What You Need to Know About Holiday Rental Houses

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Many families might still go over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house for the holidays, but as more and more families become transient and grandma and grandpa decide to downsize for a more carefree lifestyle, more families are opting to rent large vacation homes, condos and cabins for their holiday gatherings.

Sharing a vacation rental with extended family has its perks, but if you don’t prepare you might experience a holiday fiasco.

T.J. Mahony, co-founder and CEO of FlipKey, a service based in Boston that lists more than 170,000 rental homes around the world, says the first thing you need to do for your Thanksgiving is choose a place to go and a home, condo or resort cabin to rent. Mahony says not to get anxious and think there aren’t any rentals left for this year. “Lake Tahoe, for example, is very popular, but it has a tremendous amount of inventory,” Mahony says. (Typically you need only four to six weeks to book.) “Just remember that the larger the space you need, the smaller the inventory choices.”

Chuck McCarter, general manager and managing partner for Oak Haven Resort and Spa in Sevierville, Tenn., says they have 22 rentals of 3,000 to 4,000 square feet, but those book one to two years in advance. “Thanksgiving is definitely our most popular time,” McCarty says. “Christmas doesn’t book up as early.”

Even if your pick is already booked, Mahony says not to despair. “If your first pick is rented, ask the owner or manager if they have other recommendations, they can be a tremendous resource for you,” Mahony says.

Once you’ve found the place you want to stay, it is time to discuss the particulars with family members. McCarter says that while his resort, as well as many others, separate bills, the easiest thing to do is to have one or two family members put the charges on their card and collect the money from among the relatives.