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There’s nothing quite like the thrill of traveling. To visit new places, meet different people, and experience novel sights and foreign sounds. It’s transformational, in and of itself, but the experience becomes much richer when you understand the cultural cues and unwritten rules of the destination you’re visiting. By deeply engaging with the different environments that unfold around you as you travel, you create more meaningful memories and return from vacation feeling truly fulfilled.

Following that logic, it also behooves you to have awareness of the unwritten and unspoken rules associated with staying in a vacation rental. There are usually explicit rules that are communicated at the time of booking, and again upon arrival via the guest welcome folder, but there’s a lot that goes unspoken. Being unaware of this means that renters like you miss out on the full value of the vacation rental, which also may open the door to misunderstandings between you and your host.

Understandably, you might be wondering what some of these unwritten rules are. How are you supposed to know about something that’s unspoken, right? The major key to getting the most out of your vacation is to engage and communicate with your host before, during, and after your trip. That said, there’s a strategy to communicating with your host to ensure a smooth trip, so keep reading for our top tips and recommended mindset to make the most of your vacation rental experience!

Prior to Arrival

To start, we highly advise that you communicate with your host as early in the booking process as possible to address any questions or concerns that you may have. The renter-host relationship is critical to the success of the trip for a few reasons, but mainly because they can provide you with insider tips on the destination that you’re exploring. They have the inside track on any new restaurants to experience, unique places to see while in town, and the overrated tourist attractions that you could pass on.

They’ll also be able to help you figure out what to bring with you and what you can count on having available to you at your rental. Some rentals may even have bikes, floaties, kayaks, surfboards, etc. for you to use while you’re there. Being communicative with your host before arrival will help you determine if you’re allowed to use those amenities, as well as how to properly store and care for them. 

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This can help you save valuable space in your luggage for the things you really need, and leave more space to bring your favorite sweets or vacation mementos to take home with you. Knowing what to expect before you arrive at your destination helps you to plan better, which saves you money and allows you to truly enjoy your vacation.

Things to Consider:

  • If you’re staying in a city, is it walkable to attractions you want to visit?
  • If you’re staying for more than a week, is there a washer and dryer in the unit?
  • If you’re working remotely, is the Wi-Fi fast and reliable?

When You Arrive

When you get to your vacation rental, the guest welcome folder is definitely required reading as it contains details about your stay, the property, and its amenities. It’ll also have important check-in and check-out instructions that can spare you from receiving a bad review — or worse: local regulatory penalties and fines. In some instances, it will have a vital piece of information that could make or break your vacation experience.

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True story: one person on the VacationRenter team even stayed in a rental where the welcome folder advised that the shower handle was built backward (cold is hot and hot is cold) and the sweet spot was at 5 o’clock. Despite it being an amazing stay, not reading that beforehand could have resulted in an extremely unpleasant shower experience during their stay.

In addition to thoroughly reading the welcome folder, one of your first orders of business is to assess the condition of the rental. Walk the property as soon as you arrive to be sure everything is in order and notify the owner immediately if anything is out of order. Keeping the lines of communication open with your host will prevent you from paying for damage to the property that you didn’t cause and help you get full value out of what you paid for the rental.

Things to Consider:

  • Is everything clean and in good working order?
  • Are all of the amenities stocked appropriately?
  • Is there any property damage that you should take note of?

During Your Stay

It’s natural for additional questions to come up as you settle into vacation mode and get acquainted with the rental, so remember to reach out to your host when those situations arise. Perhaps you want to know if the household has recycle or compost waste options available, or if all of the pantry items are free to use. Either way, it’s wise to have a good working relationship with your host in the event that issues need to be resolved quickly, so you can get back to enjoying your vacation as soon as possible.

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More often than not, you’ll find that the quiet hours for each rental will be explicitly outlined, but sometimes they’re more of an unwritten rule. If there are no specified quiet hours, we suggest that you do your best to keep the noise down after 10:00 PM, out of respect for your host and their neighbors. It’s especially wise to do so if the rental owner lives in another part of the property. 

That said, remember that we call our rental owners hosts for a reason. They’re not there to regulate your fun, but rather to enhance your vacation experience by giving you insider tips, local knowledge, and great service. While it may or may not be your usual modus operandi, we’ve found that it’s really helpful to “clean as you go” during your trip and save yourself some serious cleaning time at the end of vacation. Even if cleaners usually tidy up after your stay, it doesn’t hurt to keep the rental as clean as possible — which could hopefully result in a good guest review on your end.

Before You Leave

Ultimately, we believe the vacation rental experience should be mutually beneficial for both the renter and owner. To that end, we hold our hosts to the highest standards in order to provide you with the best possible rental experience. And as a community of conscious and respectful travelers, we expect our renters to return the favor. 

Even if there are no specific check-out instructions in the welcome folder, if there’s a washer and dryer or laundry room in the unit, it’s courteous to leave all your dirty towels either inside the washer or stacked in a pile close by. Alternatively, if there is a dishwasher, we’d suggest running all your dirty dishes before leaving and letting the host know when you check out. 

It’s also standard protocol to empty the fridge of leftovers and take out the trash, if possible. For unopened food or drinks, however, we advise asking the rental owner or host if they’d like you to leave them or not, as this is a preference that varies by property. 

Finally, if you really enjoyed your stay and want to earn extra rental guest bonus points, write a note to say thank you to your host.  Now that you’re a vacation rental pro, book your next trip on VacationRenter today!