Last updated on June 6th, 2019
Some people learn the hard way that vacation rentals and cabins are very different than just booking a hotel room. Don’t be that person who rents the beach house for the family vacation with the grandparents and finds out your place is right beside the hottest bar in town. Don’t be that person who rents a cabin in the woods because you want to get away from it all to find out at a most inconvenient time that there is no toilet paper.
Don’t learn the hard way, take it from those of us who have been there done that. Make sure you ask these questions before you book that rental.
What is Your 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?
What is the Payment, Deposit, and Additional Fees?
Don’t get blindsided by fees in the fine print. 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?
What if There is an Emergency?
As we said before life happens and you need to be prepared for anything. 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 is the Rental’s Layout?
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
- What is the water source? Is there a well or septic tank?
- Are there stairs? how many?
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?
- 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?
What comes with the 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, 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?
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.
- 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?
What is Available Near the Rental?
- 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?
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Depending on your situation, length of stay, and location there will be other questions you will need to ask. I just hope this list gives you somewhere to start and reminds you to make sure there is toilet paper.
What Questions Would You Add?
Do you have a funny vacation toilet paper story you want to share?