Essential Vacation Rental Questions You Must Ask Before Booking your Perfect Getaway

Ever booked a vacation rental only to find out it’s more like a sitcom plot waiting to unfold? Picture this: you’re on a family beach vacation, excitedly showing off the rental you booked for the grandparents. Suddenly, you realize it’s not just ‘near’ the hottest bar in town—it’s practically an extension of it! Or how about that cabin retreat in the woods? You’re embracing nature’s tranquility until nature calls, and there’s not a square of toilet paper in sight. Ah, the joys of vacation rentals! But fear not, savvy traveler. We’re here to ensure your next vacation rental booking is a comedy-free zone, complete with all the TP you’ll ever need.


funny vacation rental mishap meme of a bear in the woods says what no toilet paper quick grab me a rabbit.


Let’s face it, vacation mishaps make for great stories…after the fact. But when you’re living through them, they can turn your dream getaway into a nightmare faster than you can say ‘where’s the nearest store?’ That’s why it pays to heed the wisdom of seasoned travelers who’ve navigated the pitfalls of a vacation rental firsthand. By asking the right questions upfront, you’ll avoid those cringe-worthy moments and ensure smooth sailing (or skiing, or sunbathing—whatever your vacation style may be). So, before you hit that ‘book now’ button, arm yourself with these vacation rental questions. Trust us, your future self will thank you.


What is Your Vacation Rental Cancellation Policy?

Life happens and sometimes you have to reschedule or even cancel your plans. You need to know what this is going to cost you.

  • Do you lose your deposit?
  • Can you reschedule?
  • How far out do you have to cancel?
  • What if a hurricane or a snowstorm hits?

How much are the Payment, Deposit, and Additional Fees?

Don’t get blindsided by hidden fees in the fine print of your vacation rental contract.  Make sure you clearly understand all the fees and when these payments are due. Some fees can be negotiated so don’t be afraid to ask them to eliminate fees for things you will not need.

    • What is the total rental price and when is it due?
    • How much is the deposit and when is that due?
    • What is the cleaning fee? Are there linen fees? What about garbage disposal?
    • Are there fees for extra people, pets, or cars?
    • Is there some type of entrance fee or user fee for any amenities you have listed i.e. boat docking fee?
    • Are there key fees? How many keys do we get?


ambulance in a busy street FDNY


What if there is an Emergency?

As we said before life happens and you need to be prepared for anything especially if you are going on vacation somewhere like Jumby Bay Island resort where hurricanes and tropical storms often happen or booking a vacation rental in the mountains for skiing. You need to know what to do in an emergency and who to contact once you are in the rental.

  • Who do I contact if the toilet breaks in the middle of the night?
  • What do we do if a hurricane or snowstorm hits? Where do we go? Who do we contact?
  • Where are the nearest, doctor, urgent care, and trauma hospital? Specify trauma because many rural hospitals are not equipped for all emergencies.
  • What if someone or something (bear) breaks into the cabin?
  • Who do I contact if I get locked out?
  • What do we do in the event of a natural disaster? What are the evacuation routes?

What is the Layout of the Vacation Rental?

If you’re looking for some alone time with the spouse you want to make sure there is a bedroom that will accommodate.  You don’t want to get there and find out that all the bedrooms have bunk beds in them.

  • How many does the rental sleep?
  • How many bedrooms are there?
  • How are the beds configured? Bunk beds, Queen size, pull out couch?
  • How many bathrooms are there? full baths, half baths? showers, tub?
  • Ask to see a floor plan
  • How much parking is available and where? Is it covered parking?
  • Are there stairs? how many?
  • Is there an outside seating area or yard?
  • How close is the next house or cabin?

What Exactly is the Kitchen Equipped with?

If you ask 14 people what is in a “fully equipped kitchen” you will get 14 different answers. You need to know exactly what is in the kitchen and what you will need to bring.  Think like you are moving into a new house, exactly what would you need in the kitchen to function.

  • What size are the refrigerator and stove? electric or gas?
  • Is there a dishwasher?
  • What is the water source? Is there a well or septic tank?
  • Are there pots and pans? spatulas, mixing bowls, can opener, dishes, and silverware?
  • Do you supply cleaning products, trash bags, brooms, mops, kitchen towels, potholders?
  •  Is there a coffee maker, toaster oven, microwave, etc?
  • How many people does the table seat?
  • How do we handle our trash?


What is Included in the Vacation Rental?

The questions in this section are dictated more by your individual needs so they might not apply to everyone.

  • Is there TV, cable, wifi, game consoles, etc?
  • Do you supply linens? sheets, towels, blankets?
  • Do you supply toilet paper, toiletries, cleaning supplies?
  • Is there a washer and dryer?
  • Is there a pool, hot tub, or game room?
  • Is there a fireplace? fire pit, campfire? Do you supply wood?
  • Is there direct beach/water access? Is it shared?
  • Is there a pool?
  • Is there a porch/patio and outside furniture?
  • Is it handicapped accessible?
  • How close are the neighbors?
  • How much parking is there? Covered or outside? Fees? Size restrictions? motorcycle restrictions?
  • Is there a baby bed or crib? high chair?


 a woman walking two dogs dogs on a path near a vacation rental


Are Pets Welcome?

Don’t ever assume that you can bring your pets without asking first. Make sure you ask lots of question before you show up with your furbabies. Not only should you ask questions specific to your vacation rental but also ask about local laws with regards to pets. Many beaches have restrictions on dogs and most locales have strict leash laws.

  • What pets are welcome, cats, dogs, birds, monkeys, horses?
  • Is there a size limit? Is there a breed restriction?
  • Is there a limit on the number of pets?
  • Is there a designated area outside for pets? any restricted areas they are not allowed?
  • Is there a fee or deposit? Is it per pet or one flat fee?
  • Leash/cage requirements?
  • Are pets allowed to be left unattended in the rental?

What is Available Near the Vacation Rental?

When you book a vacation rental you don’t plan on spending all your time inside, so make sure to find out what’s close by. You want to make some memories exploring the area and have some fun adventures. So in addition to doing research online remember, the rental company, and the locals are the best source so don’t be afraid to ask.

    • Where is the nearest grocery store, drug store, car mechanic,vet, dentist, post office?
    • What restaurants, entertainment, and attractions are nearby?
    • What restaurants deliver to the rental?
    • Are there any festivals or events happening during our stay?
    • Is there any public transportation? bike, ski, boat rentals?
    • Are there any discounts for attractions included with the rental?

Remember, this list is just the tip of the iceberg. Your vacation rental experience will be as unique as you are, and there may be additional questions specific to your needs, destination, or length of stay. The key is to approach booking with a curious mind and a discerning eye. And please, for the love of all that’s comfortable, don’t forget about the toilet paper! It’s the little things that can make or break a trip, after all.



Lastly, always do your due diligence. Take advantage of the wealth of information available online, from checking out reviews on rental platforms to scrutinizing the list of amenities. Trust but verify should be your mantra when it comes to booking accommodations. After all, it’s better to spend a little extra time upfront than to be left high and dry (pun intended) when you arrive. So go forth, armed with your newfound knowledge and armed with toilet paper, and may your next vacation be everything you dreamed of and more!


What Questions Would You Add?

Do you have a funny vacation toilet paper story you want to share?



3 thoughts on “Essential Vacation Rental Questions You Must Ask Before Booking your Perfect Getaway”

  1. These are great! At our last rental we did clog a toilet in the bathroom and after searching the whole house we ended up heading to Walmart to buy a plunger and fixed it ourselves– I had no idea how to get a hold of the person we rented from!

  2. Great tips! We’re getting ready to schedule our vacation for later this summer. I always love to find a place that offers a full kitchen with extras and at least two bathrooms. We rented a cabin in Gatlinburg, TN a few years ago and when we arrived, they had moved their main office/check-in location. They have 13 separate locations so we kept getting told to call different ones. Because it was about 7 miles up the mountain, we didn’t want to go all the way back down to find a gas station. I’m usually pretty reserved but I had to go bad enough that I went to one of the big cabins where a bunch of college kids were partying and asked to use theirs. Turns out, our cabin was right next to theirs. They had run out of toilet paper and were waiting on the property manager to bring more. I had to holler for paper towels LOL.

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