Vacation rentals are a great way to save money. And the whole group can kick back and relax under the same roof. Read on to avoid making these common mistakes the next time you're booking a vacation rental.

1) Not Booking Enough Bedrooms

Just because a place sleeps 10, doesn't mean it comfortably sleeps your group of 10. Early risers making coffee and breakfast, won't appreciate tiptoeing around teens sprawled out on the couch.

And If kids must sleep in the living room, the adults can't hang out after at 8 p.m. Not to mention the hassle of putting away a sofa bed each morning.

Book plenty of bedrooms. The kids can have their own space. And everyone can enjoy the common areas.

2) Booking in the Wrong Location

Whether typing the city directly into Google, or searching through an online marketplace, your search results may be a combination of properties both near and far from your destination. So how do you avoid booking a place on the Australian Sunshine Coast when you really need to be on the Gold Coast of Australia?

The 11 Worst Mistakes Travelers Make When Booking a Vacation Rental
  1. Just ask if unsure. While some won't divulge the exact address (for security reasons), most will provide distance/drive times to nearby landmarks, grocery stores, etc..
  2. Zoom into the platform's map feature. Do you recognize nearby roads, beaches, tourist attractions, etc.?
  3. Read the property's listing description. It often includes distance and walking/drive times to local attractions, bus routes, airports, and neighborhood shops.

3) Relying Solely on Photos

Sometimes photos can be unintentionally misleading. An inexperienced photographer with a wide angle camera lens can make furniture and rooms appear stretched out. While the intent was to capture the area in a single snapshot, travelers can feel duped if things are smaller than expected. Verify actual bed sizes against the information in the listing description. It should indicate the home's square footage and summarize the bedroom/bathroom layout as well.

4) Assuming Linens Are Provided

Even the most seasoned travelers can be guilty of this one. While most vacation rentals (in the U.S.) do provide linens and towels, in some areas it's customary for guests to bring their own. Especially in East Coast beach regions where the clientele has practiced this for generations. Some places might provide bed sheets, but not the towels, and vice versa. So how can you tell?

The 11 Worst Mistakes Travelers Make When Booking a Vacation Rental

Check the property's amenities supplied section to see what is checked off. A tell tale sign is if you see an "optional linen fee" during checkout. Owners/managers in these regions often have existing relationships with linen delivery services: arranging for delivery prior to check-in, and pick-up after departure.

5) Declining Trip Cancellation Insurance

If you have an unexpected emergency, hurricane, etc., trip cancellation/interruption insurance may reimburse you for travel expenses. Policies and definitions will vary with each company. For example, "death of a family member" may exclude certain relatives and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Certain COVID-19 related issues may only be covered under CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason) insurance. Check to see if your credit card offers minimal coverage as well.

6) Skimming Cancellation Policies and Rules

Vacation rental cancellation policies are often stricter than those of a hotel. This is because other travelers are turned away once one group reserves the dates. Carefully read any exclusions of "flexible" cancellation policies through 3rd party platforms. Your accommodation cost may be fully refundable, but not the service fees charged by the site.

The 11 Worst Mistakes Travelers Make When Booking a Vacation Rental

Know the guest and visitor policies before booking. Be upfront if planning to host a special dinner or invite other families to swim in the pool. Some owners disallow this due to liability and insurance reasons. Others may allow with approval first. If you don't know the total guest count yet, confirm you'll be able to add guests to the reservation later. Owners accept reservations based on what it is disclosed at the time of booking.

7) Taking Best Price Guarantees at Face Value

Carefully read the fine print and restrictions of any "best price guarantees" from online travel agencies. Because owners typically pay them a 15% commission, rates can be the most expensive on these 3rd party sites. Plus, the guarantees can be difficult to qualify for. Just compare prices across multiple sites and book on the site with the best price instead.

8) Assuming Fast Wifi

Before making plans to binge-watch your favorite Netflix series, first make sure you'll actually be able to stream it. Your dream log home in the mountains might have snail speed internet, or even none at all. Fiber and cable internet are commonly not available in rural areas; slow DSL or satellite internet might be the only options.

The 11 Worst Mistakes Travelers Make When Booking a Vacation Rental

If working remotely, attending online school, or video conferencing, be sure to bring a strong mobile hotspot to meet school/work deadlines. And always have a plan B just in case the internet does go out. Owners with internet speed limitations, usually mention this in their listing.

9) Forgetting Your Deal Breakers

For some travelers their must-haves are deal breakers. For example, if you're anxious sleeping next to cemeteries, are sensitive to scented laundry detergent, or can't sleep without 65 degree ice box temps–ask about these kinds of things before booking.

The 11 Worst Mistakes Travelers Make When Booking a Vacation Rental

Not every property has air conditioning, and for those that do, the thermostat might have a comfortable preset range (like hotels) that suits most travelers. Some owners cannot fulfill special laundry requests, while others will have no problem doing so. If a request is important, do not book the property until you first receive confirmation the request can be accommodated.

10) Expecting Unlimited Supplies

You may have had access to the storage room at your last vacation rental, but not all owners share this same policy. The majority provide what is called a "starter pack," with the general expectation guests will purchase their own toiletries/kitchen supplies while grocery shopping.

The 11 Worst Mistakes Travelers Make When Booking a Vacation Rental

If driving to your destination, check the listing to see what is supplied, and pack a few items from home instead of purchasing full size boxes upon arrival. Some vacation rentals are stocked with kitchen staples at the beginning of each season, and guests continue with a "pay it forward" policy.

11) Not searching for a book direct site

Some platforms charge up to 20% extra, adding hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars to the cost of your stay. Travelers often message hosts through these platforms asking if they have a book direct site. The major platforms don't allow the owner to tell you how to book them direct. So how do you find the best rate for your vacation rental if you aren't already shopping on a book direct site like

The 11 Worst Mistakes Travelers Make When Booking a Vacation Rental

Google search the property. Enter the property name along with city. Copy and paste portions of the description text. Search the property images. Owners typically use the same photos everywhere. Don't forget to enter the property name into Houfy, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Join Houfy's free book direct market network. Owners never pay commissions. And travelers never pay service fees.

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