Check out the 'hood
Bogdan Sonjachnyj/ShutterstockAnother reason to check out the 'hood besides personal safety is to find out the proximity of the house to the activities you're planning. If you plan on hitting the beach, find out if it's walkable or if you'll need to drive. If you're looking for a quiet retreat but the home is surrounded by restaurants and bars, you're likely not going to get a good night's sleep. "Ask for the address of the property if it isn't listed so you can look it up on Google maps to verify the location," suggests Woroch.
Is it a full house?
Nikodash/ShutterstockIf crashing on your friend's couch is a common occurrence for you, you'll probably be comfortable renting a room instead of an entire property for less, but if the prospect of roommates brings back memories of your stinky and loud college roommate, you may want to forgo this option—or at least inquire more about it.
Too good to be true?
Makistock/ShutterstockThe listing includes all the amenities you want and the house is in a prime location so it seems obvious this is the place for you—or is it? "The best way to find a property that will meet your needs and that you feel confident about booking is to read reviews," says Woroch. Reviews can be glowing or downright nit picky. So, how do you decipher what is genuine and what it not? Choose a property with lots of reviews. When you spot a negative review, dig a little deeper and find out if it's something that would matter to you. For example, if the reviewer was upset because the TV wasn't working properly that may not matter to you because you don't watch TV. Glowing reviews can read like someone paid the reviewer to write it. Reviews can be genuinely excellent but look for specific details that merited five stars. For the negative reviews that are giving you pause, Woroch suggest speaking to the homeowner and ask if the issues have been resolved.
Are you a good guest?
fizkes/ShutterstockAs prospective guests, one of our main concerns is the host. The vacation rental may be a dream getaway but the host could be a nightmare to deal with. Turns out, the host has similar concerns about the guests. Getting good guest reviews could pay off for you, says Lauren Davis, a Rockford, Illinois business traveler who books frequently with Airbnb. "More options are available to you if you do not select 'instant book' in the filters, which means the hosts have to approve your stay," says Davis. When hosts have great reviews of you, they are more likely to accommodate special requests, get you the room or house you want and make your stay even more enjoyable. It's not hard to practice guest etiquette. "Be courteous and treat it as if you are staying at the house of someone you care about," says Davis. Pick up after yourself and follow the house rules and you could be a five-star guest that pays in dividends later.