Tips for Booking Your Vacation Lodging

Whether you enjoy your vacation to the fullest can hinge on finding a great place to stay. After all, your lodging essentially serves as your home away from home, giving you a place to recoup and unwind after the day’s excursions.

Use this guide to help you locate the best possible accommodations for your next trip to ensure you have the adventure of your dreams.

Pinpoint your preferences

Before you begin looking for a place, consider where you hope to visit, the kind of trip you’re taking, and your budget. The two main types of vacation stays you may come across are hotels and rental homes. If you want to enjoy conveniences like on-site food service, housekeeping, and a concierge, you might prefer the former. As a bonus, reserving a hotel room can offer a certain level of predictability and reliability, especially if you’re a frequent guest with a particular chain.

Conversely, if you’re traveling with a large group of family or friends, children, or pets, it could be more advantageous to rent a home. This option might be more affordable than reserving several hotel rooms, and it will allow everyone to enjoy time together while still having their own spaces. You’ll also typically have access to a full-sized kitchen, enabling you to slash food costs by cooking your own meals instead of always having to dine out.

Older couple at vacation lodge looking off front patio

Peruse your options

Once you know the type of lodging you want, visit reputable booking sites to see what’s available in your travel area. For vacation rentals, opt for platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com, which offer customer reviews, detailed property descriptions and photos, and essential consumer protections, including background checks on homes and hosts. For hotels, start on sites like Kayak and Hotels.com to find a room, then move over to your choice’s main site to reserve it. This will enable you to avoid paying a travel-site fee and make you eligible for benefits reserved for guests who book directly, like loyalty-program points and the option to select the specific room you want for your stay. Reserving through a hotel might also afford you better customer service and more flexibility, such as if you need to modify your reservation, since you can work with the hotel itself instead of having to go through a third party.

Couple looking at laptop

Do your research

In addition to looking at the photos and perusing the basics, including the rates and number of bedrooms, dig deeper when considering places to book to find often overlooked information such as the deposit and cancellation policies. For home rentals in particular, be sure to check whether items like coffee, towels, shampoo, and other supplies are provided and if taxes and incidentals like housekeeping and trash disposal will be covered. And, of course, always read the comments past guests have left for more insight into an accommodation’s conditions and offerings. If you’re left with any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact the hotel or host directly.

Lady sitting on couch looking to book a hotel on tablet

Check the rules

What might seem perfect at first sight could turn out to be less than ideal after closer inspection of the hotel’s or host’s restrictions. For example, many places have stipulations about pets and number of guests, so if you bring your pooch against policy or invite more people than allowed, don’t be surprised if your reservation isn’t honored, you’re charged extra, or you lose your deposit. Also, if you break your rental house’s rules, your host can note this about you on the platform you used, possibly making it more difficult for you to secure another vacation property in the future.

Chihuahua ready for vacation sitting next to suitcases

Reserve early

The best time to find a good deal on a booking is about a month before your planned trip, according to NerdWallet. That said, there’s no guarantee you’ll find a discount or even an available place if you postpone making a reservation, so you might want to move quickly once you’ve found something you like to avoid losing it.

Older couple looking at computer

Determining where to stay during your travels can take time and effort. However, with some diligence, you can find the perfect spot for making your new vacation memories.


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