Websites like Airbnb, FlipKey and HomeToGo have introduced travellers to a whole new world of accommodation options. If you’re thinking of renting a vacation home for the first time, read on for tips to make the most of your experience and to avoid any last-minute surprises!
Accessibility is key
While some apartments are right smack in the thick of the action, others are further out in the suburbs. Read the location map carefully when planning your trip, and feel free to reach out to the host to ask about transportation routes and options. Weigh that against your vacation intention — a far out apartment is great if you want to chill and soak in local vibes, but probably not ideal if you have to commute long distances to areas of interest. If you’re travelling with large luggages, double check that there is an elevator in the building. Some, especially apartments in Seoul, tend to be walk-up only.
Most websites allow you to message the hosts directly, so don’t be shy to negotiate a better rental fee. When calculating your expenses, check if the rental requires a security deposit as well as whether it is fully refundable at the end of your stay.
Do your homework
Vacation homes are not hotels, so there will not be a concierge to attend to your every need, although most responsible hosts will be only a phone call away (make sure you ask them for their contact number). Do your research before your trip — map out the route to the apartment, double check with your host on key collection or security codes, and mark out nearby amenities like supermarkets and clinics. Familiarise yourself with apartment facilities — ensure there is a room heater if you’re travelling in winter months, and even something like knowing there’s a washing machine will help you in your pre-trip packing.
Ask about cleaning services
Most websites will state if they offer housekeeping services, or not. This is not an issue if you’re staying only for a few days, but you’d probably need basic cleaning services if you’re staying for a longer period of time. Clarify this with your host, along with possible additional costs you may incur.
Document Problem Areas
Do a walk through when you first check in, and snap pictures if there are existing damages. Send these immediately across to the host so you will not be blamed for something you didn’t do.
Some websites allow you to book a room in a home, which means there’ll be plenty of occasions to interact with your hosts and fellow travellers. This is a great way to see the country through your hosts’ eyes, and to make new friends. That said, be sure to share common facilities like the bathroom and kitchen responsibly.