9 Mistakes to Avoid with Short-Term Vacation Rentals

Booking a Short Term Vacation Rental might be what fits your family or travel group best. However, there are certainly some considerations involved. Today we discuss the top mistakes when booking and staying at a Short-Term Vacation Rentals.

Top Mistakes to Avoid with Short-Term Vacation Rentals

  1. Assumptions about amenities offered (climate, internet, parking, items in house, toiletries)
  2. Not raising issues DURING the stay
  3. Not researching the area/location of the house
  4. Relying just on photos on booking sites
  5. Not reviewing the rules/check-in and out policies…and sharing that with others.
  6. Misjudging your time at the STVR (check in at 4 pm, check out at 10 am)
  7. Not reading reviews (and review responses)
  8. Not booking on a major platform (but…you can direct book)
  9. Buying too much (food, supplies, alcohol, etc.) that you then have to take with you or throw away.

Question: What is your favorite experience staying in short-term vacation rentals?

Please let us know in the All Things Travel Podcast Facebook group!

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Ryan and Shayne are both Travel Advisers with Creating Magic Vacations, an authorized Disney Vacation Planner. Feel free to reach out to us for a free quote and to start making magical memories.

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Episode ??? Transcripts

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Hello and welcome to All Things Travel. Booking a short-term vacation rental might be what fits your family or travel group best. However, there are certainly some considerations involved. Today, we discussed the top mistakes when booking and staying at a short-term vacation rental.

So Shayne, we’ve talked about short-term vacation rentals before. We’ve told some great stories. I remember one about you being stuck having to clean an entire house. I remember another one of you being stuck in the bachelor bunk room, if you will. And then obviously, you know, I’ve talked about Being on a multi-gen trip with my family on the beach, and a couple weeks ago I talked about starting a short-term rental business.

So we’ve, we, we’ve talked a lot off the air, kind of how we’re doing this, what we’re doing and, and kind of things to consider. So, you know, These mistakes that we’re gonna talk about today are certainly things that I’m seeing as I’m doing research, as I’m putting stuff together for guests. And so we thought this would be a good topic to talk about today as, as folks often look to short-term rentals for their vacation needs.

It’s a great viable travel option, especially if you’re traveling with a bigger group. And some people are wary of them for various reasons, but if you follow our advice and avoid these mistakes, that can go a long ways towards making your trip a success.

Most families are confused and overwhelmed when planning a vacation. We work with you to plan a trip perfect for your interest, saving you time, money, and stress.

We would love to help you plan your next amazing vacation.

You can reach out to me atRyan@creatingmagicvacations.com. That’s R Y A n, at creating magic vacations.com. So Shayne, we have some of the top things to avoid here when it comes to booking and staying at a short term vacation rental, and you have the first one on the list. What is it?

Making assumptions about the amenities offered.

It’s so hard when you look at the pictures, when you read the descriptions to get a sense of what’s there, and I think a lot of people. Assumed that whatever was at their last vacation rental is gonna be at their next one, and that’s just not true, is it?

It’s not true. You could stay in a condominium building and some of the units there will have air conditioning and some may not have air conditioning.


We’ve stayed in places like that before. The first time we went, we didn’t know that there was no AC and kind of suffered through it.

At later times we went to a place nearby and knew in advance that it didn’t, and we were able to plan around that and knowing that we weren’t gonna have it was a lot more pleasant than expecting it and not getting it.

Absolutely. What are some other things that you want to avoid making assumptions about?

We have stayed in places before that didn’t have wifi, and that was kind of a shock. We’ve stayed in ones that didn’t have their own parking, and so we had to,

yeah. That’s a big hassle.

yeah, there was, it was this cute little house on the beach in Surfside, beat Surfside, Texas, and it was right on the water. The thing was, it was adjacent to another house, a larger house that had parking.

And luckily for us, that house wasn’t occupied, so we had use of those spaces. But if. . If that house had been occupied, we would’ve had to, to find another place to park. And then you wanna make sure that you wanna make sure of what toiletries are gonna be provided. If you need to bring paper towels, toilet paper, what kind of bath towels or bedding that you need.

Amenities like that. Some of ’em will provide dishes, some.

Yeah, I mean some, some have almost kind of like a hotel style to them. They’ll provide shampoo, conditioner, lotion, things like that. Others don’t others have a fully stocked kitchen. Others don’t. You know, some will say that they start you with kind of a starter pack of one or two rolls of toilet paper, and then you’re responsible for everything else.

So again, you have to kind of think about what your family’s gonna need. and, and look at that when you’re looking at amenities or talking to the host,

Thinking back to that one you mentioned at the beginning of the show when I was in the Bachelor basement bunk beds, and the first thing I asked my friend when she told me about this house, I said, what is the coffee situation?

Yep, I know, I know. That is your thing. So the next one is once you’re there and if there’s an issue, a mistake is not raising issues during the stay. And I’ll tell you from a host perspective as I’ve, as I’ve researched and gotten into this, you have a lot more power and a lot more influence if you let us know what’s happening during your stay rather than after your stay.

Because. Once that guest turns over, at least if you’re working with major platforms like Airbnb and stuff like that, everything kind of resets. And so letting hosts know when something happens helps you because it’s documented. You know, I was at a vacation rental over the 4th of July one year, and the internet didn’t work.

And what had happened was they were doing construction next door, one that I didn’t know about, and that peeved me because that’s something that the host should have told me. But anyway. They had severed the internet wine. And that not only affected me because I had work to do, but the TV ran off of internet.

And so we had a house full of people who, you know, we wanted to sit around and watch TV and the Tour de France was going on and the different TV shows that were going on that we wanted to be watching and, you know, if I would’ve waited to complain about it later in the stay. It may not have been resolved, but the fact that I was right on it right away, it was taken care of even though it was July 4th weekend and the host redeemed themselves through that.

If I would’ve waited till the very end, I may not have had the power to get any refund or, or compensation or things like that.

Yeah. Most of these hosts are gonna rely on word of mouth advertising and repeat business. So they’re not just out to take your money and then

No, not, not at all,

They’re gonna do what they can to take care of whatever’s not right about your stay.

absolutely Absolut.

And that happened to us once. Beach house in Texas. We arrived and it didn’t seem like the air was cooling well enough and we let the management company know, and within maybe five or six hours they had repaired the AC and it was, and it was working then. So it was, definitely not working when we got there. The third mistake you could make is not researching the area around the location of the house. because there’s gonna be a lot of fun things to do there. A lot of nice restaurants. A lot of cool cafes. Or in the case of, of your stay, there might be some construction nearby that you wanna avoid. So research and see what is going on in the air.

See if there’s a lot of traffic there or anything like that.

Yeah. And, and obviously over the last couple years, I mean, Google Maps makes this a lot easier. You know, just knowing what’s around, whether it’s amenities that you’re gonna need or things that you wanna avoid, you know, how close is your house to a major highway? How close is it actually to the water?

You know, because You know, thinking of the places in Orlando, right? Everybody says they’re a five minute drive from Disney. Well, what does that mean? Does that mean you’re five minutes away from the Magic Kingdom? Probably not. It means you’re five minutes away from getting into the Disney property and then have 15 more minutes of a drive. So kind of going along with that Shayne, the next one is relying just on the photos. Because I can tell you as host, we try to entice you with the photos. I mean it, you know it that that’s what gets you excited about the house. But just looking at the photos and not taking the time to read about the amenities, to look and see if it fits your family best can be a major mistake.

Cuz you’re gonna show up and you’re not gonna see what you saw in the photos necessarily.

and you mentioned earlier Google Maps. A lot of times you can see the lay of the land in Google Maps. You can see the the road pictures, but there’s also a lot of other photos that get tagged and uploaded to Google where you can see the area around it to get an idea of the location.

absolutely. So this next one, Shayne number five, I know has impacted you in the past.

That’s the one that got me not reviewing the rules, the check-in and check out policies, and then sharing that with the others that you’re traveling with. And I told the story before about what we didn’t realize until that next morning that we were supposed to leave this beach house. Cleaned. We were supposed to clean it before we left, and the people that we were traveling with, people that made the reservation and had talked to the management company by the way, they left and we found out not long after they left that we had to clean it.

And so there was just the few of us left to clean the whole place.

Yeah, I, I, you know, there is a lot of overkill with the rules, with the regulations, with the policies a lot of times. People who have been around vacation rentals longer, have longer list of rules. Things are getting more streamlined. In any case, whether you like it or not, when you have agreed to stay there, you are agreeing to the policies, you’re agreeing to the check in the checkout, and just saying, I didn’t read it before I signed it, or I don’t know the guy that rented it, read it and didn’t say anything.

That’s not gonna hold up very much.

and some of the better and nicer places may have more rules because the demand is high enough that they can.

That’s absolutely true. So before we go on Shayne, we have some more mistakes to avoid, but I wanna know where in the world does all things travel?

High River Alberta

Oh, I bet it’s gorgeous there.

I bet it is. The pictures that I saw looked gorgeous. It’s south of Calgary and it’s a pretty small town. Not a whole lot to do there, but I found a place called Colossi Coffee House.

I do love a coffee

Yeah, I’ve had some nice looking pastries and some delicious looking coffees.

Well, hey Alberta, we are so glad that you’re listening all the way from High River. It means so much to us. Do us a favor, reach out to me on Facebook or via my email because Shayne and I have a nice gift to give you for being featured on today’s show.

To make sure you hear where in the world as all things travel next week, be sure to follow the show so that you never miss any of our travel tips, travel ideas, or travel stories.

So Shayne number six kind of goes along with this and, and this happened to us in Colorado. Last summer when we were staying at a gorgeous short-term rental house that I’ll tell you more about here in a second. Misjudging your time at the short-term rental, meaning oftentimes check in is four or five in the afternoon.

Checkout is 10:00 AM or 11:00 AM that morning. So, Thinking that you have a place for an entire day when that’s not necessarily the case you know, can really. Especially depending on your plans, that that may impact that. So you want to keep those things in mind and know that oftentimes at a hotel you can pop in and check in early.

It’s often not hard to get a late checkout. Short-term rentals are completely different because for a lot of them, definitely during the busier times, they often will have somebody leaving. They clean it, they walk through, they have somebody staying, and then the next day they go through and, and do the same thing again.

So, That you’re a lot more limited with that time. So when we were in Colorado, my son and I went to our short-term rental and we were there two hours ahead of time thinking maybe we could pop in. Well, the, the person that was overseeing the property said, no, no, absolutely not. And so she said, you have to come back and forth.

And literally we pull in the driveway at 3 58 and she’s still there getting ready to leave. Rightfully so. She was doing some work that needed to be done. And then, then, and then we stayed for a couple days and then we had to make sure that we were out by 10 and because they had other people coming.

And, and so you just have to keep that in mind. So I was gonna tell you more about this, this spot in Colorado. I think I texted you where it was in, it was in Estes Park and the hotel that was The inspiration for The Shining, you could actually see from our bedroom window in the vacation rental.

That was a little creepy.

Oh, I. had both of you seen the movie?

I have, yes.

I I’m not sure about my wife.

The seventh mistake you can make is not looking at review. I will read the reviews. I’ll pay more attention to the review reviews than I do to the descriptions because the previous occupants will be a lot more. , I don’t wanna say honest, because I don’t think that most of the, a lot more forthcoming and they’re gonna mention a lot of things that, that they didn’t like about it, that maybe the host didn’t think to include information about, or maybe they left out because they were focusing on the nicer aspects of the place.

a few years ago on our New Orleans trip we had had a really nice experience in an. On a previous trip, so I was leaning towards that versus a hotel in the French Quarter. And it seems like a lot of the short term rental places that I found talked about a musky smell, which makes sense because it’s below sea level and it’s

Right. You’re, you’re in a pretty wet place

Yeah, yeah. And it makes sense. But it helped us make the right decision and pick the right place by reading the reviews more than by reading the description.

Yeah. Now, from a host perspective, I’ll, I’ll pitch it another way. You should not only read the reviews, you should read the host response to the reviews, especially with the negative ones, because sometimes the negative reviews come from folks who are. Asking for unreasonable things or had expected things that were not part of the policies.

And I will often look and see how does a host respond, because that tells me as much about what my experience is gonna be like as just listening to somebody complain because this, that, or the other thing happened.

Not paying attention to, to mistake number two and not raising that. A lot of those reviews are because they didn’t raise the issue to the host during their


Because anytime you see a mistake like that, almost anytime you get bad service, whether it’s at a hotel or a restaurant, or a theme park, that’s an opportunity because a really good host or a really good resort is gonna make it up to you, and they’re gonna make you happier than you would’ve been if everything had gone the way you wanted it to.

So always, always bring those situations up. Be nice about it. Just remember that that could be an opportunity to make your trip even better than you had.

So number eight is not booking on a major platform like Airbnb, like vrbo, like booking.com like Red Awning, however, I will say this again, I, I, I tend to look at this now from the host perspective. Well established short-term rentals will often have their own direct booking site. So for instance, for this house that we purchased in South Haven, we will be on the major platforms, but we will also have a direct booking site.

And that direct booking site will not include the fees that an Airbnb and a vr. Charge. So there is a benefit to both you as the guest and me as the host because it, it’s cheaper for both of us. That being said, be very careful. With just booking a friend of a friend’s house, you wanna make sure that it’s a legitimate vacation rental, that they’ve gone through the, the steps to make it a legitimate vacation rental.

And again, in our case, our house is listed on both as a way to verify yes, this is a a, an actual vacation rental.

do you know if there are gonna be differences in rates from, say, red Awning or B R B O versus Airbnb?

There’s not usually differences in the rates. No, because I, and I can tell you how the magic is made a little bit there. There’s a, there’s one booking calendar for all of those. At least that’s the way that we’re doing it. And that’s the way that I was taught to, to do it. So when I manipulate one calendar, it changes all of them.

. So yeah, and I would say on top of not booking on a major platform or, or with a reputable direct booking site, you can use a travel advisor for booking vacation rentals. That’s one thing that people think that they can’t do, but that’s not the case. We don’t necessarily have access to everything, but we certainly have access to options that may be good, a good value or a good situation for your family.

So don’t leave your travel advisor. out of the conversation with the short-term rental.

And the ninth mistake to make when finding a short term vacation rental property, buying too much stuff to take with you. Did you do that on any of your trips? Did

I have left so many cans of beer. I have left so many half eaten. Boxes of cereal that we couldn’t put into things. You know, containers of sandwich meat, stuff that we just ran out of time to have. And I think sometimes we, we go to the store and we, and we, you know, stock up on everything. Not thinking about what we’re actually gonna use and what we may have to leave behind.

Cuz oftentimes I’m flying.

Yeah, we don’t historic. We don’t typically eat a lot of junk food except when we go on vacation, we will load up and inevitably buy too much. And another thing you can do is not make mistake number three, because when you get there, you’re probably gonna see some places where you wanna have a breakfast.

Instead of eating breakfast, making breakfast every day, or you wanna have lunch or dinner instead of making it every day, that’s inevitably gonna happen.

A and the hard part is, you know, obviously depending on your travel, whether you’re flying or driving you know, can you take it with you or not? And the, the vacation rentals don’t want the stuff left. I mean, you’re not doing them a favor by leaving them. They, they have to get rid of it. It’s not something that you can just leave and, and share, you know, quote unquote.

I mean, they get rid of it for, for the next guest that’s part of their, their p cleaning protocol. So unfortunately, that’s just one where, yes, I have gotten too much stuff and we’ve had to leave stuff and throw it out.

Yet those next guests, they might be total weirdos and not want. What’s left of your box of Lucky Charms?

All right, well as we wrap up this list, Shayne, I’m excited to talk more about this topic as my business gets up and running, you know, not only just focused on what I’m doing although I do think it’s interesting for, for folks who are traveling to kind of hear about it from a host perspective.

But short-term vacation rentals are a really viable option, and I, I think you. A lot of people started to gravitate to them more during Covid and really appreciate what they found. And so I, I, I found now in our travels, it’s a really good mix between a resort and a hotel and a short-term rental.

If you’re staying on a beach or someplace where you’re gonna be outside, you know, like a, like in, in the, on the mountains, in the woods, on a lake, chances are you’re gonna want a short-term rental house or a cabin versus a hotel or a condo in those types of places. We would love to help you plan your next amazing vacation.

You can reach out to me at Ryan AT creatingmagicvacations.com. That’s R Y A n, at Creating Magic Vacations.com.

Most families are confused and overwhelmed when planning a vacation. We work with you to plan a trip perfect for your interests, saving you time, money, and stress.