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Whether it’s a weekend getaway with your friends or the annual family holiday, vacationing in Austin is a memorable experience. One of the most important decisions you make as you plan your visit is where you’re going to stay. You have plenty of Austin vacation rentals to choose from within the city’s different neighborhoods, and these tips can help you pick the best one for yourself and your companions.

10 Tips to Pick the Perfect Vacation Rental in Austin

  1. Choose a Convenient Location

    You’re going on vacation to have some fun and relax, so make the most of your time by choosing a vacation rental located near the attractions and activities that you put on your itinerary. Covering nearly 300 square miles, Austin is smaller than Manhattan, but it has a reputation for congested roads, especially in the morning and early evening. If possible, pick a vacation rental that’s within walking distance, or at least a short car ride away.

  2. Know the Lingo

    As you read descriptions of properties, avoid making assumptions about what vague terms like “city view,” “kid-friendly” and “near” mean. For example, a room with a “city view” may look out over part of a city neighborhood instead of offering panoramic views of the skyline. “Kid-friendly” may refer to the fact that children are permitted on the premises or indicate that the property has safety gates, cabinet locks or a playground. However, the most important term to clarify is “near.” Don’t take a chance with distance. Check a map to see how far the property is from points of interest and ask about the types of shopping and dining that are close to the vacation rental. Nearby shopping is convenient, but only if the stores offer items you want or need.

  3. Have a Plan to Get Around

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    Austin has several public transportation options, including a bus system and light rail. MetroBus offers convenient local routes in neighborhoods along with flyer and crosstown routes with limited stops so you can get to your destination quicker. The CapMetro rail runs north and south through the city, stopping at popular shopping and entertainment spots along the way. If you want to skip the traffic and take advantage of the public transportation system, look for a vacation rental near one of the routes or lines. Check the metro website for routes, stop times and details about purchasing a pass.

  4. Look for Amenities You Want

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    Your vacation rental is your home away from home, a place where you can refresh and regroup after a day of sightseeing. Small details like a stocked kitchen, a bathtub or a plush sofa can make your stay more comfortable. A walk-in shower may be fine for you, but a bathtub can be more handy for bathing the children. Skip properties that lack full kitchens if you want to cook your own meals instead of eating out during your stay. Other amenities to consider are a swimming pool and air conditioning if your plans bring you to Austin in the summer.

  5. Consider All Available Accommodations

    CC BY 3.0/Billy Hathorn/Wikimedia Commons

    Austin has a variety of accommodations for visitors, including national chain and boutique hotels, bed and breakfast establishments and Austin vacation home rentals. Staying in a bed and breakfast or a private residence in a neighborhood gives you a glimpse at everyday Austin.

  6. Make Sure It’s Kid-Friendly

    Choosing a vacation rental that meets your needs is even more important when you’re bringing the entire family. When you see a rental with a swimming pool, you may immediately imagine how refreshing it’ll feel to cool off in the afternoon. However, you should also find out how close the pool is to the unit and make sure there’s a security fence to keep out unsupervised children. If you’re considering a two-story unit, ask if there’s a gate at the top or bottom of the stairs to reduce the chance of a fall. Look for details like the color scheme inside the unit and whether it has a washer and dryer.

  7. Inspect the Pictures

    Unless you live close enough to Austin that you can inspect potential vacation rentals in person, you have to rely on pictures to get a feel for each place. The pictures show you the layout of the unit, the type of furniture it has and the neighborhood it’s in. They also help you decide what to bring with you. For example, if the vacation rental has a walk-in shower without a bathtub, you can leave your bath pillow at home because you know you won’t be able to use it. Likewise, if you see a plush sofa with a big screen television in the living room, you can plan to spend a night or two relaxing with a movie.

  8. Get Enough Space

    Chances are that, while you’re on vacation, you’re going to spend more time exploring the city than hanging out at your home away from home. You still need to make sure you have enough room to move around, though. See to it that there are enough beds available for everyone who’s going with you. Look for a unit that has room to store baby or pet equipment that you bring along. If possible, choose a vacation rental home that has more than one bathroom if you’re not going to be the only person staying there.

  9. Ask About Pets

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    With a large selection of restaurants, public parks and stores that welcome dogs along with their owners, Austin is one of the most dog-friendly cities in the United States. That doesn’t mean your vacation rental has the same policy for four-legged family members. If your family vacation is incomplete without your dog or cat, look for a pet-friendly rental. Check the rental policy to make sure your pet falls within the size requirement, and ask about details like where you can walk with your furry friend.

  10. Set a Budget and Stick to It

    Establishing a price range for your Austin vacation rental has two distinct advantages. First, it helps you narrow your choices by excluding units that don’t fit within your budget. Even more important, budgeting for your vacation makes it more enjoyable because you know you can afford to pay for it. Sticking with the budget also helps you be more deliberate in your choices as you decide where you want to spend the vacation money.