These are just some of my favorite things that have provided my family and I with an elevated level of service or enhanced home/life experience – often on a daily basis.

VRBO – Vacation Rentals

Verizon Home Internet

SONOS Sound System

RING Camera System

YouTube TV

VRBO (Staying in Vacation Rental Homes)
Most of you have heard of VRBO or Airbnb but maybe not all of you have stayed in these type of properties (vacation rental homes or condos) so I wanted to give you a couple of quick pointers as I both utilize these types of rentals and also own one in Michigan ( ). In fact, my wife and I were the very first people to use a home as a vacation rental within the Marquette city limits a little more than 10 years ago (the city has now capped the number at 250 and there is a waiting list).
Because the popularity has grown so much, you can now find a vacation rental home almost anywhere and even in areas that aren’t traditionally known as tourist destinations – there are numerous options to choose from.
Vacation rentals are most often owned by individuals (although more and more people now own multiple properties and operate them like a larger business), so there aren’t necessarily any uniform standards of amenities although like anything, the listing, price, photos and reviews should give you some indication of what to expect.
Here are some things to note which are often different than traditional hotels:

  • Many require prepayment or a large deposit and/or a smaller deposit and then the balance to be prepaid so many days in advance. This also makes it a good idea to book through a reputable company like VRBO or Airbnb.
  • It is important to understand the cancellation policy before booking because many are not refundable or have varying levels of refundable amounts depending on how much notice you provide. Some sites do offer travel insurance type products to help protect you if needed.
  • You may not get the owner’s or manager’s phone number until after you book. This isn’t usually because the owner doesn’t want to give it out but the intermediary company doesn’t want bookings to go outside of the system just to avoid their booking fees. You can sometimes get around this phone number restriction by typing your phone number in the notes like: six O too sevn nin nin sevn tre tre fv (my number 602-799-7335) or similar.
  • In addition to rental fees, most also charge a cleaning fee, booking service fees, and some must collect local bed taxes
  • Daily housekeeping is usually not included or available. Most have soap/shampoo but not all and they are often traditional size bottles like at home.
  • Some properties request that you put out all of your garbage at the end of your stay and/or strip the beds or put towels in washer etc.
  • Many properties now have Ring Door Bells or cameras on the outside so they can see who is coming and going and/or see if anything large is leaving the home when it shouldn’t.
  • There are usually limits to how many people can stay in the home and parties are often not allowed – check if you intend to have a larger number of people over.
  • Parking – make sure parking is available and especially if you have multiple cars during your stay

None of the above should deter you from considering a vacation rental as they can be great for traveling families or friends that prefer to have their own room but still want to be able to all hang out together in the privacy of a living room or outdoor space. You just want to make sure you understand all the rules and that they meet your expectations.