Pros and Cons of Vacation Rentals

Should You Rent a Vacation Cottage?

Enjoying a lake house
••• Photo © Calvert Byam / Moment / Getty Images

Renting a vacation cottage can save you money on your next trip. The advantages of staying in a vacation rental instead of a hotel seem intuitive – more space, kitchen facilities – but renting a cottage or cabin isn't for everyone. Let's take a look at the pros and cons of renting a vacation cottage.

Vacation Rental Pros

You have a home base. You can sleep in, sightsee and return to your "home away from home" whenever you like.

If you're feeling under the weather, you can rest and recuperate in a comfortable environment.

You only need to unpack once. Many senior travelers dislike packing and unpacking every day. Renting a vacation cottage allows you to settle in, make yourself at home and enjoy your vacation without having to round up your socks and slippers each day.

You have more room. Vacation rentals have more square footage per person than do hotel rooms or even most bed and breakfast inns. Even if you're traveling with a large group or another couple, you'll have plenty of space if you select the right rental unit. Best of all, it's all yours. You won't have to worry about shared bathrooms or noisy neighbors.

You can stay in your dream location. Whether you prefer a beachfront cottage, mountain cabin or downtown apartment, chances are you can find a vacation rental that suits you perfectly.

You can choose the type of property and amenities that will make your vacation truly special. For some renters, a hot tub or Jacuzzi bathtub is a "must-have" item, while other renters will choose outdoor swings, fire pits, and gas grills.

If you check vacation rental listings carefully, you'll probably be able to find a cottage featuring all the "extras" you're looking for.

You can save money by buying and cooking your own food. For many renters, being able to cook "at home" is the main reason to choose a vacation cottage. It's fun to shop at local grocery stores and even more fun to spend your travel money on sightseeing instead of eating out.

Vacation Rental Cons

You usually won't find a property manager or support staff on site, particularly if you rent directly from the owner. This means that it will take time to resolve problems, whether major or minor. If you have difficulty packing your patience along with your vacation wardrobe, renting a cottage may not be your best option.

You may need to bring bedding, towels and other items. Some vacation rentals include linens and towels, while others, particularly in Europe and parts of Canada, do not. You'll need to consider this issue carefully, particularly if you're traveling to your destination by air.

You'll probably need to bring or rent a car, especially if you're renting a cottage in a beach, mountain or resort area. Downtown vacation rentals may be near public transportation, but you'll need a car to get to an oceanfront cottage or mountain chalet.

You'll have to pick up after yourself. Vacation rentals usually don't offer maid service. You will also have to make your own daily travel arrangements because you won't have access to a front desk staff or concierge.

You may be disappointed when you arrive. Appearances can be deceiving; the "cozy cottage" you saw online may be furnished with garage sale rejects or have other drawbacks you won't be in a position to fix.

If you can't handle surprises, you may prefer to stick with the tried-and-true reliability of your favorite hotel chain.