees for their services. Skip the middlemen and contact the owners directly to skip the extra fees. I highly recommend using HomeAway or VRBO (owned by the same company); those are the sites I used to find my cottage rental. Another good place to check is Craigslist. 
  4. Haggle.
    It helps to be upfront about the other options you’re looking at.  I had narrowed down my options to two different places: a farmhouse in Summerfield, which was a longer drive, but the price was lower, or the cottage in Hawthorne, which was much more beautiful, but the price was higher. I decided to just let the cottage owner know about my options, and I asked her if she’d consider lowering her prices, and then I’d definitely pick her rental over the farmhouse. She obliged. It was a win for both of us. 

Do you have any tips on booking vacation rentals for cheap? Where are you headed for your spring travels?

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  • maghon
    June 4, 2013 at 12:28 am

    Please let me know where this is. I have been looking for a place to stay for vacation with my family and it needs to be by a lake and my husband like it to be secluded. It looks amazing! Thanks, Maghon

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