Deciding where to spend your precious vacation time can be stressful—and that’s before hunting for the perfect home. With literally hundreds of thousands of vacation rentals on sites all across the internet, the task can be both time-consuming and daunting. Here are four tips to make finding your vacation rental more manageable.

Consider Your Group

A carefree getaway for one or two couples is pretty straightforward, but adding generations requires other considerations. Grandparents may appreciate first-level bedrooms, elevators, and easy accessibility. For families with young children, an in-house washer and dryer is almost a must, and you’ll certainly want details on baby gates, pool alarms, and other safety features.

Always Investigate

Sadly, scams abound, and you want to be absolutely sure that you’re renting a property that is actually available. Unless you’re using a trusted provider, never pay by cash, check, wire transfer or Western Union … all favorite payment forms for unscrupulous “owners.” Your credit card will provide the best protection from fraud, although a refund will be cold comfort for a ruined vacation. Also be wary of deeply discounted homes. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” is a saying for a reason. Do a quick comparison with similar homes in the area.

Google Is Your Friend

The pictures may be lovely and even accurate, the location may truly be right on the beach—and the sellers may conveniently neglect to mention the six-lane highway or oil refinery right next door. Use Street View and Google Earth to scope out nearby annoyances before you commit to a contract.

Get Help You Can Rely On

A travel expert or trusted vacation company can save you hours of research and ensure a smooth and successful getaway. Choosing from a selection of vetted homes that have been pre-selected for your specific needs takes the pressure of the person responsible for planning the group vacation, starting the relaxation before you even leave home!

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