Destination Unknown: Tips for Finding the Perfect Vacation Rental Abroad

October 29, 2013 Satu Vänskä-Westgarth

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Finding Vacation Rental Abroad I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

“Traveling like a local and staying at home like a tourist” is one of the themes that unites all of us Skimbaco writers whether we live in California, London, New York, Sweden or North Carolina. And the best way I have found for blending into the local lifestyle when traveling abroad with the family, has been by finding a suitable vacation rental. Besides being able to stay outside the areas congested with hotels, vacation rentals are often great value for money and give you a real insight to the locals’ lifestyle. Especially with kids, the extra space you can have when compared to hotel rooms is golden too, as is the possibility to cook your own meals when needed.

Apartment rental in Dublin I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

Here are few tips I have found helpful in the quest for the perfect vacation rental.

  1. Pick a well-recognized website for choosing your rental
  2. Narrow the search down to your requirements, but don’t make the search too narrow. At first I like to get a general picture of what’s available and where, and only then I start narrowing it down by location, size, child-friendliness and so on.
  3. Read the details the owner has provided carefully, but read the customer reviews with even more care. After all, the rental details are provided by the owner, where as the reviews are from other guests who have stayed in the property.
  4. Make a pick of three to five properties where you would like to stay, and make an enquiry to every one of them. The availability details are not always up to date, and you will most likely to get a rejection or two.
  5. When making the enquiry make it personal, let them know who you are and where you are coming from. If I was the owner and got two enquiries at once, for sure I would go for the one who seemed more friendly and reliable.
  6. Once you get a green light from the rental owner, proceed with the booking as instructed.
  7. Enjoy your holiday where ever it might be!

While joining Skimbaco’s Katja Presnal for the TBEX travel bloggers’ conference in Dublin in early October, I stayed with my toddler, baby and mother in a beautiful vacation rental in the city centre of Dublin. I was hesitant at first to make the trek with the kids to the city, but by staying in a two-bedroom apartment, my mother was able to come and give a hand at babysitting while I was mingling with other travelers and bloggers.

Apartment rental in Dublin I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

To find the perfect rental for us in the city centre, I tried a service I had not used before, FlipKey, which has been named the “Top Vacation Rental Site” by Travel + Leisure. I found Flipkey easy to use, and with the map search function I was able to narrow my search down to the exact area I wanted to stay in. After making few enquiries, I chose the Dublin Holiday Apartments for their ideal location close to O’Connell street and right by the River Liffey. Even though we were not staying in anybody’s own home, as in fact this apartment rental provider has three rental apartments in the building, our welcome was warm and we had fresh soda bread with butter and jam, and tea and coffee waiting for us after our journey to Ireland.

Apartment rental in Dublin I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

What set FlipKey apart for me was the selection of the rentals. Often several vacation rental sites have many of the same properties in their portfolio, as the owners can advertise them on various sites, but here I found some very high quality properties I did not see elsewhere. It is also very safe to book via FlipKey, as their Peace of Mind guarantee protects reservations up to $10,000.

Right now we are in the process of planning our travels to one of my dream destinations, as the flight tickets to New Zealand are waiting for me in my inbox! This is a trip I have been hoping to take for many years now and I am excitedly daydreaming of experiencing summer in the middle of our winter, while looking for the perfect vacation rental on FlipKey for my ultimate dream holiday!

destination unknown, travel blog, adventure travel

I love to explore the world to new destinations. If you love traveling as much as I do, please subscribe to Skimbaco Travel weekly email and never miss a travel post.

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Satu Vänskä-Westgarth

Satu Vänskä-Westgarth decided to take a year off from her nine to five marketing executive life in Finland early 2009 to travel with her kayak, bike or skis and sometimes without. "One year" turned into a new lifestyle as a travel writer, accompanied with a not-so-British entrepreneur husband from Britain, who seems to spend more time outside the borders of his homeland than within, and their baby, who has already spent more months outside Norway than at their home in Norway, where the family resides at the moment. For more stories from the road, visit Satu’s blog Destination Unknown and connect with Satu on Twitter @SatuVW.

Comments (7)

  1. Hi Satu,
    Really enjoyed reading your article; thanks for the great advice! “Traveling like a local and staying at home like a tourist” is a a great motto to take to heart. We’ll be sure to share it with our followers. I especially liked the photos of where you stayed (your kids are so cute!) Looking forward to more of your posts!

    • Satu Vänskä-Westgarth

      Hi Leah,

      Thanks for your lovely comment and I’m happy to hear that you found the piece helpful. I loved the place we rented in Dublin, I would definitely recommend it and rent it again myself. And yeah, the kids can be super cute when they want to. :)

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