When I’m staying somewhere longer than one night, I prefer to find lodging through www.vrbo.com or www.airbnb.com. I’ve had great experiences with these sites. I prefer to have more features like kitchenettes and multiple bedrooms. I like how you can search for places by price, location, travel dates, or number of bedrooms. You can also view pictures of the rental. I wanted to make sure the rental had a kitchenette (I wanted to eat my breakfasts and lunches at the rental so I didn’t have to spend money buying every meal.) and slept at least three people. I also wanted to see if the place was clean and decorated nicely. The sites are great because you can view the reviews too, which can put your heart at rest when trying to select a rental. The site also lists items available like linens, kitchen appliances, air conditioning, number of people the rental sleeps, and whether or not it has wifi. Read all of the information provided before choosing a rental.
Before you book, you may want to reach out to the owner and ask a few questions. If they respond quickly, it’s a good sign. I like to make that connection so that I know I’ll be able to communicate with the owner while I’m there (For example, I wanted to rent movies and needed the owner to provide a DVR for me during our stay.).
Make sure you read all the fine print. You will have to add in taxes and a cleaning fee most likely as well. I try to book without confirming the order so I know what additional fees will be added. My rental for Charleston quoted $115 a night. I stayed four nights and paid just over $600. So, there was additional charges of over $100. This could really impact your budget, so remember to add in these additional charges.
Overall, my rental ended up being pretty much what was pictured and described. I would have liked the owners to leave information about good restaurants in the area and there was no welcome-to-the-area binder or anything. At other rentals I’ve been at, a binder like that was provided.
I would expect to spend several days and maybe a couple weeks picking your rental. You have to sift through several rentals and pictures and contact various owners with questions. So, I’d make sure to start several months in advance to avoid the place you want being booked.
When I chose lodging on the way down and back, I knew I’d be there a very short time, so a hotel worked fine for just those two nights. You will probably want to know how many hours you’ll be at the hotel. If you’ll arrive around 4 or 5, you might want to get something with a pool to occupy the kids. We arrived at 7pm and hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so we didn’t need a pool. On the way home we arrived at 5pm, so it would have been nice to have a pool that night. Staying in a hotel room with two boys and nothing to do isn’t ideal. I decided to go into the city for dinner, walk around downtown, and get ice cream. So, if you have time to kill, make sure you’re in a bigger city where there is more to do or get a pool. To book my hotel, I used www.hotels.com. However, I wasn’t pleased with my choice. I chose a Quality Inn, but it wasn’t in a great area of town and was a little sketchy. I’d review prices around the area and choose a middle of the road price instead because you’d probably get a better hotel that way. As a single woman, that’s important.
Unlike the vacation rental, I booked a hotel maybe three weeks in advance. I knew I’d find a hotel with availability, so booking far in advance wasn’t as important. I also wasn’t sure where I’d need the hotel until I decided on my stops along the way and that took a bit of time to plan.
If you’re staying in a place for several nights, I’d suggest trying a vacation rental. It will feel more like home and you’ll be able to have a local expert to consult about the area. It’s a great way to relax and enjoy the area a little more.